NBA Coaching Jobs - Winning and Losing Teams
This year an unprecedented number of teams went shopping for new head coaches. As the coaching talk dies down in favor of the draft and the July 1 free agency kick-off, we can start to evaluate which teams got off this ride feeling great, and which should send out for the industrial strength tums.
First, the Winners:
Cleveland: To go from the worst team in basketball to getting LeBron James in the draft and highly respected coach Paul Silas, puts this perennial doormat in much better shape going into the 2003-4 campaign. Don't expect miracles overnight from this group, but the future is bright.
Detroit: Some say they were crazy to get rid of Rick Carlisle, given his accomplishments the past two seasons. But Joe Dumars understands the fundamentals of being a GM better than most. Carlisle was fantastic, but Larry Brown is a closer who will have the Pistons in the NBA finals very soon. The downside of this is that Brown, no matter what he says, will get bored here and move on in 4 to 5 years, but Dumars is betting this is time to go for it.
Rockets: It wasn't that anyone wanted to see Rudy T. go, but if you had to pick a replacement, who better than Jeff Van Gundy? This guy did nothing short of turning water into wine with a very overrated Knicks team, and now will have a chance with a great young lineup to turn some heads in the west. The road will be tough, but I would expect the Rockets to continue to make progress with Van Gundy at the helm.
And the Losers:
New Orleans: Ditching Paul Silas to bring in Tim Floyd is like picking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Silas got this team to buy into his system, but more importantly to buy into him. Floyd never really got a fair shake in Chicago, but then again, never did much to show he deserved another shot. This could be a disaster in the Big Easy.
Toronto: It appears as though Kevin O'Neil will get this job. The former Detroit assistant and former Northwestern and Marquette Head Coach will bring his fiery attitude north of the border. There is no doubt O'Neil is a great X's and O's coach, but he has a history of pissing off his players, and I could see an already disgruntled Vince Carter turning this guy off in a hurry. Outside of Carter, there is very little talent in Toronto, meaning the Raptors could be revisiting a coaching search in two years time.
Philadelphia: The 76ers were hoping to get Maurice Cheeks from Portland, but that's not going to happen right now.
The Jury is still out:
Clippers: The Clippers are trying to figure out what to do with interim coach Dennis Johnson, but all signs are that he won't be back. There are some reports that Mike Dunleavy may be interested here, but he is also looking into the Washington job. To land a guy like Dunleavy would be a good hire, but lets face it, these are the Clippers, and half the team is going to bolt in free-agency anyway, so they will still be a bottom of the barrel team.
Atlanta: Like the Clippers, the Hawks have an interim head coach. Terry Stotts coached well and the team succeeded after he took over for Lon Kruger, but Atlanta may want to make a splash with a coaching hire. The problem is, no one seems too interested in the job. Stotts may stay on by default, which I don't think would be a bad think, but it may not be ideal.
Washington: The Wizards-Jordan era is over, for better or worse, and now the first order of business is hiring a new coach. It appears to be between Detroit cast-off Rick Carlisle and Mike Dunleavy. Both would be a great choice, and would have instant credibility in the locker room, where respect seemed to be a serious issue last year. If Washington goes another direction with a coach, that would most likely put them in the loser category, but with a mesh of odd players anyway, perhaps they are already there?