NBA Coaching – A Tough Road

Last Updated: December 20th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

The NBA basketball season is in full swing and we can start to expect which teams will be strong and which teams will struggle this season. Highlighting the new NBA season are some very familiar face a top the standings. The reigning NBA Champions the Boston Celtics own the best record in the NBA at 25-2 making them look again like the team to beat this year. Other teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the L.A Lakers are both off to 21-4 starts and staging themselves to be postseason factors despite how early we are in the season. On the other hand, there are also some familiar faces on the bottom side of success. Teams that have been failing to succeed have found their coaches feeling the pressure of job security and a total of 6 coaches have already lost their job in the NBA this season.

The previous record for NBA firing before the Christmas holidays was three. However, franchises desire to win are at an all-time high and they are not willing to wait for success. The 6 NBA coaches result in 20% of the NBA coaches being fired. Did they all really expect to be World Champions? The majority of these coaches were from teams that had absolutely no chance at competing anyway, but yet the decisions have still been made and change amongst the coaching ranks seems to have been the only option. Oklahoma City started off the trend back in late mid November firing coach P.J. Carlesimo. The Oklahoma City Thunder had gotten off to a league worse 1-12 start and was failing to compete with anyone. Assistant coach Scott Brooks was named interim coach with the intentions to finish the season. However, since the coaching change the Thunder are only 2-13 in their last 15 games and seem to be the exact same team no matter who is in charge thus raising the question is the problem coaching or talent?

Next in the firing line was the man leading the Washington Wizards. Head Coach Eddie Jordan was fired within 3 days of Carlesimo’s announcement after the Wizards started the season 1-10. Stepping up to the challenge was the former Director of Player Development Ed Tapscott. Jordan had led the Wizards to 4 straight playoff appearances and was 3rd on the all-time Washington win list with 197 wins. After Jordan’s departure, there were similar results behind the new man in charge. Since the coaching change, the Wizards are 3-10 and have lost 5 straight games. Again is the coaching really the problem?

The Toronto Raptors stepped up next to deliver the disappointing news to another NBA coach. On December 3rd, the Toronto Raptors became the 3rd NBA team to fire their head coach when they released Sam Mitchell. Mitchell led the Raptors to an 8-9 start. Despite having made the playoffs the past two seasons and also winning the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2006-2007 season, Mitchell ran out of time to improve the team’s performance. Mitchell was perhaps the most surprising firing considering Toronto was still in position to save their season barring the need of a few wins in a row. Mitchell and the Raptor suffered a huge loss to the Denver Nuggets in the night prior to the firing where they were defeated 132-93 and that loss was the Mitchell’s last opportunity. Jay Triano took over the reigns in Toronto becoming the first ever Canadian coach in the NBA. Triano and the Raptors are now 2-7 since the change and yet another example of a change that has not worked out.

Five days later the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Coach Randy Wittman becoming the 4th coach to be fired in two weeks. Wittman and the Timberwolves were off to an embarrassing 4-15 start and they team had lost 5 games in a row by an average of 15 points. Kevin Mchale the former Vice President of basketball operations stepped in to try to turn the young team around. Again the coaching change has done nothing for yet another franchise. The Timberwolves have lost 6 straight games since the coaching change and the troubles have gotten way worse. Again was there any change necessary?

Nearly a week later the Philadelphia 76ers would jump into the coaching trend. The 76ers fired Coach Maurice Cheeks after a sluggish 9-14 start. The firing placed Cheeks as the 5th coach that had been fired in the first few weeks of the season. Cheeks was another coach that had made the playoffs last season and still had time to turn his team in the right direction except he would not get the chance. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo was appointed coach for rest of the season. DiLeo. Philadelphia may be the only team to have truly benefited from the coaching change. DiLeo has led the 76ers to 3 straight wins. While it may be early in DiLeo’s coaching debut, he definitely seems to have Philadelphia on the right path and hopefully this coaching change will be one that pays off.

A mere two days later Sacramento Kings’ Coach Reggie Theus would be the final coach thrown into the fire. Theus had led the Kings to a 6-18 start and dropped 10 of his last 11 games. At the time of Theus’s firing, the Kings had not won a game in nearly a month of basketball and a coaching seemed like the only logical explanation. After all, everyone else in the NBA is doing it. Assistant Coach Kenny Natt took over the head coaching position after the Theus departure. Since that final coaching change Natt is 1-2 in three games with the Kings. Natt does not to seem to be on the start that would suggest the Kings made the right decision, but it is very early in the change. The NBA has just not faired well this season with coaching changes.

Theus was officially the 6th coach to lose their job in the NBA this season which is twice as many ever fired before Christmas in NBA history. Despite the lack of success of coaching changes there is still a good possibility a few more coaches may be released in the upcoming weeks. Memphis Grizzlies Coach Marc Iavaroni has reportedly been on the hot seat for a few weeks and could be the next coach to be fired in the NBA. The Grizzlies are off to a 9-17 start and do not appear to be heading in the right direction. Another possibility is Mike Dunleavy of the L.A. Clippers. The Clippers are underachieving at an 8-18 record on the season and Dunleavy is taking much of the blame. The chances of some other teams losing coaches by the end of the year are certain. The real question is when these coaches will be let go. However, only one of the six teams that have fired coaches this season has seen a benefit from their change. Still the fact remains that in the NBA many times you can be one loss away from losing your job.

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Posted in NBA Basketball - Last Updated on Saturday, December 20th, 2008 @ 12:29 am (EST)
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