As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, it’s the time of year when the annual coaching carousel begins to spin and a slew of faces will end up in brand new places. Heading into the 2013/14 season there were a total of 13 coaching changes, which if you’re keeping score at home, is the most ever in a single offseason.
We won’t know for sure just how many teams will be making a change on their bench until the playoffs are over. Normally you would think a playoff spot would ensure job security, but Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, and Larry Drew all weren’t retained after reaching the playoffs last year. So the exact number of vacancies are up in the air, but we know there will be some.
If your team is making a head coaching change, which would you prefer in your new hire? Do you want a veteran coach with years of experience to lead your team? One who has a proven track record, but also could be carrying baggage and bad habits picked up throughout the years. Or, would you prefer the energy and new ideas a first-time coach can provide? A new coach has more to prove, and might be more in touch with the pulse and culture of his players, but has no experience to rely on, and no track record to predict future performance.
Let’s look at how this year’s crop of new coaches fared as an example. First up, the ones with prior experience:
Doc Rivers (Clippers): The team is 55-24, first in the Pacific Division, and the third seed in the playoffs. Last year’s team went 56-26 under Vinny Del Negro, before Del Negro wasn’t retained and the team traded for Rivers.
Maurice Cheeks (Pistons): He was fired 50 games into the year with a record of 20-29. Detroit was 29-53 in 2012/13 under Lawrence Frank. After the team signed Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season, owner Tom Gores expected a much better record and for the team to make the playoffs.
Mike Brown (Cavaliers): The team sits at 32-47, which is good for tenth in the eastern conference. Last year under Byron Scott the team had a record of 24-58 and ended up with the first overall selection in the draft.
Larry Drew (Bucks): The Bucks sit at 14-64. which is good for the worst record in the league. In 2012/13 under Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan the team went 38-44.
Now for how the first-time coaches performed:
Jason Kidd (Nets): The Nets are at 43-35, which is good for the fifth overall playoff seed. Kidd replaced interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team finished 2012/13 with a record of 49-33.
Brad Stevens (Celtics): Stevens, taking over for Doc Rivers, has gone 23-55, but has the re-building team heading in a positive direction. Last year’s team went 41-40.
Mike Budenholzer (Hawks): The Hawks have gone 35-43 and currently hold the final playoff spot in the east. Last year’s Larry Drew led squad went 44-38.
Steve Clifford (Bobcats): Clifford has led the Bobcats to a 40-38 record and the sixth seed in the east. Under Mike Dunlap the team went 21-61 during last year’s campaign.
Brian Shaw (Nuggets): The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries all season, and sit at 35-44. Shaw replaced coach of the year winner George Karl, who led the team to a record of 57-25.
David Joerger (Grizzlies): Joerger replaced Lionel Hollins and has guided the team to a record of 46-32, and has the team is one game out of the final playoff spot. Last year the team went 56-26.
Brett Brown (Sixers): Under Brown the Sixers have the second worst record in the league at 17-61, including a record-tying 26 game losing streak. Last season under Doug Collins, the team went 34-48.
Jeff Hornacek (Suns): The Suns are one of the most improved teams in the league with a record of 47-31, and hold the seventh seed in the western conference. Last year under Lindsey Hunter and Alvin Gentry the team went 25-57.
Mike Malone (Kings): Under Malone the Kings have gone 27-52. During the 2012/13 season under Keith Smart the team ended up 28-54.
This means that in their first seasons with their new teams, experienced coaches went 121-164 (.424), and the first-timers went 313-391 (.444). There are many different factors outside a coach’s control that contribute to the team’s final record, but the nature of the NBA is that the coach is the first one to take the heat.
Now it’s time to vote. If your team makes a coaching change this off season, do you want an experienced person hired, or would you prefer the team brings in a brand new face? Cast your vote below and feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.
As a guest on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich show, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge revealed that he’s had discussions with forward Kris Humphries about the possibility of returning next season:
“I have had a few conversations with Kris…(he) knows where we are as an organization and he knows we like him. And he knows there is a lot of uncertainty, depending on which direction we choose to go this summer. None of us know…he knows we like him, his coaches and teammates like him, (but) we just can’t make any promises” (interview transcribed by Gary Dzen of Boston.com).
Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
Having gone from a team with the NBA’s second-worst record to playing for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, Evan Turner has conceivably endured his share of challenges in trying to fit in. The fact that the Pacers have compiled a 12-10 record since the deal while Turner continues to struggle offensively hasn’t helped the situation, but the 6’7 guard tells NBA.com’s Manny Randhawa that he’s confident about being able to contribute sooner rather than later.
Once considered a possible candidate to be traded, Thaddeus Young is looking more and more like a keeper in Philadelphia, writes Dei Lynam of CSN Philly. The 25-year-old forward spoke glowingly about playing for 76ers head coach Brett Brown: “Coach (Doug Collins) didn’t want me to shoot a lot of threes…I didn’t like that at all. And this year Brett tells me, ‘I want you to shoot threes, get to the basket, I want you to do everything.’ I am back to playing the way I was before Coach Collins and Eddie Jordan, just a more free flowing offense…I think I have transitioned and turned things around where (as a player) I can just focus on my job.”
Based on the numbers this season, Brandon Knight‘s production may not have unequivocally surpassed what Brandon Jennings brought to the table during his four-year tenure in Milwaukee; However, Knight being two years younger and more affordable than his predecessor is proof of why the Bucks are better off with him now, opines Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune details the close relationship between Pelicans coach Monty Williams and Raptors point guard Greivis Vasquez, who played for New Orleans last season. The trade that split up the pairing last summer stung Vasquez, who’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end. “It hurt,” Vasquez said. “It really touched me a little bit. I was close not only with Coach Monty, but I was close with (assistant)Fred Vinson, all the coaching staff, the guys, messing around withAustin Rivers, Chief (Al-Farouq Aminu),Anthony Davis. . . . it was hard for me to let it go. But it’s part of the business.”
More from the east:
The Wizards‘ Andre Miller says the Nuggets unfairly portrayed him as the bad guy, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. When Miller’s streak of playing in 239 consecutive games ended with the first “Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision” of his career, Miller screamed at coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets suspended him for two games without pay after the incident before excusing him from team activities with pay until the trade to the Wizards. Miller said,”They gave me an opportunity to represent Denver. I tried to do that the right way, but I was looked at as the bad guy, a disgruntled player. [The Nuggets said] I was complaining about minutes and that was never the issue. They made it look that way, and that I was upset. I understand that they have to protect themselves as an organization, but don’t blast the player.“
Sixers coach Brett Brown said the team will pick the best player available in the upcoming draft, and not for need, writes Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com. Brown does not think need should influence who a team select in the NBA draft, and cites the example of the Spurs drafting Tim Duncan despite having David Robinson already, writes Lynam.
Amar’e Stoudemire says that it was his idea for the Knicks to trade for Carmelo Anthony, writes Brian Spurlock of USA Today. In an interview with Bleacher Report Stoudemire said, “I also knew that I needed a star teammate, and that’s something I talked to Mr. Dolan about when I signed. I mentioned a few players to Mr. Dolan who would be fun to play with, and Melo was one of them. Mr. Dolan and I talked about, ‘Which players in the near future are going to be available?’ Then we said, ‘Let’s make the move and try to trade for ‘Melo.’ That’s how things first started with the Knicks going after Carmelo Anthony.”
Last summer, Dwight Howard decided to leave $30MM in extra earnings on the table in order to find a situation that gave him the best chance to win – a situation that Carmelo Anthony faces in July if he decides to opt out of his contract. Based on the Rockets’ success this year, Sam Amick of USA Today says that there’s no better blueprint for Anthony to follow than Howard’s. Dwight, who says he spoken with Carmelo about that dynamic, offered some advice:
“I know he has just got to do what’s best for him…I’ve been through it. I’ve seen it. The same people that love you one day, if you don’t do what they want you to do, then they’re going to hate you. You’ve got to always remember that you’ve got to do what’s best for you at the end of the day. If people don’t like you, you can’t stop that.”
Here’s more of what we’ve gathered from the Atlantic Division tonight:
Following a recent loss to the Hawks, Anthony told reporters: “It’s definitely testing me…The frustration has definitely sunk in, just from the simple fact we’re losing games the same way over and over and we’re just not learning from that.” After last night’s crushing loss to the Mavs, he told Clifton Brown of the New York TImes, “You score 40, 44, 44, 44, all losses — you kind of ask yourself is it worth it.”
76ers head coach Brett Brown says he isn’t annoyed that Danny Granger would rather play for a contending team instead of Philadelphia, writes Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. Brown also discussed the team’s rebuilding situation: “This is a very different rebuild than the others…It is completely at the bare bones. It just puts a pretty definitive timeline and set of reality checks on all of us that we have a lot of work to do.”
Brown added that he has plenty of faith in the front office: “I trust Sam Hinkie’s judgment on the process that just happened and the process that’s coming up…I can’t wait to be a part of it, with all of our draft picks. Draft night is one of my favorite nights.”
The Nets didn’t end up taking on Jordan Hill and the $17MM tax hit he would have cost them, but their expenditure in the deal to add Marcus Thornton prompted “a lot of angry eye-rolling” from other teams, writes Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Brooklyn’s lavish spending could push the league into another work stoppage in 2017 in an effort to cut off the Nets’ spending, Lowe adds.
Here’s what else we’ve gathered from around the Atlantic Division tonight.
Attorney Michael McCann, in a piece for SI.com, lays out the Knicks’ options amid legal trouble for Raymond Felton. The 29-year-old point guard – facing two counts of weapon possession – posted bail earlier this afternoon and will be due in court next on June 2nd, tweets ESPN New York’s Ian Begley. It’s also worth noting that according to the law under which he was charged, Felton could avoid jail time even if he’s convicted of his felonies, says Scott Cacciola of the New York Times (Twitter link).
A panel of ESPN experts weigh in on the future and current state of Knicks basketball – discussing Felton’s situation, what organizational changes need to be made, and if Carmelo Anthony should leave New York.
76ers head coach Brett Brown tells Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times: “You’re going to see a lot of people come in here over the last 25 games” (Twitter link).
After previously being part of a Spurs coaching staff that helped San Antonio win three titles, Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown tells Keith Pompey of The Inquirer that bringing a championship culture to the 76ers is much tougher than he anticipated:
“It’s much harder…It’s something that I didn’t judge properly. It doesn’t diminish my enthusiasm being here. I just recognize the monster ahead of us…Trying to build a program to the level we hope to build it to requires so much work and so much luck. And there is no wiggle room. You can’t skip a single step.”
You can find some more miscellaneous links worth passing along out of the Atlantic Division below:
Knicks forwardAmar’e Stoudemire is more than eager to be a contributor and asserted that he’s ready to play without minute restrictions: “From a doctor’s standpoint, there hasn’t been (minute) limitations since the first week of the season…So we can’t keep saying limitations; that’s a coach’s decision at the end of the day. I feel great. I am ready to play. But it’s up to him if he wants to play me or not” (Frank Isola of the New York Daily News).
Stoudemire added that he’s spoken with head coach Mike Woodson about increasing his role: “Yeah. I talk to Coach all the time about it. He knows I am ready. He knows how hard I train. He watches me in the weight room and also on the basketball court. The whole training staff knows, the Knicks organization knows how hard I train. I am ready to play. But it depends on how the game is played.”
Tim Bontemps of the New York Post looks at how Shaun Livingston orchestrated his mid-season turnaround. The Peoria native put up 9.2 PPG on 46.1% shooting to go with 4.5 RPG and 1.5 SPG in 29.7 MPG during Brooklyn’s 10-3 stretch in January, and is averaging 18.5 PPG on 51.9% shooting over his last two contests.
76ers prospect Nerlens Noel hasn’t let his knee rehab prevent him from working on other parts of his game, as Dei Lynam of CSN Philly reports that head coach Brett Brown has been tutoring the young big man on defensive principles in addition to working with him on his shooting form. As per Brown:
“I am thrilled [with] what he has done with his shot…We said from the very beginning that this is an opportunity and one that I hope he never has again…There is far more fluid to his shot and I think the carryover from this year will be significant if we can get it right for his future.”
Here are a few more minor notes to pass along out of the Atlantic Division:
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is taking a cautious approach with the team’s Atlantic Division-leading 10-14 start to the season (Subscribers only).
Magic Johnson tells the “Max and Marcellus Show” on ESPNLA 710 that he’d be willing to help the Lakers recruit free agents during what he calls a “crucial summer” ahead. “If it’s (Lakers co-owner) Jim Buss going up against Pat Riley, he’s going to lose that battle. He needs help,” Johnson said. “You have to have a recruiter. Jim needs a recruiter with him.” Johnson touched on plenty more about the Lakers and their recent past, and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com rounds up the highlights. Here’s more from opening night in the Association:
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is confident that the city of Philadelphia can be a selling point for marquee free agents when he’s ready to make a run at them, but Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if local fans will turn on him before he gets to that point.
Brett Brown admits that the challenge of coaching the Sixers is harder than he envisioned when he took over the team in August, observes Tom Moore of The Intelligencer.
Xavier Henry remains on a non-guaranteed contract after making the Lakers out of camp, but he’s drawing raves from coach Mike D’Antoni, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link).
Austin Daye told the Toronto Sun’s Ryan Wolstat he chose the Raptors this offseason in free agency – despite receiving some interest from the Heat - because he believes in the organization and thought he’d get more playing time.
Harrison Barnes expects to play in the Warriors season opener against the Lakers on October 30th, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Barnes has missed the last three preseason games with a left foot inflammation, and there’s no word on whether he’ll dress for the remaining two preseason games.
Foreign clubs routinely offer more money than the NBA’s D-League, so the impetus to stay and compete is low unless a certain club expresses direct interest in a player and asks them to play.
Schlosser suggested individual NBA teams could pay the salaries instead of the NBA itself, but there are only 17 D-League franchises right now with a number of teams sharing the same affiliate, so it’s unclear which team would pay which salaries.
Despite the Knicks having their best year since the 1990s, their coach, Mike Woodson, is on the hot seat, writes ESPN Insider Amin Elhassan [subscription only]. Elhassan goes through five coaches entering the 2013/14 campaign on the hot seat, where their team's success could determine whether they're brought back for the 2014/15 season.
Conversely, when Roderick Boone of Newsday spoke with new Nets coach Jason Kidd, the new face in Brooklyn told him there was "exciting nervousness" as the team entered training camp. It will be the first training camp for Kidd as a head coach and the first training camp he hasn't begun as a player since the summer before he entered the league in 1994.
Kidd went on to explain to Roderick why he's lucky to start as the coach with the veteran-laden Nets:
"The nice thing about this opportunity with this team is guys being able to sacrifice," Kidd told Boone, "and that's another thing with these guys. Maybe sacrifice a shot or two. Maybe even some of the younger guys will say, 'Yeah, I don't mind not playing the fourth quarter,' and that's sacrifice. It's less minutes and less shots and it gets us a win."
Here's more from around the top-heavy Atlantic division…
ESPN New York's Ian Begley has a power forward preview for the Knicks. Though Carmelo Anthony played a lot at the 4 last season when the Knicks went small, all their offseason moves — acquiring Andrea Bargnani in a trade with the Raptors, picking up Metta World Peaceafter he cleared amnesty waivers and signing Kenyon Martin as a free agent – mean the Knicks will have a lot of depth to spell Anthony while also avoiding injuries for their reserves.