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.
ESPN analyst and former coach George Karl hears that Tim Duncan is thinking of retiring at season’s end, notes Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News, but Duncan isn’t sure how Karl got that impression. The Big Fundamental says he’s undecided, as he tells reporters, including Express-News scribe Mike Monroe (Twitter link). Fellow Express-News writer Jeff McDonald would be “shocked” if Duncan retired. The sense around the Spurs is that Duncan will keep playing as long as he feels he’s useful, McDonald says, pointing out that the big man is still under contract for next year (Twitterlinks). Here’s more from the Association:
Greg Oden considered a handful of teams last summer, but it came down to a decision between the Mavs and the Heat, tweets Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Most reports have suggested the Wizards are looking for a backup point guard, but Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times hears they’re seeking a backup who can play both guard positions, suggesting Luke Ridnour as a possibility (Twitter link).
A veteran scout tells Woelfel that he has Creighton forward Doug McDermott No. 6 on his draft board, and Chris Mannix of SI.com examines a polarizing prospect who’s sparked a wide range of opinions in NBA front offices.
Free agent Malcolm Lee hasn’t played since December 2012 because of injury, but he’s about two weeks away from being ready to suit up for a team, USA Today’s Sam Amick tweets.
The Warriors on Tuesday recalled Ognjen Kuzmic from the D-League, the team announced. Kuzmic’s latest stint in Santa Cruz lasted one day.
Some members of the actors union are upset that executive director David White is a candidate for the same position with the National Basketball Players Association, observes Dave McNary of Variety.com.
Pistons guard Chauncey Billups tells Terry Foster of The Detroit News that he wants to work in a front office job after he retires, despite the assumption from many that he would make a great coach: “I think a lot of people think that would be the natural progression because of what I do on the court. But if I had my desire I want to be in the front office and put the team together and be behind the scenes rather than being on the court every day.” Here’s more from Detroit:
Lionel Hollins remains interested in the Pistons coaching vacancy, but said he still hasn’t been in contact with the team in an interview with SiriusXM NBA today. David Mayo of MLive transcribed the former Grizzlies coach’s perspective on the Detroit job: “I’m flattered by all the non-decision makers coming out and saying that the job is mine and I’m the first choice and they are coming after me. Well, none of that has happened and it only matters what the Detroit Pistons are thinking. Again, I’m flattered with the respect that has been shown me by some of the national media.” Hollins indicated the same a few days ago when former coach Maurice Cheeks was first fired.
Pistons owner Tom Gores is in daily contact with the team, and his involvement will intensify following the firing of Maurice Cheeks, Palace Sports and Entertainment CEO Dennis Mannion tells Eric Lacy of MLive. The owner has been criticized as an “absentee owner” by some, but Mannion says Gores is very active in dealing with the Pistons business, one of 35 businesses he owns overall.
Mannion also tells Lacy the team is optimistic that it can turn around the team’s plummeting attendance numbers: “While we haven’t been playing great basketball, we have had an opportunity to put ourselves in a position to be able to market and keep those people down the road.” After Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings were signed this offseason, season ticket sales jumped 33 percent.
With today’s firing of Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks, this has started the speculation as to who their next coach will be. Assistant John Loyer has been named the interim coach, and coaching sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com that Lionel Hollins is a prime target (Twitter link) for the job. If there was a good time to fire a coach, it was now, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders.com, as there are a number of qualified coaches available on the market. Hollins has a career record of 214-201, and led the Grizzlies to 56 wins in 2012/2013. Greene also notes that Hollins was offered the opportunity to join Cheeks’ staff this season, but declined. Hollins has also made it well-known that he desires to return to coaching, stating that, “I believe that I’ve established myself as a head coach and I’d like another opportunity to show that my success wasn’t a fluke”. Greene also points to Hollins’ success in developing Memphis’ frontcourt players such as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol as a selling point, considering the Pistons glut of big men.
More on the Pistons coaching change:
It should be embarrassing to the team that the players had to find out via Twitter, writes Sean Highkin of USA Today. Judging by the reactions he posts in the article, the players were blindsided by the news.
Hollins has already sounded off on the possibility of him taking the Pistons job, according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW (via Twitter). Hollins told him, “Of course I’m interested“, though Hollins also said he had not been contacted yet. Haynes also writes that it’s only a matter of time before the Pistons reach out to Hollins.
Since Knicks owner James Dolan gave Mike Woodson a public vote of confidence on November 20 (while the team sported a 3-8 record), New York has gone 6-11 over their last 17 games. Among those losses include a 41-point defeat to the Celtics at home, a 15-point loss to the Cavaliers two days later, and a one-point heartbreaker at the hands of the Wizards, in which the Knicks failed to call a timeout with ample time left to set up a final play. Ian Begley of ESPN New York writes that no one from the team’s ownership or front office has commented publicly on Woodson’s status over the last few days, although it appears that the players – especially outspoken center Tyson Chandler – still offer their support.
Here’s what we’ve heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight, including more from Begley’s piece:
Despite the Knicks struggles, Woodson is still confident that the team can and will win the Atlantic Division title: “Eventually, we’ll get healthy and we’ll see how it all plays out. The beauty about all of this that we’re going through is nobody’s running away with it in our division, and I’m pushing our team to win our division still…We won it last year, and I expect us to win it this year.”
Marc Berman of the New York Post thinks that the four-day break between New York’s upcoming home-and-home series against Toronto and their Texas triangle trip would be the window in which Dolan could make a coaching change if he ultimately decided to. Otherwise, the Knicks owner could wait until the offseason, where names such as Jeff Van Gundy or Lionel Hollins may become available.
Conditioning is deemed to be the biggest hurdle between Rajon Rondo and his return from rehab. Though Rondo was reportedly “huffing and puffing” after practice, the 27-year-old point guard participated extensively in drills today, as Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston details: “Rondo raced up and down the court during sprint-heavy drills, tried to take charges as teammates attacked in odd-man breaks, and even dunked off his left leg at one point. He seemed to be pushing himself hard as Boston engaged in its first practice after a three-day holiday break.”
Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reveals the details behind the Grizzlies‘ bizarre parting with assistant coach Barry Hecker in the middle of last season’s playoffs. Hecker butted heads with former head coach Lionel Hollins as well as Dave Joerger, who was then a fellow assistant, and he alleges that Joerger was after Hollins’ job as early as two years ago. There’s more on the Grizzlies coaching situation among the latest news from the Southwest Division:
The Grizzlies front office is beginning to wonder if they made the right hire with their decision to promote Joerger, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports notes in his weekly power rankings. Joerger’s job is nonetheless safe, Spears adds.
The Spurs announced that they have assigned center Aron Baynes and guard Nando De Colo to the D-League’s Austin Toros. Baynes has appeared in ten games for the Spurs this season, averaging 1.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 8.1 minutes. De Colo has seen action in six contests this season for the Silver and Black, averaging 2.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 9.0 minutes. To keep track of all of this year’s D-League assignments, check out Hoops Rumors’ running list.
Jeff McDonald of the Express News (on Twitter) wouldn’t be surprised to see Baynes and De Colo back in San Antonio tomorrow.
This NBA offseason saw an unusual amount of head coaching turnover, notes Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer. Three of the record 13 new head coaches have found homes in the Central Division: Mike Brown for the Cavaliers, Larry Drew for the Bucks, and Maurice Cheeks for the Pistons. Here are some more notes from around the Central Division:
Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said he spoke with Lionel Hollins about the former Grizzlies coach joining the Detroit staff as an assistant, tweets Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News. The talks likely took place during the summer, as Hollins remains without a coaching gig.
Playing time might be limited for rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bucks would rather keep him in Milwaukee than send him on D-League assignment, tweets Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel. The Bucks share the Fort Wayne Mad Ants with six other NBA teams, so Antetokounmpo might get lost in the shuffle if sent down.
“It was hard to be in that position,” said Gasol, a free agent at season’s end. “I understood the politics of it, and why things were a certain way, but it didn’t make it any easier during the process. But you learn and move on and you grow, and you go to the next chapter. I’m excited about my new position. It’s a different situation, a different team. I’m happy and proud to continue to be here, despite everything. I’m ready to play and have a great year.”
That year is just about to start, with the first games of the 2013/14 season just hours away. Here’s the latest from around the Association:
The Timberwolves aren’t among the teams interested in Shannon Brown, whom the Wizards waived today, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
The Wolvesannounced a deal for renovations to the Target Center today, but Bucks owner Herb Kohl says the NBA prefers there be a new arena in Milwaukee rather than a renovation to the Bucks’ existing home, notes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.
Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has changed agents, signing with Steve Kauffman of Kauffman Sports Management Group, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Warren LeGarie had previously represented Hollins.
The Bulls signed Kalin Lucas and Patrick Christopher in September and waived them on the second day of training camp. The maneuver allowed Chicago to sign their other camp invitees to summer contracts that gave the team an out in case they suffered an injury, as Mark Deeks of ShamSports explains in a piece for HoopsWorld.
TNT's David Aldridge, in his weekly column for NBA.com, caught up with a pair of coaches who find themselves out of work despite recent success. Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and ex-Clippers bench boss Vinny Del Negro both want to get back into coaching, but of the two, Hollins seems more upset over his dismissal.
"For me, it was just getting over, trying to digest what happened," Hollins said. "Like the beautiful girl when she was rejected, what did I do wrong? And when I analyzed it, I don't think I did anything wrong. I think they made a decision, and that was it. Now, whatever they may say, I don't think is what really [happened] behind the scenes. They wanted to hire somebody different."
Aldridge has more from Hollins, and he also passes along a few other tidbits from around the league, so let's dive in:
Hollins would have been willing to take a discount to stay with the Grizzlies. "The market out there was $4MM [per year] for four years," he told Aldridge. "And I could have lived with that if they had come to me and said, 'We can't pay this.' But they never offered me a contract. Ever. They didn't talk to me for 10 days. But none of that really matters. It's their team, their money, and they can do what they want."
It's "highly unlikely" that Greg Monroe will sign an extension with the Pistons before the October 31st deadline for him to do so, sources tell Aldridge. That's no surprise, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors has detailed.
The Spurs wanted to bring Gersson Rosas to their front office before the Mavshired him as GM this summer, according to Aldridge. Rockets GM Daryl Morey, under whom Rosas worked as VP of basketball operations, credits Rosas as "the driving force" behind the success Houston has had with its D-League affiliate.