Between the opening tip off a couple months back and the opening tip off of next season, it is not unrealistic to think that as many as 1/3 of the coaches who were with teams at the start of 2000Hate might not be around come 2009. Seriously, let that seep in. Even the NFL doesn’t toss out dudes this fast. This is astonishing.
Common chatter on the NBA tubes seems to be that both Mike Dunleavy in LA and Marc Iavaroni (yeah, so they won 4 straight. Eat it. His butt is still aflame from the hotseat as of right now) in Memphis could easily be gone. That’s 8. Just 2 more to go.
Has there ever been a time when this many coaches got canned? I mean, 16 teams make the playoffs every year, and rarely does a coach that makes them get booted. So that leaves 6 coaches (besides the 6 already fired and the 2 mentioned above) that could conceiveably get tossed out of town. Let’s take a look at the odds.
(Reminder, all coaches on the following list are coaching teams that would not, if the season ended today, make the playoffs).
Terry Porter (PHX) 10%
In Terry’s defense, he has a winning basketball team right now. They are getting more perimeter firepower in JRich and losing an anti-Porter guy in Diaw. Even though they are currently 9th in the West, Porter isn’t going anywhere, playoffs or not, if he is above .500. Plus, Kerr could not powerblast the final nail in his coffin by kicking Porter out of the Valley and admitting he has made some careless decisions. But frankly, I think missing the playoffs right now would be better than getting swept by the Lakers by an average of 18 points. His odds would be hire if not for Kerr’s ego.
Don Nelson (GSW) 60%
You can’t fire someone who is willing to die anyway. Its a waste of a bullet. The Warriors still hold out maligned hope that Monta will come back to save the day 40 games in. Absolutely not the case. The bad thing about Golden State is that they are still living off the upset of the Mavs 2 years ago. Nellieball aint the same without Dizzle and his refusal to keep normal lineups, hold players accountable or, even, care about the game make him the true rogue coach out there. In the cosmic case of reverse psychology, Donny Boy is forcing his team into awkward oblivion and staring down Mullin the whole way, daring him to eat his own ego. This man has balls.
Larry Brown (CLT) 0%
Jordan could never axe a fellow Carolina guy in his first year. Not after he helped engineer that awesome trade which is going to put the Bobcats back into contention for the 8th seed. Give me a break. Brown is a has been, dictator who cannot work on young teams, since he hates inexperience and cannot effictively develop talent. He can only work within the confines of someone else’s infrastructure. He is a small, pathetic man who has the most clueless NBA GM in the world suckling at his teet. This is beyond depressing.
Mike the Mustache (NYK) -100%
The fact that the Knicks are almost .500 without any discernible offensive weapons or depth is miraculous in itself. D is proving he’s worth the cash by exercising previously unseen patience and enjoying the security Donnie Walsh gives him. And, for what its worth, it doesn’t induce cancer being a Knicks fan anymore. So that is a giant step forward.
Scott Skiles (MIL) ?%
I have not seen, heard or read anything about the Bucks so far this year, so I will not even venture a guess. Skiles’ head has not exploded and Bogut hasn’t launched a jihad against Luke Ridnour yet, so that rulez. Granted that its his first year and no one truly expected much of the Bucks, Skiles shouldn’t feel too much hot water. But damn, if you don’t start playing Ramon Sessions more, Brewhoop is going to off you. In that case, the number of discontinued coaches reaches 9. I’m just saying, Frank.
Jim O’Brien (INDY) 20%
O’Brien’s situation is awkward. No real injury problems (sans Dunleavy, but that has probably helped Granger). One of the most electrifying young players in the league (again, Granger). Removal of a cancer like JO. Marquis Daniels is your second leading scorer. Wait. WTF? Marquis Daniels is your second leading scorer? Man, how is he not already halfway to Muncie right now, in a body bag. O’Brien’s mark is not that he is poor at coaching, its that his team is poor at having relevant basketball ability. In reality, this team is about where it should be right now. Underachieving for the Pacers is actually meeting your mark. With priorities this disjointed, don’t bet the house on Jimmy getting canned anytime soon.
So, with any luck from the witless irreverence of Don Nelson, the sudden brain functionality by Jordan, a gun smuggled into a Bucks pre-game by Brewhoop and God sending a plague on to Steve Kerr, we might actually beat that 1/3 threshold for fresh blood in the league. And we haven’t even had a late season collapse yet. Here’s looking at you Michael Curry. See you in the unemployment line.