Archive for Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Commentary: NBA coaches hired to be fired

If SuperSonics’ Weiss can be canned 30 games into his first season, is anybody safe?

January 4, 2006

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— Talk about your lack of job security. There are bowling alley pin-setters, carbon-papermakers, celebrities' boyfriends and NBA coaches.

Not to be outdone by the NFL, which seemed to fire most of its coaches Monday, the NBA offered the first sacrifice on its coaching pyre Tuesday when the Seattle SuperSonics burned coach Bob Weiss 30 games into his first season.

This actually is the second coaching change this season after Stan Van Gundy resigned in Miami and was replaced by Shaquille O'Neal, errr, Pat Riley.

This could be only the beginning. There were 10 new coaches in the NBA this season, including Weiss, and three others, George Karl, Avery Johnson and Mike Fratello, starting their first full seasons after replacing fired coaches during last season.

Bulls coach Scott Skiles is third in seniority in the Eastern Conference in his second full season. He was hired only months after veterans Eddie Jordan and Rick Carlisle, now in their third full seasons.

Only seven NBA coaches have been with their teams longer than Skiles and, in perhaps the ultimate sign of instability, only three teams have coaches who have been with their teams longer than the Los Angeles Clippers' Mike Dunleavy.

Yes, in this NBA, the Clippers and owner Donald Sterling represent stability. More change could be coming. Sacramento's Rick Adelman, in his eighth and seemingly last season as a lame duck, has been mentioned as the next coach to go.

Insiders indicate Sonics owner Howard Schultz ordered the firing of Weiss, and the equally restless Maloof brothers, who run the Kings, figure to be running out of patience as well with their last-place team. Having traded Chris Webber, Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson, lost Vlade Divac to free agency and sustained injuries to new recruits, it seems only natural to fire the coach.

With almost half the league's coaches being replaced within the last year, it seems unlikely there will be another massive pileup this season. Among those who could fall under the wheels of change are:

Houston's Jeff Van Gundy. As one wag said, perhaps he would like to spend more time with his brother's family.

Boston's Doc Rivers. Amid changing lineups and players speaking out, it is a casual-playing team among the poorest in defense and seemingly with little identity or motivation.

Charlotte's Bernie Bickerstaff. He is general manager, too, and he always has said he was going to kick himself upstairs someday. It soon may be time to punt.

Golden State's Mike Montgomery. Any big losing streak could doom him. The Warriors have had high expectations and are two games above .500, but don't defend much and have an untamed offense of offensive three-point shooters seemingly out of control.

Toronto's Sam Mitchell. Always a possibility with a last-place team.

Atlanta's Mike Woodson. Another nice guy, like Weiss, who seems like a Peter Principle victim, promoted above his competency level.

New York's Larry Brown. Nah, not quite yet. But it may not be long the way things are going with the Knicks.

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