NBA AM: More Coaches On The Hot Seat
One Down, Two More To Go?: Ask anyone in the professional coaching world and they will all tell you that coaches are hired to ultimately be fired. Firing a coach is the easiest way to enact change in a floundering organization. To be fair, most coaches who get fired are not necessarily to blame, it’s simply easier to try a new voice in the process than to make wholesale trades and roster changes mid-season.
The Los Angeles Lakers pulled the trigger on Mike Brown last week, and while the next head coach to be fired likely won’t be let go nearly as quick as Brown was, there are a couple of coaches that should be concerned about their future because their teams have looked terrible on the floor.
Randy Wittman, Washington Wizards
Wittman is a very likeable guy and a solid coach. The problem is his Wizards are 0-7 on the season. They had a lone overtime game against the Celtics, but beyond that they are not competing. They have been without their two best players, John Wall and Nene, but with an owner like Ted Leonsis you have to wonder how much more he is going to take.
Wittman was the interim replacement for Flip Saunders when he was fired last season and kept the job because the team really responded to him after the change. Given how the Wizards are playing now, it seems that another change is likely.
Most teams will give it 15 to 20 games before swinging the axe, and it seems that unless something major swings Wittman’s way, he’s the next coach that will be sent packing.
Lawrence Frank, Detroit Pistons
Like the Wizards, the Pistons are simply bad. Some of that is on head coach Lawrence Frank, some of that is on the lethargic play of key roster players. The Pistons can point to their youth and say, “We’re a young team,” but the truth is they are not playing well. It’s one thing to be young and scrappy and just outmatched. It’s another to be young and disinterested.
The Pistons are going nowhere quickly, and it’s now a question of will Joe Dumars fire yet another coach or will ownership step in make bigger changes?
There has been a lot of talk over the last year or so that Dumars’ time with the Pistons would be tied to whether or not this team competes. So far into the season the answer is a resounding no, so the question becomes how long before there is a change on the bench and more importantly a change in the front office?
Keith Smart, Sacramento Kings
Not sure if you can blame Keith Smart for a dysfunctional roster, but this is a results-oriented business and as much as things change for the Kings, they stay pretty much the same.
The saving grace for Smart is that he has reached his players, but being on the same page means very little if you can’t win games.
The other saving grace for Smart is that the Kings are notoriously cheap, so firing Smart mid-season may not be in the cards. But if Keith can’t find a way to turn the talent in Sacramento into wins, his future becomes very cloudy.
The Kings’ front office, namely team president Geoff Petrie, could help the situation with a couple of trades to clear out the logjam of duplicated players Smart has to manage and that might happen before a coaching change.
Going 2-6 to start the season is hardly going to secure a job in the NBA, so Keith either needs some help from the front office or for his players to break out of the funk they are in.
There are a couple of other coaches that are underachieving…
Byron Scott in Cleveland is hardly setting the world on fire. He has a ton of youth and talent, but has had some injuries. The Cavs view themselves as a playoff contender, so getting to the .500 waterline will be important to Scott’s future.
Frank Vogel is under fire for the Indiana Pacers’ ho-hum start. Frank is missing Danny Granger so there is a reason for their struggles, but if the Pacers fall out of the playoff picture too significantly, Frank’s job will come into question in a more serious way.
Dwane Casey is missing his best player in Kyle Lowry, but things are going to have to improve in order for his job security to not to be questioned. Toronto Raptors fans are tired of being below average, so Casey needs to see things come together. The Raptors profess that they are a playoff team too. If that doesn’t happen, change is possible, just not nearly as likely as some of the other situations.
Week 3 of HOOPSWORLD’s Weekly Pick’em Game starts tomorrow and there’s still plenty of time to log your picks. Weekly winners get a cool Adidias HOOPSWORLD T-Shirt. Week 3 of the Pick’em Game is open, so click here to log your picks.
The Desire To Win: If you have been watching Orlando Magic games lately, you might have noticed the sour look on Magic guard Arron Afflalo’s face. Some players, especially a lot of the players in the Magic locker room last year, were OK with losing. They were OK with getting outworked. But with Afflalo, that sour look isn’t just emotion on the floor, it is who he is as a player and its one of the key reasons the Magic coveted him in the Dwight Howard trade.
It is not at all uncommon to see Afflalo absolutely dripping with sweat after a Magic game, not because of the work that he puts in on the floor, but because he tends work out his frustrations on the practice floor after games.
Afflalo talked with HOPSWORLD about his drive to win and what role he hopes to play with this new-look Magic team.
STAT From The Bench?: Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire trained relentlessly this summer – maybe too much. Stoudemire came into Knicks camp arguably in the best shape of his life and really wanted to prove his doubters wrong. Then the unthinkable happened. A cyst in his left knee ruptured and required a surgical procedure called a debridement, which is a scraping or removal of dead or infected tissue.
To call the injury a setback is an understatement; it was a death blow to a player that tried so hard to answer his critics.
One Knick player who is close to Stoudemire admitted that after the surgery, Stoudemire was in “dark place” emotionally, but as his rehab has progressed, his spirits have normalized and his passion for his Knicks teammates is a daily constant.
The elephant in the room for the Knicks is what happens when Stoudemire is ready to come back? Carmelo Anthony is having what some are calling an MVP-type season, playing the bulk of his time at the power forward spot. Tyson Chandler is the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the backbone of the Knicks’ new-found defensive focus.
Could the Knicks ask Stoudemire, who is slated to earn $19.94 million this season, to come off the bench?
Could the Knicks explore trading Stoudemire once he proves himself healthy and simply try to offload his contract and the burden of trying to make it work with Anthony?
The Knicks don’t perceive this to be nearly the problem the fans and the media think it will be and as one Knicks player said on the subject: “Amar’e just wants to win”
Stoudemire is traveling with his Knicks teammates and is putting in aggressive rehab work. He could start serious court work in the coming weeks and is expected to be ready to go in the early part of December.
With the Knicks sitting at 5-0 on the season and heading into San Antonio tonight, it will be interesting to see how Knicks coach Mike Woodson handles Stoudemire. His teammates say he’d have no problem playing from the bench as the sixth man, especially if that’s what it takes to win games and ultimately a championship, but saying that is entirely different from actually doing it.
Introducing Mike D’Antoni: The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to formally introduce their new head coach Mike D’Antoni today after practice, and D’Antoni is expected to coach his first game on Sunday.
The Lakers’ faithful wanted Phil Jackson again, and no matter what D’Antoni does he is going to be measured against the King of All Rings, simply because the court of public opinion is going to say the Lakers “could have” had Phil Jackson.
The truth is they really couldn’t have had Phil unless Phil “jumped” at the chance. He didn’t and the Lakers moved on.
If you listen to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, the hiring of D’Antoni was more about getting a coach that fits the roster, not bringing in a coach that would need the players to adjust to him.
There is no doubting that the unrelenting pressure in L.A. will be as great, if not greater, than that of D’Antoni’s New York experience, but the difference is no one expected D’Antoni to win a championship with the Knicks. In Los Angeles, that’s all that will be expected. A run to the Conference Finals won’t be nearly good enough.
The Lakers have spent the better part of the week convincing their fans and the media that D’Antoni is going to return Showtime to L.A. in ways Jackson couldn’t.
It all becomes real today, and we’ll see what effect D’Antoni has on the Lakers on Friday against the Suns.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @SusanBible, @DPageHoopsWorld , @stevesraptors, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats today starting with my weekly NBA Rumors Chat at 10:00am EST. Get your questions in now as the chats do fill up fast. Senior NBA writer Joel Brigham will host his weekly NBA Chat at 3:00pm EST. Joel covers the Central Division for HOOPSWORLD. You can always find the next chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a completed chat, check the Chat Archive.