NBA AM: Some Coaches Need To Win Now
Better Win Now: There is an expression in the coaching world that all coaches accept and embrace – “Coaches are hired to be fired.”
Anyone who accepts a head coaching job in the NBA knows that the clock starts the moment they hold their press conference and that the easiest change a team can make is at head coach.
As the 2012-13 NBA season gets underway in roughly two weeks, there are few coaches that have to get things going or they could very easily be out before the season ends.
Here are some of the names to watch:
Avery Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
No one expected Avery Johnson to win games in New Jersey. The roster was not constructed to win games and Avery, for the most part, got a free pass as the team prepared for this past off-season. All of that changes when the Nets open their inaugural season in Brooklyn in two weeks. Not only do the Nets expect to compete. They expect to win a lot of games and if Avery cannot deliver a winner in Brooklyn he could very easily be out. The saving grace for Avery is that owner Mikhail Prokhorov likes him a great deal. However with so much of the Nets future riding on them being good from day one, the expectations on Avery have more than doubled and if he does not deliver, someone else could be running things in year two in Brooklyn.
Lawrence Frank, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have never been very good at hiring coaches. The Pistons have had four coaches in the seven years since Larry Brown left the team. Since then the team has gone backwards virtually every year. Coach Frank is an excellent coach, however, if the Pistons don’t start showing serious improvement new ownership’s patience with the process won’t last long. Team president Joe Dumars is already on the hot seat and if Joe goes after another ho-hum season Coach Frank could go with him. No one expects the Pistons win a championship, but if the team doesn’t show serious improvement, change across the board is inevitable.
Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are all in this year. If the team is healthy and does not make the playoffs it’s hard to imagine that heads do not roll. Mark Jackson was a leap-of-faith hire. The organization was looking for the next Doc Rivers/Scotty Brooks type coach and while Jackson’s first season had its highs and lows there is still a belief that Jackson is the right guy. If the team falls flat or struggles, Jackson could be in trouble. Joe Lacob and his partners have big dreams for the Warriors and winning games is a key to where they want to take the team. If Mark Jackson can’t delivery with this roster, he may be gone next summer.
Kevin McHale, Houston Rockets
McHale did not have a lot of fans in his locker room last year. His player’s didn’t revolt, but he didn’t win many of them over either. That’s likely why most of the team was traded in the offseason. There is a reality that change is coming in Houston if the team does not make the playoffs this year. That change likely includes general manager Daryl Morey and possibly McHale being out and new leadership being brought in. McHale was a cheap hire, mainly because the Rockets tried the high-priced coaches and got nowhere with that, why not try something different? If McHale and Morey cannot turn the Rockets into a marginal playoff contender, they are likely out at season’s end. If this Rockets team turns on McHale during the season, his exit could be sooner than later.
Vinny Del Negro, Los Angeles Clippers
Vinny Del Negro isn’t in jeopardy as much as he isn’t secure. The Clippers picked up his option mainly because it was safe and easy. Unless the team implodes, there is a strong chance Vinny ends the season as the Clippers coach. Whether he coaches beyond this season depends entirely on how the Clips do this season. If things go bad, and there were times last year were it was clear Vinny did not run the locker room, a midseason change could happen, but as long as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin back Vinny, he’ll be on the sideline. There is no doubting that expectations on this season are high, so early struggles or outright collapses could cost Vinny his job, but it’s more likely the Clips see how far they can go as constructed and re-evaluate once Paul signs his new deal.
Mike Brown, Los Angeles Lakers
Coach Brown’s problem is that he is too nice. Some of the Laker players saw that as weakness last year and there were problems. The Lakers added Eddie Jordan to the coaching staff this year and moved John Kuester to a scouting position. That’s going to buy Coach Brown some credibility with the returning vets and it also adds a strong offensive coach to Brown’s strong defensive mind set. That said, the bar is extremely high on the Lakers this year. They are all in on a title run, and if it seems MBrown is not the guy to get them there he could be gone midseason. The Lakers say they are committed to Mike Brown and based on the changes made on the coaching staff they are responding to obvious issues last year. That said, if it’s not working Brown is no Phil Jackson, he could be dismissed if he can’t find a way to make all of this Lakers’ talent work.
Scott Skiles, Milwaukee Bucks
Sources close to Skiles joked during the summer that Scott thought he was getting fired at the end of last season, instead he’ll be back for what’s likely a lame duck season with the Bucks. Virtually the entire staff’s contract is up at the end of the season and unless Skiles can get this Bucks team into the postseason he is likely gone along with most of the Bucks’ staff. There is talent in Milwaukee and if things break Skiles’ way they are as reasonable of an eighth seed candidate as anyone. If the Bucks go toxic or things go south, a midseason change is possible, however it more likely that things play out this season and changes are made next offseason if the team does not make the playoffs.
NBA Training Camps start to open on September 28th for those teams competing internationally in preseason. The rest of the NBA opens camp on October 1st.
Most teams have their guys in town already with a large number of teams having informal workouts and pick-up games taking place. The NBA has very clear and defined rules for how much access to coaches teams are allowed during the offseason, but that doesn’t stop veteran squads from getting a jump start on the offense and defense and getting the team building and chemistry going.
Have you missed a Preview? HOOPSWORLD is eight teams into the league with two more dropping each day as we march towards the opening of training camp. Here are some direct links to the Brooklyn Nets Preview, the Charlotte Bobcats Preview, the Cleveland Cavaliers Preview, the Golden State Warriors Preview, the New Orleans Hornets Preview, the Sacramento Kings Preview, the Toronto Raptors Preview and the Washington Wizards Preview. The Previews drop each day at 12pm EST and 9pm EST, so keep checking back for new teams every day.
The Money Has Dried Up: During last year’s NBA Lockout the NBA Player’s Association warned its players that the changes the NBA was seeking in the BRI split would impact the middle class of the NBA the most, and based on how many notable players are still without deals the realities of the new NBA economy are real for a large number of guys who were expecting multi-year deals and are now finding that there is very little cash left for NBA teams to spend.
A glance at the current cap positions of the league, shows just five teams with cap dollars left to spend. Cleveland remains the team with the most cap money (roughly $9.8 million after the Alonzo Gee deal), followed by Phoenix ($7.3 million), Golden State ($2.36 million), Portland ($1.25 million), Charlotte ($1.19 million) and Sacramento who is $119,000 under the cap, which really doesn’t matter.
19 teams still have some level of Exception money left to spend with 10 of those being teams with the $2.5 million “room” exception that teams seem unwilling to use.
To make matters worse for free agents looking for homes, there are eight teams over the $70.37 million luxury tax line with the LA Lakers leading the way with a pre-tax payroll of $99.98 million. The Miami HEAT clock in second in the NBA with a pre-tax payroll of $82.65 million
The good news for free agents is that the Cavaliers still have about $1.17 million to spend before reaching the NBA mandated minimum salary of $49.337 million, but as free agents have been seeing for most of the last 60 days – it is a buyer’s market and significant free agents are seeing that the best deals out there are one year offers and even some of those are non-guaranteed deals or deals at the NBA minimum.
At HOOPSWORLD we tend to go a little nuts with the video during the offseason between the Draft, Summer League and the various stops we make during the summer. So there is a good chance you missed some of them. Well we finally got the new video wall done yesterday, so here is your one stop shop for all of the video we produce – http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-video/
DiLeo On Tap?: John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that long-time 76ers executive and former interim coach Tony DiLeo may be the front runner to replace team president Rod Thorn in Philadelphia.
DiLeo makes a ton of sense as he has held numerous roles with the Sixers and has been one of the hands on guys in scouting and making personnel decisions.
With Rod Thorn staying on in an advisory role for the foreseeable future tapping DiLeo is smart and easy as he is a known quantity.
There has been talk that 76ers coach Doug Collins will have more say in personnel, so DiLeo again makes sense in that dynamic.
The Sixers have interviewed several candidates including Danny Ferry, who took the Atlanta Hawks job. The 76ers also have interviewed Celtics assistant Mike Zarren and former Blazers’ executive Tom Penn. Former Hornets GM Jeff Bower had been linked to the job, but it seems the team is leaning towards DiLeo as their next GM.
The 76ers have said that there is no timetable to name a replacement for Thorn; however, it does seem that a decision is likely sooner than later and DiLeo seems to be a smart fit for a number of reasons.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNBA, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats today starting with Yannis Koutroupis who will drop his weekly chat at 11am EST. Yannis serves as a Senior NBA Writer and the College Basketball Editor for HOOPSWORLD so get your questions in early as Yannis’ chats fill up fast. NBA Salary cap guru Larry Coon will host his weekly NBA Chat at 3pm EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats or if you are looking for a chat that already completed try here: Previous NBA Chats