Straight shooting: Head coach firings and more
CharleyRosen / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 2 hours ago
It's axiomatic that coaches are hired to be fired. And in the bloodthirsty world of the NBA, there's always more to a hatchet job than merely comparing the number of wins and losses. So far, six coaches have been axed and three committed hari-kari before they could be measured for a black hood.
Okay, so he's stubborn, meaner than he looks, slow to forgive a slight, and too honest for his own good. For sure, his offenses are overly simplistic, but that's why Brendan Malone was his top assistant. Call Silas old fashioned, too, if that means expecting a fulltime, full-court effort from all his players. But could LeBron James have developed so rapidly under any other coach?
It seems that the new owner, Dan Gilbert, complained Silas had no set rotation —that his players didn't know when they'd play and exactly what they were supposed to do when they did. Say what? All Silas was doing was trying to mix and match a bench full of flawed players.
Silas is another standup guy who's paid the price for his general manager's inability to assemble the right cast of characters to complement LeBron. And the franchise's new ownership will soon discover that quick fixes don't work in the wonderful world of the NBA.
The big question in Cleveland is this: Who can Jim Paxson hire to lure LeBron into re-upping once his contract expires?
I think I've seen this movie before. It's a remake of a Hollywood classic — One Dribbled Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Davis simply wasn't firm enough in dealing with a squad full of undisciplined, irresponsible and downright foolish hooplings. Not a screamer, not a disciplinarian, Davis had the crazy idea that pros should act like pros. Give him a team of Grant Hills and Davis' rational, intelligent approach would be extremely successful.
Davis' firing also points out one of the unavoidable traps that eventually doom most coaches — having to coach somebody else's players. In Orlando, the onus is on John Weisbrod for making Cuttino Mobley walk the plank; for shanghaiing Doug Christie, who was better left for dead in Sacramento; for insisting that Jameer Nelson was ready for primetime responsibilities at the point; and for paying a sultan's ransom for the erratic, slow-footed and defenseless quasi-talents of Hedo Turkoglu.
Through it all, Weisbrod's professed game plan was to clear cap space to recruit a crop of blue-chippers for next season and beyond. If he was responsible for sacrificing this season (and making a wasteful trade for T-Mac), then Weisbrod shouldn't blame Davis for the Magic's disappearing act.
But it's always the dimwit behind the curtain who pulls the strings and the coach who takes the fall. What happened to Davis in Orlando is proof that nice guys finish closer to last than to first.
Cheeks is a wonderful assistant who simply lacked the charisma to lead the NBA's modern day recalcitrant warriors into battle. Like Davis, Cheeks also took the hit for the malfeasance of his general manager. That would be John Nash, who was more interested in justifying the mega-bucks he spent in signing Darius Miles —a notorious malcontent, under achiever and all-around softie — than in backing his coach. Even if Cheeks were more forceful and more accomplished, the dysfunctional crew assembled by Nash was virtually un-coachable.
The Nuggets have totally mortgaged their future to Carmelo Anthony. Kiki Vandeweghe is convinced that Anthony will become a legitimate franchise player sooner rather than later. Maybe yes … probably no. But as soon as C-Ant understood that Bzdelik wanted him to share the ball and play earnest defense, a divorce was unavoidable. In the ensuing settlement, Anthony was granted full custody of the team.
Jeff Bzdelik's problem was he wanted Carmelo Anthony to share the ball.(Garrett W. Ellwood / GettyImages)
To be fair, George Karl is a decided improvement. Obviously, Karl has his faults:
Under the guise of being totally honest, he's totally obnoxious. He inevitably alienates his players by criticizing them in the media. His over-the-top obsessiveness can be a drag. And if Larry Brown acts as though he invented basketball, Karl acts as though it was his idea to cut a hole in the bottom of the peach basket.
By now, though, Karl has discerned that Eduardo Najera is an authentic tough guy and that Kenyon Martin is a fake. But the biggest problem for Denver's latest coach is how to domesticate Anthony. Indeed, a coach's only leverage is to control a wayward player's burn — but whenever Anthony is forced to sit on the bench and wear a dunce cap, his pouting arrogance flares into anger.
Good luck, George.
Saunders was lifted up in friendship and then unceremoniously dumped by his ex-college roommate, Kevin McHale. But wasn't McHale primarily responsible for signing the sinister, irresponsible Latrell Sprewell? And Sam Cassell, one of the most selfish point guards in the league? How about Michael Olowakondi, he of the big ego and small talents? Or Wally Szczerbiak, who'd rather flex his muscles than play defense? Not to mention Troy Hudson, who needs to play fifty minutes per game and shoot at will to be satisfied?
At least McHale put his own butt on the bench and wasn't afraid to take the heat. Still, coaches throughout the league are fervently rooting against him.
Wilkens never should have been hired in the first place, and his dismissal was merciful.
He was sick alright ... sick of Jerry West's perfectionism and sick of his players constant moaning about insufficient game time and not enough touches. Hubie is one of the most perceptive and pragmatic men ever to have graced an NBA bench. If he ever decides to write a tell-all autobiography, it would be one of the most fascinating sports books ever.
Rudy T. had been a fixture in Houston for twenty years — 10 as a player and 12 as a coach —until bladder surgery forced him into temporary retirement. But he couldn't avoid scratching his (coaching) itch one more time. So, forget about the Lakers roster being clogged with undersized and underpowered players. Disregard the media circus that always spotlighted the misadventures of Kid Kobe. From the get go, Rudy T. lacked the enduring passion, the sheer ruthlessness and the basketball know-how to succeed in an unduly stressful, big-time market like Los Angeles.
The word around the league is that Nelson had been cruising for many years. Like Chuck Daly in Orlando, Nellie was mostly in it for the money.
Over the years, a total of 27 different players have led the NBA in rebounds. But only nine averaged more per game rebounds than points. Who are they?
- During a recent Minnesota-San Antonio game, Kevin Garnett set what must be an all-time (albeit unofficial) record by successfully traveling three times on a single foray to the hoop.
Upon catching the ball at the left foul line extended, he executed several jab-step fakes with his right foot. When he finally made his move, Garnett stretched and planted his left foot into the paint before his dribble ever touched the floor. (That's one) He came to a jump stop in the shadow of the hoop, then made a two-footed bunny hop (That's two) before he started faking again. Moving his right foot only, he faked going up, under and sideways. Then he hopped on his left foot (That's three) and made a head fake before being fouled in the act.
Hmmm. Perhaps KG's traveling show is merely another aspect of the NBA's effort to outlaw defense. The ratings game is apparently more important than what happens on the court.
Trivia answer: Mel Hutchins (1951-52). Harry Gallatin (1953-54). Mo Stokes (1956-57). Bill Russell (1957-59, 1963-65). Wes Unseld (1974-75). Swen Nater (1979-80). Dennis Rodman (1991-98). Dikembe Mutombo (1999-00). Ben Wallace (2001-003).
Charley Rosen, former CBA coach, author of 12 books about hoops, the current one being A pivotal season — How the 1971-72 L.A.
Lakerschanged the NBA, is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.