Just like the NFL’s Black Monday firings, the NBA firing squad has been busy on the first post-regular season league day. Already we’ve seen assurances of return for NBA coaches and some GMs already lining up the head coaching candidate lists. I have yet to hear of a GM possibly being fired, but stranger things have happened. Let’s get started on who has been fired, who is in limbo and how their prospects look, and some of the fresh faced head coaching candidates. This will be updated as news comes out for some time in the immediate future.
Doug Collins – The Collins family has been through some ups and downs this month, the younger Collins was hired as the Northwestern Basketball Head Coach and the elder Collins has had enough in a dysfunctional down year with the Philadelphia 76ers. Doug Collins has reached an agreement to quit as head coach, but will be retained as a consultant/advisor for the front office and team as a whole. Collins was doomed from the beginning of the Andrew Bynum controversy and this team was relying on Bynum to be the center piece. Without him, they had no chance and the dysfunction got worse and worse as the year went on. Doug Collins keeps up his impeccable 3-year coaching limit (3 years in Chicago, Detroit and Philly and 2 years in Washington prior to Philly). He seems to be the man to get a young team to get going, but has yet to be able to harness a roster built for the playoffs.
Byron Scott – A joke that has been making the rounds on Twitter, that is nevertheless true, is that Cleveland’s longest tenured coach (all of Cleveland sports) is now Terry Francona at a whopping 13 games. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though, most coaches that oversee the transition period after the loss of a superstar, to free agency, injury or retirement, don’t make it to the light at the end of the tunnel. Scott has resided in the dregs of the division with a 64-166 record over three years with the post-LeBron Cavs. Kyrie Irving was the prize that lead to Scott’s demise because when people have such a huge talent on the roster and the team continues to underperform, most see it as a problem with the coach as opposed to the roster. We’ve seen it time and time again with new top picks that are given a new coach immediately prior to the roster taking a step forward; Vinny Del Negro in Chicago, Byron Scott in Cleveland, Paul Silas in Cleveland (LeBron), Del Harris in Los Angeles (Kobe), I guess Monty Williams should watch his back in New Orleans. Scott was probably not given a fair shake in this firing, Zach Lowe would cite his defensive tactics, but sometimes you have to shake things up to take the next step (i.e. all the previous examples, whether they are just correlation or causation can’t be definitively known). But hey, he’ll still get to collect his $4.5 million salary for the 2013/14 season.
Lawrence Frank – Lame duck coaches have little power in their final year, and are very rarely brought back. The coaches that are desired are often extended long before their lame duck year. This is the type of assurance that Lawrence Frank wanted from the Detroit Pistons. They are looking to take the next step with their roster as they have slowly purged terrible free agent signings of years past and are building around a possibly dominant big man core of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Pistons GM Joe Dumars saw the future transition writing on the wall and decided to bring in someone to take the next step…hopefully not needing to be replaced right before the big jump to perennial playoff contender. If it weren’t for Byron Scott and his lowly Cavaliers, the Pistons would have likely been the bottom team in the Central. Frank led the Pistons to a 54-94 record, which is fairly admirable seeing as he was dealing with some below average talent for much of his time. Frank was owner Tom Gores choice by all accounts, but it sounds like Dumars will get the final say this time around on the head coach carousel.
Mike D’Antoni – I really don’t want to harp on the Lakers and I’m pretty sick of hearing about the team that lost its superstar and snuck into a 7th seed (yaay for a HOU-OKC playoff matchup) more than any other team in the NBA. Needless to say, I’ll keep this short…GM Mitch Kupchak has gotten out ahead of this controversy and has told the media that D’Antoni has been assured that he will return for the 2013/14 season. They don’t want to be paying 2 coaches to sit at home.
Chuck Person – I’ve heard one fantastic theory of a head coaching candidate by Sam Amick…
In Philly, Lakers asst. Chuck Person has compelling pitch: was great for Bynum, coached Spencer Hawes & knows P-Jax's two-big system well.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 18, 2013
Amick sees this as an opportunity for Philly, but I see it as a match made in heaven for the Detroit Pistons. Give Amick credit though, Detroit wasn’t a confirmed opening yet. Chuck Person knows a great 2-big system to run that would take immense advantage of a roster with two talented front court players like Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Brian Shaw – It has been reported by Sean Deveney of Sporting News that Shaw was extremely close to taking the job in Cleveland when Byron Scott was hired, but he decided against it because of the plan in place. Now that the plan is much more clear and has a star like Irving attached, he may have to reconsider and could take his talents to Cleveland to be the new coach to take the Cavs to the next level.
Retreads – With Mikhail Prokhorov at the reigns of a money pit and always wanting to make a splash, I feel obligated to mention the usuals like Jeff and Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan as possible replacements for the interim tagged P.J. Carlesimo. It just seems to easy to point out that Prokhorov will want to bring in a big name to coach this team next year, despite the valiant efforts of the deserving Carlesimo.
Update 8:25 pm – I’ve heard all day that a Mike Brown to the Cavaliers deal is possible, most recently as per RealGM.
Mike Brown, Cavaliers Have Mutual Interest — http://t.co/0uar3uaa4M
— RealGM (@RealGM) April 19, 2013
Update 2:23 pm on 4/23 – Mike Brown agrees to return to the Cavaliers as head coach. Bringing him back means he might have more power than before.
Update 12:14 pm on 4/23 – Mike Dunlap was fired by the Charlotte Bobcats. He goes one and done in Charlotte for the great (kidding) GM/Owner Michael Jordan. He is quickly becoming an even more iffy version of Jerry Jones with the Cowboys and he would be wise to bring in Phil Jackson in a basketball czar role. Jordan likely doesn’t want to cede power to another person, especially one who already held power over him during his playing career, but the Bobcats are not exactly on the up and coming lists. As a Bulls fan I hope they’re still bad for another 2-3 years to get a great lottery pick eventually.
I’ll keep reporting what I hear as the day comes to an end and possibly going forward so stay tuned. We aren’t done yet, and the seats will be hot, even for some playoff coaches like Larry Drew, Jim Boylan and of course P.J. Carlesimo.