Beware struggling head coaches in the National Basketball Association: the front office is trigger happy. Six weeks into the season and already four teams have made changes at the head coaching position.
The most recent firing came Monday when the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Randy Wittman after a dismal 4-15 start to the season. Given his poor performance, the move is justified, but what Wolves owner Glen Taylor said is ridiculous.
According to Taylor, Wittman hadn’t lived up to the ‘goals and expectations’ considering the ‘talent’ he had to work with.?
And what talent is that exactly? Taylor is just trying to make himself feel better, because he put together this roster of duds. They have Al Jefferson, and that’s pretty much it. Oh, and my main man Mark Madsen (can’t forget about the Mad Dog). Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, and Corey Brewer are all works in progress that haven’t showed much progression thus far in their careers.?
Again, Wittman probably wasn’t the guy in Minnesota. His record (38-105) in nearly two full seasons on the job suggests as much. The NBA is a player’s league, though, and they should take accountability when things go bad just as much as they receive praise when everything is going right.?
P.J. Carlesimo, Eddie Jordan, and Sam Mitchell have been the three other casualties.
Carlesimo lasted just 13 games in Oklahoma City, Jordan was axed two days later (11 games into Washington’s season) and Mitchell was fired after the Toronto Raptors lost nine of their first 17.?
The Thunder own the worst record in the league, because they don’t have a player who can will them to victory. Kevin Durant is only in his second year and still hasn’t got the handle on the professional game. He puts up good numbers, but he needs to learn how to lead a team that needs exactly that: leadership.?
The Wizards have been without Gilbert Arenas all season. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison didn’t do enough to aid Jordan when the rest of the team was quitting on him.?
Mitchell is a former Coach of the Year award winner and should have been given more time to turn this season around. He is a proven head coach, but the league has always been about ‘What have you done for me lately?’?
There are other head coaches around the league who haven’t done much lately. If you think four head coaches is enough for one NBA season, then think again fellow NBA apologist. There is a strong possibility that at least three more head coaches could be packing their bags before the end of the regular season.?
– Reggie Theus, Sacramento Kings?
I know what you’re thinking. Can the Sacramento Kings really get rid of the guy who played as Coach Bill Fuller in five episodes of the 1995 television series ‘Hang Time?’ Well my fellow ’90s kids, the brutal truth is that Theus did a better job of coaching there than he has coaching the Sacramento. ?
The Kings are 5-16 and they enter this week’s back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Lakers riding an eight-game losing streak — and of the past four losses, three have been blowouts of 26, 23 and 33 points.?
Kevin Martin has been injured for most of the season, but Theus has a decent roster to work with and hasn’t been able to get it done.?
– Mike Dunleavy, Los Angeles Clippers?
The Clippers’ 4-16 start has them sitting No. 14 in the Western Conference, slightly better than the hapless Thunder. The problem for Clipper fans is that Dunleavy took over as general manager after Elgin Baylor was shown the door, giving Dunleavy some leverage.
And when has owner Donald Sterling ever done what’s right for the organization??
Dunleavy’s clash with superstar Baron Davis is typical Dunleavy. Davis needs the freedom to play the game that former coach Don Nelson gave him in Golden State. The Clippers have the roster to compete night in and night out, but Dunleavy has to go if this team hopes to go anywhere.?
– Terry Porter, Phoenix Suns?
It wasn’t too long ago when the Phoenix Suns were one of the best teams in the NBA, running and gunning and averaging over 100 points a game. But then General Manager Steve Kerr arrived and changed the whole philosophy by trading for Shaquille O’Neal and signing Terry Porter as the head coach. The result is what you see now: an unhappy 12-9 basketball team. ?
One could argue that the Suns of old weren’t going to win a title, but at least they got close. This year’s team will struggle just to make the postseason. Or, as Jim Mora, Sr. once exclaimed, ‘Playoffs!?’ ?
The changeover in Phoenix from Mike D’Antoni’s offensively-oriented system to Porter’s defensive-minded schemes is running into resistance from certain corners of the Suns locker room, notably from Steve Nash who hasn’t looked like a two-time MVP. ?
In the NBA, a head coach needs to accommodate to his roster of players, good or bad, and at the same time, earn the respect of those players. Most coaches are able to do that. The others end up in a mid-December column.