This has been a unique season in terms of NBA coaching firings.
There are always coaches who buy it somewhat early in the season (think Paul Westphal last season for Sacramento.) Typically those firings are reserved for particularly heinous starts to the season (think Lawrence Frank with the 2009 Nets).
However, this season we’ve seen two coach whackings that were so senseless, its like Christopher Moltisanti of the Sopranos carried them out.
We’ve also seen a third coach, Scott Skiles, who essentially treated his job like a guy ready to light himself on fire, sacrifice himself for the good of the program by mutually agreeing with management to leave Milwaukee.
I did an entire piece on this when Mike Brown got whacked, so I won’t belabor the point.
But even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, were the Lakers actually underachieving in their ridiculously short time under Brown? Or was it actually par for the course as we watch Mike D’Antoni struggle?
The answer is less relevant than the absurdity of firing an NBA coach 5 games into a season. The fact that the most valuable franchise in the sport engaged in such shortsighted stupidity is also a giant upset, but I digress.
The Nets’ firing of Avery Johnson was not done as quickly, but was just as absurd. Brooklyn’s front office and ownership has deluded themselves into believing that they actually have a title contender on their hands. They do not.
They have a 2nd tier playoff team in the East.
Johnson, although not tactically strong at times, still went 14-14 while not having his best player in Brook Lopez for a third of his games. A record of 14-14 isn’t so bad under those circumstances.
For Skiles, he and the Bucks agreeing to mutually part ways was the NBA coaching version of euthanasia. Skiles got saddled with the antithesis of the kind of team he likes. He was stuck with two ball-dominant, score-first guards in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
Skiles has a tough time stomaching one of those types of guards, let alone these two. He had one forward who can score in Ersan Ilyasova and he didn’t like to play him big minutes because he didn’t think he was playing tough enough this year.
With the Bucks just signing Ilyasova to a 4-year $45 million contract, the decision to go light on his minutes in the first year of the deal wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm by management.
When you combine all of this with the fact that Skiles was in the last season of his contract and the Bucks have a big decision to make on Brandon Jennings at season’s end, changing coaches seems to be a decent course of action for both sides despite the fact that Skiles did a decent job with a semi-talented, poorly constructed Bucks roster by going 16-16 in 32 games.
There’s another handful of coaches I could see getting the axe between now and March. Here’s the short list.