NBA Head Coaches are like cats on a hot tin roof. You wonder why they're up there and how long they can stay on.
It’s a tough job. You have to be a leader, be a bit mad, and have significant people and organizational skills to be successful. And you have to have "it’ – what ever "it’ is.
The news of the firing of Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott rippled through the nets of NBA newswires.
First, new comer Emeka Okafor is slow to recover from a toe injury, then Rondo challenges Chris Paul, and now Byron is gone. Things ain’t so easy in the Big Easy, and got worse with Paul's ankle inury. With a 3-6 record to start the year, after winning 49 games last year, I guess someone had to be blamed. It will always be the coach.
Honestly, I was surprised the Hornets held it together as long as they did after the first attempt to trade Tyson Chandler to the Thunder. That was as direct a sign of financial needs taking precedence over winning as you can get . Yes, that can affect team morale.
Such a move would not be surprising for a non-contending club, but for a team with playoff aspirations, it was an eyebrow raiser. Then, reminiscent of a Denver flip flop, they tried to compete, even adding Antonio Daniels later in the year. The Hornets had added our own James Posey the summer before, hoping that he was that final piece. My how things change. This roster was never deep.
Scott was Coach of the Year just two years ago. The head coach position is, at best, precarious. Yahoo! Sports Marc Spears reports that it was intimated that there were chemistry issues and philosophical differences between Scott and some players.Adrian Wojnarowski has more on Byron. Ironically, Scott was ousted from New Jersey largely because of Jason Kidd. This time he makes sure he has a good relationship with his star point guard, Chris Paul – but loses much of the rest of the team. Go figure.
Wojo reports David West says they ‘didn’t really run many plays’, and said they needed a change. It was suggested that CP3 doesn’t really like Jeff Bower. Now the Hornets 'franchise' goes down with an injury. He left the arena last night on crutches.
The devastation in the Crescent City is approaching Katrina levels. There is no truth to the rumor that the Hornets owners, the Shinns, who are as much responsible for the current situation as anyone, are calling FEMA for help. But blame is also shared by Bower, who was lauded a few short years ago.
Some Hornets’ management were unhappy that Scott was playing rounds of golf amid such a start, even requiring the team’s to ‘push back a departure date’ to accommodate on one occasion. Coach Scott was 'linking it' with Chris Paul.
Doctors had cleared Emeka Okafor to play at least a week before he actually did. Players were starting to wonder. Did Scott appear to be too lax with players?
If so, that would only be another tiny stick on the fire. The 58 point loss to the Nuggets in last year’s playoffs was a telltale sign that things weren’t right in the Big Easy.
I’m wondering how happy James Posey is at the moment.
So GM Jeff Bower takes over. Never a head coach but with adequate sideline experience, and with Tim Floyd at his side, they will try to resurrect this season. Chris Paul holds that team together. Depending on the extent of his recent injury, an already disastrous start could become a wasted season.
For other teams, the only fringe benefit from such a team's decline, if the team's direction isn't righted, might be a fire sale on its roster.Though the Shinn's are spending above the cap currently, the previous idea to pair down salary might re-surface. And if you are spending over the cap for a team that hasn't even played .500 ball this season, who would blame them?
Hard economic times haven't shaken out of the U.S. economy yet. Even in a cash rich off season coming up, teams might not have as much money to dispense as before with a lower cap. A new CBA is being negotiated and the possibility of a lock out isn't out of the question. That could all lead teams like the cash starved Hornets to make Draconian moves.
The next question is...who...other than David West and CP3, would you want from that roster?
No one's taking Peja's $29 million off their hands. Okafor, Posey, Mo Pete? Solid players all, but financially, not a bargain among them.
But that's getting ahead of the game. Can Bower, a healthy CP3, and a healthy Emeka Okafor save this season?
In the meantime rumors are surfacing that Don Nelson' s Golden State job might in jeopardy, as well as Mike Dunleavy's in Clipperland.
The Gong Show
Let's take the Chuck BerrisTour around the league of potentially bad acts about to be gonged.
Call it a jump up on the hot tin roof. We are looking for some hot feet. Some other 'cats' might be feeling the heat soon. Remember the domino effect or serial firings last season?
What other head coaches else could be in jeopardy?
a) No doubt, the Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Woodson is on the hot seat this season. You might wonder why.
He has finally gotten Josh Smith to stop taking threes and J-Smoove appears to be playing more within the offense and around the hoop more – where he should be.
At 7-2, and a trophy win over the Celtics in Boston, they are off to another fast start. Can they sustain it? They have a rolling offense (107.8 =4th best) but their defense is giving up 6 points more than last season? Does it matter when you are 7-2?
The big question here is…. What will be required of this team for Woodson to get a new contract?
Another what if…..
b) The Cavs started 3-6? Would Coach Mike Brown be packing his belongings? Remember all the post playoff murmurings about alleged Cavs management unhappiness with Brown?
Cleveland seems to have righted the ship. They just beat a surging and defensive minded Miami Heat. After starting 0-2, they are now 6-1 over their last seven.
But there is a strange trend developing here. Sam Mitchell was Coach of the Year in 2007. He was fired in 2008. Byron Scott was Coach of the Year in 2008. He was fired in 2009. Guess who got Coach of the Year in 2009?
Yep. Mr. Mike Brown step up on to trap door, please. Does that mean he is safe until 2010? Hide that gonger.
Interesting statistic: Shaq has not had an offensive rebound for 4 straight games.
c) The Timberwolves are off to a horrible start at 1-9. Kevin Love out is only part of their troubles. Will Kurt Rambis get the whole year to work with this team, if things continue as they are?
d) Lawrence Frank – the Nets are decimated with injuries. They weren’t going to be all that good if all were healthy. Will he become the fall guy for the 0-9 Nets? It appears so, but it might not happen until the year is over. Can Frank fight the odds, do well enough with what he has to rise a a phoenix? Odds are against it.
e) Mike D’Antoni – the Knicks are 1-9. Why do I feel that he won’t be blamed? Oh yeah, Donnie Walsh hired him.
f) Flip Saunders’ Wizards are missing Antawn Jamison…but they are still playing terrible ball. This one surprises me… and probably everyone else. What is the problem with the Wizards? They are 2-6. Worse they are have lost their last 5 and haven’t scored over 90 points in any of those games. Wait a minute. Whew. They just signed Earl Boykins. Everything is going to be fine now.
g) Lionel Hollins – he didn’t want Iverson in the first place. Can he get the team back on track? They are 1-9 and on a 8 game losing streak.
h) Paul Westphal has the lowly Kings off to a solid 5-4 start, including an impressive win at Utah. His job is more than safe…if they play anywhere near this level for the rest of year.
I) Mike Dunleavy – he won’t fire himself as the GM of the Clippers. But now Donald Sterling may do the job himself. What would it take for his removal? The team is without the number one pick Blake Griffin and shooting guard Eric Gordon. They are 3-7. The league's most frugal owner has spent like a drunken sailor of later ($59 mil) compared to his previous history.
J) And last but not least – Don Nelson. His Warriors are 2-5. Will trading ingrate Stephen Jackson allow this team to play better ball? Don’s not going anywhere with his contract..or is he? Will we get to watch another year of "The Don" in action? I still have fond memories of his resurrection of the Warriors a few years ago, culminating in a Dallas take down. will his friend Larry Riley gong him?
Coaches are an unbelievably positive, tenacious group. Sometimes get out of hand. Someone has to pay for under performing teams. Often coaches are part of the problem. Sometimes, it's just easier to fire one man than trade many players.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof....
Brick: You'll make out fine. Your kind always does.
Maggie: Oh, I'm more determined than you think. I'll win all right.
Brick: Win what? What is, uh, the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Maggie: Just stayin' on it, I guess. As long as she can.
So, what is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof in the NBA?
Maggie knew. Just staying on it, I guess. As long as he can.