BEIJING, Dec. 28 -- Every year, at least a handful of NBA coaches wind up
unemployed through some combination of bad play and bad luck. This season, there
has to be another reason.
Inflated expectations? The recession? A revolt against the coaching
profession? Not even halfway through the season, NBA coaches have as weak a hold
as ever on their jobs.
"I said to somebody, I think there's a coup out there," Houston
Rockets coach Rick Adelman said.
Sacramento Kings head coach Rick Adelman yells during a game against the San Antonio Spurs in the second half of Game Three in the first round of the NBA Western conference playoffs in Sacramento, California April 28, 2006. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Adelman was smiling, but this is no laughing matter for his profession. Six
coaches were fired before Christmas, 20 percent of the league's total and the
most at this point in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Nine teams
changed coaches in the 2004-05 season, a record that could be in jeopardy.
"I just wish I could
be in the meeting with the owner when that GM who is firing
them is guaranteeing, 'We're going to be better by making this change,' because I don't
see it ever getting that much better," Denver Nuggets coach George Karl said.
Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl (L) talks with Carmelo Anthony during a time out of their 98-87 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in game 2 of the NBA Western Conference first round playoff series in Los Angeles, April 24, 2006. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
The Oklahoma City Thunder got the firings rolling by dismissing P.J.
Carlesimo after a 1-12 start, then posted the same record in Scott Brooks' first
13 games. The injury-plagued Washington Wizards (Eddie Jordan) and Sacramento
Kings (Reggie Theus) also made changes. So did the Toronto Raptors (Sam
Mitchell), Philadelphia 76ers (Maurice Cheeks) and Minnesota Timberwolves (Randy
Wittman), teams that expected to be much better than they are.
Coaches always say they're hired expecting to be fired - but not this much,
this soon. "It's pretty consistent the way they're going about it. Once you
start going in the other direction, there's no miracle trades," Adelman said.
"The classic line I've seen a couple of times is, 'Everybody's accountable.'
I've seen general managers say that, or personnel people. But everybody's still
there but the coach.
"So not everybody is accountable. Even though that's a nice statement to
say, I don't think that's the truth. When you're a coach in this league, you
know that's something that can happen at any time," he said.
Adelman notes that young coaches often get started with bad jobs. Theus,
for example, saw Mike Bibby and Ron Artest traded during his one-plus season by
a Kings team that is on the decline after Adelman had it near the top earlier
Karl said some of the problem is the false hopes teams have after summer
signings. The 76ers contracted Elton Brand and the Raptors acquired Jermaine
O'Neal, and both teams were widely picked to finish in the top half of the
Eastern Conference. However, neither club gave its coach much time to get the
new changes working - even though Philadelphia started slowly last season before
Cheeks led a second-half surge into the playoffs.
"Most of those teams were expecting to be substantially better than they're
performing," Karl said. But predictions by writers and team officials are often
made before anyone sees how a team jells - or doesn't. "Everybody thinks they're
going to win a championship in the summer," he said.
(Source: Shanghai Daily/Agencies)