Turnover is a word often heard in bakeries and coaching. During my formative years, the former was discussed a whole lot more than the latter. During my three decades as a college coach, while bakeries still held a place in my heart, the coaching version vaulted to the top of the list. (Once I retired, the order switched). My “turnover” interest was of the college variety. This post, however, will discuss the NBA picture. Although the NBA is the highest level of basketball, it has always been the anti-role model for hiring coaches.
Businesses improve in nearly every area as time moves along. There are more studies performed and successful models to emulate. You’d think someone would have discovered a method for the hiring process. In fact, someone actually might just have the key (San Antonio would be a place to start) but, in such a business, nobody is sharing secrets with the competition. Out of bounds plays and defensive coverages maybe, but selecting the right leader (or leadership team) is definitely off-limits. Not only has the process of hiring not improved, it has regressed to epic lows.
Currently, the Nets, Knicks, Rockets, Wizards, Timberwolves and Kings either have openings or an interim in place who most likely will not be hired permanently. Throw in the Suns, who fired their coach in mid-season and that makes seven openings in a league which only has 30 such jobs.
Hot names as far as potentially new hires are former NBA head coaches: Scott Brooks, Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, Sam Mitchell, George Karl, Mike D’Antoni, Vinny Del Negro, Jeff Hornacek, Kevin McHale, Lionel Hollins and Mike Brown – each of whom has been fired at least once from a previous head coaching stint.
If teams are interested in dipping into the college ranks, these current college coaches’ names are always bandied about: John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Sean Miller, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self, Chris Mullin and Kevin Ollie.
Occasionally, an NBA assistant is tabbed to move over a spot. If a team is planning to take that route, the following have been mentioned: Sam Cassell, Luke Walton, Nate McMillan, Mike Woodson, Ettore Messina, Adrian Griffin, Juwan Howard and David Fizdale.
For the ball club looking to make history – and hire the first ever female head coach, Nancy Lieberman and Becky Hammon, current NBA assistants, are viable options.
That’s an awful lot of excellent candidates – and there’s a better than average chance, someone who is not on the above list will fill at least one of the openings. In reality, it probably isn’t that difficult to find someone who could please ownership. The problem is hiring one who will please the fans and the players (which also means the players’ agents).
23% of the NBA coaching jobs will change from last year to this one. The Lakers are rumored to release Byron Scott shortly. If they do, the number changes to nearly 27%. When you think about it, that’s a remarkable statistic – yet next year’s number will undoubtedly be in the same neighborhood. Why? Why can’t bright, highly successful millionaire and billionaire owners ever get this right? In truth, the NBA franchise is not the actual business of the owner. It’s more his “toy.” So, often, he leaves the hiring decision of who is going to coach to others “more qualified.” More than anything, though, it’s a numbers game.
You see, there are 1230 NBA regular season games each year (30 teams, two play at a time, 82 games per club). This season, between the Spurs and the Warriors, their combined record was 140-24, yet:
“Every year the overall NBA record is 615-615.”