The Coaching Dilemma

Something has been happening in the NBA since the regular season ended that has been shocking to me. Big time, successful coaches from playoff teams have been getting let go left and right.

                 I have no issues with coaches getting fired if their teams have had terrible years, or they aren’t getting through to players, or the system they run doesn’t fit the talent that they have. Keith Smart, for instance, needed to go. He clearly didn’t know how to use the roster given him by Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs. To be fair, not many coaches would be successful given the pile of crap he had to work with though. But for coaches like Vinnie Del Negro, Lionel Hollins, P.J. Carlesimo, and George Karl getting the boot after a good or even great year is just flat out ridiculous.

                Carlesimo did an amazing job as the interim Head Coach of the New Jersey Nets.  The Nets had a .648 winning percentage with P.J. at the helm.  Granted, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs but at least give a guy a full season to see what he can do, especially after the run he had to end the regular season.

                The Clippers with Del Negro at the head, on the other hand, very much underachieved this season. I don’t see how this was his fault however. You can’t blame him for Blake Griffin spraining his ankle on Lamar Odom during practice.  This may just be my opinion but I think the Clippers make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals with a healthy Griffin.

                Hollins, thanks to Griffin’s ankle injury and Westbrook’s knee injury managed to make it to the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the far superior San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzles didn’t have enough shooters to spread the floor for Z Bo and Gasol to do their thing in the paint. The reason for that is because Memphis traded their two best outside threats during the season. Moving Wayne Ellington with Josh Selby and Marreese Speights was apparently for cap reasons. Ellington shot over 42% from three for the Grizzles before being dealt to Cleveland.  He would have been able to create plenty of space for the Memphis bigs had he not been moved. The trade of Rudy Gay was even more painful. Detractors will say the Griz were a better team without Gay but it sure didn’t look like it against the Spurs. Although Rudy isn’t a great outside shooter, he has always been willing to take, and make shots in big spots. That’s a far better option than Tony Allen or Tayshaun Prince to me.

                Last and certainly most perplexing in my mind is the Denver Nuggets letting go of George Karl.  Karl coached in Denver for 9 years, making the playoffs every season. His teams did struggle in the playoffs only making it out of the first round once. That season the Nuggets got bounced in the Western Conference Finals by the eventual Champion Los Angeles Lakers in six games.  The key pieces to that roster were moved a few seasons later.  In fact, the Nuggets roster has constantly been influx during Karl’s tenure.  This year’s version was one of the most entertaining in the league.  Denver, however, had the misfortune of playing Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the first round without one of their most important pieces in Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari was their second leading scorer during the regular season and also a solid defender. He would have helped to slow down the Warriors other up and coming star, Klay Thompson to give the Nuggets a better chance to advance. I know it’s always painful for fans to see a 2 seed get beat by a 7 but does a great coach need to pay the price.  Karl has made it to the playoffs in 20 of his last 21 years as Head Coach, taking 3 different teams to the conference finals. He will surely be the most sought after coach of this off season for that reason alone.

                When an ownership group decides that really good, isn’t good enough than maybe it’s time to look at the front office or the players before dropping the axe on a great coach.  They always seem to take the fall even though most of the time it is not their fault.

5 thoughts on “The Coaching Dilemma

  1. This post was great! Do you think that Chris Paul was a factor in the decision to part ways with Del Negro? I can’t imagine he would be gone if Paul had spoken on his behalf.

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    1. I absolutely agree with you. Had Chris Paul went to management and said “If Vinny stays then I stay,” then Del Negro wouldn’t be part of this group.

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