Sorting through the coaching carousel
Each and every year the NBA undergoes a sort of coaching metamorphosis. The winning teams usually don’t fix what isn’t broken, and the losing teams sometimes opt to change everything. More often than not, the head coach is the first thing to go. These five different teams have already begun searching for their new head coaches.
Los Angeles Lakers
Within the same week, the Lakers lost their head coach and their president of operations. After Magic Johnson resigned, LA fired head coach Luke Walton. Walton was a successful interim head coach in Golden State when Steve Kerr was out, leading the team to an NBA-record 24-0 start.
Since then, he hasn’t had much success. In his three seasons with LA, he never made the playoffs. When your team has LeBron James on its roster and still misses the playoffs, you’re bound to lose your job.
To replace Walton, the Lakers are considering three candidates: Tyronn Lue, Monty Williams and Juwan Howard. Lue was once with the Lakers as a player and coached LeBron in Cleveland for almost three seasons.
Williams was the head coach in New Orleans for five years and is currently an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers. Howard has been an assistant coach in Miami since 2013.
In a puzzling move, the Sacramento Kings fired head coach Dave Joerger. Joerger, a Staples, Minnesota native, just led the team to its best record in 13 years, but they still missed the playoffs. In Joerger’s third season with the team, Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox made huge improvements, which could be why the team performed so well.
Going into this season, they weren’t expected to make the playoffs, so why terminate Joerger’s contract with a year left? According to ESPN, he wasn’t meshing well with management.
As a result, they’ve already hired Luke Walton to replace him. Over the last three seasons, Joerger and Walton have identical 98-148 records. Also notable is that Walton is currently facing sexual assault allegations that date back to 2016.
The Grizzlies haven’t had much success since the end of their “Grit and Grind” era. Now two years out of the playoffs, the organization has decided to gut large portions of upper management.
Memphis fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and demoted general manager Chris Wallace and vice president of operations John Hillinger. This change was likely in store for the organization considering their recent shift toward rebuilding.
Bickerstaff was less than successful in his season and a half with the team. His overall record as head coach is 48-97.
Can we all take the time to feel bad for Larry Drew? Cleveland fired Tyronn Lue earlier this season, and then fired Drew at the end. What was he supposed to do? Didn’t they want a higher lottery pick anyway?
Cleveland had Kevin Love for 22 games. After him, their best player was … Jordan Clarkson? If you ask me, it’s remarkable that Drew managed to win 19 games.
According to ESPN, Cleveland is meeting with Juwan Howard and Jamahl Mosley, who has been an assistant coach in Dallas for the past five seasons.
The Suns were horrendous this season. Atrocious might be putting it kindly. They finished with the same 19-63 record as Cleveland.
Being under the same breath as Cleveland is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you consider that Phoenix actually has healthy talent under contract.
DeAndre Ayton, the first-overall pick in last year’s draft, produced a fine rookie season. They also have a young and healthy Devin Booker, who averaged about 26 points and 6 assists per game. So what’s the problem?
Phoenix thinks it’s head coach Igor Kokoskov, and I’m not sure if they’re right or wrong. All I know is that if you get the first-overall pick in the draft and still manage to get worse, something is definitely wrong.
Phoenix is pursuing Monty Williams to fill the position, as reported by ESPN.