x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Short shelf lives of coaching tenures getting shorter in NBA

This year not even waiting for the play-offs to finish, and even good and proven coaches are not safe, writes Steve Dilbeck.

George Karl was sacked by the Denver Nuggets despite winning NBA Coach of the Year award. Robert Galbraith / Reuters
George Karl was sacked by the Denver Nuggets despite winning NBA Coach of the Year award. Robert Galbraith / Reuters

They do this dance every year in the NBA: fire coaches, unearth retreads, proclaim fresh beginnings.

Teams have been moving with the accelerator pressed to the floor on the coaching carousel, this year not even waiting for the play-offs to finish, and even good and proven coaches are not safe.

George Karl, just named the NBA Coach of the Year, was nonetheless fired by the Denver Nuggets after leading a star-less team to a 57-25 record.

Vinny del Negro was dismissed by the Los Angeles Clippers. All he did was take the Clippers to the first division title and to the play-offs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 20 years.

The Brooklyn Nets fired the interim coach PJ Carlesimo after he led them to a 35-19 record and into the play-offs. This after they fired Avery Johnson in December, shortly after he was named NBA Coach of the Month for November.

The Memphis Grizzlies reportedly are set to let go of Lionel Hollins, who dragged the team into their first conference finals series.

This is extreme even by NBA standards.

Less-surprising hirings have been made, Mike Budenholzer with the Atlanta Hawks, Larry Drew (Milwaukee Bucks), Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix Suns), Mike Brown (Cleveland Cavaliers), Mike Malone (Sacramento Kings) and Steve Clifford (Charlotte Bobcats). And the Detroit Pistons will reportedly hire Mo Cheeks.

Add the Philadelphia 76ers, where coach Doug Collins resigned, and that's almost a third of the NBA changing coaches this spring. And Doc Rivers is uncertain whether he will return to the Boston Celtics.

Denver's decision was particularly stunning. Ty Lawson, the point guard, who led the Nuggets in scoring at only 16.7 points per game, could make no sense of it.

"All of this is crazy and unexpected, don't know what to say," he wrote in a text to the Denver Post.

The Clippers firing coaches is hardly new. They have had 15 coaches during their 29 years in Los Angeles. Most were fired because the team was so bad, but they just completed their best regular season and still dumped Del Negro when they did not get out of the first round of the play-offs.

"This was a difficult decision," the Clippers general manager Gary Sacks said in a familiar statement. "But we feel this is the best decision for our franchise, moving forward."

The Clippers are looking at Bryan Shaw, Jeff Van Gundy, Karl and Hollins. Which more often than not, is how this typically works. Your former coach becomes our new coach.

So maybe the former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is hired by the 76ers or the ex-Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan turns up in Memphis. The carousel continues to spin.

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