Coaching Carousel Starts To Spin In NBA
TIM REYNOLDS,AP Basketball Writer
The first time Byron Scott was fired, Lawrence Frank took his job. Now they’re both looking for work, and the NBA’s coaching carousel is already spinning in three cities.
Scott was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Frank was ousted by the Detroit Pistons and Doug Collins resigned as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, all three Thursday, a day after the end of the regular season.
And now the wait continues to see what happens in other cities, such as Sacramento, Toronto and maybe even Atlanta.
“There’s a lot of things I want to enjoy,” Collins said. “I think it’s every man’s dream to be able to live that life that you’ve worked so hard to try and live. That’s what I want to do.”
All three of the coaches who were packing their offices Thursday missed the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, after leading teams that combined for records of 87-159.
Collins essentially chose his own fate, though he could have stayed on the 76ers’ sideline if he was so inclined with one year and $4.5 million left on his contract. He will remain with Philadelphia as an adviser and will surely play a role in what the team decides to do with its roster this summer.
Scott and Frank weren’t as fortunate.
Scott was hired by the Cavaliers about a week before LeBron James decided that he wanted to leave Cleveland and join the Miami Heat. James’ Heat team won 66 games this season alone; Scott’s three Cavaliers teams combined to win 64 in three seasons, and owner Dan Gilbert said the team’s lack of significant growth on the defensive end played a big part in the coach’s downfall.
“I feel like a piece of me is missing now,” Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said, not long after the news of Scott’s dismissal broke. “The relationship I have developed with him was very special. I’m just hurt. I’m trying to get over the loss of my basketball father.”
Plenty of big names may try to return to the sideline this offseason, with speculation surely going to revolve around the likes of Phil Jackson, Stan Van Gundy and Mike Brown. Some top assistants also might get their chance, like Miami’s David Fizdale, who is a close confidant to Erik Spoelstra with the reigning champion Heat.
One of the things Scott, Frank and Collins had in common this season was that their teams all have young, promising guards, with Irving in Cleveland, Jrue Holiday in Philadelphia and Brandon Knight in Detroit.
None of those three probably had the years they wanted. Irving missed 23 games, Holiday shot just 38 percent after March 1 and Knight’s season will be best remembered for him getting leveled on a dunk by the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.
“He did what he felt he had to do,” Holiday said about Collins’ decision, which he indicated caught him off-guard. “But it is sad to see him go. … I know I’ve grown so much with him as the coach.”
Scott and Frank were probably the two coaches most likely to face firings in this offseason, though others likely remain on the proverbial hot seat. Sacramento’s ownership situation could affect Keith Smart’s future, Dwane Casey in Toronto might be in trouble and some coaches of playoff teams might not be safe either. Atlanta, for example, might continue its roster revamping, and that might lead to a change for coach Larry Drew.
Frank was a Nets’ assistant when the then-New Jersey franchise fired Scott in 2004. Frank took over for his former boss, in what became his first stint leading an NBA club. He won his first 13 games with the Nets — who ultimately fired Frank after he went 0-16 to open the 2009-10 season.
The Pistons brought Frank on before the start of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. He went 54-94 with Detroit, and the franchise — which has some free-agent money to spend this summer — clearly felt he didn’t figure into the long-term plan.
“Yes, you can tell the world: We’re ready to spend,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said.
His spending will now include some dollars on a new coach as well.
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