Coaches headed to the unemployment line
There is no doubt about it, there will be NBA coaching vacancies coming.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Wednesday will mark the end of the NBA regular season and thus the end of some head-coaching tenures.
It's as inevitable as the sunrise and in some cases truly warranted. We could debate the merits of firing these men, but let's deal in realities. There are going to be vacancies, so let's take a look at those who are definitely gone, and those who should check the caller ID before answering the phone on Thursday.
MIKE WOODSON, NEW YORK KNICKS
Most, myself included, are pretty shocked that Woodson survived the season, but, assuming he doesn't get canned with a game to go, he will most assuredly not be brought back as the Knicks' skipper.
Woodson is in trouble on two different fronts.
First, someone has to take the fall for a team that will win almost 20 fewer games from last season. His 2012-13 Knicks squad won the Atlantic Division and got to the second round of the playoffs, but this group could be on the first tee at Bethpage Black Thursday morning.
Woodson is not the greatest coach in the history of the sport, but it became pretty clear the Knicks missed the leadership of Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace. Also, it didn't help that J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton both regressed throughout the season.
The other factor going against Woodson is Phil Jackson was brought in to run basketball operations. Jackson didn't hire Woodson and speculation has already run rampant the Zen Master will bring in either Steve Kerr or Derek Fisher, assuming he retires, to coach the team.
No matter why, Woodson is a goner.
RICK ADELMAN, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
This will be a voluntary move by Adelman. Both he and the team have options on the contract and it's expected Adelman won't opt in due to his age (he'll be 68 in June) and the fact his wife has been in poor health the last two years.
Adelman missed quite a few games last season to be with his wife, who has battled seizures.
Adelman gave it a go with this T'wolves squad but it will miss the playoffs once again. Even if Adelman wanted to stay (he hasn't spoken much on the subject), there's no guarantee Minnesota management would want him back, although a hunch says it would.
Flip Saunders returned to the fold before the season as president of basketball operations and minority owner. He is the winningest coach in Timberwolves history, so maybe he's got an itch.
No matter why, Adelman will not be back on the bench. It's a shame because Adelman is a massively underrated head coach who just couldn't get past dominant teams of his era. His Portland Trail Blazers squad ran into Michael Jordan's Bulls and his Sacramento Kings couldn't get by the Los Angeles Lakers.
JOHN LOYER, DETROIT PISTONS
Whatever less than zero is, that is the likelihood Loyer is retained.
With Wednesday's road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder looming, Loyer is 8-23 since taking over for Maurice Cheeks and, if possible, the Pistons look worse.
Detroit's roster is more poorly constructed than one of my 2-year-old's sand castles. That all falls on president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who is now the former president of basketball operations.
Whoever the Pistons get to replace Dumars will have hiring power for next coach.
No matter what, there is no chance Loyer is the head coach of the Pistons next season.
MIKE D' ANTONI, LOS ANGELES LAKERS
There have been more elegant power struggles following military-led coups than what's going on with the Lakers.
Jeanie and Jim Buss are trying to sort through things since the death of their father, Jerry, and the D'Antoni hiring was one of the most disastrous moves Jim made. He eschewed the most championship-laden coach in history and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Phil Jackson to put a different stamp on the Lakers.
Return to sender.
D'Antoni's tenure has been hideous, although anyone with a functioning brain knows the reason for this season's failures doesn't have as much to do with D'Antoni's philosophy as injuries.
Kobe Bryant's season was shorter than Mike Tyson's cameo in "The Hangover." Steve Nash has been in and out of the lineup with a back injury. Pau Gasol, the only real fixture in the rotation, has been out with vertigo. Even the bench guys who contributed early missed significant time.
D'Antoni is at the helm of the worst season in the franchise's storied history. That puts him on thin ice.
Do the Lakers, specifically Jim Buss, want to basically acknowledge this as a catastrophe already? That implicit declaration of failure might be too prideful a pill to swallow.
Hunch is D'Antoni is gone though. Rex Chapman asserted that Kentucky's John Calipari would get the job. A big name could be sought and hired, so D'Antoni may fall victim.
TY CORBIN, UTAH JAZZ
Corbin has led the Jazz since Jerry Sloan's retirement and in 3 1/2 seasons hasn't yielded a single playoff win.
Yes, the Jazz went youth-oriented and the chances for success this season were slim. Utah has finished poorly, which will hurt his cause, plus won't Jazz brass be angry at themselves for letting Jeff Hornacek, a strong NBA Coach of the Year candidate, go to the Phoenix Suns?
Corbin has had long enough and my gut says the Jazz are moving on.
MARK JACKSON, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
This may seem strange, but if you believe in the notion that where there's smoke, there's fire, then there's something going on with Jackson and the Warriors.
There have been several reports saying Jackson's job might be in jeopardy if the team falters in the playoffs. That's a preposterous notion on its face, but the puzzling factor in Jackson's future has to do with his assistants.
Brian Scalabrine was reassigned to the team's D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz. Darren Erman was let go for violating team policy. The first seems to be a clash between Jackson and Scalabrine; the second was on Erman.
It's odd to jettison two assistant coaches during the season. That's not a fireable offense, though.
Golden State has lost some bad games this season, but how quickly we forget Jackson leading the Warriors to a first-round upset of the Denver Nuggets last season. Sure, what have you done for me lately, but Warriors ownership shouldn't fire Jackson.
Maybe, assuming the Warriors lose to the L.A. Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round this season. Golden State's ownership has sunk a lot of money into the franchise and with a new arena coming it could be looking for return on the investment.
Still, the guess here is that Jackson stays, unless, of course, he tires of the speculation and bails himself. He'd be an attractive coaching option for good teams.
I DON'T THINK SO, BUT POSSIBLE
MIKE MALONE, SACRAMENTO KINGS
He's the least likely of anyone you'll see on this list, but oh does he seem negative.
It's been a highlight this season to listen to his postgame press conferences after losses.
"I hated our defense."
"It looked they didn't even want to be out there, to be honest."
I certainly appreciate his candor, but could he possibly be happy? Also, are the Kings happy he publicly eviscerates his team after almost every loss?
Malone is not on the hot seat and he's endured major trades during the season. This was just more of a psychological observation.
MONTY WILLIAMS, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Fourth season and he hasn't won 35 games in the last three.
JACQUE VAUGHN, ORLANDO MAGIC
Two seasons and almost no improvement. I'm a big fan, but how much leeway does Vaughn have?
LARRY DREW, MILWAUKEE BUCKS
Imagine the exit interview:
BUCKS: "Larry, we are concerned that you finished with a worse record than a team that is almost publicly trying to lose, 26 of them in a row, as a matter of fact."
DREW: No response, because honestly, what can he say?