The NBA coaching carousel has long been a fascinating phenomenon. Teams who underperform for a season or two always seem to think that the grass could be greener on the other side of a new coaching hire.
Any organization that has a significant amount of NBA talent on its roster but doesn’t come away with a title or an extended postseason run will have to find someone to blame.
And if it’s not the roster, then it can’t possibly be the general manager who put together that collection of talent either.
That makes the coach calling the plays an easy target, as the most sensible scapegoat for that season’s shortcomings.
Sometimes, swapping out the play-caller can lead to an exponential increase in the team’s ceiling.
For example, when the Golden State Warriors retained their core, but replaced Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr, they began a dynasty built upon a creative, perimeter-based motion offense and non-traditional defensive lineups.
Kerr’s willingness to go beyond the status quo made the Dubs’ unique roster construction one of the most dangerous configurations in NBA history. For every Steve Kerr, though, there are plenty of failed coaching changes.
In recent history, Chauncey Billups, Nate McMillan, and Steve Nash come to mind as some of the recently heralded saviors of their respective franchises; all of whom failed spectacularly to improve upon the performance that preceded them as head coaches.
This past season and playoffs have been a graduate-level course on the short lifespans of NBA coaches.
Taking a quick glance at the market, there’s an unprecedented number of some of the winningest play-callers in league history available after being dismissed by their respective teams for what the brasses deemed as failed campaigns.
Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, and Doc Rivers all have a championship ring for their efforts in past seasons, and yet, all are currently unemployed after the Philadelphia 76ers dismissed Rivers following yet another blown playoff series lead and an embarrassing showing from his team in a pivotal Game 7 that could have sent them to Philadelphia’s first conference finals in over two decades.
|Unemployed Coaches with recent Rings|
|Nick Nurse||1||237 – 170||.582|
|Mike Budenholzer||1||484 – 317||.604|
|Doc Rivers||1||1097 – 763||.590|
Aside from those three title holders, there are plenty of other successful coaches that don’t have a team to call their own yet including Kenny Atkinson, Mike D’Antoni, and Frank Vogel; the last of which also has won a championship in the past.
It’ll be interesting to see if all of these highly lauded former coaches end up simply swapping teams and if the grass does turn out greener with simply coaching changes for these squads.
— ESPN (@espn) May 16, 2023
| Title: NBA Coaching market filled with unprecedented level of talent
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: May 4, 2022
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