Monday, April 2, 2007

Pick a Coach, Any Coach

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about who the Memphis Grizzlies are going to hire as their new coach for next season. The name on everyone’s lips first is that of Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni. Over the weekend, Dick Vitale mentioned that Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan might receive some interest from the Grizz front office, as well. A few other names have been bandied about, too, so let’s explore the options out there.

I'm not in favor of bringing in a coach from the college ranks who has virtually no NBA experience as a player or an assistant, since the differences between coaching the two are miles apart in reality. That's why guys like Marc Iavaroni and Mario Elie are among those at the top of my potential candidates list, while Billy Donovan is on the outside looking in.

I know there has been a lot of talk about not wanting to hire a "retread", but some of these coaches could be good for a rebuilding team (and don't fool yourself into thinking that this team is anything other than that). Names like Rick Adelman, Alvin Gentry, Del Harris, P.J. Carlesimo, Paul Silas, Rudy Tomjanovich and Stan Van Gundy have been mentioned and were hastily dimissed by many fans who screamed for "new blood" at the position. This team is going to have to re-learn how to win after this season -- just like they had to initially learn how to win under Hubie Brown. Will a coach with limited head coaching experience be able to do that? Is it that we don't want to give these coaches another chance based on how the relationships ended with "dragged from the mothballs retreads" Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello?

I think we have to recognize that some coaches are put into situations where it is impossible for them to succeed, so we can't hold that against them in terms of their coaching record. By the same token, you cannot dismiss the mistakes made by those coaches who didn't do enough with the talent placed in their hands *coughDocRiverscough* on more than one occasion. It can be a fine line determining which party a coaching candidate falls into, sometimes.

A name that is starting to receive more consideration locally is that of former assistant Eric Musselman. Rumors abound that he is going to be let go in Sacto, putting him on the open market once again. Rumors from earlier this season mentioned that Jerry West wanted to fire Fratello in the offseason and promote Musselman to the top spot, but was denied the ability to perform this action by the team owners. I believe that Muss was unjustly let go from Golden State, where he achieved more than I thought was possible, given the team he had to work with, and I think that if he is fired from Sacramento it will be undeserved as well. If he were to become available, I'd put him in my top 3 with Iavaroni and Elie. I have a hard time determining why exactly they would want to get rid of him after just one season, though, given the injuries and distractions he has had to deal with. Think about how far Sam Mitchell (a guaranteed lock for the chopping block at the beginning of the season) has come in the space of just one year. Sometimes coaches just need to be given a little more time and patience to see what they can produce. And sometimes they need to be let go before an entire organization is left in ruins.

Right now, my candidate rankings look like this:

1. Marc Iavaroni
2. Eric Musselman
3. Mario Elie
4. Rick Adelman
5. Stan Van Gundy

Feel free to chime in with your own choices or thoughts on mine in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I concur about the college coaches, not just billy d inparticular. SVG is a guy i had not thought about, but the more i do the more i like it. I mean he had miami pretty competitive before he "stepped down." He is like you say a good, vet coach who knows how to win and could help rebuild. My list would be as follows:


ChipC3 said...

Interesting points about Mussleman and I agree in some respects but do you think Muss would come back to Memphis with West looking to step down and the team for sale? Remember that he was fired in Golden St after a new ownership group named a new GM (Chris Mullin) and Mullin wanted his own man running the team. Wouldn't Muss be walking right into a similiar situation?

Evil said...

1) Ivaroni
2) Ivaroni
3) Ivaroni

Sorry, reading :07 or Less, we needed this guy a year ago.