NBA Coaches Dead Pool, Thanksgiving Edition


After a nice relaxing summer off, including a bit of an autumn snooze where the Pool ignored the recent sacking of one Byron Scott, we're back in time for the Thanksgiving weekend.  And to nobody's surprise, Lawrence Frank has been left on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike as the Nets head towards the Narrows Bridge, and the beautiful scenery of Brooklyn.  


More after the jump.

But as always, here on the Pool, we're not interested in the coach that just got whacked.  Where interested in who is next?  And now that  Frank has gotten played out by the proverbial keyboard cat, things get VERY interesting.  Let's line up the contenders for the next round of the Pool, and guess who's first on the board?

Nate McMillan, Portland Trail Blazers.  When your all-star player starts saying things like "go ask him, he's the coach" to the media. that is bad new.  VERY bad news.  When your owner is battling cancer, and all signs are that the Five Year Plan to World Domination has been shortened, that makes it harder.  While the Pool likes McMillan, and has defended him over the years, the Pool is not stupid and can tell when it looks like a coach has lost his team.  And suffice it to say, McMillan is facing the most serious crisis of his coaching career--and it sounds like prior reports of a divided locker room, fanned by the media, are incorrect--the players are mostly united.  And it may well be that the Sarge is about to be fragged.

Kurt Rambis, Minnesota Timberwolves.  Normally with a rookie coach and a rookie GM, with a team missing key players due to injury and to not-wanting-to-play-for-that-franchise, a 1-whatever start would be excused--nobody can really fault Rambis' coaching job.  However, the Wolves have not demonstrated institutional patience with coaches in the past--just ask Randy Wittman or Dwayne Casey.  That MIGHT have been Kevin McHale trying to cover his butt, and now he's gone.  Or it might be ownership.  We Shall See.

Don Nelson, Golden State Warriors.  Why he hasn't been fired long ago continues to astound the Dish, and most other NBA observers.  But management seemingly gave Nellie a vote of confidence, shipping malcontent Stephen Jackson to Charlotte (where he and Larry Brown will just LOVE each other, I'm sure) in exchange for a bunch of guys who are hurt.  But still--a Dish episode wouldn't be complete without Nellie.

Mike Dunleavy, Los Angeles ClippersAnother guy who is a perennial contestant.  He's probably safe for now as Chris Kaman is playing like an animal (rather than merely looking like one), and prized rookie Blake Griffin is hurt.

Lionel Hollins, Memphis GrizzliesRecent events probably helped his cause, and he's also aided by the fact that his team is the most dsyfunctional three-ring circus the league has seen in a while, and ownership doesn't have the money to pay coaches to not coach.  But this team is still a mess.

Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers.  The Coach of the Year curse strikes again--only this time, the bloom fell off the rose within months.  In a similar situation, in many ways, to Nate McMillan--has a mix of talent that differs from textbook basketball, and is not sure how to use it all.  (Hint to both gentlemen:  Check out the Magic, who are doing awesome with a talented wing--VC--and a beastly big man in Howard).  Of course, none of this matters:  Brown serves entirely at the pleasure of King James.  If LeBron is happy, Brown stays.  If LeBron wants him gone, he's gone.

Jim O'Brien, Indiana Pacers.  Another example of coach stuck on perpetually-mediocre team.  While there are numerous examples of those, and O'Brien hasn't done anything noteworthy to endanger himself, the half-life of Retread Coaches on Mediocre Teams is about three years.  And the geiger counter is clicking....

Vinnie Del Negro, Chicago Bulls.  While Del Negro appears to have survived his first year--wherein his fundamental ability to serve as an NBA head coach was frequently questioned--Chicago fans are an impatient lot, and expect improvement to follow the Bulls classic playoff battle last year with Boston.  Instead, the team is struggling out of the gate, and the Blog-a-bull contingent is ruefully noting the success that one Scott Skiles is having in Milwaukee.

Eric Spoelstra, Miami Heat.  According to Article II, Section 3, paragraph 5(b) of the Pool's bylaws, know colloquially as the "Van Gundy Rule", any coach who works for Pat Riley is granted an automatic spot on the board, regardless of accomplishment.  And contrary to standard NBA practice, a good record places such coaches in greater danger, as the Armani-wearing vulture circles....

Mike d'Antoni, New York KnicksLast year, the Knicks were an improved club over the moribund, joyless mess that marked the reign of terror of Lord Isiah.  This year?  They stink, with (mostly) the same personnel.  Meanwhile in Phoenix, d'Antoni's former team is having a resurgence without him, and with a retread coach at the helm.  While d'Antoni can't be blamed that Chris Duhon is not Steve Nash, he can be blamed for failing to realize that fact.  And the Dolans have plenty of money to fire and hire coaches with...

So, loyal Pool readers:  Who is the next coach to get greased like Pat Riley's hair?  Your votes may alter the fate of the basketball universe... but in all probability, they probably won't mean squat.  :)

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