Blogtable: Coaching musical chairs

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Sold on Heat? | Unrest in coaching ranks | Clippers-Thunder lessons

Stan Van Gundy (Fernando Medina/NBAE)

New Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy (Fernando Medina/NBAE)

> What’s with all the coaching unrest? Do you think there are coaches in the playoffs that could be whacked? Would that be smart?

Steve Aschburner, Smart? I seldom think it’s smart to fire a head coach. But that’s something owners can do and a lot of these owners like to do … well, something. Paying off a fired coach while hiring a new one doesn’t bite you on the salary cap or in luxury taxes, so what the hey? The shorter player contracts in the league now might have made me think coaches would last longer – you can change the roster more quickly to suit a guy’s system – but it seems like it has shortened their shelf life as well.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comWasn’t it just yesterday when Frank Vogel was supposedly sitting out on the curb like a Hefty bag on trash day? I supposed a sweep or five-game loss to Miami could put him back out there. I don’t think that’s smart. If the Thunder don’t get past the Spurs, Scott Brooks is on shaky ground. If they don’t get past the Clippers, he’s probably out.

Jeff Caplan, I was looking at this yesterday and 21 of the NBA’s 30 teams either have an opening or a coach that just completed his first or second season with that team. Mark Jackson was the fourth coach over the last two years to be fired after a 50-win season.’s Marc Stein reported during the first round that Frank Vogel is coaching for his job. No word on how far he has to get the Pacers, or just how ugly they have to get. While there’s no reported guillotine hanging over Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ head, there’s always speculation. Smart to fire a playoff coach? Denver did it and they missed the playoffs. Memphis did it and they’re out in the first round. Unless there’s a Doc Rivers sitting out there, it’s probably not a wise move.

Scott Howard-Cooper, What’s with all the coaching unrest? There’s nothing unusual going on. Coaching unrest is typical. It doesn’t have to be right. It’s the way of the NBA world, and it’s understandable. If expectations are not met, changes are going to be made.

John Schuhmann, Every situation is unique. Mark Jackson’s disconnect with Joe Lacob had nothing to do with Mike Brown’s disconnect with Kyrie Irving. So there’s no easy answer for why so many coaches (and so many coaches of good teams) have been fired. But it’s clear that the job requires success on several fronts.  You have to have strong relationships with your players, strong relationships with your front office and ownership, an offense that works, a defense that gets stops and an ability to make adjustments within a game and within a playoff series. Most importantly, you need some talent on your roster. If there’s an issue with any one of the above, it may not matter how good a coach you are otherwise.

Sekou Smith, This a question better suited for the front-office types and owners around the league who keep shuttling coaches off to the unemployment line after successful seasons. Because it honestly makes no sense in some of these cases to make the changes that are being made. This idea of turning over your entire basketball operation to a front office novice (like they did in New York and now Detroit) is a bit interesting. Those are test cases that will determine whether or not teams go down that path in the future. But there are coaches (Frank Vogel in Indiana, Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City) who could make it to their respective conference finals and still not avoid the executioner’s ax when the season ends. It’s a sad but true fact of life for coaches in this day and age.

Lang Whitaker, All Ball Blog: It’s always easier to change coaches than players. It’s not always the smartest thing, but it’s easiest, and that is often the way things work around the NBA. To me, the two remaining coaches who must be sitting on the hottest seats are Randy Wittman and Scott Brooks,. Frank Vogel might be in the mix there, too, but I don’t know how you can fault Vogel for his players playing like they had their skills abducted by the Monstars in “Space Jam.” Wittman’s task was to get to the postseason, which they have, and they still might make the conference finals, so I’d guess he’s safe. Which leaves Brooks, who might not have the deepest roster to work with but continues to leave fans wanting.


  1. okcDoke2014 says:

    Why is Brooks not on this list ?

  2. TROYBOY says:

    I think teams that hire coaches and give them too much power in the front office don’t know what they’re doing.

    Good teams on any sport have a system and hire coaches to implement it. They draft players to fit that system. If a coach fails to win in 3-4 years than they deserve to be fired. Bad teams are more about wishful thinking when hiring a coach. They expect the coach to win a championship by doing what he believes works.

    For example, as a RAIDERS fan, it’s hard to get mad or get excited over a draft pick because we don’t have a system. In New England (Patriots), just like in San Antonio (Spurs), they draft to fit the system. They hire coaches to implement that system and they usually last.

    Organizations that don’t have systems will most likely change coaches over and over. It never made any sense to me.

  3. Marco29 says:

    The only safe coach in the NBA is Pop who perfectly fits to the description made by M. Schuhmann. Spoelstra could be the only other one (yet it depends on the decisions made by the 3 Amigos in the postseason)
    Most front offices want immediate success and find it convenient to fire the coach rather than questionning their own choices while the most successfull franchises are the most stable ones.
    I too wish there were more teams giving opprotunities to rookie coaches such as Hornaceck or Kidd rather than re-hiring the same coaches who have been fired elsewere.

  4. KJS says:

    what I cannot understand is how coaches that were unsuccessful with one team get a position with another team. why is it so rare for new blood to come into the system? the few examples of rookie coaches I know are pretty darn good and sometimes much better than veteran coaches.

  5. Mark says:

    Mr. Smiths comment makes sense. Many coaching changes involve winning coaches getting fired by so-called prima donna managements who think they know what they are doing to direct team matters. The coach is in the middle, so blame him to be an ultimate winner. Why are rumors that coaches Brooks and Vogel will be fired if they do not be the ultimate winners of the Finals? Are they failures?