Byron Scott: The Latest Victim of the NBA's Haywire Coaching Carousel

Robert Kleeman@@RobertKleemanSenior Analyst INovember 13, 2009

PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 11:  Head coach Byron Scott of the New Orleans Hornets watches the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on November 11, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Hornets 124-104.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Byron Scott is no less a victim than Sam Mitchell in Toronto or Eddie Jordan in Washington.

He is a victim of the most disturbing, anger-inducing trend in sports.

The quick fix. The scapegoat game. The easy way out. The predictable public relations response.

Mark my words—Scott's dismissal as coach of the Hornets will not make New Orleans a better franchise now or next year.

Raise your hand if you think GM Jeff Bower has any chance of winning over this fatally flawed roster.

If you raised even a pinkie, is your middle name "gullible"?

Of all the NBA teams who canned coaches last year, how many of them have improved besides the Oklahoma City Thunder?

Of all the squads that expect a successful turnaround this year, is the head coach the figure responsible for the optimism?

In Flip Saunders' and the Washington Wizards case, yes—though new additions will also help. Up north, in snowy Toronto, Jay Triano owes any increase in win percentage to the arrival of Jarrett Jack and Hedo Turkoglu.

Hornets owner George Shinn made this questionable decision, not Bower.

He gets my sympathy for his bout with prostate cancer but he does not get my understanding in the firing of Scott.

After a miserable 3-6 start, in which the team allowed an embarrassing number of easy buckets to the lowly Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, Shinn made Scott the fall-guy.

It was as convenient as it was pusillanimous.

Here's a thought no one expresses enough—if you force cost cuts that lessen the depth of a roster and don't like the results, you should coach the team.

Shinn should be the one on the sidelines, not Bower.

Shinn would not ever do such an accountable thing because he's devolved into a typical coward, one who hides behind a crunched pocketbook.

Sure, the Hornets owner has lost millions over the years trying to keep his franchise above financial sea level in a ravaged town where pro football rules.

But haven't we all lost something in the recession?

First, the Hornets organization lost the passion and determination that delivered the best season in the franchise's short history.

Then, when dispassion became law, Shinn blamed it all on Scott.

The venerable coach was culpable, but he was never the chief problem.

Hornets executives and many players began to lose respect for Scott when according to Yahoo! Sports , his job became more about hitting the green than studying playbooks or scouting reports.

Much like other jobless coaches, Scott comes with more warning labels than a plastic toy made in China.

You should not blame Shinn or the players for wanting the head coach to focus on basketball more than golf.

You should blame them for everything else.

Where did your mean streak go David West? You've been walked over this season like a kid's playground.

Why did no one stick up for Chris Paul when Rajon Rondo punked and bullied him in Boston?

Why does no one feel the need to pick up the slack that is choking the team's star point guard?

Is it an unwritten law that everyone on the Hornets bench must play with the imbecility of Plaxico Burress and Britney Spears?

Scott had to go because Shinn could not discipline Peja Stojakovic for being useless or James Posey for loafing around.

Scott had to go because Shinn could not admit that he caused this mess.

In the moment of truth, when Paul needed help only an open wallet could provide, Shinn closed it and tried to cover up his pettiness with a confusing swap that has yet to pay dividends for either squad involved.

Emeka Okafor has not improved the Hornets, nor has Tyson Chandler brought the Charlotte Bobcats closer to the franchise's first playoff berth.

Shinn ordered Bower to donate Rasual Butler to the Los Angeles Clippers for a draft pick that won't mean squat as well as luxury tax savings.

The Chandler-Okafor exchange, coupled with Butler's departure, could get the team's payroll under the luxury tax threshold.

That achievement was more important to Shinn than winning.

In shipping out Chandler and giving Scott the heave-ho, the owner has committed the ultimate transgression.

Never piss off your best player to serve your own interests. Never. Ever.

Paul won't express his frustrations in the way Kobe Bryant would in this situation, but anyone listening can hear the cries for help.

CP3 might be ready to reprise Michael Douglas' role in Falling Down , and I don't blame him.

He won't kill anybody or even start a verbal rampage, but the violent distaste that burns in his stomach is obvious.

Few outside of the Hornets organization think Shinn wanted to move the team back to New Orleans. Most view his decisions as half-hearted acts of self-promotion.

In trying to frame himself as a hero, he has become the ultimate villain.

Scott had to go because the oldest commandment in sports says the easiest one to attack should always be the first to leave.

Shinn fixed nothing Thursday afternoon. Team president Hugh Weber delivered the news in his health-related absence. 

Scott won three championship rings as a player, and no available coach could do a better job. That will still ring true in July 2011.

That is, unless Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, or Jerry Sloan decides to leave their secure posts.

The Hornets GM owns no hardware, and Lawrence Frank, who replaced Scott in New Jersey, has never reached the NBA Finals.

Bower has no chance of winning over Paul. In reluctantly accepting the job, he has already failed.

Soon, Bower will be gone too.

Shinn will stay through it all.

Two expensive contracts tendered to Stojakovic and Posey pushed him over the edge.

This summer, when the San Antonio Spurs spent like Donald Trump to keep up with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shinn played the part of a homeless stooge.

Ike Diogu and Darius Songaila are nice additions, but this team needs a creative wing scorer and a reliable bench to take the next step.

Imagine how much happier Paul might be if he knew the front office had pursued Hedo Turkoglu or Ben Gordon.

Both flawed players signed exorbitant contracts and were out of the Hornets reach. Still, Paul would have appreciated the gesture.

His best friend is now in Charlotte, and the only professional coach for which he's played for will now have more time than ever for golf.

Scott barked at his players to defend and play hard, but most of his players tuned him out as the losses mounted.

When the coach began to ask for things his players could not give him, he became the Big Easy's easiest target.

The quick fix. The scapegoat game. The easy way out. The predictable public relations response.

Fans have heard it all before, and yet Shinn wants them to call it innovative problem solving.

In firing Scott, he made it clear he's unwilling to do the one thing that makes sense.

Spend money and upgrade the roster Mr. Shinn, or coach the mess you created.


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