NBA Rumors: Byron Scott and 8 Coaches Who May Be on the Chopping Block
As the 2010-2011 NBA season winds down, fans start to look back to the start of the year when experts and analysts made their predictions. Some may look back favorably, while others may not.
It has been a year of epic trades, player-coach battles and, in some cases, coaching changes. This season, there have already been three coaching changes in the NBA. In two of those cases, the coaches replaced were Hall of Famers.
Given those occurrences, most recently the abrupt resignation of Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, I took a look at the standings. Believe it or not, there are some teams out of the playoffs who could be due for a coaching change. Some coaches have just had bad luck, and others are just plain bad.
Here are eight of the worst cases.
No. 8: Scott Skiles, Milwaukee Bucks
Now, let's just get this out in the open right now. Scott Skiles is not by any means a bad coach. In a career that has included stints in Phoenix, Chicago and now Milwaukee, Skiles's teams have consistently made the playoffs or contended for them. This season, however, has been different.
Leading scorer Michael Redd's recovery from knee surgery has been slow and despite his imminent return, the Bucks have more or less dropped out of contention. With a starting lineup that features up and coming guards Brandon Jennings and John Salmons, as well as tough Aussie center Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have underachieved.
That being said, even if they do go on a Cinderella run over the last month and a half of the season, don't be surprised if team management decides to go in a different direction and replace Skiles. It's unlikely, but could happen.
No. 7: Flip Saunders, Washington Wizards
Before taking over the helm in Washington, Flip Saunders had successful coaching stints in Minnesota and Detroit. He had been to the Conference Finals four times and had plenty of playoff experience, and his rapport with young players made him the perfect candidate for rebuilding the Wizards. Nearly two years in, the dream has become a nightmare.
Saunders's first season in D.C. ended with a 26-56 record. This year, the Wizards' record stands at 15-44. Yes, they are a very young team without much in terms of veteran leadership, but I doubt that experts expected the season to be this bad.
Again, the chances of Saunders being let go are slim. Still, with the team currently on a six-game losing streak, don't be surprised if team management gets impatient and moves in a different direction.
No. 6: Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets
Currently, the New Orleans Hornets are the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Thus, if Monty Williams is indeed let go, it will not be for his job performance. Rather, it would be if the NBA chooses to contract the Hornets.
The team is currently under NBA control. Basically, they are without an owner and the uncertainty surrounding the team is becoming a distraction. Unless a buyer surfaces and keeps the team in The Big Easy, chances are that the NBA will get rid of the team completely and Williams will be out of a job.
It would be a shame for the start of what is sure to be an illustrious coaching career.
No. 5: Byron Scott, Cleveland Cavaliers
Overall, Byron Scott is a decent coach. He has been to the NBA Finals twice, and generally utilizes his players well enough to turn them into playoff bound squads. This year has been different.
After coaching stops in New Jersey and New Orleans, Scott agreed to become the head coach of the newly Lebron-less Cleveland Cavaliers. It was understood that this season would be a rebuilding one, but there was no indication that it would be this bad.
This season, the Cavaliers set a record with a 26 game losing streak. Nobody on the team has lived up to his potential. Their record currently sits at 11-48. That's a winning percentage of .186!
Unless newly acquired point guard Baron Davis helps the team improve somewhat down the stretch, don't be surprised if Dan Gilbert gets impatient and cuts Scott loose.
No. 4: Paul Westphal, Sacramento Kings
Like Byron Scott did in signing with the Cavaliers, Paul Westphal knew that he was entering a rebuilding project in going to Sacramento. Needless to say, his tenure there has been marred in malaise.
Despite guard Tyreke Evans' Rookie of the Year season being a bright spot, the Kings went 25-57 in Westphal's first season. This season, they are 15-43 and in second-to-last place in the Western Conference. To add insult to injury, Westphal has constantly clashed with rookie center DeMarcus Cousins.
With a dwindling fan base, little money and team ownership looking to move to Anaheim, it may be time for a fresh start. Westphal is a good coach, but is he worth the drama?
No. 3: Jay Triano, Toronto Raptors
After Chris Bosh left Toronto and took his talents to South Beach, the Raptors understood that 2010-2011 would be a rebuilding season. Long story short, this season has been a disaster. After going 40-42 last season, the team's record is currently 17-44.
I understand that the team just lost its best player and leader, but it's Jay Triano's job as head coach to mold the remaining players so that one of them can step up into that role. This year, that just hasn't happened.
Andrea Bargnani has provided consistent offense, but little defense. The rest of the starting five are impatient young guns who need a leader. They may get one next season...in the form of a new coach.
No. 2: Kurt Rambis, Minnesota Timberwolves
For a team loaded with young and talented players, the Minnesota Timberwolves are so bad to the point where they're painful to watch. This is longtime Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis' second season as head coach of the team, and his tenure has been beyond unimpressive. Last year, the team finished with a 15-67 record. Currently, their record is at 14-47.
I'm sorry, but with good young talents like Kevin Love and Michael Beasley in the starting lineup, there is no reason why the team should be this bad. They'd still be bad at full potential compared to the rest of the Western Conference, but this is just ridiculous.
This is a clear case of the coach being at fault. Rambis just doesn't have the personality for running a young and rebuilding team, and it's time to make a change.
No. 1: John Kuester, Detroit Pistons
This past weekend, rumors surrounded the Detroit Pistons. Apparently, multiple players didn't show up to the team shootaround in "protest" of head coach John Kuester. That night, in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Kuester only used six players as his team lost 110-94—those who "protested" sat on the bench. The highlight of the game was Kuester getting ejected and as he exited the court, some of his players laughing at him.
That alone is a sign of the worst thing that could happen to a coach. Kuester has essentially lost his team. He has clashed with players all season, notably Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton, and word around the league is that even players he hasn't fought with can't stand him.
The Pistons were once a storied franchise. They aren't that many years removed from winning the NBA Finals. Now, thanks to Kuester, they have become a joke. If team management wants to win, they'll replace him immediately.
Watch the video to the left if you're skeptical.