Tag: Coaching carousel

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks

Pacers coach Jim O’Brien fired


UPDATE 1:22 p.m. EST: The Indianapolis Star reports that assistant coach Frank Vogel will be named interim coach.

Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star as well as Yahoo! Sports are reporting that Pacers coach Jim O’Brien has been fired. The report comes just days after his job was said to be safe for the remainder of the season as the team evaluated both he and GM David Morway and Larry Bird finished out what may have been his last season as head of basketball operations with his contract expiring.

O’Brien was 121-169 in four seasons with the Pacers. The team never really showed much movement towards progress, even with standout Danny Granger and a hot start to this season.  Roy Hibbert has regressed, the point guard play continues to be muddled among their three quality players at the position, and their team defense has lapped significantly. Rumors first surfaced that O’Brien may be on his way out in Indiana as ownership was reportedly more and more concerned with the direction of the team. We’ll keep you updated on who is tapped to replace O’Brien as interim coach and what this means for the organization as the day progresses.

That warm feeling, Pacers staff, is underneath you

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks
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This is a long story, let-me-sum-up kind of weekend. Get used to it.

The short version: ESPN reports that Pacers management is unhappy with both coach Jim O’Brien and GM David Morway (you thought Larry Bird was the GM, didn’t you? Meet more Pacers fans. They’re nice.). They’re so unhappy, should the team suffer another losing season, they could both be released. Any firing of O’Brien would wait till the end of the year, as his assistants are considered unfit to take the reins. Meanwhile Kevin Pritchard is being discussed as a possible GM solution, having traveled with Bird during the team’s road trips recently, which of course Bird dismisses as just something he does from time to time.

The long version: Things are not good in Indiana. The team has the talent to lock up the seventh seed, right now. They’re a long ways away from that four seed, but the seven is not only something they can reach for, it’s something they should already have secured. Their competition in the Eastern Conference is a “hanging on by the very threads of their blanky” Bobcats, a Bucks team that is in full-on meltdown, melt-out Skiles mode, and Philadelphia, which, well, it’s Philly. But they haven’t. And as a result, O’Brien is on the hot seat.

Well, that’s not all of it. His minutes have been irregular. The team has yet to find a consistent rotation. Broussard specifically mentions the Tyler Hansbrough-Paul George complication, but the point guard situation is just as perplexing. Yes, both T.J. Ford and Darren Collison are talented (and to a lesser extent A.J. Price). But at some point the point guard question should be settled and you should have your guy. Throw in the backwards step of Roy Hibbert after an All-Star start and you have serious problems. The Pacers flat-out should be better than they are. And at some point you stop pointing fingers at youth and start blaming age.

Pritchard’s an intriguing choice, but the move would also signal a move away from Larry Bird in control. There’s very little chance of Pritchard, notoriously as proud as he is brilliant, would want to sign on to be a figurehead. He’d want power. Which means Bird would have to take a backseat, something he’s not particularly drawn to. But with Bird also getting up there in age, it’s possible that he could be looking for a younger face to take over the franchise after he steps down at the end of this contract, should he elect to.

The Pacers are in a make-or-break year. They make the playoffs and finally say they’re building on something, or big changes are around the corner.

John Kuester’s safe! Yeah, we’re as surprised as you.

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So the Pistons won last night, which is a big deal for them, since it’s their first. I remember my first time. Wait, that’s not what we’re talking about. Anyway, they got off the early season snide against the Bobcats (of course) last night. The problem is they’re still 1 and 5 and have had quite a few chemistry issues in the last week. There were a lot of people wondering if the Pistons were about to make a change at the head coach with the way they’ve started out. Apparently, though, that’s not the case.

MLive.com reports:

A Pistons source close to the situation said Friday evening that there is “absolutely no chance” that Kuester will be fired despite turmoil this week between Kuester and his players as well as the team’s poor start.

Okay, didn’t see that coming. If the report’s on target, it speaks to Joe Dumars’ patience and rational approach that he’s not overreacting to the way the Pistons have come out of the gate. I would have. Especially considering Tayshaun Prince is firing back at him about leadership while Rodney Stuckey keeps getting benched.

But even if Kuester’s seat is still chilly now, there’s no guarantee it will stay that way unless things start turning soon. The biggest problem is that, on the surface, the best thing for this team would be a trade to mix up the chemistry and get a better set of assets on the floor.

Either that or a time machine to go back and save the money spent on free agents in the summer of 2009.

Pat Riley has Doc at the top of the list.


See, now, if this is true, it is neither cool nor fair, nor unexpected.

We already told you about the Yahoo! Sports post that indicates Doc might want to hang with the Celtics for a while. But in the middle of that post is another tasty nugget for you. From the inevitable Adrian Wojnarowski:

Rivers could pick his contender, name his price.

And that could’ve come with the Miami Heat, with a team president, Pat Riley, whom sources say has Rivers at the top of his list should he ever choose to replace young coach Erik Spoelstra.

If Riley has even uttered the name of another coach, he shouldn’t have done it within any context for it to get out. Erick Spoelstra is already fighting constant questions about the possibility of Riley taking over as he did in 2006. To put him in a position to deal with more uncertainty in a season with such high expectations only feeds into a system of setting him up to fail.

For his part, I can tell you Spoelstra doesn’t give the vibe of a guy worried about his gig. He gives the impression of a guy who loathes the questions he gets, as he cuts off nearly every reporter, but then, that’s Spo. He actually seemed more relaxed this year than he has in previous years with lower expectations but less talent. As for Rivers, the question’s pretty simple. What do you get from Rivers?

The easy answer is rings, right? Experience. But Rivers’ trademark he put on the Celtics has been motivation, something that’s nebulous and hard to translate. He’s never been considered an elite X’s and O’s coach (though he’s come a long way and has put in a few brilliant playoff series), and has been able to rely on the talent of the Big 3 to mask his biggest weakness: managing rotations. It’s hard to see how he’d be the perfect fit for the Heat. That is, unless they come up short in the playoffs and need a swift kick in the backside. Wait and see, just as Riley appears to be doing.

Vegas has a list of odds on the first coach to get canned, and it's pretty harsh

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Like we said, a coach will get canned before the calendar flips to 2011. But who’s the unlucky guy? Turns out Vegas has its own list of candidates.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger checked in with a gambling site called YouWager.com and looked at the list of prospective candidates to get canned. Essentially, if this is your first year with a club? Vegas is not confident you will survive. Here’s the list, courtesy of the Star-Ledger.

  • Monty Williams 25% +300
  • Byron Scott 33% +200
  • Tom Thibodeau 17% +500
  • Larry Drew 20% +400
  • Vinny Del Negro 40% +150
  • Avery Johnson 50% +100
  • Other 90% -800

Monty Williams? Okay, sure, with CP3 possibly still on the fence about New Orleans’ future. Byron Scott? I have no argument with anything that results in something bad happening to Cleveland. Not that I want it, but you have to come to expect it, sadly, at this point. Tom Thibodeau is a weird one to pop up on this list, even as the worst odds. But given the money he was afforded, Chicago may get itchy if things go badly.

Larry Drew has too much talented, but given how much pressure is on the Hawks, with most people expecting them to fail, it’s not beyond belief.

Vinny Del Negro? Next.

Then there’s the leader, Avery Johnson. Avery is favored to lose his job by the site, despite a new ownership group and a new GM, in what is essentially another rebuilding year in which they have lots of tradeable assets. Maybe Vegas knows something about the Mad Russian we don’t.

This whole thing feels like buzzards circling a man walking through the desert.