Jerry Sloan really does desperately want back into coaching.
So much so he’s willing to take on what is arguably the worst job in the NBA right now — the Charlotte Bobcats — and will interview for the spot, the former Jazz coach told the Salt Lake Tribune. (The Charlotte Observer also had the story.)
Sloan told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that he has talked to Charlotte owner Michael Jordan about the Bobcats’ job and could meet with him as early as this week….
“Obviously, you probably wouldn’t win [a championship] right off the bat,” he said. “But sometimes it’s not all about starting on top.”
Probably? This would be the opposite of starting on top — the Bobcats set a record for NBA futility last season with a 7-59 record. Whoever they land in this coming draft will be the new marketing face of the franchise (Bobcats fans and management are hoping that face has a unibrow).
Sloan also said he was interested in taking the Orlando Magic job, where Stan Van Gundy has been let go, a place that looks like it also is about to be a major rebuilding project. He resigned abruptly mid-season from the Jazz 15 months ago after having coached there since roughly the Mesozoic Era.
He would bring a sense of discipline wherever he goes and he would bring his flex offense that relies on movement off the ball and execution. He’d bring some old-school, hard-a** to whatever franchise he lands with. Whether that is best for rebuilding is another discussion, but the man can coach.
And he wants back in.
Mr. Ewing, Mr. Cho will see you now.
We knew that Patrick Ewing, and Orlando Magic assistant coach, was among the number of good young coaches going to interview for the vacant Charlotte Bobcats coaching gig. Turns out, Ewing is up on Thursday, according to the AP.
So far the Bobcats also have interviewed Mike Malone of Golden State, Cleveland’s Nate Tibbetts, St. John’s Mike Dunlap and Bobcats assistant Stephen Silas (son of former coach Paul Silas). Brian Shaw of Indiana is expected to be interviewed after the Pacers playoff run ends.
Ewing is considered a bit of a longshot for this job because he is friends with Michael Jordan, the Bobcats owner. Jordan has already come under fire for hiring friends to fill key positions and has tried to stay away from that recently with hires such as GM Rich Cho.
We remember the original Dream Team — the pros sent to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and others — just rolling teams. The won the Olympic gold medal by an average of nearly 20 points a game and had the opposing teams asking for autographs afterward.
But a new documentary about the 20th anniversary of that team (to air on NBA TV June 13) also talks about and has footage of the game they lost.
It wasn’t a game so much as a scrimmage in La Jolla, Calif., against a group of college stars featuring Grant Hill, Chris Webber and Bobby Hurley, among others. The footage shows the speedy little point guard Hurley slicing into the teeth of the USA defense and carving the dream team up pretty good. However, USA head coach Chuck Daly had the scoreboard turned off before reporters were allowed in the gym.
Current Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said he thinks Daly threw the game with a purpose. From the AP:
“He threw the game. You know, Chuck threw the game,” Krzyzewski, then a U.S. assistant and the current head coach, said on the documentary. “If you look how much Jordan played and how he subbed guys in, not picking up, not making any adjustments, he knew what he was doing.”
The reason — to let the Dream Team know they could be beaten. To let them know they were not invincible. But Daly would have had to throw it because no other team on the planet at that time could have beaten the dream team. They were as invincible as a team may ever have been.
I wouldn’t be nearly as confident that the Team USA heading to London this summer, 20 years later, will be as invincible. Thanks in part to the worldwide phenomenon of the Dream Team, the rest of the world is starting to catch up to us in basketball.
Here’s an interesting quote from Sam Vincent on Michael Jordan, via the Washington Post’s Rick Maese:
“The work he put in to be a great player and the work you put in to be a great executive, those are different things,” said Sam Vincent, whom Jordan hired as his head coach in 2007 less than a year after he became minority owner. “That additional time you spend on jump shots, running, dunking, I don’t know if he puts in that same amount of time as an executive or if he even cares to.”
This shouldn’t be particularly surprising news to anybody: many great ex-players who go into front-office careers after their playing days are over seem to rely on their instincts, while being a successful front office man in today’s NBA requires a grueling work schedule in order to keep up with prospect scouting, advanced scouting, new statistical tools, and hours and hours of film study on opposing players.
Jordan, who has always loved golf and gambling, isn’t the archetypal front office man for today’s NBA, and his time in the Wizards’ and Bobcats’ front office seems to be showing that his front-office instincts aren’t nearly as good as the on-court instincts that allowed him to lead the Bulls to 6 NBA Championships.
The Bobcats are currently 7-47, and it’s almost certain that they’ll finish with the NBA’s worst record this season. Winning the lottery and snagging Anthony Davis could help turn the team around, but they may need to make some changes at the very top of the organization in order to become a competitive franchise.
When NBA owners put their teams on the market, there are billionaires waiting in the wings who would love to snatch up one of these toys. Often guys who also want to move the teams. We’re looking at you, Larry Ellison.
So whenever Michael Jordan does sell the Bobcats there will be a market — but Jordan is denying a report out of New York that a sale could be sooner rather than later.
It all started with a story Sunday in the New York Daily News.
Nearing the end of another lost season as Bobcats owner, Jordan recently told his GM, Rich Cho, to start planning for a rebuilding campaign. He also dropped a bombshell, telling Cho and other deputies that if this one doesn’t produce a winner and he continues to lose millions over the next “three to four years,” then he intends to sell the team.
“I told Rich to make us better,” Jordan told one associate recently. “If that doesn’t work and I can’t make a profit in the next three to four years, then I’m selling.”
You knew the denial would be coming soon after that paper hit the street, and it did, with a statement from Jordan posted on the Bobcats Web site.
“I was disturbed to hear the false report that I intend to sell my majority interest in the Charlotte Bobcats. I am 100% committed to building the Bobcats into a contender and have no plans to sell the team.”
What else is he going to say? Whether or not it is the truth, Jordan had no choice but to issue that statement.
Jordan is rich by your and my standards — unless you own your own Carolina blue jet — but he is not by NBA owner standards. His pockets are not that deep. If the new CBA and eventually (maybe) some better play on the court are not enough to turn around the financial fortunes of the Bobcats, it’s reasonable to expect him to sell. There already are reports his other investors are not happy.
But either way, this is something that is years away. It just wouldn’t be shocking if it came to that.