Who will be next coach in Orlando? I don’t know, but expect a yeller.

6 Comments

Jacque Vaughn believes in the power of positivity. He was trying to develop a bounty of young players in Orlando using minutes as the water, hard word as the good soil, and positive comments as sunshine. There certainly were some successes, players such as Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton have developed well under him.

But the Magic did not coalesce as a team — they are a bottom five team on both offense and defense, they are 15-37 and have lost 10 straight.

That led to Vaughn getting fired on Thursday.

So who is the next coach in Orlando? (Well, after interim coach James Borrego.) What direction will the organization go?

Expect a yeller.

Maybe that’s too harsh. Still, don’t expect the next coach to be the kind of guy that puts his arm around a player and has a few encouraging words after a rough night. Expect a coach who gets in players’ faces, who is very vocal about accountability, who is a bit of an old-school disciplinarian.

Management is saying all the usual things about casting a wide net and getting the best available guy, but what they seem to be looking for is a bit  of a culture change in that locker room. Keep the work ethic, but aside that a dramatic change of style. By the way, do you notice how often the franchises that struggle keep changing cultures rather than letting one take root? That’s the bigger picture issue in Orlando — the issues with this roster are certainly not all on Vaughn — but in the short term they likely are going for an 180-degree shift in coaching philosophies.

Here are four names to watch:

1) Scott Skiles. This is the guy Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, and everyone else, says looks like the front runner because he checks a lot of boxes for the organization. He checks the box as a popular former Magic player that the fans will embrace. He checks the box as an old-school disciplinarian. He checks the box in that his teams defend with energy. That said, his offenses have not been great, and he’s pretty much been a career .500 coach whose teams have never gone past the second round of the playoffs in his 13 seasons.

2) Mike Malone. Another name mentioned by Wojnarowski. This is the coach the Sacramento Kings brought in to create a real culture of accountability and toughness — and he did that. He got DeMarcus Cousins focused and playing the best ball of his career. So the Kings fired Malone in the middle of this season because they wanted to change their style to more of a running team. (To repeat: Do you notice how often the franchises that struggle keep changing cultures rather than letting one take root?) Malone would check the boxes as old school and a disciplinarian, plus he showed some real success in Sacramento doing what they want to do in Orlando.

3) Vinny Del Negro. Another guy mentioned as available by Wojnarowski. He’s been available for a while. The advantages he has is that he’s a fantastic interviewer who sells himself well as a player development guy, and he’s likable. To be fair, he’s a better coach than his reputation, he’s gotten teams to be respectable (it’s just the guys who came in after him got those teams to be a lot better). All that said, this would be a terrible hire for Orlando.

4) Mark Jackson. Because his name must come up for all coaching vacancies. It’s a federal law. He’s a motivator and the Warriors certainly did play defense for him, two things that would work in Orlando. But I don’t love this fit either, I’m not sure he’s the guy to develop this young roster.

Knicks make it official: David Fizdale fired, assistant Mike Miller promoted to head coach

Leave a comment

UPDATE: The Knicks have made all the reporting official.

As had been expected, David Fizdale is out as the Knicks head coach after an ugly 4-18 start to the season.

Who will coach the Knicks next season depends on the answer to another question: Are team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry safe, or are they on their way out, too?

In the short term, New York promote Mike Miller into the big chair, and bring up Keith Bogans from the G-League coaching staff to round out the roster, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Miller spent four years as the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate, and was the G-League Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He was eventually promoted to the Knicks bench.

Don’t expect a major shake-up in the Knicks’ offensive and defensive systems, or with the rotations, at least in the short term. There just are not a lot of practice days built into the NBA schedule to allow a mid-season replacement to overhaul everything. Plus, with this roster, there’s only so much a human being can do.

 

As was expected, Stephen Curry reportedly has second wrist surgery to remove pins

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

This was both expected and right on schedule.

Stephen Curry said almost a month ago that he was going to need a second surgery to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure back on Nov. 1. Curry suffered a fractured hand back on Oct. 30 when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him, and in the first surgery pins were inserted to stabilize the bone through the healing process.

That second surgery has taken place, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

This has been confirmed by Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Curry has said he fully expects to play this season, although it wouldn’t be until the end of what is a lost cause campaign for Golden State. For now, Curry is focused on recovery.

“[Managing the]swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly,” Curry said last time he spoke to the media.

Without Curry or Klay Thompson yet this season (plus, of course, Kevin Durant on crutches in Brooklyn), and D'Angelo Russell missing a chunk of time as well due to injury, the Warriors have struggled to a 4-19 record with a bottom-five offense and defense.

The hope for the Warriors is to get Curry and Thompson back by next summer and working out, they get a high draft pick, make a couple other moves around the edges, get Draymond Green healthy, and this team is a threat again. This season it’s more like the Warriors are taking a season off to find themselves and travel the world.

Report: Knicks fire David Fizdale

3 Comments

The Knicks started 2-8.

Then, it got worse.

Knicks owner James Dolan ordered president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to address the media after a loss. Mills and Perry spoke before coach David Fizdale, a break in decorum that ignited speculation about Fizdale getting fired.

Then, it got worse.

New York lost six straight.

Then, it got worse.

After a 44-point loss to the Bucks, Fizdale said the Knicks entered the game not believing they even could win. They followed that with a 37-point home loss to the Nuggets yesterday that Fizdale called “sickening.”

Finally, with New York 4-18 and on an eight-game losing streak, the Knicks are making a major change.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This was inevitable. Mills wanted Fizdale gone and knows how to navigate Madison Square Garden politics.

The season was already a lost cause, and it’s likely to remain a mess. Keith Smart, who previously coached the Warriors and Kings, was the only other member of the staff with NBA non-interim head-coaching experience.

The big question: Will Mills and Perry survive?

They gave Fizdale a lacking roster and outsized expectations. Nearly any coach would have been doomed to fail in this situation.

To be fair, Fizdale provided no evidence he deserved to be an exception. The Knicks lacked identity under his guidance, and development of younger players was uneven.

But the problems go way above Fizdale, starting with Dolan.

At least we’ll always have this Fizdale quote comparing the Knicks to slipping in ice, dog poop and pee.

The best song you’ll hear about Jimmy Butler bullying Andrew Wiggins into being good (video)

Leave a comment

Jimmy Butler was hard on Andrew Wiggins. That appeared to be the way then-Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau wanted it. Wiggins had the talent. He just needed a more productive mindset.

Thibodeau got fired. Butler is with the Heat.

But Wiggins is still in Minnesota and playing better than ever – specifically citing wanting to shut up the critics.

Do Butler and Thibodeau deserve any credit?

Wordsplayed explored that in rap form on “Off The Dribble.” He also dropped bars on the 76ers’ ceiling, James Harden‘s scoring and Carmelo Anthony‘s resurgence with the Trail Blazers.