Not one NBA coach was fired during last season — a rare feat, four had been axed mid-season the campaign before.
More surprisingly, not one coach has been let go this offseason.
Things could change — this has already been an unpredictable NBA offseason — but it appears that all 30 NBA teams will enter next season with the same coach they had at the start of the past season, something that hasn’t happened since 1970-71 (when there were 17 teams). Steve Aschburner of NBA.com talked with Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle about it.
For sheer Xs & Os, this is a fortuitous time to have some coaching continuity. Remember, the NBA is tightening up the preseason, cutting back from eight to six tune-up games and starting the regular season a week sooner. So having systems already in place, with shorter learning curves all around (except perhaps in Houston while blending Chris Paul with James Harden), should be a good thing….
“I don’t believe it’s a fluke,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “In the last few years, I believe that ownership really has seen the value of great coaching. And put a higher value on it.
“Contracts have gotten stronger. Length of contracts has gotten better for coaches. There’s no doubt that in today’s NBA, ownership understands the importance of continuity and staying the course. They deserve a lot of credit for finding their way to this point.”
However, also when you look at the teams with the worst records last season you can see why teams should be patient. There were first-year coaches in situations where they were expected to focus on player development, not wins — Luke Walton with the Lakers, Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn. There were guys where the problems were not of their own doing (the issues in Orlando weren’t Frank Vogel’s fault, same with Dave Joerger in Sacramento, same with Jeff Hornacek in New York, and when the Sixers were healthy Brett Brown’s team looked good). Minnesota didn’t win a lot last season but Tom Thibodeau’s team showed promise. Detroit may have been disappointed taking a step back, but removing Stan Van Gundy is to rework the entire front office and coaching staff. Alvin Gentry and Dell Demps were given one more shot in New Orleans (miss the playoffs this season and major changes are coming).
It didn’t make sense for teams to change coaches and directions in the last year (the last coaching change was Joerger pushing his way out of Memphis to Sacramento). Don’t bet on that being the case next season.