The regular season has finished. As such, annually, one of the main topics talked about in the NBA every offseason is the coaching carousel; the questions of course being: Who will stay, who will be gone and who will get picked up for next season?
Of course, not all coaches will be gone by the start of next season, but here are four teams who will or should be making such personnel changes.
New York Knicks
Probably the most obvious team to join the NBA coaching carousel will be the Knicks. In fact, it is a miracle Mike Woodson even lasted the entirety of the 2013-2014 season. Why? First and foremost, the Knicks are essentially the same team as they were a season ago, a season in which they won 54 games, opposed to this year’s 37. That is a substantial drop. Sure, J.R. Smith got suspended, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler were out hurt at times, but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for the team to falter this much.
Secondly, Woodson has made bad coaching decisions in close games, i.e. by not taking a timeout to adjust, bring the ball to half court, etc. What is worse, is that he has even admitted that bad coaching has hurt the team.
Considering the Knicks brought in Phil Jackson, and there are rumors that he has not talked to Woodson much since joining the team as GM, expect the hall of famer to dump Woodson very soon. As far as who will replace him? Expect a big name. Dolan brought Jackson in to turn the franchise around, and considering how much of a spotlight New York gets, the team needs a guy who is a strategist and comes with a history of winning. Initially when Jackson was hired, there were rumors that Steve Kerr would be in charge of the sidelines. While Kerr has a great basketball mind, he has not coached, nor does it seem likely that he would want to take on the stress of New York and its awful roster. As a result, expect names like George Karl, Lionel Hollins and possibly even a return of Jeff Van Gundy to be named as a replacement.
The Philadelphia 76ers had one of their worst seasons in 2013-2014, noted mostly for a late-season losing streak of 26 straight losses, which was tied for the most in NBA history. It is true that coach Brett Brown did not have a lot to work with this year. The team shipped off their all-star Jrue Holiday, and they refused to pick up the contracts of Dorell Wright and Nick Young. During the trade deadline, it got worse, when they traded Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner. Management, despite denying it, obviously chose to tank the team.
At this point, many would feel bad for coach Brett Brown and that he would not be part of the NBA coaching carousel. However, the way in which he handled his team was embarrassing. This is a coach, who publicly said, he did not see the team winning another game. Additionally, he let his emotions get the best of him, and it seemed as though he gave up on the squad. He may have only been on the team for one year, but do not be surprised if he gets handed walking papers.
As a result, the 76ers need someone who demands respect. Not only that, but they need someone who does not lose his cool often and can make the best out of a bad situation. Because of how bad they are though, expecting a high profile name is unlikely; instead, expect an assistant to jump to head coach. Possible candidates for the 76ers include David Fizdale (Miami Heat), Robert Pack (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Mike Budenholzer (San Antonio Spurs).
The Timberwolves made strides this season. They have arguably one of the league’s best players in Kevin Love, with a supporting cast that has shown growth including Kevin Martin to Ricky Rubio. They even increased their wins by nine this season. Having said that, it will be unlikely, that they will not have a part in the NBA coaching carousel this offseason; the question is, who will take Adelman’s place once he is gone?
For Adelman to come back, both he and management have to agree on a fourth year. In any other situation, it would seem likely Adelman would stay. Unfortunately for him, the team has had a plethora of injuries from Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and even Kevin Love. It is not fair that Adelman had to coach a weakened team, but it is the hand he got dealt. Another aspect that has the team skeptical of Adelman, is his lack of playing the blooming rookie center Gorgui Dieng, until the final leg of the season.
Most importantly though, Adelman’s fate lies in jeopardy due to Kevin Love. He is probably the reason why Adelman will not return. This is not to say that Love is asking for his removal, but Love has one more year left with the Timberwolves, and they want their franchise player to stay. In other words, the Timberwolves will be scrambling to make Love happy, and as such, Adelman most likely has coached his final game.
To replace Adelman, there are two ways Minnesota can go in. They can either get a high profile coach like Jeff Van Gundy or a better fit, Lionel Hollins. The other strategy is a risky one, and that is to pick up Patrick Ewing, who has been trying to find himself a head coaching job for years. What is interesting about bringing Ewing in, is that he has proven to be a great coach of big men in Orlando and Houston. Minnesota, meanwhile, has solid big men to work with, such as Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng. Because of this, do not be surprised if Ewing has his head coaching debut next season in Minnesota.
Los Angeles Lakers
It was a miserable year for the Lakers. Of course, most will say this has to do with Kobe Bryant being absent the majority of the season. The truth though, is that the Lakers are just not a good team. Gasol is on his last legs, as is Chris Kaman, and while players like Jodie Meeks and Nick Young show promise, they need a coach to teach them the ropes of the NBA. That coach is not Mike D’Antoni; as such, he will be gone during this year’s NBA coaching carousel.
Jim Buss hired D’Antoni in hopes to bring the showtime back to the Lakers. However, when elder and slower players like Bryant, Gasol and Dwight Howard are on your squad, it is not going to work. In fact, it is very likely that D’Antoni’s system broke, at least Bryant, down. As a result, the Lakers need to right the ship with a different approach.
One of the Lakers biggest faults is defense, which D’Antoni has never been a fan of. Additionally, they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, as well. With Gasol leaving though, they will have one of the youngest teams in the league. As such, they need a coach who is a teacher, who has a plan and preaches defense. They also probably want a name coach.
The best coach for the job, very well could be Lionel Hollins. While in Memphis, Hollins made a group of guys, into a defensive-minded, strategic team, with good team play. He also was narrowly beat by George Karl as coach of the year. If not Hollins, his opponent, Karl, might be a good choice as well. He may not be the defensive mind the Lakers should get, but he knows how to work with young guys and as a result, will make them great. He also brings with him a 1131-756 record.
These, of course, will most likely not be the only coaching changes during the offseason. However, it would be hard to believe that any of these NBA coaches, in the coaching carousel, will not be gone from their current teams, by the start of next season.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey