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News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

January 12, 2009
Previous coaching hires and what they mean for the future

Could have / should have included this as part of the breakdown of the six coaching openings that ran in the Sunday paper product because it can be a sign of the direction the Kings and the others will head for replacements: hiring history.

The past is not always an indicator -- it surely is not for the Kings. But it sometimes is, and what everyone else does matters in Sacramento. Six openings before Christmas is twice the number of any previous season and more vacancies will undoubtedly come with a late-season fade or unexpectedly early playoff elimination, so this could become serious roller derby.

But for now, the six we know of and their last three non-interim coaching hires. Three for no particular reason other than it should be enough to signal or disprove a trend, but not too many as to analyze front-office moves to the '50s.

Kings

Who they hired: Reggie Theus (2007), Eric Musselman (2006), Rick Adelman (1998).

What it tells us for the 2009 decision: Nothing. Adelman was very experienced as a head coach, Musselman slightly experienced and Theus very inexperienced. No trend.

Two other points to consider: It's impossible to know who will be making the hire. No way Geoff Petrie would have either pushed for some of the hires or to include some of the serious candidates who fell short. And, the hiring history is even more clouded because the Kings wanted, and thought they had, Stan Van Gundy in '07. That's a sharp left turn from Van Gundy to Theus.

Timberwolves

Who they hired: Randy Wittman (2007), Dwane Casey (2006), Flip Saunders (1996).

What it tells us for the 2009 decision: Not to expect a bold choice. Wittman and Casey were understated choices that went nowhere fast. Saunders eventually had success -- eight consecutive playoff appearances, Western Conference finals with Minnesota, two Eastern Conference finals with Detroit -- but he was a CBA guy when the Timberwolves hired him, not the star candidate of today.

The one disclaimer to the bold-choice theory: someone will always push Saunders because of his popularity and deep Twin Cities roots. That's part of the deal with Flip and Minny. A job opens there, he's a candidate. He might be the next Vikings coach.

Wizards

Who they hired: Eddie Jordan (2003), Doug Collins (2001), Leonard Hamilton (2000).

What it tells us for the 2009 decision: Owner Abe Pollin historically goes for the veteran guy. Hamilton was not that, but Michael Jordan was personnel boss at the time, and enough said.

Going deeper into the history of Pollin hires, it's Gar Heard (lasted 44 games), Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Lynam, Wes Unseld, Kevin Loughery, Gene Shue, Dick Motta. That's an owner who likes to see a track record.

Thunder

Who they hired: P.J. Carlesimo (2007), Bob Hill (2006), Bob Weiss (2005).

What it tells us for the 2009 decision: n/a. Oklahoma City is alone as having an entirely re-done power structure during the decisions -- a new owner and a new GM and therefore no real paper trail on coaching hires. Personnel boss Sam Presti and big boss Clay Bennett are on the hook for Carlesimo, but the others belong to previous regimes in the Seattle days.

Raptors

Who they hired: Sam Mitchell (2004), Kevin O'Neill (2003), Lenny Wilkens (2000).

What it tells us for the 2009 decision: Mitchell was two seasons removed from his playing career when he went from Bucks assistant to Raptors head coach. O'Neill was a long-time college and pro assistant before hired by Toronto. But Wilkens was the definition of veteran.

None were bold moves. Wilkens was the winningest coach in history going to a team that had never won a playoff series, but he was near the end of his career.

But president Bryan Colangelo, hired in 2006, doesn't do boring. He drafted Andrea Bargnani at No. 1 in '06 over LaMarcus Aldridge, traded for Jermaine O'Neal and fired Mitchell a little less than a season and a half after Mitchell was named Coach of the Year. Blaring headlines wouldn't be a shock.

76ers

Who they hired: Maurice Cheeks (2005), Jim O'Brien (2004), Randy Ayers (2003).

What it tells is for the 2009 decision: A heavy lean to experienced coaches, with Larry Brown preceding Ayers to fortify that sense. While Ayers was best known for his 14 years at Ohio State, eight of those were as head coach at the prominent program and he also had five seasons as a Sixers assistant.

History says Philly will go veteran and will be willing to spend to get it.



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