In these horrific economic times, it's pretty much a given that the fates of Lawrence Frank (New Jersey) and Jay Triano (Toronto), among others, are influenced by their respective teams' financial bottom lines. But the New Orleans Hornets' mortifying loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier tonight also left me wondering about Byron Scott. The former Kings assistant has a year remaining on his contract, and at huge dollars, I am told. But Tuesday's record-tying 121-63 defeat is the type of performance that infuriates owners, send fans running for the exits, and has coaches nervously calling their agents within hours. Plus, there are offsets. One team fires a coach, the next team pays X amount, thus offsetting the former team's obligation.
If Scott were to become available, would Geoff Petrie consider him? This could be interesting. Byron always says he eventually wants to coach two teams: the Lakers, where he began his playing career and won two titles, and the Kings, where he was an assistant under Rick Adelman for two seasons (1998 to 2000). He and wife Anita loved living here, and immersed themselves within the community. Plus, Petrie said he was interested in a few coaches who might be available at some point during or after the postseason.
Nothing appears imminent, so who knows? Geoff Petrie is off on a scouting trip to Europe, and his staffers are said to be compiling a lengthy early list of potential coaching candidates. But the favorites have be ex-Kings (and Washington Wizards) coach Eddie Jordan and Paul Westphal, the former head coach of the Seattle Sonics and the Phoenix Suns. Think Petrie. Think offense. But that doesn't mean Scott isn't intriguing. The one-time Laker has several friends and admirers within the organization.
Shaken up all that Jazz
Watching the Utah Jazz lose its unimpressive opening round series to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier tonight, I find it hard to believe Jerry Sloan will not return as head coach. Besides the fact that he committed to coaching next season while late Jazz owner Larry Miller was still alive - I suspect out of loyalty to his longtime friend and employer - Sloan is just too competitive to end his coaching career in this fashion: ejected, and in the locker room. His team uncharacteristically passive and non-combative. His team having undergone a late-season funk that resulted in the fatal first-round matchup against the top-seeded Lakers. His team ... no longer resembling his team.
I'm not a shrink, but consider that, within a matter of weeks, Sloan recently endured the deaths of his owner (Miller) to complications from diabetes, former Chicago Bulls teammates Johnny Kerr and Norm Van Lier, and most recently, the brother, Buck, who essentially raised him. This is one of those times when Sloan really needs to take a few weeks off before making any decision about his future. Can't imagine the Jazz without him, though.
Other playoff musings ...
* Watching Hedo Turkoglu stroke the game-winning three-pointer Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, I was struck by two things. First, if Hedo had converted perimeter shots during his brief stay in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich would have found a way to re-sign him. Second, two Kings types long ago insisted the late-developing Hedo would be a much better all-around player than Peja Stojakovic: Geoff Petrie and Chris Webber.
* Dahntay Jones can start for the Denver Nuggets, but couldn't play for the Kings? Again, this is another hint that a philosophical adjustment is needed. Offense is important. Defense is absolutely necessary. Loose balls. Long rebounds. Contesting shots. You know, the things that win championships.
* Very classy act by Kobe Bryant after the Jazz-Lakers finale. The Lakers superstar shook hands with his opponents, then walked directly to the Jazz broadcast booth and spoke briefly with radio analyst Hot Rod Hundley, who is retiring after basically spending his entire life with the franchise. The native West Virginian accompanied the club when it relocated from New Orleans to Salt Lake City in 1979, and is one of the league's good people ... if one of its biggest homers. With Hot Rod at the microphone or in front of the camera, the Jazz never committed a foul or lost a game.
* Add Ronnie Price to the list of former Kings who have contributed in the playoffs. His eight-minute, second-half stretch finally ignited the Jazz, and as the always candid Sloan allowed later, should lead to more playing time next season.
* Peja is looking more and more like one of those NBA players in the midst of a swift and dramatic physical decline. When the Hornets visited Sacramento late in the season, he admitted his back remains problematic. He missed most of last season following back surgery, and said he continues to experience discomfort. Not good for someone who is only 32 years old ...