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The Coaching Carousel

NBA head coach has never really been the profession with the highest job security.  But the last six months have been particularly crazy.

Eight new head coaches hired during the off-season already seemed like a lot.  Now, with the firing of Reggie Theus in Sacramento today, we're up to six coaching changes in the first seven weeks of this season.  That's almost one a week!  Moreover, we're only one more change away from equilibrium - as of today, there are 14 NBA head coaches with less than 2 months experience with their current teams, 16 who've been there longer than 2 months.  Put another way, Mike Woodson of the Hawks is now one of the longest tenured coaches in the league, as hard as that is to believe.

But with Marc Iavaroni's Grizzlies and Mike Dunleavy Sr's Clippers both starting to show signs of life, the bloodletting may be over for awhile. 

Jim O'Brien in Indiana would be guess for who's next, but Indy's played a really tough schedule to start the season, so maybe they can turn things around as it softens up.  Rookie coaches Michael Curry in Detroit and Terry Porter in Phoenix are both presiding over declining veteran teams perceived to be underachieving, but they will get a little more time at least.

One interesting sidebar is that we're not seeing the traditional re-tread approach as much.  Sure, many of the six in-season hires are obviously of the 'interim' variety (all of them except Scottie Brooks, would be my guess).  But there were three first time head coaches hired this summer (Curry, Vinny Del Negro and Erik Spoelstra), and 12 of the current crop have three or fewer years of NBA head coaching experience.  On the other end of the spectrum, only 12 have more than 7 years of NBA head coaching experience.  Of course, that's likely to change in summer 2009, when Flip Saunders, Eddie Jordan, Jeff Van Gundy and others will probably take another spin with a new team.

At any rate, this all points out the obvious issues with simply firing your coach when things aren't going well.  Who are you going to hire, and do you have a level of confidence that they are going to do any better?  I understand the impulse to do something, and I've clearly felt that impulse this season. 

Right now, there's a lot of that something going on in the NBA.