I was a sort of late bloomer when it comes to love and basketball. My dad wasn’t into sports, so I wasn’t really that exposed to it growing up. I spent my youth and early to late teens focused mainly on skateboarding and punk rock, but in ‘97 the backroom of our punk house hang out it’s PS1 changed my life.
Travis (my current partner in Pelicans’ season tickets) would lure me into his sinking and possibly haunted room that doubled as the (dirty) laundry room and a place where discarded Burger King bags became decorative — like all those terrible fleur de lis collectables peppered throughout your aunt’s suburban home — by jamming mixtapes I had made and offering me a 40 oz of The Eagle malt liquor bought from a corner store with a very lax ID policy. Once I was inside, the PS1 would fire up and NBA Live tournaments would begin, slices of pizza would get thrown at the TV and a 32 bit Tom Gugliotta became an improbable hero by winning a back-and-forth-wire-to-wire battle with a legendary and totally virtual corner three at the buzzer because he had a 95 clutch rating.
That scene is forever saved in our memory cards and still gets brought up regularly. Our group of friends (the ones that are still alive) are still super tight to this day, and that room was the epicenter of our brozone. It was so bad, that Travis had two TVs — one was hooked up to a VCR for his girlfriend to watch movies while six friends piled onto his shitty mattress on the floor trading buckets with Sean Kemp (I’ve always had a soft spot for fat guys with cocaine problems) and Antoine Walker on the other TV while singing along to Lifetime’s, "Jersey’s Best Dancers" or Shyster’s "Say Uncle."
I really learned the game of basketball on a PS1. This eventually led to hours of watching actual basketball on the same TV while a pizza stain watched from the wall from that time Larry Johnson converted the four point play in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Travis threw a slice against the wall in celebration — wondering if it would ever get cleaned off. Thanks to gentrification that house is now an AirBNB, but I’m certain that stain still lives under a new coat of paint reminiscing about the time Kobe Bryant threw a forearm into Doug Christie’s nose and Christie was called for the foul (and a lot of non-basketball weirdness that I can’t talk about in print without changing a bunch of names).
A team of programmers in Japan manufactured the big bang that made me evolve from a skateboarding outcast into the League Pass addict, video game GM junky, ESPN trade machine wheeler and dealer, insomnia stricken basketball blogging weirdo that I am now. This post will pay great tribute to the enhancements of NBA video games and my personal growth as 64 bit team builder. Let’s face it, every avid sports fan believes they know better than their coach or GM when it comes to running their team. I’m no different. NBA Live and then NBA2K have contributed greatly to my irrational confidence in such matters. So when Bird Writes’ Associate Editor, David Fisher, sent out a request to the staff to make a case for a new coach or GM, I decided it was time to polish up my resume and throw my controller in the ring for a chance to be the next Pelicans’ coach and GM. I can see it, can't you?
Surveying the current scene
The 2014-2015 Pelicans are a team that beats the best teams in the league and lays eggs against the worst. This is a clear sign of a flawed team. Either we have talent and a bad coach, or we have a great coach and a lack of talent. Something needs to change.
Honestly, I’m a Dell Demps fan. I think it’s a real shame that he wasn’t given the opportunity to replace Monty Williams two years ago with a coach he felt could use the cast he assembled to the best of their abilities. Sure, I’ve second-guessed a few of his moves (signing Salmons and Jimmer, not retaining Morrow, giving up too much for Holiday, not making a run at the recently waived Thomas Robinson who ended up signing with the non-contending Brooklyn Nets while AD and Ryno were out injured, etc), but he’s done a solid job of collecting players given the small market constraints and lack of money to spend stemming from the overall lack of interest from our fanbase and a stint under the Shinn and NBA ownership. Even his latest under-the-radar trade to land Norris Cole is paying off way more than I would have ever imagined. If I had a say in the matter, Dell would stay. Unfortunately, it seems that if a change is made he’ll be the first one to go.
Conversely, I despise Monty Williams. I feel bad about it. I’m sure he’s a really nice guy (and probably a better human being than I am), but I’m so tired of watching game mismanagement that he makes my skin crawl. I often need to remind myself that he just coaches my basketball team. He isn’t making laws about what women can do with their bodies, who can get married, deciding what kind of science can be taught in schools, making decisions on gun control or writing global warming legislation. His bad decisions only affect a very non-consequential part of my life. They aren’t going to impact the future of our planet or our country.
Still, on February 3, 2014 after I watched Monty Williams sit Anthony Morrow and his 20 points on the bench with 8 minutes left while our double figure lead turned into 105-92 loss to the Spurs, I pitched a very demented idea for the forthcoming New Orleans hosted NBA All Star game’s halftime show to Travis on our walk back to the car. It was the darkest moment in our tormented relationship. I won’t go into detail, but I daydream in Ren and Stimpy close-ups. Extremely detailed and demented. I wasn’t serious and would never actually want to see Monty Williams harmed in any way, but I had had enough. I’m not proud of it. I’m a complete pacifist, but there’s something about Monty, that gives me violent thoughts. In every other aspect of my life I’m like Smokey in the Big Lebowski, but I often go full on Walter Sobchak on Monty in my most tortured fantasies. I don’t like who I become when I’m around him. He’s like the worst girlfriend ever, or that friend that just gets me into the sketchiest of situations. The one that convinces me to go to The Saint or Aunt Tiki’s at 4am on a Tuesday. Our relationship is just unhealthy. It needs to end.
One of the main problems with Monty is that for a stretch of 4-5 games he’ll start showing you signs that he’s growing and learning from past mistakes. However, he quickly reverts to his terrible game management. I think he’s one of the worst head coaches currently in the league, but at his best he’s mediocre. I worry that he’ll top out and maintain a level of mediocrity with the brilliance of Anthony Davis (and the heart and skill of our surrounding unit) overcoming many of his missteps. We could be stuck with him for a long time with a few 7th-8th seed/first round exit seasons that will be seen as successes — wasting the Davis years like the Timberwolves wasted Kevin Garnett.
People were outraged or at least mildly shocked when Mark Jackson was fired with the success that the Golden State Warriors were having, but Steve Kerr has proven that it was the collection of talent made that team successful. In fact, it was an average (at best) old-school conservative coach preventing them from achieving greatness. I believe our situation is exactly that. We have the most unique talent the league has ever seen and he is being managed by a very non-progressive coach. It’s like giving your great grandmother a iPhone 7 prototype — she’ll never unlock it’s full potential.
I will say that if he would swallow his pride and take a step back to become an assistant coach, I’d actually like to keep him around. He’s good with the players (Oleh, just wrote a fabulous pro-Monty piece that didn’t even include the things he’s done for Ryan Anderson) and he draws up some decent plays out of the few timeouts he actually takes. He’s just awful at managing the flow of a game, which is really what a head coach is there to do. Anyway, here’s a total tongue-in-cheek look at why I’m the best person to replace these two potentially dead men walking. If you make it through the nonsense, I’ll offer up a few serious thoughts on the matter at the end.
I don’t own many suits. I cling tightly to my punk rock roots when it comes to clothing. I mostly wear old band or skateboard company t-shirts and Dickies, but the suits I do own actually fit my body. I’m not wearing pleated ‘90s raver pants. Where does Monty get those wide-legged Jnco slacks? When he rocks those oversized pants, I expect that he’s wearing a pacifier for a tie and that he will get Jeff Withey to blow in his eye during timeouts as he hand dances to some Detroit house music. Also, those puffy sleeves...what the f is that?
My only theory is that he stores all of those timeouts he saved during opposing teams 12-0 runs up those things like a hamster packing away sunflower seeds in its cheeks. Maybe he plans on bringing them to the D-League with him next year, or maybe he’s going to put them in shadowboxes and hang them on his wall to remember that time he didn’t call that timeout while we were up 5 on Portland. Lillard proceeded to hit 3 threes, we turned the ball over on 2 straight possessions, we gave up an offensive rebound on a missed free throw leading to a three point possession, Ryan Anderson took a contested 30’ jumper while he was 0-6 from downtown and Chris Kaman started looking like Larry Bird. Boom, an 8-point deficit.
I guess I can let him slide with the puffy sleeves thing if that’s what he’s doing. He will need to sell those on Ebay once he’s completely washes out of the league and Europe and high school.
Monty, as a peace offering for all of the terrible things you make me say about you, I’ll take you to Italy Direct on Tchoupitoulas for a few decent suits and then we can walk over to T&A Tailors on Baronne to make them fit perfectly. At least you won’t look as bad as your in-game rotations. Do they make you wear suits to coach Biddy? But seriously, if you can’t even manage the cut of your slacks, how are you trusted to coach the best player in the league? I can step up my clothing game when called upon.
Leadership/People and Time Management/Planning
As scary as this may sound to a lot of you, I was once a high school teacher (until I realized that I should actually make money for working). Look — I hear and completely second your groans, but it’s not my fault that the education system in this country is extremely flawed. Seriously, it’s way f’ed up. Actually, my teaching career started overseas where I taught visual communication at a college in Singapore. I also served as the programme coordinator (they use British English there, hence the extra letters). In this role, I made schedules, dealt with student and fellow lecturer’s issues, wrote course curriculum and handled corporate/government sponsored projects and contests. I ran and stocked the department library, and it was my job to make sure we kept our curriculum and course materials up to date in a constantly changing and developing field. I also had to teach 4-5 three hour classes every week in a program that was 12 weeks on with only a week break between semesters.
It taught me a lot about time management and also how to deal with people of various ages, lifestyles and backgrounds. I taught students from nearly every Asian country and a few from Europe. I had to manage lecturers from all over the world and from widely ranging age groups. My need to only get three hours of sleep a night to function and even go two to three days with no sleep were crucial during this stretch of my career...just as they would be in building and coaching your basketball team. I’m also accustomed to following trends and figuring out which ones are going to actually stick. Understanding the next phase in user interaction design is on par with understanding the Spurs and Warriors use of motion offense, or the one surrounded by four concepts the Rockets run.
In 2010, after six and a half years in Singapore, I returned to New Orleans without a job. I started substitute teaching in public elementary schools. This experience was extremely beneficial in my current bartending career (and in my desire to never reproduce). I’ve already logged several hours of working out sharing the ball disputes between 6 year-olds. Send me your Dion Waiters and his frantic waving for the ball, I can change that behaviour. I’ve done it repeatedly with the bag of milk crowd. Eventually, I took on a longer term role teaching art at a magnet school. This is where I really felt like I was shaping the lives of young men and women — you know, really making a difference. In fact, on this year’s Krewe Du Vieux night I ran into an ex-student of mine at post-parade gig at Siberia and he tried to sell me weed. We’re talking some real Dangerous Minds kind of inspiration that I had obviously imparted on these kids. He seemed to totally absorb that lecture I gave on marketing and brand positioning. Every time they play "Gangsta’s Paradise" in the Smoothie King Center, I think it’s being played for me.
From 1994-1999, I spent a large portion of my life on Frenchmen St. This was not the Frenchmen St. as seen on Treme, or Bourbon St.’s little brother that it has become. Frenchmen was the epicenter of the New Orleans punk rock and reggae scene in the mid to late-nineties. The building that is currently The Maison was like 90210’s Peach Pit for the young New Orleans’ misfit crowd. It was called the Faubourg Center and was a communal space that could be rented for any sort of gathering. It was home to some of the best punk shows this city has seen.
Being a city known for jazz, soul and blues, any scene that existed outside of those big three really flew under the radar, but the kids of the ‘90s laid the groundwork and built what has become a very vibrant underground music scene. I’m proud to say that I played a small, yet somewhat crucial role in that growth.
I asked Francois — the caretaker of the Faubourg Center — what it took to book a show there, which incredibly turned out to be just $50 cash. Even the 17-year-old me with a shitty pizza shop job could swing that. I immediately began handwriting letters to my favorite bands (usually their home addresses were listed on their albums) offering to book them shows while selling them on the city and the local bands I could pair them with. Soon I was booking 3-4 shows a week. Bands I had booked were passing my contact info to their friends and in a blur I had hundreds of shows under my belt. People wanted to play a town they always skipped because of it’s size and perceived lack of interest.
I’m an ambassador to the nooks and cracks of the city that most people outside of New Orleans and a lot of people who live here don’t get to see. I take pride in being able to introduce exciting new things to strangers and friends that enhance their love of the city. These skills can be utilized in a recruiting role, luring the right players to our roster. I can show them, that there are real advantages to spending time in one of the most unique small markets in the league. Look, I never landed a Lebron, but booking a show for Braid during the, "Frame and Canvas" tour was at least a Kyle Lowry.
Bar Life Lessons
I’m currently a bartender, and bartending is a lot like teaching kindergarten. I find myself reading menus to adults, explaining why they can’t stand up and eat, why they can’t give their boyfriends handjobs at the bar and explaining with tact that the portions didn’t get smaller it’s their bodies that have in fact gotten bigger. I can go on for hundreds of thousands of words on situations where I’ve had to be a guidance counselor/psychiatrist/life coach for our patrons, but I’ll focus on the most important skill I’ve picked up — buying into the team concept.
We have a small list of signature cocktails (that amazingly people can’t ever seem to remember which one they, "always get"), but we constantly serve people who ask for the signature cocktail from the stupid bar they drink at in their home town. These drinks always have a really dumb and somewhat vulgar name, and said customer always poorly acts out astonishment that we don’t know what it is. "What?!!! You never heard of a Dumbshit Dry-Humper?!!!" Usually, it’s just a long island ice tea with something gross like Apple Pucker in it instead of Coke.
Early on in my career I’d just make it for them, but I’ve mastered the art of talking these numbskulls into buying the rum punch we are known for. It’s way faster, more cost effective, get’s them to buy into the environment they are in and now they can go to their favorite spot in Boise and irritate that bartender by asking for our signature drink. Basically what I’m saying is that I could have made JR Smith work. I wouldn’t have really wanted to, but I could have gotten it done.
Virtual Basketball Experience
Now that you are completely sold on my time and people management skills, my ability to recruit, get people to buy into the team concept and the fit of my suits, we should focus on my basketball pedigree and philosophy. It’s almost impossible to calculate my career winning percentage on NBA Live and the NBA2K franchises, but it’s surely astronomical hovering conservatively around .850. You can pretty much add together Popovich, Riley, Jackson and Nelson and then shoot up those percentages and win totals with the latest in HGH developments and you’ll still look feeble in comparison.
I’ve never been a guy who has played with a stacked team. I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. I took down Miami’s big three with last year’s Milwaukee Bucks and a broken controller and then swept the Thunder for the title, I beat the Shaq and Kobe led Lakers with the 2004-2005 Trail Blazers then took out the 76ers in 5 and I’ve brought countless Larry O’Brien trophies to New Orleans from Baron Davis to Anthony Davis. Bobby Jackson was once an MVP under my control. Robert Traylor was a perennial All Star. I have a ton of pedigree, but let’s focus on recent history.
Recent Roster Building:
As soon as the wizards at NBA2K15 updated the post trade deadline deals, I slapped on my vector-based GM suit and got to work (of course the first thing I did was fire Monty, but then came roster building). I made a series of moves that were even more action packed than the actual trade deadline whirlwind we just experienced. Here’s how it went down (obviously, these moves can’t happen now. It’s just a hypothetical tour of how I’d build a team with the current rosters in play if this was the start of the season):
- Jrue Holiday and Justin Hamilton to the Miami Heat for Goran Dragic, Chris Anderson and a 2018 1st round pick
- Eric Gordon and Alexis Ajinca to the Suns for Marcus Thornton and a 2015 1st round pick
- Omer Asik and Dante Cunningham to the Suns for Brandan Wright and Danny Granger
- Ryan Anderson, Quincy Pondexter and a 2018 1st round pick to Orlando for Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn
- Marcus Thornton and Norris Cole to the Trail Blazers for Arron Afflalo, Joel Freeland and a 2017 1st round pick
- Chris Anderson and a 2016 1st round pick to the Rockets for Jason Terry and our 2015 1st round pick
- Joel Freeland and a 2017 1st round pick to the Nets for Mirza Teletovic
In the end we were left with this starting lineup:
PG: Tyreke Evans
SG: Goran Dragic
SF: Arron Afflalo
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Brandan Wright
Our bench unit consists of:
PF/C: Kyle O’Quinn
SF/SG/Small Ball PF: Maurice Harkless
PF: Mirza Teletovic
SF: Danny Granger
SG/PG: Jason Terry
SF/PF: Luke Babbitt
C: Jeff Withey
PG/SG: Jimmer Fredette
**We also ended up with two first round picks in the 2015 draft (ours back from Houston and Phoenix’s pick). We lost a 2016 first rounder, but we have our 1st rounders in 2017 and 2018.
This is a roster built to play with pace and has a decent veteran infusion without having taken on any bad contracts. It’s possible that Dragic, Afflalo and Wright would leave in the summer, but that just creates a ton of cap space (no more Gordon contract) to reload. However, I think that one year of playing with AD and for a coach who is all about pace and these guys would buy in. We could also get involved in sign-and-trades with these players collecting more assets. Dragic is a great shooter, a second ball handler and a great finisher around the rim. Afflalo is undersized but is a very good perimeter defender who can handle the ball and shoot the three. Wright isn’t as elite of a rebounder or post defender as Asik, but unlike Omer he’s a great finisher around the rim.
The bench isn’t a walkoff home run but it’s got parts, and I’m likely to bolster it with a move or two once I see how things shake out. O’Quinn will be restricted this summer, but I think he’s a guy worth gambling on. He’s got a nice 12-15’ jumper, is a good rebounder, has a great personality and a decent 15.1 PER rating. He’s only 6’-10" so he doesn’t have great length for the 5 spot, but he’s a solid 240lbs so he can pound in the paint. Also, he’s only 24 years old, so he has a lot of room to improve his game. I also acquired David Fisher's oft target (and I guy I’ve also been intrigued by), Maurice Harkless. He’s raw and untested. He’s lived on the bench on a bad team, but he’s a 6’9" SF with 7’-0" wingspan who I think tops out somewhere around Jeff Green and bottoms out around Darius Miles. He’s only 21 and is on a two-year deal that averages out a $2.35M a year. It’s worth the look-see. Next we have Jason Terry who once would have been a solid piece, but now isn’t very awe-inspiring. He’s a better John Salmons-type of veteran leader who actually has some fire in him, a lot of playoff experience, championship experience, has played with some of the league’s premier big men, played for some of the best coaches in the league, can still hit an open 3 and is on an expiring contract. Danny Granger is another vet with playoff experience. He’s also on an expiring deal and gets to come home to play sit on the bench in his birth city. The Granger move also goes back to a rule I used to set for myself when conducting a fantasy draft on the early days of NBA Live — always get a player from New Orleans. Granger is probably an upgrade over Kerry Kittles, Gerald Honeycutt and Ervin (Not Magic) Johnson even at this stage in his career. Mirza Teletovic is the stretch four replacement for Ryan Anderson. He’s a little older, but is also much cheaper at $3.37M a year. He won’t demand as many touches, or take as many bad shots as Anderson. We already know and sort of love Babbitt (I especially love Babbitt) and Withey (who’s trying to jump on the Babbitt hair wagon). I surprised myself by not dumping Fredette, but I figure with his salary he’s fine riding the bench and playing 5 minutes a game if needed. Also, I have to give him tons of credit for being able to sit on the bench the entire game and come in and still hit clutch free throws. That’s solid. When it comes to all of his other flaws, in the virtual basketball world I get to control his every move — so that helps.
A coach with on court experience is surely easier to respect than a guy who never made an impact in a NBA game. Especially when we are talking about a coach with little to no head coaching experience in the league. Luckily, I briefly dabbled in the "My Career" mode in this year’s iteration of NBA2K. I went undrafted out of Tulane as a 6’-6" 220lb (I’m actually a hair under 6’ and 150lbs, but I modeled myself after Tyreke Evans. I jokingly call this avatar, "Tyreke Kevins.") SG/SF, but signed on with the Suns for the post trade deadline stretch run.
It took me a while to earn enough minutes to actually make an impact, but even with this small sample size I proved I could hold my own on the court. We are currently 28-2 in my first full season of action. I am averaging 38.6PPG, 6.3APG, 8.5RPG, shooting 56%, 52% from 3 and 86% from the stripe with 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. I have a 33.7 PER and a .637 true shooting percentage. However, I quickly lost interest in this mode as I prefer team building. Also, I really understood why DeMarcus Cousins and Goran Dragic hated playing with Isaiah Thomas — it isn’t fun. I may eventually hop back into this game mode and demand a trade to the Pelicans, but I’ll wait until they fire Monty.
Here is one thing that really separates me from Monty Williams — I understand that having an extra possession and the final shot of a quarter is beneficial to my team. I will never understand why we repeatedly refuse to go 2 for 1. To me, this lack of awareness is grounds for dismissal alone. Monty’s inability to understand this is the bane of my existence, but sometimes it leads to solid text exchanges with friends during games.
A banana yellow suit wearing Isiah Thomas once delivered this pearl of wisdom at halftime during his days as a NBA on NBC talking head, "the team with the most points will win the game." At least, that’s the way I remember him saying it. Anyway, as dumb and obvious as that sounds, I sometimes think coaches lose sight of this fundamental truth. Coaches often think that the key to victory is keeping your opponent in the 80s.
I’m of the mind that it doesn’t matter how many points the other team scores, if only you end up with one more than them. I get really tired of watching the Pelicans wait until 10 seconds remain on the shot clock to initiate a play. I’m not suggesting that we need to take a shot with 20 seconds on the shot clock each possession, but if there is a good shot at 20 seconds — take it.
There shouldn’t be one play a possession anyway. A series of movement should start once the ball crosses half court. Immediately, we should be flowing and moving the ball until a high percentage shot presents itself. There is no excuse for standing still for 14 seconds and then running a single pick and roll or isolation. The earlier you start your offense, the more likely a quality shot presents itself. Who cares if it is early or late in the shot clock, if it is a good look?
If you are slowing down your offense to limit the other team’s possessions as your primary goal, that goal is flawed. It results in a lot of bad forced shots to beat the clock, or turnovers caused by defenses collapsing on a ball handler with limited options and a time crunch. The focus should always be initiating early offense and generating multiple chances to get a clean look each possession. Sure, this may lead to your opponent having a lot of extra possessions, but so will you. Who cares if the other team has 115 points, if you have 120? You can still play effective defense in an up-tempo offense. With the youth and athleticism we have, we should play at a blistering pace wearing the older teams like the Spurs, Clippers, Mavericks and Grizzlies down over the course of the game. Our youth and inexperience are weaknesses, but they become even more detrimental when we don’t exploit the one real strength our youth provides us — energy and athleticism.
But Seriously, Folks
While I know Monty Williams isn’t the answer (I’m a Dell man so I’m not hunting GMs), I don’t have an immediate sure-fire hire that guy candidate. I have ideas, but I’m not 100% confident in any of them. I’m not a big fan of going with an untested coach while we have arguably the best player in the league on our roster. We are a small market team and we need to give Davis a reason to be loyal with the lack of endorsements and exposure this market presents him. We need a guy who instills confidence in our players. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of proven guys available, but here are some thoughts on the ones that are/may be available this summer.
Head Coaching Candidates with Head Coaching Experience
Jeff Van Gundy
I doubt Van Gundy leaves the comfort of the broadcast booth, but the chance to coach Anthony Davis has got to be a hard job to ignore. Van Gundy is one of my favorite color commentary guys and he lives in our punk house backroom folklore for coaching the Knicks during Larry Johnson’s biggest moment and the pizza chucking incident it inspired. Also, he once got between Alonzo Mourning and Johnson in a bench clearing brawl. He was collateral damage courtesy of an off-target punch from Marcus Camby that was meant for Danny Ferry. Jeff Van isn’t afraid to mix it up.
He regularly calls out officials for bad calls, the NBA for bad rules and fans for bad behavior. I like that. I also like that he took a really flawed Knicks team to the Finals. He has a career .575% winning percentage. He’s coached under Pat Riley and Don Nelson. He’s coached premiere big men. As a broadcaster, he’s scouted teams more heavily than any other head coach gets to do in season. The booth to the bench model has seemed to work for Steve Kerr and the Warriors, and Van Gundy has a lot of actual games coached under his belt. He’s a very interesting prospect with a proven track record. All of this makes him my top choice for available coaches with head coaching experience.
Things are reportedly not so rosy in Chicago. GM Gar Forman and team president John Paxson are rumored to be upset with the workload coach Thibodeau imposes on his stars. Rumor has it, they are hot for Hoiberg.
Despite several seasons of, "will he or won’t he play" from Derrick Rose (after typing this, Rose got hurt again), Thibs has kept this team in the Eastern Conference championship discussion — currently they have the 3rd best record in the East (going 22-14 in conference). He’s shown the ability to develop players (Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson) and resurrect careers of journeymen (Mike Dunleavy Jr., Aaron Brooks and DJ Augustin). Remember when everyone said Pau Gasol was over the hill? He leads the league in double-doubles this year. He’s one of the best defensive coaches in the league and helped turn Rose into a MVP without having a reliable jumper, so I’d love to see what he could do with Tyreke Evans’ size and skillset.
He would be a real coup for this club. I’m not sure if it could get done, but if there is even a remote possibility that Thibodeau comes available we need to go all in. My main concerns about landing him are that his teams aren’t known for their offense, and that we may have to give up another 1st round pick to pry him away from the Bulls if he isn’t fired.
I’m more interested in adding Malone as an assistant coach. Our defense was best when he was on our staff. He also greatly improved the defense in his stint as an assistant in Golden State. I understood what he was doing schematically, unlike Monty’s defensive plan. He got a raw deal in Sacramento, and he’s a bit too slow-paced for my liking offensively, but there aren’t many quality candidates out there with head coaching experience. Ideally, I’d like him to be our top assistant paired with a head coach that plays with pace and emphasizes movement (of the ball and players moving off of the ball). Still, we could do worse — we already are.
College Coaches and Assistant Coaches:
As I’ve said, I don’t like handing Anthony Davis over to a guy with no NBA head coaching experience. Also, it’s extremely rare that a college coach comes into the NBA and has success. I will say that I’ve watched a few Celtics games on League Pass this year and I really like what I’ve seen from Brad Stevens (who greatly outcoached Monty on Friday night), but he appears to be the exception to the rule. If Boston decides that he’s too good for their current tanking model and view him as a tradeable asset, I’d explore it. However, I don’t see that happening. Fred Hoiberg is probably the hottest name in the college ranks, and maybe he becomes the next Stevens, but I’m not sold. I’d rather go other more proven routes. Here’s a few assistant coaches that are intriguing.
Tim Hardaway Sr.
It seems obvious that the point guard position would be the best position to transition into a coaching role. They are the floor generals that run the offense and make sure that they keep their teammates involved and engaged. They also are responsible for getting teammates in the best position to score; they thrive on feeding the hot hand. Hardaway was a tough point guard that ran one of the most enjoyable offenses in NBA history alongside Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond. He’s played for Don Nelson, Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy. He’s worked as a television analyst and was a head scout in Miami under Pat Riley. He is currently an assistant under Stan Van in Detroit leading that reclamation project.
Could he be our Steve Kerr, or even our Jeff Hornacek? I think it’s possible. I also like that he’s gone 180 on the homophobic remarks he made earlier in his career by calling Jason Collins to support of his decision to come out as a gay athlete and also signing a petition to legalize same-sex marriage in Florida. This shows me the ability to grow as a person, learn from mistakes and demonstrates an ability to understand and manage different personalities and lifestyles that make up any kind of team dynamic.
Mitchell has some head coaching experience with the Raptors from 2004-2008. Kevin Garnett has credited him on numerous occasions as one of the key figures in his development. He helped turn around a terrible Raptors team and then was unjustly dumped because that’s what bad teams do. He’s been an assistant on several bad teams so I’m skeptical, but still somewhat intrigued.
He’s really more of the next category of coaching candidate as he only has one year of assistant coaching experience (and isn’t employed at the moment), but let’s think about this for a second and then immediately forget it forever. I’m not serious at all about ‘Sheed being a candidate. However, while thinking about who would be the exact opposite of Monty Williams, "Wallace to Society" was my first thought. Metta World Peace was my second, but that isn’t even funny. Like a message from Chief Quimby, I hope this idea self-destructs.
The Retired Player Route:
This seems to be the new trend. I’m not really sold on this movement, but I do watch A LOT of Bucks’ games and I love what Jason Kidd has done there (although I hate this MCW trade). So I’m willing to explore it. Here’s some people who may retire (or that have retired recently, but have never coached) this offseason that are intriguing:
With absolutely no inside knowledge into what Ray Allen is thinking, I believe his playing days are done. I don’t think he wants the wear and tear on his body — he wants to walk away without lingering issues. However, he was clearly one of the most competitive and hardest working players in recent history. He tirelessly worked to get an open shot, constantly running around the court using numerous screens to free himself of his defender. Ray Allen was the perfect example of a constantly flowing offense. You never saw him sitting there watching the ball handler. You never saw him lightly jog to his next spot on the court. He moved constantly and with urgency.
I drool thinking about the motion schemes he could create with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon weaving around Anthony Davis and Omer Asik, or the off the ball screens he would utilize to free Luke Babbitt up for an open three. He’s also an elite shooter that could possible fix Tyreke’s jumper making him a total nightmare to defend. He’ll have this season to get bored at home with the family and to let his body heal, but he’s too much of a grinder to just fade away. The lure of coaching — especially coaching AD, could get him back in the league.
At least we know he’ll never leave a timeout on the board. All jokes aside, he’s young enough to relate to today’s player. He’s played with one of the flashiest point guards in the league, and then one of the most fundamentally sound PGs in the game at the time. I believe that would help create a balanced offense that utilized flash and pace while incorporating a more traditional post-up game. He was a really good face-up four who also knew when to incorporate a post game — he can help Anthony Davis develop a stronger post game. He’s got broadcasting experience, so he’s seen a lot of gameplans and scouted players for broadcasting purposes. He knows the struggle of being a very good small market team. He’s always been part of teams that set trends and were on the pulse of what was happening in basketball.