I wish the job market for young people in our country was similar to the NBA coaching hiring process. I say this because I am noticing a trend in the league. I wouldn’t quite say it’s a formula for success in the National Basketball Association, that’s yet to be seen. But I do see a new trend that will become more prevalent in the future.
Does anyone remember when Mark Jackson was hired as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors? A majority of people were questioning the hiring of Mark Jackson because he was a young and inexperienced head coach coming from the broadcasting booth. Three years later, even though Mark Jackson was unfairly fired, I would say Mark Jackson’s coaching tenure was a success in Golden State. I believe his hiring opened up a Pandora’s box in the NBA, and now franchises across the league are trying to replicate the same thing. Earlier in this post I said I wish the current job market was similar to the NBA hiring process, this is why I say that: NBA franchises are no longer pursuing the experienced, tenured coach anymore. They’re actually pursuing younger, innovative and less-experienced coaching prospects who are more equipped to relate to today’s modern NBA player. Take New York Knicks President, Phil Jackson, for example, he has actively pursued Steve Kerr(young and no coaching experience), and now that Steve Kerr has taken the Golden State Warriors job instead, he is know reportedly trying to lure current Oklahoma City veteran guard Derek Fisher into becoming the new head coach of the New York Knicks. They’re both Phil Jackson-type guys. It doesn’t just stop there: the Lakers are currently trying to contact championship UCONN Huskies coach Kevin Ollie. Also, have you notice what coaches are currently in the conference finals, with the exception of Gregg Popovich? They’re all younger guys. In the past, most teams wanted the big name coach that would come in, generate headlines and make a splash. I have yet to see that hire though. Why hasn’t George Karl, Lionel Hollins, or Jeff Van Gundy gotten a call? Team presidents do not want to pay the salary these coaches are going to demand, and nowadays, presidents and GMs want more control of the team. You would think the Lakers would be begging for a George Karl to come coach the team, but this is no longer the standard for success in the NBA. It’s why Pat Riley hired Erik Spoelsta to coach the star-filled Miami Heat. Spoelstra was Pat Riley’s guy from the get-go. I doubt he wanted to deal with the coaching ego of an experienced coach; he wants full control.
With every pro, there is usually a con. It comes with this new coaching process as well. Have you noticed all the impulsive firings in the league? It’s getting ridiculous, but unfortunately, this will be more common in the coming future. Mike Brown, who was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, was only given one year to fix a franchise that is clearly lacking talent. Lionel Hollins, former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, was fired after he took his overachieving team to the Western Conference Finals. Team presidents realize that they can now afford to fire these experienced coaches, due to the financial leverage they have over a “young, up-and-coming” coach. Except for Steve Kerr getting a lucrative 5 year,25-million dollar deal(which is ridiculous), most first-year coaches will get a deal worth about 2-3 million per year. So if I’m a team president, why would I spend 6-7 million for an experienced coach when I can hire a less-experienced coach at lesser value for 2-3 million dollars. I can’t blame the teams from a financial point-of-view. But, unfortunately, it will result in coaches getting fired more frequently. NBA GMs and presidents are now fixated into their delusional thinking that a franchise can be turned around within a year or two. But really, if you lack the talent, you will not win. It’s that simple; the NBA is clearly a players league. So why blame Stan Van Gundy for taking the Detroit Pistons job, even though he was offered numerous jobs to better teams. If he takes the other available coaching jobs, all he’s doing is setting himself up to eventually be fired. You might as well just take the money. If Stan Van Gundy fails in Detroit, he’s still a rich man. If he prevails, then he’ll be looked at as a hero and franchise savior, who is still rich. So In the words of Jalen Rose, “keep getting them checks man.. keep getting them checks”. That is basically what NBA coaching is all about nowadays. In a way, coaching has become what we all know about getting a job in this country. “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. If you’re a coach, you better get as much money as you can. It’s only a matter of time before you inevitably get fired, and they’ll replace you with the next coach waiting in line.