Tag Archives: jerry sloan
By: Bohlin and Willis
1) Pros and Cons of Stan Van Gundy
Bohlin: There are some legitimate reasons as to why Stan Van Gundy (or SVG as I will reference him from here on out) might have interest in taking over the reins of the Washington Wizards. First and foremost would be the opportunity to stick it to your former employer. Anyone who has ever been fired from a position knows deep down they would love to get back at the person who let them go. Fortunately for the Wizards, SVG would have a plethora of opportunities to do just that were he to take the job in D.C. Another reason for SVG to take the Wiz Kids job? He wouldn’t have to cater to an overbearing superstar who doesn’t want to be there anymore. Dwight Howard, and the circus that surrounded him this season, couldn’t have made SVG job pleasant this past year. It got so bad that he went out in the media saying his star player went to the front office asking for him to be fired. That just shouldn’t happen on any level of basketball. In D.C. our star player, John Wall, is hungry to build a winner in the District and, by all accounts, loves the city as this is where his father grew up. Couple a talented PG with a nice group of big’s in Nene and Seraphin, as well as what we hope will be a major hit in the lottery, and you have the makings of an attractive roster for someone such as SVG to consider taking over.
The only knock on SVG is the perceived notion that he’s lost two locker rooms: first in Miami and then Orlando. At least, that has been the reasoning for him leaving those jobs. The egos he had to deal with in those locations certainly had something to do with that occurrence, however. I would be more than willing to argue that Dwight Howard lost the locker room in Orlando and SVG, along with Howard’s teammates, are the ones who got thrown under the proverbial bus (Dwight being Dwight). I firmly believe he would not run into this issue in D.C. as the major egos and knuckleheads (Sans The Captain) have been shipped out of town and SVG would inherit a young, talented roster of players wanting to be successful. His record speaks for itself and he has a great knowledge of the Southeast Division…Seems like a no brainer that we would reach out to him about our head coaching position.
Willis: For once, I actually agree with my colleague on something basketball-related. SVG is skilled in three facets of life: 1.) He grows a phenomenal mustache reminiscent of the great Ron Jeremy, 2.) SVG could replace Super Mario in any future movies, and 3.) The guy can flat out coach basketball. Jokes aside, anyone who watches this guy’s teams play basketball understands that he understands, at the most fundamental level, how good basketball is played. During his eight years as a head coach in the NBA, SVG has amassed a staggering .641 winning %. To put that into perspective, that’s sixth All-Time amongst NBA coaches with at least 500 games. That number puts him ahead of guys like Rick Aldeman, Rick Carlisle, George Karl, Doc Rivers, and even Flip Saunders. The ability to coach teams at such a high level over any length of time means speaks volumes to his dedication and preparation. Can he coach a team with less talent than most? I would think so.
One knock on him, however, is that his personality tends to grind on his most talented players. SVG does not show favoritism, and so most superstars get upset with him because SVG speaks his mind. He will not hesitate to publicly chastise someone who doesn’t do what they are told. He threw his main man, Dwight Howard, under the bus for private conversations Dwight had with upper management, and as Shaq said “that was Bush League.” In a way, it is. Private conversations shouldn’t be brought public, ever. Stan Van Gundy tells it like it is, for better or worse. Given that the Wizards are sometimes a sensitive team (as well as a flawed team), that might happen a lot. I can only imagine how angry Wall might get if he was told that his shooting was unacceptably bad (when Jan Vesely can’t shoot, period).
2) Pros and Cons of Nate McMillan
Bohlin: Nate didn’t last the season in Portland. After starting the season with a 20-23 record he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Trail Blazers. In his 12-year coaching career, including a stint in Seattle (Like R.I.P) before moving down the coast to Portland, he has achieved an overall record of 478-452. His playoff record is an uninspiring 14-20 and McMillan has never made it past the second round of the playoffs as a head coach. Obviously, McMillan has a fantastic basketball acumen having had a 12-year NBA career as a player. He could probably teach John Wall a few things about distributing the basketball as McMillan still holds the single-game assist record for rookies passing out 25 dimes.
I just don’t know if I buy into the fact that McMillan is the right coach for this team as it is currently constructed. The facts speak for themselves in this case, McMillan has coached middle of the pack teams to early exit’s in the playoffs his entire coaching career. Even the year he led the Blazers to a tie for the Northwest Division title they were bounced by the Houston Rockets in 6 games in the first round. Note: Greg Oden actually played 61 games that season; they also had LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Nicklas Batum and Andre Miller on that team. Not a bad amount of talent for a first round exit from the playoffs. That is clearly more talent than is currently on this Wizards roster and if he couldn’t get it done with those guys I am not convinced he can get it done with our Wiz Kids.
Willis: Nate Dogg is an interesting prospect as a head coach. He is a very versatile guy, who can coach both veterans and young players into successful seasons. As I’ve written before, McMillan is a “change the culture” type of guy, who would fit incredibly well within our current rebuilding project that is seeking just that. When McMillan took over the Portland job, he had to deal with some seriously flawed players with terrible attitude issues that led to them being branded the Jailblazers. The end result? Within three years, the Blazers became a 54-win playoff team. He is clearly a player’s coach who demands results and gets them from his team. Plus, he’s only finished below .500 four times during his 12 years as a head coach.
His cons? As my colleague noted before, he has an underwhelming postseason record. I would argue that he lost a lot of those playoff games because of injuries which plagued the Trailblazers during his tenure. Greg Oden and Brandon Roy were supposed to be the future of that team; instead, they are painful reminders of how much injuries can derail a team’s bright future. Both players had franchise player status, and it’s hard to fault Nate McMillan for being a failure because his players failed to stay healthy. That’s just the nature of the game. Still, he has had healthy, talented teams and failed to out-coach anyone.
3) Pros and Cons of Jerry Sloan
Bohlin: He is a Hall of Fame coach. You cannot start assessing Jerry Sloan as a coaching candidate without mentioning that. In his 26 years of coaching experience in the NBA Sloan amassed a record of 1221-803 in the regular season. His playoff record is equally impressive at 98-104 (As a franchise the Wizards/Bullets/Zephyrs only have 77 total postseason victories). While he never got the opportunity to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy while leading the Utah Jazz, Sloan did take the franchise to the NBA Finals twice where they were eventually sent back to Salt Lake City ringless by Michael Jordan. Despite having never won the title every NBA player and coach dreams of winning, Sloan is considered one of the brightest coaching minds of this generation. He obviously wants to get back into coaching judging by the fact he is going to give Michael Jordan and his Bobcats the time of day for an interview. So it wouldn’t hurt for the Wizards to at least give his representatives a call and gauge his interest.
Even with all the accolades above pertaining to Sloan as a coach there is still one MAJOR concern I would have in targeting him to be the leader of our franchise. Sloan up and quit on a team that was 8 games over .500 and had gone to the playoffs the four previous years. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” This is a direct quote from Sloan after he resigned from the Jazz coaching position in February of 2011. While some of this has to be attributed to Deron Williams giving him, and the franchise, the Dwight Howard treatment, it is a bad omen for a team trying to take the next step to respectability. The Wizards have not been as successful a franchise as the Jazz were under Sloan; there is no way around this reality. I cannot get behind a coach taking a team that is further away from competing for a title than the franchise he previously left mid-season citing a “lack of energy”. How long until he would lose that same energy for coaching when he takes the helm of a team that has a total of 88 wins in the past four years?
Willis: Jerry Sloan was born in 1942. Some other things that happened during that year? The movie Casablanca premiered in Hollywood, the Holocaust occurred, the United States Navy fought Japan during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and Anne Frank wrote her first entries in her Diary. What am I getting at? Jerry Sloan is old. He’s not a dinosaur, but he’s two years younger than Don Nelson. Anytime a coach can claim to be the same age as Dick Stockton, I have my reservations about how well he is going to be able to relate with players on a younger team such as the Wizards. I also question why a guy like Jerry Sloan, who happens to be a Hall of Fame coach with no rings, would want to coach a young squad like Washington when there is virtually no chance to add the only thing missing from his resume. Realistically, there will be plenty of veteran teams looking for a coach who can lead them to victory. With only a few years of quality coaching left, I can’t believe he has even the slightest amount of interest in Washington and another young point guard.
On the positive side? He is a Hall of Fame coach who doesn’t have two championships because he as a product of the Michael Jordan era. Teams simply didn’t win while he was playing. His style of ball meshes very well with John Wall (pick and roll) and he might actually teach him how to shoot a bit better. Sloan brings immediate credibility to the franchise, and I’d be willing to bet that the improvements would be immediate with him and he wouldn’t hesitate to bench guys like Blatche for acting up.
4) Do we just bag the coaching search until next summer and let Wittman lead us back to the lottery one more time
Bohlin: Being honest, it is hard to envision this roster competing for a playoff spot next season. If we were to hold off on going after a big name coach for another season I am comfortable saying that Randy Wittman did enough to merit coming back for a full season as the Wizards head coach. This is all hinging on the fact that Wittman wants to do this again though. When Flip was fired, Wittman made it quite clear he was not interested in being a head coach at this point in time. He has repeatedly mentioned how difficult this season was for him. Did that change during his stint leading the Wizards to the end of this season? Maybe, Randy Wittman is the only one who can truly answer that question. The fact that his roster endorsed him returning as their coach in 2012-2013 certainly helps (Player endorsements). But unfortunately for Wittman, the inmates aren’t running the asylum on F Street so that decision is going to ultimately come from Leonsis and Grunfeld.
Willis: I’m actually a big fan of Randy Wittman. I think, as a coach, he knew how to push these young players buttons enough to squeeze out some actual effort and hustle. The players liked him, and they responded to what he was saying. There were less blowout losses and more wins with Wittman instead of Flip Saunders. I guess that was what I liked the most; he actually cared and wasn’t resigned to losing like Flip. Perhaps I was so traumatized by Flip’s nonchalant attitude and excessive amount of hair gel that when Randy Wittman started demanding changes (Major Payne style) I fell in love. I think going forward, unless we make a huge hire in the coaching realm, Wittman is the guy we should start growing with. Wall played better under him, Vesely improved under him, Seraphin emerged under him; again I ask, why wouldn’t I want that?
Not to mention that having stability at the head coaching position is never a bad thing. Look no further than the credibility of the Utah Jazz under the Jerry Sloan, the Spurs under Greg Popovich, or the Celtics with Doc Rivers. Good teams have a head coach who inserts a system and the GM works in conjunction with him to grab players tailored for it. I don’t know that Randy Wittman’s system is a winning formula, but I do know that I’d like to give him a chance to implement it. He is an internal hire who knows Grunfeld, so maybe they can develop this vision of basketball in cohesion.
The cons of Wittman? He has coached three full seasons before, and not one of those teams managed to win consistently. He has never coached a team that has been over .500, and I’m not sure that he ever will. Granted, when you have a Minnesota team whose top three players are Al Jefferson, Rashard McCants, and Marko Jaric, there might not be a lot of winning going on. His other stint in Cleveland was before LeBron came along, wherein he was forced to eke wins out of Andre Miller, Clarence Witherspoon, and Jim Jackson (Oh my God the 2001 Cavaliers were awful). That’s not a lot to go with, and the Wizards next season might be his most talented squad yet. Still, the returns haven’t been promising up to this point. I fear Wittman might be more of a motivational speaker than an actual coach.
Tags: basketball, calipari, coaching, Deron Williams, hoops, jazz, jerry sloan, John Wall, Kentucky, nate mcmillan, nba, Portland, sloan, sports, stan van gundy, SVG, trailblazers, utah jazz, van gundy, washington, Wizards