Search for a shepherd to lead a flock of sharks.

I wanted to weigh in on the Coaching Search. Most of the options that we pine for have been talked about ad-nauseum. I wanted to go over each coach as an individual (team strategy, balancing player personalities, development) and what the stats say about them (with regards to W’s L’s, and the playoffs). This is not an exhaustive list just more of an off the top list (with regards to which candidates I know of, granted I do not have an complete and comprehensive list of assistant coaches nor am I privy to who The Maloof’s Petrie, Levien, and the Kings have their respective eyes on with regards to assistant coaches, nor do I care to look at the College, or Euro coaches at this time, mostly a list of “re-tread” coaches and a few Assistants who have interviewed for head coaching positions over the last few years or who we have had an eye on)


Let me jump into the coaches.


I’ll start with those who have been Head-Coaches at the NBA level, they fall in no particular order:


Avery Johnson: The Lil’ General reminds me a bit of Scott Skiles, gritty/hard nosed player, who played for several different systems, and takes his coaching style from the Pop’ Handbook. Took an underachieving but still talented Mavericks team with no nose for Defense at all (although what team does have a nose for defense under Nellie?) and turned them into a solid defensive unit based mostly on grit, and a pretty good help-zone-hybrid… tight rotations are generally key. Not to mention the Dampier/Diop provided a two headed monster of one-one D and shot blocking… while providing decent rebounding in the middle as well. He also had the ball hawking Devin Harris to provide defense at the point. Combine that with Josh Howard and his decent D… and Nowitzki’s nose for the ball while rebounding and you have yourself a team that is finals bound. Which is exactly what happened. They would have one if not for a certain player named Dwayne Wade, who destroyed the Mavs D (this is what happens when you do not have a player capable of “lockdown” defense who can at least drape themselves all over the opponent’s best player and make life a bit more difficult for him). We all know what happened the year after, a history-making loss to the Warriors in the round one of the playoffs.


The reason I mention that Avery reminds me of Skiles is, again they were both tough-nosed players and seem like the kind of coach that would wear on a group of players much like he did with the Mavs and much like Skiles did in Chicago. (although the Bucks have played MUCH better D this year… even though they have to sieves at PG in Ridnour and Sessions and their starting center has been gone most of the year, gritty. Also, remember these are the same Bucks which were the worst team in the league last year in defense). This is not to say that Avery could get the same results with our roster that he did with the Mavs having a MVP caliber player on your roster sure does mask a lot of deficiencies through in Jason Terry, Devin Harris, and Josh Howard and it is easy to see why the Mavericks were a Championship caliber team under Avery. I do not think that Avery is all that good a fit for our team, I like him as a coach, and liked him as a player but something in my gut says that he would be a temporary fix a 2-3 year coach to come in and instill a bit of edge and then be gone (due again to the “grind”).


Here are his Coaching Numbers:

Games Coached: 264
Games Won: 194

Games Lost: 70

Win %: 73.5

Playoff Games Coached: 47
Playoff Games Won: 23

Playoff Games Lost: 24

Win %:48.9


Eddie Jordan: Our hope, our future, the Princeton offense, class, style, former player. All of these describe Eddie Jordan (or at least for some of the fans around here). Jordan was a player, retired, became and assistant coach, then was promoted to a head coach position. He was the second longest tenured coach in the League (behind only Jerry Sloan) until he was fired from the Wizards (baaaaad mistake IMO) but their loss our potential gain. We are highly familiar with EJ’s offense (as we ran it/run it currently). He is a student of the Princeton offense and Petrie has a soft spot for the offense (and from what I hear EJ as well). Defensively is where the red-flags start to pop-up for me.


He said that his Wizards teams stressed D in practice consistently. But someone explain how a team with Gilbert Arenas (pre-injury), Brendan Haywood/Etan Thomas (two bruising centers who rebound well and play decent one-one D and block a fair amount of shots), Larry Hughes then later Caron Butler (both who are praised for Decent one-one D and Hughes led the league in steals under Jordan) can be so porous on the defensive side of the ball. Yes Arenas/Hughes/Butler take a few to many risks. True Deshawn Stevenson is not a Lockdown defender (despite his delusions of such action). But it seems to me that having two decent defensive minded centers would help (I know that the injury bug bit both of them but still) the wizards were consistently ranked from middle to low end of the league under Jordan.


Personally I like EJ and would not mind if he were the next head coach of the Kings, I think he did a fair job in helping Haywood break out, in turning Arenas (pre-injury) into a franchise type talent, and in getting the most out of his veteran players, he tried to teach the young players on his roster how to flow in his offensive system, and if they caught on they were rewarded, if not glued to the bench. The good thing about bringing Coachie in now (if we really want or truly do get EJ) is that our rookies and younger players will be familiar with the Princeton O already, so the learning curve will not be as extreme. The benefit of having Petrie as our GM is that he prizes a high basketball IQ and tends to draft players who will fit into his system and vision. The Coach is important because he will effectively enable Petrie’s vision to be realized on the court, EJ is a coach who can do this.


A look at his numbers:

Games Coached: 518
Games Won: 230

Games Lost: 288

Win %: 44.4

Playoff Games Coached: 26
Playoff Games Won: 8

Playoff Games Lost: 18

Win %: 30.8



Flip Saunders: What can be said about Flip Saunders, in my opinion he is one of the most overrated coaches to ever sit on the bench. True his offensive schemes maximize the talents of the players, and true his defensive schemes are creative, but Flip does not seem like the kind of guy to eventually get us to the mountaintop. He may be a coach to pull us from the valley of despair though and that in and of itself is worthy of consideration. With the T-Wolves and KG he was only able to get out of the first round of the playoff once. Which was a loss in the WCF to the Lakers (who eventually lost out to the Pistons in the finals). I see Flip ending up in Washington for some reason, he just seems like the right guy. Veteran players looking for a veteran coach? CHECK. (Arenas/Butler/Jamison/Haywood/Stevenson/Songaila) Young guys who need to learn? (Remember the Detroit Zoo-Crew?) CHECK. (Mcguire/Blatche/Young). I think the wizards are a team that next season will be relatively potent given the right coach and a high draft pick which could be used in a number of ways (trade for proven vet’s etc.) and given Flip’s success with veteran players (think Cassell/Sprewell/KG). Flip would also be a good fit for the Kings (particularly if we add Griffin this off-season) and with his track record of helping talented PF’s develop (see KG again) I think hiring Flip would not be that bad of a choice. It all just depends on Flip. And honestly I do not see him coming to a rebuild situation.



Games Coached: 983
Games Won: 587

Games Lost: 396

Win %: 59.7

Playoff Games Coached: 98
Playoff Games Won: 47

Playoff Games Lost: 51

Win %: 48



Jeff Van Gundy:  JVG. What to say about JVG. One of the better Defensive coaches the NBA has ever seen. Worked his way up as an assistant coach sat under a number of coaches as an assistant (Pat Riley and Don Nelson come to mind). Solid all around coach… loves the Grind-it-out 78-80ppg type of basketball that has won San Antonio (and last year the Celtics… and before that the Pistons) so many championships. My problem with Van-Gundy is two fold. One what type of offense do you run? Because all I have ever seen is throw the ball into the post double team, crap, throw the ball to the perimeter hock up a 3pt shot repeat. Can be effective (see San Antonio, Spurs) if you have the right players to implement. My other problem with Van Gundy is can he develop a roster?  He did a pretty good job with Yao bringing him to Star level, but it was not enough to get the Rockets out of the 1st round. Even with McGrady in his prime at the time.


By the Numbers:

Games Coached: 748
Games Won: 430

Games Lost: 318

Win %: 57.5

Playoff Games Coached: 88
Playoff Games Won: 44

Playoff Games Lost: 44

Win %: 50



Maurice Cheeks: Mo Cheeks, what to say about Mo Cheeks the player? Great. Fantastic. Tremendous defensive ability. (one of the best defensive PG’s who ever played) One title, numerous all-star games played, and several time all-defense team nominee. Mo would be much like our former player turned coach, Reggie Theus. He seems to have an aptitude for getting the most effort out of his players, while he may not know his X’s and O’s (at least that is probably the biggest nock on Mo as a coach) I will say that it looked like he lost the locker-room this year in Philly, and that as undisciplined as the Trailblazers were it took a total overhaul to get them to respectability. (starting with the coach and moving through the rest of the franchise). I think the players would respect Mo and his previous accomplishments as a player, and they would (I hope) leave it on the court every night and compete every night under him. However, they would not be anything much more than what they are now a bottom dweller in the NBA. He inherited a team in Portland (that while troubled) was still very talented and wasted it on a few first round playoff exists. Although, he did help Zach Randolph to become a 20-10 guy… and that is saying something. He also helped Iggy/LouisWilliams/T. Young in Philly to play to their strengths and that is half the battle in the NBA.



Games Coached: 570
Games Won: 284

Games Lost: 286

Win %: 49.8

Playoff Games Coached: 16
Playoff Games Won: 5

Playoff Games Lost: 11

Win %: 31.3



Mark Iavaroni: I was going to touch on Iavaroni, but the rumor is that he will end up on the bench in Toronto as an “offensive coordinator” which really is what he should be doing. He and D’Antoni are a bit part of the SSL offense which of course made PHX so potent.



Games Coached: 123
Games Won: 33

Games Lost: 80

Win %: 26.8

Playoff Games Coached: 0
Playoff Games Won: 0

Playoff Games Lost: 0

Win %: 0



Sam Mitchell: Smitch might be a good fit, for our franchise, although my gut says he will take one with a bit more promise and more of a veteran presence than what we have here in Sacramento. Mitchell helped guide the Raptors to the playoffs and helped turn TJ Ford into a very solid point as well as allowing Bosh, Moon, and Calderon flourish. He was the wrong coach to fire at the wrong time, but how else was Colangelo going to get “his guy” in. Honestly I was surprised the Colangelo did not fire Mitchell after last season and drop Toronto into the D’antoni sweepstakes. Mitchell is another former player and former assistant coach (notice a theme?). Who was able to get his team to at least play decent defense and helped guide a very young a very raw squad to the playoffs. He helped turn Chris Bosh into a monster as well. My big beef with Mitchell is two fold. His rotations were puzzling (well in the playoffs when he put Bargnani in last year who had been the third big off the bench all season) into the starting lineup and moved moon to the bench. A bit puzzling to me. But again a coach who can get the most out of his veterans and will garner the respect of the players. His offensive schemes were a bit primitive (what with the perimeter rules the way they are what offense isn’t either primarily pick & roll, Drive & Dish, or iso?) I do not particularly want Smitch on the bench for us because I am afraid that he will hinder the growth of the youth that we have here.



Games Coached: 345
Games Won: 156

Games Lost: 189

Win %: 45.2

Playoff Games Coached: 11
Playoff Games Won: 3

Playoff Games Lost: 8

Win %: 27.3



P.J. Carlesimo: P.J. is a guy who would be best served as an assistant or defensive coordinator IMO a good mind, not so good at motivating and implementation. I bet he finds his way back into San Antonio before it is all said and done, because it was Pop who lobbied hard for P.J. to get the job of coaching Kevin Durant. Which he squandered largely by playing Durant at the 2 guard spot.



Games Coached: 500
Games Won: 204

Games Lost: 296

Win %: 40.8

Playoff Games Coached: 12
Playoff Games Won: 3

Playoff Games Lost: 9

Win %: 25


Mike Fratello: We discussed Fratello a lot the last couple weeks here at STR but honestly, his track record is fairly solid. If we could get him to buy into the Princeton offense, and let him instill his defensive presence and his take-care-of-the-ball strategy (which actually would be a result of his slow as snails offense perhaps) I think he might actually be a good idea. He helped turn a young Grizzlies team into a solid playoff team (they had the unfortunate situation of being in the same division as the Rockets, Mavs, and Spurs) and they still made it into the playoffs. He did the same thing with the Cavs, and Hawks (well actually the Cavs were a solid veteran team already) before that. He helped Jason Williams to tone it down and become one of the most efficient PG’s in the league. The team played hard-nosed D every night and competed like their careers depended on it… for a lot of those guys it did. Think Shane Battier, James Posey, Stromile Swift, Bonzi Wells… these guys all played for Fratello, and played pretty well.


The Numbers:

Games Coached: 1215
Games Won: 667

Games Lost: 548

Win %: 54.9

Playoff Games Coached: 62
Playoff Games Won: 20

Playoff Games Lost: 42

Win %: 32.3

Paul Silas: Silas is a bit combative in the media, and seemed to lose LBJ’s respect, which lead to the hire of Mike Brown in Cleveland. He also seemed to lose the New Orleans/Charlotte team as well (Baron Davis rings a bell here) But they did compete, and make a few surprise run’s in the systems. The last couple of years he has attempted to throw his name into the ring with the Sun’s job last year saying something to the effect of: “The Sun’s just need a system, that is what I would bring a system, on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball”. I wonder what that system would be. And before Larry Brown was hired in Charlotte he said that it would be “His Dream Job”… although no reported interview were made. Which makes me wonder does he have a reputation around the league or something? He obviously wants to coach and has a decent track record so what is the red-flag with this guy? His teams in Charlotte/NO were always decent, and the Cavs played well under him but LBJ was just a pup… and Boozer betrayed them. (personally I think the problem Cleveland had with Boozer and his lack of respect for the organization is what caused LBJ to question the organization and the coach). But who knows. I’d be for Paul Silas on the bench for the Kings next season.


The Numbers:

Games Coached: 755
Games Won: 355

Games Lost: 400

Win %: 47

Playoff Games Coached: 29
Playoff Games Won: 13

Playoff Games Lost: 16

Win %: 44.8



Terry Porter: We interviewed him after Adleman but went in a different direction (i.e. Mussleman) I think Porter is a decent coach. He just ran into a problem in Phoenix, the team is built to get up and down the court (minus Shaq) And he tried and tried to get them to buy into his Half-Court Philosophy. And the two worlds just did not meet. I do believe that the Suns would be in the playoffs this year (as I would count them out over the Mavs at this point) if they had retained Porter, but his problems with Nash/Shaq/Amare got him canned. Shame really, my gut says he finds his way to the bench as a lead Assistant under a big-name coach (like Pop, or Flip or someone like that). He did take a Buck’s team that was only so-so to the playoffs and scare the Pistons in a game or two.


The Numbers:

Games Coached: 215
Games Won: 99

Games Lost: 116

Win %: 46

Playoff Games Coached: 5
Playoff Games Won: 1

Playoff Games Lost: 4

Win %: 20




A few Assistant Coaches that I remember or that have come up before:


Mario Elie: He has studied under Pop as a player, and won a championship under him. He also helped the rockets in the early 90’s to get to and win the Finals under another esteemed basketball mind Rudy Tomjanovich. He currently is on the Mavs bench under Rick Carlisle another solid basketball mind. I think he may be ready for a head coaching job, and he has interviewed with us before.


Tom Thibeadou: One of the best defensive minds in the NBA, his teams are always in the top 10 in Defense (well 15 out of 19 seasons). That is what I call defensively sound. He helped transform the Rockets defense from OK to Superb (that and a bit of roster tweaking and a dash of JVG) Another assistant coach that I would not mind seeing on the sidelines for the Kings and supposedly one of the frontrunners.


Elston Turner: An Adelman protégé, and a student of the Princeton offense, he would be (essentially) a cheaper version of Eddie Jordan. That is if we lose out on EJ.


Mike Budenholzer: One of the minds in arguably the best run franchise in the NBA. He knows the system that Pop runs (which will a bit on the boring side is awfully effective) and would probably try and turn Sacramento into a cheap-version of SA. The problem I see with this is that Petrie would want us to continue running the Princeton offense, and we do not really have the personnel to play the type of tight D that Pop’s system requires. We do how ever have the high-basketball iq type of guys and the team first type of guys that are required to play in both of these systems.


Finally, I would like to talk about our own Kenny Natt for a moment.

Kenny could be a good coach. And here is why. He is coaching like he is going to be here next year. By this I mean, giving Nocioni minutes while Greene is glued to the bench. He wants to gain the respect of the Vet’s instead of having them sit, because he does not want to have to start over next year. I do not buy into that fact that he will not bench a guy for bad D because he is a lame duck coach. What is the player (especially on our roster) going to do about it? I think if Natt really were as dedicated to the Sloan way (which by the way the Jazz D is rather suspect outside of AK-47) as he says he is it would not matter to him what position he was in, he would stick to his guns, and earn the respect of the rooks as well as the vets. I think that it would be great if we were to hire someone like EJ, if we were able to retain Natt as an assistant I think that would be a great setup I do not know if anyone would buy into that but I think you let Kenny focus on the discipline and defense of the game and let Jordan do all the motivating and offensive tinkering (with Coachie of course) and it might be a recipe for growth and respectability. Just a though.


Again this is not an exhaustive list… I was hoping to bring a bit of discussion to the board. So, please bring your own coaching ideas to the table.

Thanks for reading!





(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)