For Lakers, Coaching Decision History Shows Team Chaos.

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SPQR
votes: 291
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The recent resignation of Coach D'Antoni was greeted with almost universal cheers from the Lakers faithful. Whether the debacle of the last two years was solely D'Antoni's fault or other factors were at play is debatable, but no matter where you stand on that, there are not many lamenting his departure.

But in the face of the unrestrained joy that struck Lakers Nation yesterday, there is also a harder truth and reality that must be faced before we launch parades as though we just won a title or will shortly be winning one. The same front office that hired him will be hiring his replacement.

And a closer look at the FO's coaching hires over the last few years reveals nothing less than Team Chaos rather than any signs of stability reflected by good choices. There is one immutable fact when it comes to hiring a good coach, when you do, he tends to stay. Systems are installed and learned, cultures inculcated and eventually success follows. And conversely, in almost all sports, in all cases, teams that have a coaching carousel, who play coaching musical chairs to the tune of really fast music, are teams that have a history of failure. Teams with good, long tenured coaches have stability and success, teams that don't court endless frustration and failure.

Unfortunately for us, a closer examination of Laker's history points to the latter, not the former. Let's take a look at Lakers coaching history since Phil left the first time in 2004, a round ten years ago.

The first hire was Rudy Tomjonovich the erstwhile Houston championship coach. He didn't last a year. Rudy retired stating he was burned out, that he didn't have the stomach for the job anymore.

Frank Hamblin took over for Rudy but was not retained after the season ended.

After Hamblin, Phil made his storied return from 2005 to 2011. Not a difficult hire for the Lakers to make.

After Phil left the second time, the next person to get the Lakers hot seat was Mike Brown, who lasted less than two years before being fired. Next up was Bernie Bikerstaff who went 5-4 before being replaced by Coach D'Antoni. And now we have the end of the D'Antoni era because the Lakers didn't have enough faith in him to enact his option year.

When examining this coaching skein, the Lakers resemble one of those failed teams in so many sports in disarray than a solid, confident, well run organization that makes the correct decision. Our next coaching hire will be our seventh head coach in ten years. And that is with Phil occupying that spot for six of those years! And since Phil Jackson left, this will be our fourth head coach in four years.

This is not a pattern of teams that are successful. This is the long time trend of teams, in all sports, that just don't understand how to get that coach in place that builds stability and success over years. You know the names of those teams as well as I do. A new coach every few years, because a bad choice was made, new systems installed more failure, then a new coach. And on and on it goes with them. And lately, we have been one of those teams.

So as we celebrate the end of the D'Antoni regime, remember this: D'Antoni didn't hire himself. Neither did Tomjonvich, Hamblen, Brown, or Bickerstaff. It was the FO that put these guys all in the big chair, all in the last four years, for one reason or another, and then came to the decision that they didn't belong there.

And here is something even more frightening. If you go back to 1982, yes 1982, only two coaches hired by the Los Angeles Lakers front office have given them acceptable success to keep their jobs: Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. And Phil Jackson was an obvious hire. It is not like the Lakers discovered him. So if you just look at stone cold risk decisions by the Lakers, based on their evaluations, only Riley proved the right choice. How long a time is this? How old were you in 1982? And if you go back that far, then you add in seven more failed Lakers' coaches this front office had picked. This is the list: Mike Dunleavy, two years; Randy Pfund, two years; Bill Bertka, one year; Magic Johnson; one year; Del Harris; 6 years (the one outlier); Bill Bertka again; one year; Kurt Rambis; one year. This equals a success rate percentage of .143. Yep. .143. It is a stark and ominous reality that besides hall of fame coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson we have had nothing but failure in finding coaches that show enough to keep the job. And that is with an all-time great like Kobe Bryant here.

So as we move on from D'Antoni, as the antipathy felt for him erupts in cheers and high fives, remember the same FO that hired him will hire his replacement. And really that is where the true trouble starts. And if we are going to reverse this trend of a coaching carousel and hire someone we like in two, three four years, the Lakers will have do a whole lot better in their vetting process than they have in the past.

Tempy
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Although I agree with most of what you say some of your statistics are wrong.

Counting Bill Berkta as a head coach is wrong. He basically stepped into the void on an interim basis. After Pfund, Berkta coached 2 games! Magic then stepped in and coached for 16 games. So in 1994 we had Pfund/Berkta/Johnson through the season. After Del Harris, Berkta again stepped in to coach the grand total of 1 game.

Bickerstaff was the same after we Fired Brown. He coached 9 games until MDA was installed as the head coach.

So since Riley (81-90) we have had Dunleavy (90-92), Pfund (92-94), Harris (94-99), Rambis (99), PJ (2000-04), Tomjanovich/Hamblem (04-05), PJ (05-11), Brown, (11-12) and MDA (2012-2014)

So in the last 33 years we have had 11 head coaches. I counted Hamblem since he coached for 39 games.

SPQR
votes: 291
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Posts: 9286
Location: Pennsylvania

Tempy,

Fair enough. Your point is good. And I agree that an interim coach picked during the season should not be given the weight of a coach you pick after a search.

The thing that really struck me is that since the Riley era, the only coach that one would say was a real success was Phil. And Phil was already Phil when we hired him. So they knew what they were getting. But if you go back to Riles, if you look at all the coaches they hired excluding known commodity Jackson, only Riles turned out to be a guy where you say, "Yes, that was a great hire." Their record of finding coaches other than already star Jackson is abysmal. I mean really bad, lol. Lets hope that track record is broken with this hire.

Tempy
votes: 51
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Location: El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles
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SPQR wrote:
Tempy,

Fair enough. Your point is good. And I agree that an interim coach picked during the season should not be given the weight of a coach you pick after a search.

The thing that really struck me is that since the Riley era, the only coach that one would say was a real success was Phil. And Phil was already Phil when we hired him. So they knew what they were getting. But if you go back to Riles, if you look at all the coaches they hired excluding known commodity Jackson, only Riles turned out to be a guy where you say, "Yes, that was a great hire." Their record of finding coaches other than already star Jackson is abysmal. I mean really bad, lol. Lets hope that track record is broken with this hire.

I completely agree. Hence my thread of, Fire MDA 2 weeks ago! The FO history with head coach selections is not exactly the greatest. The more time we have to make the selection the better. I stated in another post that this has to be the right hire, if we get this wrong it will impact the free agent market for the lakers the next 3 years. I couldn't cope with another season like the last one.

LakerZip
votes: 35
Laker GM
Posts: 4108
Location: South Orange County
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The significant issue remains - will our front office continue to make stupid decisions about who will be the head coach? Enough bad decisions already. Prove that you are worthy of owning this team. If you make another terrible decision, after Brown the Clown and the Phony, the fans will be justified in asking you, the Lakers owners, to take a hike. It's time for you to make a well reasoned decision, and select someone who can build an empire - like Pop has done in San Antonio, and PJ did in Chicago. We need stability and long term thinking, not panic and indecision. I totally agree with Randy's observations.

SuperNutz
votes: 1
Serious Laker Fan
Posts: 334

sure hope JJ and zheck stay out of this.

SPQR
votes: 291
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Posts: 9286
Location: Pennsylvania

LakerZip wrote:
The significant issue remains - will our front office continue to make stupid decisions about who will be the head coach? Enough bad decisions already. Prove that you are worthy of owning this team. If you make another terrible decision, after Brown the Clown and the Phony, the fans will be justified in asking you, the Lakers owners, to take a hike. It's time for you to make a well reasoned decision, and select someone who can build an empire - like Pop has done in San Antonio, and PJ did in Chicago. We need stability and long term thinking, not panic and indecision. I totally agree with Tempy's observations.

Steve,

Listening to SVP and Rusillo right now. SVP says he talked to a NBA GM last night about the Lakers job and asked him how the league views it. That GM said not so good right now. He was asked why and replied: Because you have a 36 year old fading star who is taking up half your salary. Not only that, but he is very hard to deal with and will do what he wants, when he wants and not listen to any coach the Lakers hire. This is a really bad situation for any coach. It would be a much better job next year when Kobe only has one year left or even after he leaves."

Those remarks did not surprise me. It is what I have been saying about him for a while now. Why I have been saying no in his prime star is going to come here to play with him. Ask Dwight Howard about it. The only people right now who view Kobe as a positive, somone others want to get involved with are his most radical fans. They don't realize others don't want to be involved with that kind of situation. It is just a massive headache.

Don't know how it will effect the coaching search, but it is a factor that is involved.

JJCali
votes: 22
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Posts: 8544

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SuperNutz wrote:
sure hope JJ and zheck stay out of this.

Not a problem!!

SPQR
votes: 291
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Posts: 9286
Location: Pennsylvania

SuperNutz wrote:
sure hope JJ and zheck stay out of this.

What would they or anyone do? Attack me for posting facts? It is what it is, our history of hiring coaches. It speaks for it self. Our track recond of hiring guys besides Phil, who was already a legend sucks. They only hit it out of the park with Riles out of all those hires where they had to vet the coaches and make a good pick.

LakerBloodNoDoubt
votes: 5
Big-Time Laker Fan
Posts: 838
Location: Corona
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I don't know, I wouldn't count the interims like Bertka, Hamblin, Bickerstaff. They were thrown in the fire by default and were mostly doing the organization a favor by filling in. Rudy T can't really be called a fail IMO. I remember having a decent record before Rudy T resigned and I don't think its fair to fault the FO just because he took a job he wasn't sure he really wanted. He cited health problems and I understand but he really screwed us.

Other than that, you're right. Hiring Magic was probably the worst because it was basically a throw away year. Magic claimed that he never really was interested but did it as a favor to Jerry. We don't make the right decision consistently but we do have 3 HOF coaches to our legacy. Most teams don't have 2.

zheck13
votes: 33
Die-Hard Laker Fan
Posts: 2033

SPQR wrote:
What would they or anyone do? Attack me for posting facts? It is what it is, our history of hiring coaches. It speaks for it self. Our track recond of hiring guys besides Phil, who was already a legend sucks. They only hit it out of the park with Riles out of all those hires where they had to vet the coaches and make a good pick.

Yeah we've made some absolute bone headed decisions. I believe though that this will be different. Jim doesn't have the luxury of screwing this one up and he knows it. I think we're on our way.

SPQR
votes: 291
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Posts: 9286
Location: Pennsylvania

Zcheck,

Yes. The most important decisions the Lakers have made in decades happens this year. They will affect this team for a long time. Who we get as a coach and who we take with that draft pick. Neither can be overestimated in importance. The gotta hit it on both or the rebuild will be hurt in a big way.

Tempy
votes: 51
LNS HOF Silver
Posts: 12884
Location: El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles
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SPQR wrote:
Zcheck,

Yes. The most important decisions the Lakers have made in decades happens this year. They will affect this team for a long time. Who we get as a coach and who we take with that draft pick. Neither can be overestimated in importance. The gotta hit it on both or the rebuild will be hurt in a big way.

The only saving grace is "THAT" contract coming off the books in 2 years. IF we get the right coach and manage to get a good player in the draft. A #2 or #3 option is all we need. Anything better is a bonus. We can sign a star this summer or we can use the free space along with nash's contract towards the trade deadline.

We are in a truly unique situation regarding our rebuild. Most teams either have a good draft pick or a good amount of cap space not both.


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