The Warriors have won the NBA Finals and the offseason has officially begun. With everyone currently standing at 0-0 for next year, they all, in theory, have a chance to be the next champions. In efforts to better their chances, five teams gave their head coach a pink slip. In my next two columns, I will be revisiting the coaching cycle and analyzing the fit of each new coach with their team. Today, I will start with the two teams that made the playoffs.
Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Old Coach: Monty Williams
Reason for Dismissal: Inability to maximize potential. Monty Williams was blessed with a roster headlined by Anthony Davis, one of the most unique talents in the L. However, in his five years as head coach, he only managed two playoff appearances and a 173-221 record. The timing of the firing was interesting. Williams had just coached the Pelicans to a 45-37 record and their first playoff berth since Anthony Davis entered the league. They fought for the last month of the season to get in the eighth-seed and hold off the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team seemed to be on an upward trend and management spoke highly of him. It seems as if this was a move made purely in the basketball interests of the team and not due to any front office disagreements.
— Fernanda Zamudio (@FernandaZamudio) May 13, 2015
New Coach: Alvin Gentry
What he brings to the Team: Offense, offense, offense! Gentry has been used in mainly an offensive coordinator role for the Warriors. He helps call plays with Steve Kerr, and his impact was evident. The Warriors led the league in scoring and were second in offensive efficiency this season. Gentry will maximize the offensive potential of this roster and will have the opportunity to help Davis grow his offensive game. It will be interesting to see what Gentry can do with former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. Gentry has a reputation for building middling offenses and having an up-tempo style. He will now have an opportunity to run an offense led by All-Star Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, talent unlike any we’ve seen before. Look for the Pelicans to be on the rise.
Team: Chicago Bulls
Old Coach: Tom Thibodeau
Reason for Dismissal: Tom Thibodeau is the most unsurprising, yet mind boggling firing of this offseason. He had many gripes with John Paxson and the Bulls front office. Despite taking the Bulls from middling status to legitimate contenders in the East, Thibs was let go due to differences in philosophy. Under Thibodeau’s watch, Derrick Rose became an MVP, the Bulls went to five straight playoffs and the Eastern Conference finals once. Thibodeau did not have the philosophy on player management that the front office was looking for. Thibodeau was a strict coach that believed in pushing his players as far as they could go. This was beneficial to the team as it made them into defensive stoppers that played full out. However, it backfired when it came to fatigue and injuries (i.e. Derrick Rose’s first ACL tear).
The Bulls dismissed Coach Tom Thibodeau and ended a rocky tenure: http://t.co/aF7BaI53QW
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) May 29, 2015
New Coach: Fred Hoiberg
What He Brings to the Team: Fred Hoiberg makes the jump from the collegiate coaching ranks to the League from Iowa State. While there, he helped to maximized ISU star George Niang’s potential and score a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Hoiberg buys into the new wave of analytics-assisted coaching, a philosophy that Thibodeau didn’t fully accept. Hoiberg’s teams focused on high quality shots, like three pointers and close shots at the rim. Hoiberg is also coming to a team that he has multiple connections with. Hoiberg spent four seasons in his ten-year career with the Bulls. Hoiberg also has a previous relationship with Gar Forman, the Bulls’ general manager, as Forman was the coach of ISU when Hoiberg was a senior there.
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