There have been three head coaching changes in the NBA so far with one still to come in Memphis. We look into the four situations, what they offer and what each new coach can bring.
Maybe you can throw your hat in the ring of the Grizzlies’ gig.
2018/19 record: 16-63 (14th in East)
Offensive rating: 107.7 (25th)
Defensive rating: 117.6 (30th)
Pick(s) in the upcoming draft: 5th, 26th (from Houston)
Amongst all the head coaching fuss: Tyronn Lue stepping over the Lakers and Monty Williams having his choice of destination, the Cleveland Cavaliers have hired Michigan Wolverines Head Coach John Beilein.
What he will be walking into is essentially a blank canvas.
Outside of Collin Sexton, this team didn’t have much excitement going on or players that looked to be there long-term. With players leftover from the Lebron championship runs likely to be traded or not getting another contract from the Cavs, Beilein will have his opportunity to shape this team.
Alongside drafting fifth in the upcoming draft, they will be trading everything not tied to the ground and hoping to receive either young players or draft assets for Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Tristan Thompson.
And shape this team he must. Last in the league in terms of defensive rating, the Cavs will be boosted by his defensive capabilities. Last season’s Michigan team was third in defensive rating out of 353 division one teams. He has found success in the college game, coaching the Wolverines to the National Championship Game twice (2013, 2018).
The downside of the hiring is simply the situation he’ll be coaching in. If Beilein is to be the coach of the future for this team, he’ll have to pass the greatest test of coaching in Cleveland: Dan Gilbert.
Since Gilbert bought the team, there have been seven head coaching changes in 14 seasons. But there should (key word: should) be no pressure on this team to succeed early in Beilein’s tenure and he can coach out his contract.
However, it’s a great opportunity for the first-time NBA coach to make his mark on the league, take a team out of the bottom of the league and give them an identity (see Marks, Sean or Pierce, Lloyd for blueprint).
Los Angeles Lakers
2018/19 record: 37-45 (10th in West)
Offensive rating: 107.8 (24th)
Defensive rating: 109.5 (12th)
Pick(s) in the upcoming draft: 4th
Coaching the Lakers in 2019/20 is a bit like taking over Theresa May as British PM.
Bear with me.
It’s been a massive task for May to close a Brexit deal and get out of the EU. There are plenty of external pressures, people thinking they could do a better job and almost everyone has an opinion on what they would do.
What a task the Lakers head coach job would be. There are pressures from one of the biggest fan bases in the league to get better, players (or player) not to name any names wanting to assume the coaching role as he did in Cleveland, and so many people, including the starting point guard’s dad, thinking they know what’s best.
It’s not the safest job on the planet; Luke Walton lost his job despite enduring injuries, suspensions and rests from key players (notably some guy called Lebron on Christmas Day). The season before, Walton got a scrappy Isaiah Thomas/Brook Lopez team to play well going 12-13 after the All-Star break.
To make matters worse, LeBron was publicly campaigning to trade the team’s young assets to acquire a star in Anthony Davis.
This is what Frank Vogel will be walking into next season after being signed to a “multiyear” deal.
Vogel’s last head coach role was with the Orlando Magic in which he was fired after one season. His replacement, Steve Clifford, took Orlando to the playoffs with a similar roster.
But it’s not all downside. Back to the Theresa May comparison, if he can do it, if Vogel can bring the Lakers back into the playoffs and maybe title contention, he’ll be a hero.
He will have the opportunity to coach arguably the best player to ever touch a basketball in Lebron and with the fourth pick now in their possession, the Lakers look even more likely to swing for an Anthony Davis trade.
If Vogel doesn’t get off to a strong start this season, he will even have Jason Kidd on his staff breathing down his neck. Ty Lue “wanted no part” of Kidd on his coaching staff according to Bleacher Report. He knows all too well what happens when a high profile coach is an assistant.
From the good people at Zero Digital Media, we wish you the best of luck Mr Vogel.
2018/19 record: 19-63 (15th in West)
Offensive rating: 105.9 (28th)
Defensive rating: 115.1 (29th)
Pick(s) in the upcoming draft: 6th, 32nd
Since 2015, the Suns have drafted 13th, 4th, 4th, 1st and now 6th but haven’t shown much real improvement, as no coach has been able to assemble all their pieces.
Enter, Monty Williams.
Signing a five-year contract, Monty is (hopefully) the guy to put it all together and bring some competition out of a young Suns team that hasn’t seen the playoffs in ten years.
But their path back looks a lot slower since they’re going to likely miss out on a Zion Williamson or Ja Morant this draft. It’ll take more of a slow progression for this team, something their new head coach has proved he can do elsewhere.
In New Orleans, Williams coached a young Anthony Davis to the playoffs for the first time before being fired. If you squint hard enough, Deandre Ayton is like a 480p Anthony Davis, both athletic bigs that play similar enough.
Similar to the Cavs hiring, Williams will succeed if he’s given the reigns and confidence to coach this team throughout his contract, focusing on internal growth and a slow rise to success.
*Crosses fingers that Robert Sarver will let Monty coach out this entire contract.*
2018/19 record: 33-49 (12th in West)
Offensive rating: 106.1 (27th)
Defensive rating: 108.8 (9th)
Pick(s) in the upcoming draft: 2nd
The final vacant head coaching role available is in Memphis and now looks a whole lot more enticing after jumping up to the second pick in the 2019 draft lottery.
Likely to select Ja Morant with the second pick, the Grizzlies young core for the future seems to be coming together nicely with their 2019 selection to be paired with Jaren Jackson Jr, a rookie who showed he had NBA talent at only 19 years of age.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the best thing this team can do is hire a developmental coach, like Cleveland and Phoenix who can grow with their respective young team.
Another broken record: bad ownership. Robert Pera will see his fifth coach hired since he took over the team in 2012.
Unfortunately, due to the Jeff Green trade, Memphis will owe their first-round pick to Boston next season if it falls in the top-six and then unprotected the following season. But missing one upcoming draft shouldn’t matter if they’re going into the season with premiere young talent on their roster.
The team still has one remnant of the old grit and grind regime hanging around in Mike Conley which they can either trade for assets (see Gasol, Marc) or hold onto as a steady veteran.
A non-basketball positive for Memphis is that the Grizzlies are the only professional sports franchise in the city, there is a strong fan base that cares about the team as seen in the grit or grind era.
Well documented across the last few years, this team needs an offensive injection. Even last season, even on a down year, the team ranked ninth in defensive rating.
To the next coach that decides to take this role will be much happier with the direction of the team following the lottery and that should attract better candidates.