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Opinion

Out with old ... in with old

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
Published May 9, 2004

Out with old ... in with old

Is an NBA coach really an NBA coach or just an ex-NBA coach in waiting, to be fired the moment things aren't going swimmingly?

America's greatest growth sector might be former NBA coaches. Last week, Tim Floyd was fired after one season in New Orleans despite making the playoffs. Atlanta fired Terry Stotts, who hadn't been around long enough for anyone to know who he is. Yet at 11/2 years, he was the longest-tenured coach in the entire Eastern Conference!

Doc Rivers is a recent NBA coach of the year. Byron Scott led the Nets to consecutive Finals appearances. Both were fired this season.

In the NBA, this is routine. Also common in the NBA is choosing a new coach from a pool of ex-coaches. Like a good citizen, the NBA relentlessly recycles.

Rivers recently was hired to coach the Celtics. Former Boston coach Jim O'Brien was recently hired to coach the 76ers. Floyd resigned in Chicago, which presumably made him irresistible to New Orleans.

It's a never-ending carousel, where the likes of Rick Carlisle, Rick Adelman, Paul Silas, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, George Karl, Don Nelson and the godfather of all itinerant coaches, Larry Brown, hop off one team and climb on the next.

Who's coaching your team? It doesn't matter. It will be someone else soon enough.

No move becomes best move

San Antonio won the NBA title last season, but that didn't stop it from tinkering with the lineup.

The Spurs involuntarily lost a few old-timers (notably the retired David Robinson), scuttled a few players and picked up several replacements, namely Hedo Turkoglu, Robert Horry and Radoslav Nesterovic. Significant alterations, for sure, but nothing earth-shattering.

Nothing like, say, adding Jason Kidd.

Kidd to the Spurs was supposed to be the blockbuster move of the offseason. He would replace erratic young Tony Parker at point guard and team with Tim Duncan to form one of the great frontcourt-backcourt combinations in history.

San Antonio didn't pull it off, however, proving again the best moves often are the ones you don't make. While Kidd is truly great and surely the Spurs would have benefited from his presence, Parker has blossomed into a force.

With his jet-quick first step, Parker has been impossible to stop from getting into the lane. He tormented Memphis in the first round and has embarrassed the Lakers' Gary Payton, a once-great defender, in their second-round matchup, averaging 25 points and seven assists for the first two games.

Parker, a third-year pro from France, turns 22 next week, meaning the Spurs could be set for a long time thanks to the move they didn't make.

[Last modified May 9, 2004, 01:40:27]


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