Our second week and we already have our first firing. Well, onto the rankings . . .
#30 Cleveland Cavaliers (0-6, -12.8, LW: 30)
#29 Phoenix Suns (1-5, -12.2, LW: 26)
Rookie coach Igor Kokoskov has his hands full. Last season Earl Watson lasted only three games. Their defense was the worst in the league and so far this season they’re giving up even more per game. This is probably a function of the increased offense throughout the league, but a good way to lose a job quickly is to fail to get the young guys to play defense.
#28 Washington Wizards (1-5, -10.3, LW: 19)
#27 Chicago Bulls (2-5, -9.6, LW: 28)
#26 Orlando Magic (2-4, -10.5, LW: 24)
#25 Houston Rockets (1-4, -8.8, LW: 22)
#24 New York Knicks (2-5, -4, LW: 20)
#23 Brooklyn Nets (2-5, -4.6, LW: 25)
#22 Dallas Mavericks (2-5, -5.9, LW: 16)
#21 Oklahoma City Thunder (1-4, -6.8, LW: 29)
#20 Atlanta Hawks (2-4, -6.2, LW: 21)
#19 Minnesota Timberwolves (3-4, -3.3, LW: 12)
#18 Los Angeles Lakers (2-5, -0.3, LW: 27)
#17 Sacramento Kings (3-3, -3.3, LW: 23)
#16 San Antonio Spurs (4-2, -3.2, LW: 15)
#15 Charlotte Hornets (3-4, +5.1, LW: 11)
#14 Detroit Pistons (4-1, -1.4, LW: 7)
#13 Philadelphia 76ers (4-3, +1.3, LW: 10)
#12 Memphis Grizzlies (3-2, +2, LW: 14)
#11 New Orleans Pelicans (4-1, +5.4, LW: 3)
#10 Miami Heat (3-2, +5.8, LW: 17)
#9 Boston Celtics (4-2, +5.2, LW: 13)
#8 Indiana Pacers (4-3, +6.1, LW: 8)
#7 Portland Trail Blazers (4-2, +6, LW: 6)
Two weeks ago Paul Allen died. In 1988 he bought the Blazers with the goal of keeping them in the Pacific Northwest. In 1996 he bought the Seahawks when then owner Ken Behring threatened to move the team. He was a big part of the Seattle Sounders FC, a team that set attendance records and won the MLS Cup in 2016. The man was all about the Pacific Northwest and should be remembered for that. He will be sorely missed.
#6 Utah Jazz (4-2, +6.3, LW: 17)
#5 Denver Nuggets (4-1, +9.2, LW: 2)
The last time the Nuggets were in the playoffs George Karl hadn’t yet yet written his official NBA resignation letter and their best player was a guy who would sputter out to a decent bench player. Now the Nuggets are off to a strong start and a big reason is one of the best passing big men in a while, Nikola Jokic. The 23-year old is putting up a 27-12-7 per night and the team looks poised for a postseason return. Gotta love the young talent in this league.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers (4-2, +9.2, LW: 9)
This is NOT going to happen, so spare me the “You’re full of s—“ arguments. This is just a fun thought. Imagine if Kevin Durant decides this offseason to sign with the Clippers. Now L.A. has two of the league’s biggest stars in the same arena, they get to put up billboards throughout the city with the two of them in competition with each other, you get at least five games a year with the two of them going head to head. It’s just crazy enough to work. But again it won’t. So relax, everyone.
#3 Toronto Raptors (6-1, +7.1, LW: 1)
#2 Golden State Warriors (7-1, +13.5, LW: 5)
#1 Milwaukee Bucks (7-0, +15.9, LW: 3)
To discuss the firing of Tyronn Lue, let’s start off with this: to me it’s asinine to fire anyone mid-season unless there is something egregious. And by egregious I mean, “[Fill in the blank] was found in a motel just outside of town with three hookers and several narcotics” or “[Fill in the blank] has been found to be running a human trafficking ring.” I’m not making light of either of those. I truly believe the federal authorities should be involved in a mid-season firing. Why?
Because it is a sure fire sign your front office didn’t do their homework in the offseason or miscalculated badly. Either way, bailing on the season sends a bad message to everyone. Even if the fans are screaming for the coach’s head, as Paul Brown once said, if you start listening to the people in the seats eventually you’ll be sitting with them. If you think attendance or TV views are going to go up with a new coach, think again. You’re season was already lost. Just suck it up.
Part of what has been mumbled out is that there were disagreements between Lue and management about the rotation, that Altman and Gilbert wanted Lue to play the younger guys more and leave the likes of Korver and Smith on the bench. Lue opted to go with the veterans. This agreement begs a couple of bigger questions:
- Why wasn’t this issue resolved before the season?
- If it wasn’t why was Lue still here to start it?
Both of which lead to a question I have whenever this happens in all sports: If this guy was good enough to be your coach when the season started, what makes the guy not good enough just two weeks later?
All of the major sports are full of these moments. Earl Watson was let go from Phoenix last year after just three games. After back-to-back playoff appearances and a couple of down seasons Freddie Gonzalez was only good enough to manage the Braves for 37 games in 2016. It’s a rough profession and I don’t jump for joy over anyone’s firing. Lives are affected and not just the head coach’s life. But to do that in midseason the science knows the message the owner is sending.
I feel for Ty Lue. He had a thankless role here in Cleveland, but still played a key role in bringing the city it’s only championship of my lifetime. Science Speed.