David Blatt and other coaching abominations

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Press Conference

Everybody, David Blatt is submitting a historically awful coaching season.

I’ll break it down:

  1. He was gifted the best player in the league who is either in his prime or very close. That player is also A. very unselfish, B. an extremely gifted defender and C. extremely coachable.
  2. Included under the Cavs preseason Christmas tree was the ultimate stretch four, who is a rebounding machine and a talented passer. Kevin Love is not that bad of a defender either.
  3. A talented point guard who can get into the lane whenever he wants.

Now the Cavs are certainly flawed:

  • Their bench is terrible.
  • Anderson Varajao is already (predictably) out for the season.
  • Dion Waiters was (predictably) a head-case, chemistry killer.

All of that said, the Thunder are 18-19. As you remember, they started the season without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and they play in the West, which is a million times better than the East. Their bench and overall depth are also terrible. The Cavs are 19-18 and their top three guys have been (mostly) healthy all year. What? How?

David Blatt is getting destroyed by Scott Brooks!

I admit that I fell into the same trap as everybody else. “I like that Blatt won all those games in Europe. I like that he’s bringing a different pedigree to the NBA.” Now that resume from Russia and Israel looks a lot less impressive. Like a gunfighter from Sweden.

I think I would have fired Blatt already. The whole, “well the 2011 Heat got off to a slow start” argument has worn off right? Everyone expected this team to be an offensive juggernaut. Maybe that was an unfair but this team should not be the fifth best team in the East.

This got me thinking of other historically awful coaching performances:

Sean Payton, 2014 Saints

sean_payton

All they had to do was go 8-8 and they win the worst division in modern NFL history. And they couldn’t do it, with Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Jimmy Graham and three talented receivers. Sure, their defense was not good, but solid was all they needed. At the end of the season, they lost got crushed by the Panthers and beat handily by the Falcons at home. In the words of Will Ferrell, what the Hell happened! Is the Super Dome haunted?

Mark Richt, 2008 Georgia Bulldogs

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This team had Matthew Stafford, AJ Green, Knowshon Moreno, Mohamed Massaquoi (I know but on a college team with AJ Green?), Justin Houston (admittedly a freshman) and Geno Atkins. That team lost three games. Three.

Bob Stoops, 2008 Oklahoma Sooners

Bob Stoops

This team had Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, DeMarco Murray, Trent Williams and Gerald McCoy. They made it to the National Title Game, I’ll give them credit for that, but they got beat pretty bad by Florida, 24-14 (a more lopsided game than the score would indicate). But this spot is more of a life-time underachievement award for Stoops. I believe people ripped on the Big 12 in part because loaded Oklahoma teams kept coughing up big bowl games. The 2006 team, with Adrian Peterson as a junior, had a lot of those same players (notably as freshmen) and lost three games — notably the famous Fiesta Bowl to Boise State.

Dusty Baker, 2001 San Francisco Giants

Dusty Baker

Another life-time underachievement position because Baker also disappointed with very good Cubs and Reds teams. In 2002, people praised Baker for getting the Giants to the World Series. In retrospect, they should not have lost to the Angels. Oh my God, Barry Bonds hit .370 that season with 46 home runs, 100 runs and RBI each, had a staggering 198 walks for a .582 on base percentage and 1.381 ops. But that team wasn’t all Bonds all the time. They had Jeff Kent who hit .313, Benito Santiago (who had a decent offensive season), and Reggie Sanders (who wasn’t great but was a very solid player). They’re pitching staff had a top three of Russ Ortiz, Jason Schmidt and Livian Hernandez. Go back and look at the Angels roster.

But they lost to the Angels in seven games. What is inexplicable is the year before when they did not make the playoffs (2001 when Bonds hit 73 home runs).

Bobby Cox, any year in the ’90s that wasn’t 1995

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Now that It’s official a certain fact needs to be shouted from the rooftops. THE BRAVES TOP THREE PITCHERS WERE ALL HALL OF FAMERS. Um, that hasn’t really happened before. If this the rest of the Braves team was a bunch of castoffs and journeymen or if they could only keep Maddux, Smoltz and Glavin together for a couple years, I would give Bobby Cox a break. People give Cox a break because they won one World Championship, but give any other strong manager of the era that team and he would win at least two. In particular, the losses to the 1993 Phillies and 1997 Marlins seem particularly egregious in retrospect.

Bill Self, 2014 Kansas Jayhawks

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Bill Self had the best two players in college basketball — Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid — and they lost in the second round of the tournament to Stanford. In case you’re checking, Stanford had zero NBA players that year. The game was also in St. Louis, which I’m sorry to say is a partisan Kansas crowd. I don’t care that Embiid was hurt. Self still had the best five players in the game. Every year that goes by the 2008 National title win looks flukier and flukier. (Also, screw Kansas.)

John Calipari, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Kentucky Wildcats

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There’s been a significant amount of revisionist history foisted on the public these days about John Calipari. Pundits have been praising Calipari for his X’s and O’s work, in game coaching and that his teams play hard. They even give him credit for convincing players to sacrifice minutes. I believe this talk is inspired by the fact that the 2014 Wildcats might go undefeated and thus become the greatest college basketball team of all time. The coach of that team has to be an all-time great right? All of those people need to chill out because Kentucky should have won five titles in a row. Were Coach K, Billy Donovan, Rick Pitino or Brad Stevens had been given this much talent, he would have won at least twice by now. I believe Calipari is the best recruiter of all time but he also has a prodigious history of leaving flaming bags of poop at two different programs in the form of NCAA sanctions as he walked out the door to a better job.

Mike Brown/Mike D’Antoni, 2012 Lakers

Mike-Brown

If you think I’m being unfair to one coach or the other, Brown could easily make this list for his job manning the Cavs during the first LeBron era and D’Antoni did a horrible job with the Knicks. However, this season went so poorly that the emotional stress convinced Dwight Howard to flee the sinking Lake Show ship like it was on fire. The raging dumpster fire that is the 2014 Lakers owes its inception to these two guys.

Scott Brooks, Thunder 2011 to Present

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It’s not Scott Brooks fault that the Thunder traded James Harden. It’s a move that looks more perplexing every day, especially when Harden should win the MVP for the Rockets. Still, he’s had three of the top 25 players in the league, including two in the top 10 the past five years and has no hardware to show for it. The Spurs have made the finals twice in this span and the Thunder happen to be the worst match up for the Duncanettes.

Ideal locations for Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony

Rajon Rondo is one of my favorite NBA players ever. His highlights, especially his palm the ball fake passes, are bonkers. I understand he can be hard to reach, kind of like the way Dennis Rodman is kind of described. It’s hard to call a player so talented at dishing out assists selfish but it almost seems that way. I think he’s got another championship run or two in him.

And his days in green and cream are probably numbered. The Celtics seem determined about to rebuild through the tank-to-a-superstar method. That puts Rondo, who’s 28, on the outside looking in. Her are some trade locations.

New York Knicks

This is Bill Simmons preferred destination because of the package the Knickerbockers could offer. Rondo would be the perfect complement to Carmelo and instantly the best point guard he’s ever played with (Chauncey Billups is Rondo’s equivalent as a player but not really a point guard). The roster isn’t great, but not completely devoid of talent. A back court of Rondo, Iman Shumpert, Pablo Pigroni, JR Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. is not bad (it’s not good either). Their front court is just a dumpster fire of guys who are either washed up or less-than-talented young guys, except for Carmelo of course.

The other issue is that the triangle is not the best offense for traditional(ish) point guards and Boston would have to trade him within the division. Let’s keep looking.

Los Angeles Lakers

Not many teammates have meshed well with the Black Mamba and Rondo’s temperament does not seem to be a good fit, but he’s a pass first point guard who can take some of Bryant’s tougher assignments on defense. Kobe would probably kill half the Lakers roster if it meant Rondo was on the way.

As long as the one guy he doesn’t murder isn’t Julius Randle. I like Jeremy Lin but there is so little upside on this Laker roster. Kobe is going to have to score 25 a game to have them sniff .500. Plus, it’s even less likely that the Celtics would trade with the Lake show than the Knicks.

Charlotte Hornets

Rondo would make an interesting young team even better, possibly pushes them to a place where they’re fighting with Washington for second place in the east. It would also be a crappy-Celtics reunion with Al Jefferson.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings need to get a little lucky. They need Ben McLemore (STL!), Derrick Williams, Nik Stauskas, and perhaps even Ray McCallum to show that they are competent NBA rotation players. If three out of the four hit, I think Sac-town’s new owner might pull the trigger on a trade. But, that’s a lot of juries out on quite a few players. Still, the Rondo, Boogie Cousins and Rudy Gay big 3 is an intriguing triumvirate.

The Cousins-Rondo combo would inspire a psychological study. I think the two former Kentucky Wildcats are emotionally similar and thus will either be best of friends or hard-boiled enemies.

Golden State Warriors

Adding Rondo would make an already good team into a potential juggernaut. Ideally you would play Rondo, Curry, Thompson, David Lee and Bogut at the same time and bring Andre Iguodala off the pine. However, it’s a question of what the Warriors can give up. Would they need to part with Thompson, something they were unwilling to do when Kevin Love was on the table, who in fairness is a better overall player than Rondo?

Oklahoma City Thunder

To make this work, where the Celtics would accept it from a basketball perspective, the Thunder would have to give up Reggie Jackson and probably two other young players — candidates include Mitch McGary, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson (?). The Thunder do not have a lot to offer. And they would have to play Russell Westbrook at the 2.

I suggest this because I think playing Westbrook at the 2 is exactly what the Thunder should do, even with playing Jackson at the point. A. It gives Westbrook a break from time to time. B. It cuts down on the oh my God what the Hell did Westbrook just do moments. And if Rondo was the player taking over the point, he would snap Westbrook into shape:

“Do you know what you have? Kevin Durant is a scoring machine; German scientists couldn’t genetically engineer a person better suited to put basketballs through hoops. We’re giving him the ball and we’re going to win games.”

Imagine how beastly the Thunder would be with Rondo, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka on D? It would be like a Chinese finger trap with teeth.

Miami Heat

The Heat really don’t have any trade chips. Their starting five — Mario Chalmers, Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh and Josh McRoberts — is interesting but their bench does not offer much. However, I think Rondo could get them back to title contention territory and maybe squeeze just a little bit of life out of Wade’s tired legs with some easy buckets. Side note, I hope Wade isn’t completely done.

Houston Rockets

What I believe is the best option. I think Houston, with the players they have, can put together some type of package the Celtics would accept. Rondo adds the last piece of the big three the Rockets have been searching for and is better fit than Carmelo would have been. Of course to get the most out of that three, they would have to run … a lot, something I’m not sure Dwight Howard wants to do. Maybe it would work if you lined the rim with candy.