Is Tim Floyd the Hornets head hoach in waiting?


Nov 12

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How about that Tim Floyd. Hired for yet another NBA head coaching job, this time with a second run as coach of the New Orleans Hornets.

Yes, yes, I know the media release from the Hornets Thursday read they fired coach Byron Scott and replaced him fulltime with general manager Jeff Bower, who also will retain his duties as general manager.

But this is one thing everyone in NBA management knows: You stay in the front office as long as you can because then you are two steps removed from being fired. The coach is first. Look at Scott: In 2008 he was Coach of the Year (that’s why Phil Jackson always says not to win the award) when the Hornets won 56 games. Last season they “slumped” to 49 wins. So that’s an average of 52.5 wins and a 3-6 start. Yes, fired!

As an aside, it was noted that the Hornets with several new players started with the third most difficult schedule playing against teams with a 58 percent winning percentage. The team facing the toughest schedule thus far has been the Bulls, whose opponents have won 65 percent of their games. Of the Bulls eight opponents, four are in first in their divisions and two in second. And that doesn’t include the Spurs. And that’s with road games against Boston, Cleveland, Miami and Toronto. So 4-4 is pretty good. Of course, after Saturday against the 76ers, the Bulls play six straight on the road before returning home to play Ben Gordon and the Pistons.

Anyway, back to our Tim.

Floyd, who coached the Hornets for one season in 2003-04 and who lately had to resign at USC after an apparent payment violation to a player or players, was named the lead assistant. As for the USC stuff, big deal. College basketball is rife with hypocrisy and occasionally someone gets spit out as an example. No problem there. Though it is nice to know Tim after breaking up a much publicized casino fight recently between very angry women with big hair likely won’t be afraid to enforce discipline if and when he becomes head coach again.

Clearly, this seems to me to be a tryout for Floyd to find out if Chris Paul wants to play for him.

I don’t know if Paul had Scott fired, but great players usually do when it comes like this. And Paul is that franchise. He has to be accommodated. That’s the reality with stars. You think Mike Brown would be in Cleveland if it wasn’t OK with LeBron?

Floyd didn’t have a great hand his last time with the Hornets given he had a rebellious Baron Davis and Jamaal Magloire, who divided the team. College coaches generally don’t succeed in the NBA because while they can enforce discipline and accountability in college with their power over scholarships and playing time—and Floyd did before he came to the Bulls in 1998—they don’t have that same cache and ability in the pros because they don’t know the game and the players. So they often lose respect and authority.

It happened to Floyd in Chicago and New Orleans. But he’s always been popular in Louisiana where he went to school and coached previously. So he steps to the head of the line behind Bower, who was an assistant to Floyd when Floyd first coached the Hornets, and no doubt will return to the safety of the front office after this season.

“Accountability was our theme this past summer,” said Hornets Vice President of Basketball Chad Shinn in a team press release. “We talked about the fact that everyone on our staff is held to a certain standard of performance and we didn’t feel this was happening at the head coach level. We feel like we still have an opportunity with our nucleus to get to where we want and Jeff is the right guy, right now to move us in that direction from the bench.”

Said Bower: “As we look at our long-term coaching plans, it’s not about who the head coach is, it’s about the role of the head coach to get the team to perform to their capabilities and reaching our potential this season.”

Which translated means making Paul happy. So who do you want as coach, Chris?

It’s been clear to everyone who has watched the Hornets there were issues. Forward David West, who has been one of the main underachievers, was at the team’s press conference Thursday and talked of the usual philosophical differences (probably referring to Scott’s preference for Sarte and his for Nietzsche) and a stagnant offense. Perhaps if West worked harder it would have been less stagnant.

But that’s when a team sacrifices its coach.

The Hornets are over the luxury tax this season and next with Paul having an opt out in the summer of 2012. Which suggests they have some time to fix things, though stars don’t have much patience.

It could be a heck of a challenge if it does fall to our old friend, Tim

“I’ve obviously known Tim for a long time,” said Bulls general manager Gar Forman, who was brought to the Bulls by Floyd when Forman was an assistant to Floyd at Iowa State. “He’s a terrific basketball coach with a great defensive mind. He’s an even better person. I think it’s great that he’s back in the league. He’ll do a tremendous job for the Hornets.”

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