By Henry Abbott
Byron Scott helps Avery Johnson and Sam Mitchell prove that winning coach of the year does not ensure longevity in the NBA. How does this keep happening? I'm guessing it's the confluence of two trends: Coaches don't last long in general, and for whatever reason voters hate to give that award to the most secure coaches like Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan.
In Scott's case:
The Hornets are in a bind. They have an MVP candidate entering his prime in Chris Paul, a local market hammered by Katrina, an owner many people don't like, some very big bad contracts, and a feeling that they need wins now to increase revenues and convince their franchise player that he is not the next Kevin Garnett (an MVP-caliber player who doesn't get to win titles because of the constraints of his poorly run small market team).
After the Nets and Jason Kidd, this marks the second time Scott has been fired while coaching a team with, arguably, the league's best point guard. That time, there was a lot of finger-pointing and negativity. That seems unlikely this time. (As Niall Doherty of Hornets247 points out, Scott and Paul went golfing together a couple of days ago.) Chris Paul is far too classy to trash a former coach. However, Chris Paul is the franchise. His name may mean more in the hearts of basketball fans than "Hornets." If Byron Scott were Paul's favorite person on the planet, I don't see how the Hornets could have possibly fired him. That's not a cryptic way of insinuating that Paul wanted Scott fired. I don't know anything like that to be the case. But I do know that keeping Paul long-term happy is what matters most for the franchise, which would give him the opportunity to influence these kinds of decisions, should he so choose.
Doherty has been blogging, for about a year (since this post) that the on-court Hornets product seems to reflect that the coaching could be better.
For the time being, the Hornets will deal with the reality of a GM firing a coach and then taking his job. It may seem like a bad model, but it's worth noting that's how the Spurs came to be coached by Gregg Popovich, and he has worked out fairly well, huh? Niall Doherty of Hornets247 writes:
How will Bower fare as head coach? I'd be worried if he was rolling with the same assistants as Byron, but having Tim Floyd at his side alleviates some concern. Floyd was fired in 2004 after one season as head coach of the Hornets, but the issue back then was that he couldn't control the egos on the roster, most notably Baron Davis. Now the Hornets have a team full of high-character guys that are craving some solid direction at both ends of the floor, and Floyd should be able to help immediately with that. He's more likely to draw up an effective play or call for a timely adjustment during a timeout, which will be a nice change from Byron telling the players that they just need to try harder and box out more.