Season's end also means end of employment for some

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

The NBA's regular season came to an end last night.

For several coaches, it marked the end of the line.

In Milwaukee, coach Larry Krystkowiak will be shown the door as incoming GM John Hammond attempts to get more bang out of these underachieving Bucks.

The NBA is a nasty business, a sporting world where one man's word means absolutely nothing, where someone can smile at your face while attempting to stick a dagger in your back and justify it by saying it's par for the course.

Krystkowiak happened to be the wrong guy in the wrong place, by all accounts a good person who has been left to twist in the wind as the season was winding down.

"Let's put it this way -- I'm just glad that I'm not Isiah Thomas, where it was a daily thing for the entire season," Krystkowiak said as the Bucks prepared to close out their season in Minnesota.

"I don't know how he handles it because it's not fun. It's no fun.''

And neither is it much fun for the likes of Milwaukee assistants Brian James, Jim Todd and Tony Brown, who each has coaching ties to Toronto and whose futures in Milwaukee appears to be in jeopardy.

Thomas' story has been well-documented and its conclusion is likely to arrive soon, perhaps as early as today as Donnie Walsh tries to clean up the big mess Thomas has left in the Big Apple.

For what it's worth, the latest gossip emanating from Manhattan's rumour mill is that Thomas will be asked to assume a more reduced role with the Knicks.

In Chicago, interim coach Jim Boylan is on borrowed time.

Even as the Atlanta Hawks celebrate their first post-season berth since 1999, coach Mike Woodson is poised to get the axe once the Boston Celtics do the expected and sweep Atlanta.

Woodson plans to shave his head as the Hawks head into their best-of-seven series as overwhelming underdogs, a fitting gesture given that Woodson's head will, in a metaphorical sense, be scalped in a fortnight.

And if you listen to the whispers, a similar fate may befall Sam Mitchell in Toronto if the Raptors flame out against the Orlando Magic.

It's so convenient to fire coaches and as the off-season begins for several teams, the calls for change will grow louder.

The coaching carousel officially begins today.

Names that often are mentioned as possible candidates to fill what is certain to be a minimum of four coaching vacancies include Mark Jackson, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, Scott Skiles, Herb Williams and one-time Raptors head coach Darrell Walker, who has evolved under Byron Scott in New Orleans.

TV'S CHANGING LANDSCAPE

Call it strictly a hunch, but either Leo Rautins or Jack Armstrong won't be back doing what they do best -- commenting on Raptors telecasts.

With Sportsnet dropping the ball on basketball, one fewer network provider likely means there will be one fewer analyst for next season.

The contracts for Rautins, who has been associated with the Raptors since their inception, expires once Toronto's post-season run ends.

Armstrong joined the team during the NBA lockout in 1998 and has endeared himself from the moment he appeared on Toronto's sporting scene. His contract with Sportsnet soon will end.

Both Rautins and Armstrong are great guys whose delivery is different, yet effective.

It's sad to think that one is likely not to return next year, but it also was sad when Toronto native John Saunders was told he no longer was wanted.

Or when Norma Wick was shown the door

BARKLEY BITES BACK

During a conference call to hype the coming playoffs, TV analyst Charles Barkley pulled no punches as the Cleveland-Washington series gets set to tip off.

"I think the Washington Wizards have got to be the dumbest team in the history of civilization," the Round Mound of Rebound opined.

Wizards swingman DeShawn Stevenson labelled LeBron James "over-rated" when King James came up short on a buzzer-beating three-ball in a 101-99 loss at Washington on March 13.

Later, Agent Zero, Gilbert Arenas, informed visitors to his blog for nba.com that teams were pining to play the Cavs in the playoffs because they have looked vulnerable since their Feb. 21 trade deadline deal.

"For them to rile up LeBron, who's the second-best player we've got in the NBA, is just stupid," Barkley barked.

"I thought (Washington) had a chance to win that series. I don't think that any more."


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