Start up the NBA coaching carousel

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 PM ET

There are six coaching vacancies in the NBA and nearly twice as many candidates attached to the various openings.

The number of teams looking to hire a head coach is expected to grow by one in the ensuing days with speculation rampant that Mike Brown’s time in Cleveland is about to expire.

In the ensuing weeks, it may even swell to seven if Phil Jackson decides to call it a career if the Lakers are able to repeat as champions.

Heck, in the months to come, Pat Riley may decide it’s time to stroke his ego if he’s able to keep Dwyane Wade in South Beach and surround him with as many as two prominent free agents.

The spotlight that will doubtlessly shine in Miami, assuming everything falls into place, might be too intoxicating for someone as slick as Riley to pass up.

Despite back-to-back 60-win seasons, Brown becomes the obvious scapegoat, which is what happens to coaches when teams don’t reach expectations, real or imagined.

Coaching in the NBA is more a game of managing ego as it is about schemes and rotations.

One bad playoff run or one bad relationship with a star player often results in a coach being shown the door.

Every season, it seems, about a half-dozen coaches get canned, which makes this off-season no different from the past.

The difference lies in this summer’s looming free-agent class and the many uncertanties inherent in free agency.

In Cleveland, no one knows what path LeBron James will take.

In Atlanta, Joe Johnson is no slam dunk to remain a Hawk.

And all the while, the coaching carousel continues, where it stops and which job eventually gets filled by whatever name is anyone’s guess.

To date, no coaching search has been as extensive as the one being played out in New Orleans, where eight candidates have been interviewed.

In Philadelphia, Sam Mitchell has been courted, but reports indicate the Sixers have their eye on Doug Collins, a former player with the club who is one of many recycled names being bandied about in the NBA.

Mitchell, despite helping lead the Raptors to a division title and being named coach of the year, became the fall guy barely 20 games into the 2008-09 season.

Everyone in basketball knew Mitchell was the sacrificial lamb, but he has kept quiet, refused to burn any bridge and it’s just a matter of time before he resurfaces.

Avery Johnson led Dallas to an appearance in the NBA final, was named coach of the year and was given a salary that paid him $4 million a season, which is way above the average.

When the Mavs flamed out in the opening round of the playoffs two years in a row, the Little General was whacked.

Johnson has been interviewed by New Orleans, his hometown, and the Sixers.

Whether your name is Dwane Casey, Mike Fratello, Tom Thibodeau, Lawrence Frank or less-profiled names such as Monty Williams or Elston Turner, there’s an itch that needs to be scratched, a desire to coach knowing full well of the risks and the inevitable outcome.

In the NBA, that old axiom of coaches getting hired to be fired rings true.

It resonates every year, the coaching merry-go-round picking up more speed with each casualty.


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