Bulls GM John Paxson gave Scott Skiles a bright red “F.” Madison Square Garden President James Dolan insists that Isiah Thomas is passing with flying colors even though the entirety of New York is convinced that he deserves a failing mark. We’re going through NBA’s coaching ranks with a big pen and marking the League’s leaders, “A” through “F”…
First the Western Conference coaches – come back later for all the fun the East has to offer…
Nate McMillan, Portland Trail Blazers (25-17) â€“ A: Funny to think back to McMillan’s introduction as the Blazers head coach: the mayor of Portland mispronounced his name literally ten times in a speech announcing his hiring. Now, he’s taking the entire League by storm with a team convinced in the power of playing together.
Phil Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers (27-13) â€“ A: After the off-season tumult, the Zen Master righted all of Kobe’s parking lot trash-talking with one simple edict to Andrew Bynum: dunk the basketball. But with the young’n on the shelf for another six-to-seven weeks, Jackson has the unenviable assignment of making the most of Kwame Brown yet again. But if L.A.’s win over Denver was any sign of things to come for the imminent future, the Lakers might be alright.
Byron Scott, New Orleans Hornets (29-12) â€“ A: I guess that giving Scott an “A” for his work this season means that we would give anyone an “A” who could drill Chris Paul on tossing an ‘oop to Tyson Chandler when he didn’t have a clean look at the rim. To be honest though, Scott has his guys playing serious defense.
Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz (24-18) â€“ B+: We are all guilty of having short memories, but we’re going to make sure that Sloan gets the credit he deserves for creating Stockton/Malone 2.0 with Boozer/D-Will, instead of killing him for a tough stretch during December. However, the Jazz shouldn’t be as bad as they are on the road, a pathetic 7-15.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs (27-13) – B+: The only reason that Pop isn’t higher is because the defending champs had a better record at this point last year. They also seemed to be playing with a bit more pizazz…well at least as much as the Spurs are capable of – a year ago. But in all fairness, Pop shouldn’t be forgiven for allowing Manu to lose last week’s game against the Cavs by settling for an off-balanced jumper. Even Tim Duncan was shrugging his shoulders after that one.
Avery Johnson, Dallas Mavericks (28-13) â€“ B+: The Mavs are doing about as well as everyone expected. Still, Johnson deserves props for making the smart decision to start Devin Harris at the beginning of the year. Jason Terry killed it off the bench at the start of the year, and has continued to serve as a sparkplug after making it through a rough-shooting stretch in December to tally double-figures in six of Dallas’ last seven.
George Karl, Denver Nuggets (25-16) â€“ B: Karl probably deserves a higher mark than this simply because of how he has had to keep this team pieced together through tons of injuries. And we shouldn’t forget that he’s getting more out of Marcus Camby than Camby knew he could give at this stage in his career.
Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix Suns (30-13) â€“ B: Earth to Mike, your team is 30-13. Why does the public know about Amare questioning his role on the team, and some non-feud between you and Steve Kerr over personnel philosophy? Far too much drama for a team that is performing well in the Wins/Losses column.
Don Nelson, Golden State Warriors (25-18) â€“ B-: I was actually terrified to give Donnie Ball Game anything lower than a B- for fear of my own personal safety. After the Warriors home loss to the Wolves, Nelson cut short his post-game remarks, “There didn’t seem to be much energy, compassion or much urgency to the game,” Nelson said. “I’m angry, I’m disappointed and I’m not going to take any questions.” Watch this team win five straight.
Reggie Theus, Sacramento Kings (18-23) â€“ B-: The early-season life-lessons of discipline, cell-phone bans and curfews have eased up as of late, as the Kings have won six of their last nine games. The return of Mike Bibby to the lineup will be a test for Theus after getting a core of Artest, K-Mart II, Garcia and Salmons playing very well together.
Rick Adelman, Houston Rockets (23-19) â€“ C: The last three games have proved that whatever grade we give to Adelman should be deferred to T-Mac. Tracy’s been back on the floor, regardless of how his knee feels, and the Rockets have notched W’s against San Antonio and Seattle (x2). The two previous games without McGrady? Close losses to Philly and New Orleans.
Mike Dunleavy, Sr., Los Angeles Clippers (13-25) â€“ D-: If it weren’t for Chris Kaman’s emergence, Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling would have already canned his coach. Dunleavy has a $20 million contract to live up to but won’t get to 20 wins until President’s Day.
Randy Wittman, Minnesota Timberwolves (7-34) â€“ F+: We’re thumbing our nose at those academic automatons who say that you can’t give an “F+.” Wittman has to get an “F” because he has the worst record in the League. But he’s rallying his troops â€“ especially after wins at Golden State and last night against Phoenix â€“ and they seem to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, albeit quite far away.
P.J. Carlesimo, Seattle Sonics (9-33) â€“ F: P.J. earned his failing grade when he refused to double-team Kobe, and allowed Mamba to mess with Jeff Green as a tiger would to a mouse. But don’t fret P.J. â€“ you can boost your grade if you put a leash on Damien Wilkins instead of letting him shoot 100 times a game.
Marc Iavaroni, Memphis Grizzlies (12-30) â€“ F-: People were singing Iavaroni’s praises as some sort of basketball visionary when he strolled into Graceland. In his new system, until a few weeks ago, Pau Gasol was virtually non-existent. While Rudy Gay is having a breakout year, the Grizz are still entrenched deep in last place.