An NBA first

Ev­ery coach who started last sea­son is back

Truro Daily News - - SPORTS - By tim reynolds

Dozens of NBA play­ers found new homes this off-sea­son. A few front of­fices dealt with hir­ings and fir­ings. There’s a new arena in Detroit and an own­er­ship change looms in Hous­ton. The league’s logo was even tweaked. Change was ev­ery­where. That is, ex­cept the coaches’ of­fices.

Here’s a first for the NBA: ev­ery coach is back. From the start of last sea­son to the start of this sea­son — bar­ring some­thing hap­pen­ing in train­ing camps, any­way — not a sin­gle NBA team has changed coaches. That’s an un­prece­dented run of re­ten­tion and an ob­vi­ous source of pride for coaches across the league as the first practices of the sea­son get set to oc­cur this week­end.

“I think what peo­ple are see­ing is what this league needs, what th­ese play­ers need more than any­thing, is sta­bil­ity and a con­sis­tent mes­sage,” said Mi­ami coach Erik Spoel­stra, who’s going into his 10th sea­son. “Oth­er­wise we’re just los­ing ground if you have to start all over ev­ery year. That’s a tough way to win in this busi­ness. That’s a tough way to build any sort of cul­ture or con­sis­tency.”

No one is start­ing over in the next few days, at least in the sense that a new staff is tak­ing over a team.

Last sea­son was the first since 1963-64 — and only the fourth in league his­tory - where there were no in-sea­son changes. The league was much smaller back then as well, with only nine coaches hav­ing to keep their bosses happy.

It’s a 30-team league now, and a year ago at this time 10 of those clubs had a new coach.

“From top to bot­tom, we have

a very high qual­ity level of coach­ing,” said Dal­las coach Rick Carlisle, the pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion. “This is as sta­ble as our pro­fes­sion has been in decades. Con­tracts are strong, the league is con­structed in a way now where coach­ing is ex­tremely im­por­tant and own­er­ship un­der­stands the im­por­tance of the coach­ing process.”

There hasn’t been a coach­ing hire since Jeff Hor­nacek was for­mally an­nounced by the New York Knicks on June 2, 2016 — which might not sound that long ago, but in a field with­out any real job se­cu­rity that’s an eter­nity. So when coaches gath­ered last week for their an­nual pre­sea­son meet­ing, they cel­e­brated the fact that there were no new faces in the room.

“We’ve talked about the im­por­tance of sup­port­ing one an­other — and at the same time, the need to try to beat each oth­ers’ brains in,” Carlisle said. “It’s a con­flict­ing sort of con­cept from afar, but in­ter­nally we are the

only ones that know all the chal­lenges that head coaches in the NBA face. And be­cause of that, there’s a real healthy re­spect for one an­other.”

Sum­mer va­ca­tions are end­ing now. Coaches will all be grab­bing their whis­tles in the next few days, start­ing with Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Min­nesota’s Tom Thi­bodeau on Satur­day when the War­riors and Tim­ber­wolves open train­ing camp — those teams can start early be­cause they’re going to China in the pre­sea­son.

The other 28 teams start prac­tice on Tues­day.

“In team-build­ing and pro sports, a lot of times the me­thod­i­cal long game is what’s nec­es­sary,” said Spoel­stra, the sec­ond-long­est-tenured coach in the league be­hind San An­to­nio’s Gregg Popovich. “But you’re see­ing less and less of that. That’s why last year was such a pleas­ant sur­prise. I think it re­ally was a cel­e­bra­tion of sta­bil­ity and an ac­knowl­edg­ment of how com­plex this po­si­tion can be.”

ap photo

Dal­las Mav­er­icks head coach Rick Carlisle re­acts to a call. From the start of last sea­son to the start of this sea­son, not a sin­gle NBA team has changed coaches. That’s an un­prece­dented run of re­ten­tion and an ob­vi­ous source of pride for coaches across...

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