More Coaching Change Thoughts

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Published: November 13, 2009

Point Differential

There are a bunch of reasons why Byron was fired, but lets be real.  The primary reason was the number -4.7.  That’s the Hornet’s current efficiency differential, meaning that for every 100 posessions the Hornets play, they give up almost 5 more points than they score.  5 points doesn’t seem like much, but it really is.  As I’ve said before on this blog, efficiency differential has a very strong correlation to a predicted number of wins.  At that differential, the Hornets are looking at 29 wins for the season.  29 Wins with an MVP candidate and two borderline all-stars.

Yes.  It’s early.  Yes, the Hornets have played some very good teams on route to their 3-6 record (Celtics, Suns, Spurs, Lakers) but the losses have been disheartening.  If the Hornets were 3-6 but competitive, only losing by 5-8 points or so per game, I’d feel comfortable with the team turning it around.  But they haven’t.   During their six losses, they Hornets have trailed at halftime by an average of 11 points.  That’s not even staying in contact.

Now, I was already leaning towards wanting Byron to be let go over the summer, so me arguing that his dismissal was justified isn’t surprising.  However, I didn’t come to that decision lightly, as you can see in this post.  And that post doesn’t even mention what happened during the Game that Shall Not be Named: A 58 point record-setting drubbing.  At home.  This isn’t football, where three or four mistakes can lead to big plays that break a game open and cause a huge score differential.  In basketball points are earned in 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.  It takes sustained suckiness to go down 58 points.  Do the players take the blame?  Yes.  But so does Byron.

It’s clear what probably saved him then was his relationship with CP3.  Being close to an MVP candidate can extend your shelf-life.

Paul = Garnett

This has been eating at me a bit.  In the past three months I’ve seen the Hornets compared over and over to the Timberwolves and Kevin Garnett’s struggles to succeed there.  I’ve now seen it in print four times mentioned in relation to this move.  Let’s get some perspective here:

Kevin Garnett missed the playoffs his first year, and then went to the playoffs and got bounced in the first round for 7 straight seasons.  Paul got into the second round in his 3rd season.  He already has more playoff wins(8) than Garnett had after his first eight years(7).  The Hornets have had one “down” year(49-33) and struggle out of the gate, and suddenly Paul is in Garnett land?

There is also no relation between the Wolves owner Glen Taylor and George Shinn.  Nothing in Shinn’s makeup makes it seem like he’d be willing to sit around while his team is bad.  It took Glen Taylor 10-11 years to make McHale coach the team he put together.  Jeff Bower  is being moved into that role a season and a half after their breakout season.  Shinn will shake things up – and he’s also already proven he’s happy to blow things up if he thinks things aren’t working – witness the Hornet’s 2004-2005 season.  You have to remember that this is George Shinn’s one and only business.  He doesn’t have other business to help him out with his finances and to cover losses.  He cannot sit on his hands and watch it struggle.  He will make moves.  Like he did yesterday.

Poor wittle Hornets

Another aspect of any coverage of the Hornets has been the continuous attacks on the Hornets financial viability.  They’ve been accused of 1) having a podunk training facility, 2) being unwilling to pay money for coaches, 3) not being willing to pay for players, and 4) being slammed repeatedly for being cheap.  Sigh:

  1. The Hornets had an agreement with Louisiana to have them build a 20-million dollar training facility.  The Hornets was asked by the cash-strapped state, to change that agreement and traded the top of the line facility for a Hornets-only expansion to the Alario Center and finanical incentives.  So the part of the Alario center where all those public events happen that several writers have gleefully pointed to?  They don’t occur where the Hornets practice.  Oh, and the financial incentives have pretty much guaranteed the Hornets will stay in New Orleans through 2014.  I’m sorry if I don’t see that as a bad thing.
  2. Byron Scott was top-5 in the NBA in salary, making 5 million a year after his extension two years ago.  So . . . not cheap.
  3. The Hornets currently carry the 12th highest payroll in the NBA.  Yeah, they’d probably like to shed 4 million and get under the Tax.  But ask any team over the Tax line and you’ll hear the same thing.  A $73 Million dollar payroll isn’t something to turn up your nose at.
  4. There is a little merit in this last criticism.  The front office is thinner than most other teams have.  But the reality is the Hornets have always operated with a thin front office, and yet, if you ignore the initial three expansion years of the franchise, they have posted a franchise winning percentage of .531.  Out of 27 teams that played during that same stretch (Raptors, Grizz and Bobcats are too new) that ties the Hornets for 11th best with the Heat.  That small front office is hardly making the team unviable.

The Hornets play Portland tonight, and this little rant took up all my writing time today, so I’m sorry but I won’t have a preview of the game up for you.  Just know that Portland is always a tough game, and the Hornets would not have an easy time of it even if they weren’t going through some up-heavel.  I’m just hoping that it doesn’t develop into another blowout.

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