NBA owners are seemingly behind most of the decisions to replace coaches in the league today, according to an in-depth report from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
“A lot of times in the circumstances I’ve been in, it’s been ownership driven,” an NBA executive told Scotto. “An owner doesn’t like the guy or think he’s doing a good job. Ownership would say, ‘This isn’t the coach for us. We need to move on.’ The owner would force the issues. When the owner doesn’t like the guy, are you really going to stick your neck out there?”
Two teams have fired coaches this offseason — the Lakers (Frank Vogel) and Hornets (James Borrego). Also, the Kings decided not to retain interim man Alvin Gentry after firing Luke Walton earlier this season.
Sacramento has since hired Mike Brown, currently an assistant with the Warriors, who will wait until after the playoffs to join the Kings. It is believed that hire was made by GM Monte McNair, with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive taking a back seat in the process.
But that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
“The owner would simply say, “This is the decision I’ve come to,” another NBA executive told Scotto. “This is why. I appreciate your perspective and opinion on this. Ultimately, I’m the one paying the bills. Ultimately, I’m the one who’s accountable for the product we put out on the floor. This is a decision I made.”
Agents interviewed by Scotto seemed to verify the idea that team owners are making the calls on coaches.
“I think the majority of the owners that are under 10 years in their ownership are more like that (hands-on) than ever before,” one current coaching agent told Scotto. “They’re more involved than they ever have been to a detriment. Very few teams have hands-off owners. The majority of them are very active and want to be involved in the process. It’s a toy to them. They enjoy it. It’s scary, but that’s the way it is now, and I don’t see it changing going forward.”
Another agent was even more direct.
“In the NBA, it’s the owner’s final say,” he told Scotto. “The GM, who on paper makes the decision, often doesn’t. There are numerous ways the information about the firing gets down to the coach or how it happens. Each team’s dynamic between front office and ownership is dynamic.”
The Lakers and Hornets are still looking to fill their vacancies.