As the Wizards continue to be non-competitive in many games, with many of their players not developing as quickly as we would like, the inevitable calls to fire coach Flip Saunders and Ernie Grunfeld will surely only grow stronger. I'm sympathetic to both men for the tough jobs they have, and I acknowledge several successes they've had recently (Saunders with Nick Young's development, Grunfeld for his clever use of Kirk Hinrich as a trade asset) but I also acknowledge that a true rebuild may need new voices in the authority positions.
But if we're going to call for those men to be fired (and I'm not really making a value judgement one way or the other here ... yet), we also need to consider who might replace them. Below the jump, a comprehensive list of possible coaching replacements that we'll continue to populate as the season goes on. I'll open up the GM thread tomorrow.
To be clear, I have no clue whether these men are actually available, but I do think they are people the Wizards should consider internally (some for longer than others, of course) if they do decide to make a change.
Mike Woodson: Former Atlanta Hawks coach. Fired after last year's playoffs when the Hawks disappointed once again. Career 206-286 record, but had improved the team's record six years running. Known for his simple approach, his overly simplistic isolation sets and his lack of eyebrows. Formerly a long-time assistant under Larry Brown.
Mike Brown: Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach. Fired after the Cavaliers didn't win the title last year. Career 272-138 record, though that was surely aided by having LeBron James on his team. Known for having excellent defensive teams, correspondingly inept offensive sets and looking like Mr. Potato Head. Formerly under the San Antonio Spurs coaching tree.
Lawrence Frank: Former New Jersey Nets coach. Fired in 2009 after his team got off to a historically bad start. Career 225-241 record. Known for outstanding preparation and ability to tinker at a team's style, though like most coaches, his message got stale after a while. Currently the defensive guru for the Boston Celtics. Formerly a guy who came out of nowhere.
Maurice Cheeks: Former Philadelphia 76ers coach. Fired in 2008 after his teams stagnated. Career 284-286 record. Known for his simple messages and general lack of complexity. Currently the lead assistant for Scott Brooks and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Formerly the NBA's premier thief.
Eddie Jordan: Just kidding.
Sam Mitchell: Former Toronto Raptors coach. Fired in 2008 when his team got off to a horrendous start, and also because he didn't play Andrea Bargnani. Career 156-189 record. Won Coach of the Year in 2006/07 because his team became much more talented. Known for being a good defensive mind and for being Kevin Garnett's best friend, but also for being overly traditional, sticking with unproductive players and hesitating to adjust his gameplan. Currently an assistant coach for Avery Johnson in New Jersey.
Jim O'Brien: Former Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics' coach. Fired this season because all the youngsters on the Pacers stagnated. Team immediately improved after he left. Career 303-327 record. Known for being a good defensive coach that fosters a disorganized, fire-threes-at-all-cost offensive style in return. Also known for taking shots at his youngsters publicly for no reason.
Dwayne Casey: Former Minnesota Timberwolves coach. Fired in 2006/07 because his owner and general manager had ridiculously unreasonable expectations. Career 53-69 record. Was replaced by current Wizards assistant Randy Wittman, who compiled a 38-105 record thereafter. Known for being a good player development coach that won't do anything crazy, but is still pretty steady. Currently a Dallas Mavericks assistant.
Terry Porter: Former Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks coach. Was fired midway through his first season in 2007/08 because his players didn't like the stylistic changes he proposed. Career 99-116 record. Known for preaching a defensive mindset, but not having teams that follow it.
Michael Curry: Former Detroit Pistons coach. Fired in 2008/09 after a tough first season following Flip Saunders. Entered into a tough situation, with the Allen Iverson trade and the general decline of the team, but didn't do himself any favors. Currently a Philadelphia 76ers assistant with Doug Collins.
Bill Cartwright: Former Chicago Bulls coach. Fired in 2003 for his team's general lack of development. Was handed a roster of young knuckleheads and couldn't handle it. Career 51-100 record. Known for being a smart man that nevertheless couldn't inspire effort out of his players. Currently a Phoenix Suns assistant, where he's been reborn as an excellent player development person.
Coaches, Assistants Category
Mike Budenholzer: My top choice if the Wizards go the "longtime assistant" route. Longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant who is currently in his 16th year with the organization (14 as an assistant). Extremely innovative and the man who does a lot of the grunt work that makes the organization so successful. Hired at the same time as R.C. Buford in 1994. Served as an advance scout on the Olympic team in 2004, and began as a video coordinator. Former D3 star at Pomona-Pitzer (always a leg up for me because I went a D3 school).
Ron Adams: Another strong choice. Longtime defensive guru who has become Tom Thibodeau's defensive man in Chicago. Served two years in Oklahoma City before that, where he was responsible for their defensive turnaround last season. His absence helps explain their subsequent drop-off this season. Been an NBA assistant since 1992, serving with the 76ers, Spurs, Blazers, Bucks, Bulls and Thunder before going back to Chicago this season. Former Fresno State head coach in the late 1980s.
Lester Conner: Thirteen-year assistant coach, currently with the Atlanta Hawks. Onetime NBA player who went straight from the game to the bench. Started in 1998 as an assistant to Rick Pitino in Boston, and has also been with the Pacers and Bucks. Was also a scout for the Miami Heat.
Tim Grgurich: George Karl's longtime assistant coach throughout his career in Seattle, Milwaukee and Denver. His departure was one of the first signs of organizational upheaval in Denver. Currently a consultant with the Mavericks. Once was the highest-paid assistant in basketball.
Elston Turner: Current Houston Rockets assistant. Former Sacramento Kings assistant with Rick Adelman. Began his coaching career in Portland and in the CBA. Former NBA guard who played for several teams in the 1980s. Known for his player development skills.
John Lucas: Currently an assistant with the Clippers. Known in NBA circles for his workouts with troubled players looking to earn their spot back in the league. Former Maryland star that battled substance abuse during his NBA career and is now clean. Very clearly has the respect of players.
Frank Hamblen/Brian Shaw: Two Lakers assistants likely to stick around once Phil Jackson retires. A shame, because Shaw is definitely head coaching material.
Dave Joerger: Current Memphis Grizzlies assistant. Former Dakota Wizards coach who is one of the most successful minor league coaches in the world. Has five minor-league titles with Dakota, three in the International Basketball Association, one in the NBADL and one in the CBA. Has more minor league titles than noted minor-league coaches Phil Jackson, Flip Saunders, Eric Mussleman and George Karl combined.
Bob McAdoo: Current Miami Heat assistant serving in his 16th year. Former NBA great who was one of the best players in the 1970s. Primarily a big man coach, but also consults as a shooting coach.
Michael Malone: Current New Orleans assistant after being a Cavaliers assistant for five years. Also served as a Knicks assistant and a college assistant. Known for doing more work than typical assistants because of the way Mike Brown delegated responsibility.
Phil Weber: Current New York Knicks assistant. Was a Phoenix Suns assistant for Mike D'Antoni. Known for his player development work and his relentlessly positive attitude, as chronicles in Seven Seconds or Less.
Brendan Malone: NBA lifer. Former lead assistant for Chuck Daly in Detroit, and has also been a head coach on several occasions. Currnetly the lead assistant for the Orlando Magic. Known for his defensive accumen.
Bill Laimbeer: Former Bad Boy himself. Currently an assistant for the Timberwolves. Was previously one of the most successful WNBA coaches of all time with the Detroit Shock. A bit controversial based on his NBA past, which he believes has hurt his coaching opportunities.
Sam Cassell: Sorry folks, he has two years of NBA experience as a coach. Love Sam, but he's not ready yet. Definitely someone to keep around as an assistant, though.