Seattle's Youth Movement Will be Led by...P.J. Carlesimo?The Seattle Supersonics' youth movement took a curious turn with the hiring of P.J. Carlesimo to be the team's head coach. With veterans Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis out of the picture, Seattle is in a rebuilding mode and not likely to make the playoffs this year in the tough Western Conference. Maybe the idea is that Carlesimo has extensive experience as a college coach and that this will help him relate to players like Kevin Durant and Jeff Green but coaching young talent in the NBA is a lot different from coaching young talent in college. College coaches have absolute power and can yell and scream all they want; players are dependent on them to keep their scholarships and will accept such treatment. NBA players do not generally respond well to being browbeaten. Sooner or later, they rebel. That is why you will never see Bobby Knight coaching in the NBA.
By most accounts, P.J. Carlesimo is a good person and a knowledgeable basketball coach. He has been an assistant or head coach on championship level teams in college, international and NBA play. On the other hand, he was just 183-222 in the regular season during head coaching stops in Portland and Golden State and never led a team past the first round of the playoffs. He has not been a head coach for seven years. Some have suggested that the infamous incident when his Golden State player Latrell Sprewell choked him prevented Carlesimo from getting other head coaching jobs but that makes no sense: why would someone assaulting him make his less hirable? Carlesimo spent some time as a broadcaster and then won three championships as a Spurs assistant coach, so it's not like he was in some kind of exile from the game. Instead of wondering why it took so long for him to get hired again as a head coach, I question if he is really the best man for the Seattle job. I do not doubt that he made valuable contributions to San Antonio's success but being a sounding board for Gregg Popovich is not the same thing as running one's own program, let alone basically building a program from the ground up; that requires an array of skills beyond those necessary to be a good NBA assistant coach or even a good college head coach. Will Carlesimo have the patience to deal with the growth curve that all young NBA players go through? Will his young players have the patience to deal with Carlesimo's yelling and in your face tactics? It's one thing for Popovich to yell at his players; he has championship rings and veteran stars who buy into his system.
Seattle is trying to become San Antonio Northwest, much like the Cleveland Cavaliers are attempting to be San Antonio East--but it remains to be seen if Durant is a Tim Duncan or LeBron James level player and, even if he is, if Carlesimo can be a Popovich (or even a Mike Brown) as an NBA head coach. My "clip-and-file" guess? Carlesimo coaches four years or less in Seattle and the team does not make it past the second round of the playoffs in any of those seasons.
posted by David Friedman @ 4:08 AM