The Coaching Carousel’s finally finished…for now

With the coaching carousel finishing up its turns once again, we’ve got some very intriguing hires for the 2021-2022 season. The NBA’s seen some very good picks made for the teams to get better. This is just a brief preview as to who went where, and what they could contribute.

Eastern Conference

In his first head coaching gig, Ime Udoka is the new coach for the Boston Celtics. Udoka’s been an assistant coach for the past 9 years, spending time with the Spurs, 76ers and Nets. Spending time with Team USA, Udoka’s established himself as someone that plenty of players have trust in. Three of the current Celtics players; Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum, have all been on Team USA while Udoka was a member of the staff, already establishing good relationships.

Rick Carlisle’s quickly bounced back as he takes the helm with the Indiana Pacers. It’s a homecoming for Carlisle as he was their head coach from 2003 to 2007. While his record trended downward in his four years there, Carlisle’s time at Dallas showed that he could coach with some of the best in the league. After all, not many coaches can say that they have an NBA title and Carlisle pulled that off in 2011 with the Mavs.

The Orlando Magic have gone for an intriguing hire, giving Jamahl Mosley his first ever head coaching gig. Mosley has spent time as an assistant coach for the past 15 years, going from team to team. With most of his years coming
with the Dallas Mavericks, he’s established himself as one of the best assistants for a team to have on their side. It’s unclear how he’ll do, given the teams rebuild, but that’s just a matter of watching and waiting.

The Washington Wizards have brought back one of their own, in more ways than one. Wes Unseld Jr. has gotten his first coaching hire with the team that his dad worked with. He seems to have finally been rewarded after coaching since 2005. Unseld’s father spent the entirety of his NBA career with the Wizards, both as a player and a member of their managing staff. His most recent job was working as a defensive specialist for the Denver Nuggets. His work slowly but surely brought the team up to be a more defensive powerhouse.

Western Conference

The Portland Trailblazers made a very surprising call with their coaching hire, picking up Chauncey Billups to take the helm. Billups has spent time as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers since November of last year. He’s also got plenty of playing experience, having spent 17 seasons in the NBA. Clouding this hire, though, are previous rape allegations from 1997 that Billups was involved in. While never formally charged, it feels impossible to ignore. The world has evolved in how sexual assault is handled, and Billups own past will likely be a constant reminder no matter how long he’s at Portland.

The Dallas Mavericks brought back an old face for their head coach, hiring Jason Kidd as their next head coach. Kidd spent plenty of years in Dallas as one of their star players, including the 2011 championship season. His head coaching record, though, hasn’t produced the best results that a team may hope for. Kidd was fired from the Milwaukee Bucks in the middle of his 4th season with them, after losing in the first round of the playoffs two of the last three years. It’s entirely possible he turns things around for the Mavs, but it’ll take time.

The New Orleans Pelicans seem to have made a popular choice, hiring Willie Green for his first head coaching gig as well. An assistant on the Phoenix Suns, Green has been around the NBA for several years. A 12-year veteran of the NBA as a player, Green spent time playing for the 76ers, Clippers and other teams before finding a role as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors. At 39, he’ll also be the third-youngest coach in the entirety of the NBA.

Interim

Technically, there was an eighth hire but he had already been taken in during the middle of the season. Nate McMillan had the interim tag lifted and has since become the full-time coach for the Atlanta Hawks, and for good reason too. Nearly taking them to the Finals ensured he’s not going anywhere, any time soon. It’ll just be interesting to see how he does with a full season, especially after the playoffs.

As the season gets underway, everyone can speculate about who was the right hire. The thing about coaching hires is it’s difficult to tell what goes well until it’s too late. After all, if coaches were picked by the public, then everyone could have their picks try and potentially fail. That’s just how the carousel goes. One pick’s taken, and another one eventually comes around when they get off.

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