24 coaching changes since start of 2002-03 season

The dean of Eastern Conference coaches, Terry Stotts, was fired
Friday after 1½ seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. That must seem like
an eternity to Tim Floyd, who was dismissed by the New Orleans
Hornets after just one disappointing season.

In the rapid-fire, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately profession
of NBA coaching, both got more time to prove themselves than John
Carroll, Randy Ayers and Chris Ford -- each let go after less than a
year on the job.

In fact, the firing of Stotts and Floyd means all 15 teams in
the Eastern Conference have changed coaches at least once since the
end of last season. Five coaches -- all in the East -- have lost
their jobs since the regular season ended less than a month ago.
Boston (Doc Rivers) and Philadelphia (Jim O'Brien) have hired
replacements; Toronto is still looking for a new coach.

Rivers and O'Brien are no strangers to the coaching carousel.
Rivers was fired by Orlando on Nov. 18. O'Brien resigned as
Boston's coach Jan. 27.

"The whole atmosphere right now I don't think is healthy for
coaching," said former Milwaukee coach George Karl, who is now an
analyst for ESPN.

Since the start of the 2002-03 season, there have been 24
coaching changes in the NBA.

The reasons vary -- from too many losses to personality conflicts
with players and management to a team simply wanting a coach with a
marquee name.

Floyd was let go after a combination of injuries and chemistry
problems he struggled to control contributed to a 41-41 regular
season and an opening-round playoff loss.

"We thank Tim for his hard work, but we are in a bottom-line
business," owner George Shinn said.

Of the four Eastern Conference coaches remaining in the
playoffs, Detroit's Larry Brown has technically been on the job the
longest. He was hired by the Pistons on July 2, two days after they
fired Rick Carlisle -- who had led them to two straight 50-win

Carlisle was subsequently hired by the Indiana Pacers, who had
the league's best record this season and are currently up 1-0 in
their best-of-seven second-round playoff series against Miami, led
by first-year coach Stan Van Gundy.

Earlier this season, New Jersey fired Byron Scott -- who had led
the team to two straight NBA Finals appearances -- after reports of
a personality conflict with star guard Jason Kidd. Assistant
Lawrence Frank took over and has the Nets in the Eastern Conference

"I don't understand it when good coaches get fired, when
coaches who are winning are let go," Karl said. "It's kind of
confusing. It doesn't make a lot of sense right now."

Indeed, wins and losses no longer seem to be the only way
coaches are measured. They need to get their teams playing an
exciting brand of basketball and keep their star players happy.

"It's not just a person that can handle and manage X's and O's,
it's a person that can manage these egos and the personalities,"
Shinn said. "It takes a special individual and we're committed to
finding that individual."

He acknowledged that one unidentified coach currently available
wouldn't be in the running for the Hornets job because "one of our
top players totally dislikes him."

All-Star guard Baron Davis clashed with Karl during the 2002
World Championships when the Karl-coached U.S. national team failed
to finish in the top five.

The new owners of the Hawks, a nine-person group that took over
in March, wanted to get their own coach on the job. One of the new
owners, Boston businessman Steve Belkin, indicated that one of the
coaches Atlanta is interested in talking to would be a significant
draw for free agents.

And if they sign, results will be expected quickly.

"There's no easy head coaching job in the NBA, every job has
its own challenges," said Stotts, who ended the season as the
longest tenured coach in the East. "You just do the best job you

Lately, that hasn't been nearly enough.