Wow, first day on the job and I’ve already gotten a coach fired.
P.J. Carlesimo got canned over the weekend, and now comes word from D.C. that the Wizards have fired Eddie Jordan after a 1-10 start. Ed Tapscott, the team’s director of player development and a longtime assistant and confidant to G.M. Ernie Grunfeld, takes over as coach.
I guess Ernie didn’t take too kindly to injured star Gilbert Arenas’ recent statement that last place isn’t the worst place in the world to be – especially in the NBA, where there’s a draft lottery.
According to a person familiar with the situation, associate head coach Mike O'Koren also was let go.
As the Washington Post points out, Tapscott traveled with the team and essentially served as an extra assistant coach. According to a person who knows him well, coaching isn’t in Tapscott’s long-term plans. He was the logical interim choice for Grunfeld, who goes back to his Knicks days with Tapscott. (Tapscott was the Knicks’ director of player personnel when the team infamously drafted Frederic Weis over Ron Artest.)
This firing is as curious as they come. Just a month ago, the Wizards picked up Jordan’s option for 2009-10, and he finished seventh in the coach-of-the-year voting last season. One name that has to shoot to the top of the list of candidates for Jordan’s long-term replacement is Avery Johnson, who was fired by the Mavericks last May and replaced by Rick Carlisle.
Oh, by the way: I’m your new NBA columnist. I was going to introduce myself sooner, but more important things got in the way. More on that later.
UPDATED 7:08 p.m. Some interesting details and angles have emerged after the Jordan firing. First, the Washington Post reports that Jordan was informed of the decision around 8 a.m. -- after he and his wife finished handing out Thanksgiving turkeys to the needy. Gobble gobble!
Second, it's unclear how much of a role Arenas' recent comments about last place not being all that bad played into this. Management evidently was less concerned about the job Jordan was doing with the depleted talent he had than it was about the lack of fight and desire the team had shown recently. Exhibit A was a putrid defensive performance Saturday night in which Washington gave up 122 points to the Knicks, who only had seven players available.
A person familiar with the Wizards' thinking disputed the notion (floated above) that Avery Johnson would be in the mix here. Grunfeld said Tapscott will coach the rest of the season. Then every unemployed coach (there will be more then) will be jockeying for position. (Every one except Jeff Van Gundy, who lost an infamous power struggle to Grunfeld in New York).