Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Case for Shaw

With Phil Jackson's retirement, the Lakers find themselves searching for a new coach.  The expected choice has always been Brian Shaw.  He's been apart of the organization for over a decade, both as a player and assistant coach, and has the endorsements of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton.  But now reports are coming out that the Lakers are interested in Rick Adelman and Mike Dunleavy, among others.  This has sparked a debate about whether or not the Lakers should stay in-house, with Shaw, or go with an outside hire of a veteran coach.  Some worry about the idea of having a rookie head coach for a team that's ready to win now, but should that be that big of a concern?

While veteran coaches have a proven history that would benefit them, there's also history on the side of Shaw.  Every dynasty that has made a coaching change has done so with the promotion of an assistant, and has done so successfully.  The Lakers replaced Paul Westhead with assistant Pat Riley, the Celtics replaced Bill Fitch with assistant K.C. Jones and Bill Russell took over for Red Auerbach; while Russell wasn't technically an assistant, it was still an in-house hire of a rookie head coach.  Three times a dynasty has changed coaches.  Three times it was a first time head coach.  Three times that rookie head coach went on to win multiple championships.  While veteran coaches may have more experience, they also come with different philosophies.  Shaw knows the players and he knows the system.  Continuity should count for something.  Instead of focusing on the history of each coach, the Lakers should focus on the history of assistant coaches being promoted in the midst of dynasties.

If the Lakers go in a different direction, it should be because they want to go in a different direction.  It shouldn't be out of a fear of handing over the keys to a first-time head coach.  That fear is bogus, when there's a clear history of assistant coaches successfully maintaining dynasties.

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