Writers/Bloggers React to Frank’s Firing

To continue with the theme of posts today, NAS asked some beat writers and NBA bloggers about their thoughts on Lawrence Frank’s firing. For more internet reaction, check out this link dump from Ball Don’t Lie. Meanwhile, we’ll try to add to this post throughout the day, as we get more responses.

Fred Kerber, New York Post:

The only surprise in Lawrence Frank’s firing was that they didn’t wait until he returned from the West Coast trip. Gotta hope the Nets at least paid his airfare.

Now NO ONE envisioned 0-16 – now 0-17 – and the record is justification for firing him. But Frank was dealt a losing hand from the start. He had a mismatched team and when injuries hit in pre-season, the cash-strapped franchise made no move to help. Yes, they were deep at point guard on paper. Just not on the court. When Devin Harris strained his groin, the Nets were down to one PG as Keyon Dooling was still rehabbing.

For the short term, figure they stay in-house and promote an assistant, likely John Loyer or Tom Barrise, even though Rod Thorn said he is looking outside the organization. Then there’s new ownership coming and a whole new search can begin at season’s end.

Al Iannazzone, The Record:

Lawrence Frank didn’t deserve to be fired, but it was inevitable. Frank was dealt a bad hand, a bad team that really had no leader. It was bad all the way around and then you add the injuries and Frank was in – literally – a no-win situation. Frank is not to blame for the 0-16 or 0-17 start but he had to be the fall guy.

But he’s going to coach again. He’s a good coach, well-respected around the league. Each of the last three seasons, the Nets have gotten worse because of trades either forced by a player (Jason Kidd) or because ownership wanted to sell the team (Vince Carter). Yes, they gained salary-cap flexibility but it’s hard to believe LeBron James or any top-tier free agent wanting to come to the Nets.

Now the Nets have to pick up the pieces and I think the next coach will come from within. The Nets are under old ownership still so spending money probably doesn’t make sense on an interim coach.

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop:

On the face of it, Lawrence Frank had lost the team and that’s all that matters.

But to me, it’s a little sad, and maybe raises a question or two about the Nets players (especially Devin Harris, who would seem to be the guy who had the chance to get the roster to tune in).

The reason I say that is not all that many NBA coaches have their jobs on straight coaching chops. Most are “made men” of the NBA, who are so famous that owners want to be around them, players want to listen to them, and fans want to buy tickets to watch them.

For the most part, that means former players.

But Lawrence Frank, the guy who used to fill the water bottles for Bobby Knight’s Indiana squad, had none of that appeal. He was only in the conversation because he really knew the game and put in a ton of time, much of it at the front end of his career, and unpaid.

I have no idea if there’s any way the Nets and Lawrence Frank could have turned things around. But I’m absolutely certain there aren’t 29 current NBA coaches who know the game better.

Gregory Hrinya, Nets Examiner:

I think Frank’s firing was somewhat unjust because he was put in a position to fail. The Nets unloaded all their big players and made no secret that this season would be about developing the younger players. A young team is obviously going to struggle, but when you factor in the injuries, he never stood a chance. No coach could have won under those circumstances.

There was a quote that surfaced from an anonymous source stating that Lawrence Frank’s message was no longer being received by the team. If that was the case, management had no choice but to fire him.

I believe Kiki Vandeweghe should take over behind the bench. It will be good for the players to have a former NBA player leading them. In addition, a man with vested interest in personnel decisions might motivate the team to play that much harder.

Unfortunately, during losing streaks like this, circumstances and players dictate these moves. I think Frank was a scapegoat, and the Nets have much larger problems. You can’t fire all the players and the injuries certainly cost the Nets a game or two along the way.

Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm:

It’s not necessarily that Lawrence Frank is exempt from the rampant disaster that is this year’s Nets squad. Losing 16 is losing 16. There’s not really a way around that. But if you break down that 16 into more reasonable components, firing Frank looks more, not less unjust.

Let’s say take a look at the schedule. The Nets are not a playoff team. Everyone knows that. You knew that coming in. So let’s take all the playoff teams and toss ’em. Yes, every now and again a non-playoff team will knock off a playoff team. But with the roster (that we’ll get to in a minute), you can reasonably expect them to lose to playoff teams.That’s eight losses right there.

So now Lawrence Frank is 0-8.

Now, let’s say take a look at the injuries. Devin Harris, their best player. Courtney Lee. Yi Jianlian. Chris Douglas-Roberts had swine flu, for Christ’s sake! On a depleted roster, you cannot expect them to contend with those kinds of injuries. Combined, Lee, Yi, and Harris missed 27 games. Average it out, and that’s 9 games. Let’s assume Frank should have somehow overcome injury with Rafer Alston on more than half of them. So let’s take off another four games.

Lawrence Frank is now 0-4.

Finally, this roster was DESIGNED to fail. It’s purposeful. This roster values cap space and developing young talent, not wins. So even if you believe they should win half their games with having no long-term capability with this roster, that’s 0-2.

Would you fire arguably the best coach in your franchise history at 0-2?

This is all rationalization, of course, and the reasons to fire Frank went far beyond culpability and more into trying to stem bleeding and set themselves up for the future.

The point is that putting this debacle at the feet of Lawrence Frank is blaming the hummingbird for the hurricane.

Jared Wade, Both Teams Played Hard:

Lawrence Frank getting canned is unfortunate. Among NBA head coaches, Frank is by most accounts one of more knowledgeable basketball minds, and he certainly understands the nuances of the game and hoops strategy better than a lot of these ex-player “coaches” getting jobs around the Association. (Vinny Del Negro and Reggie Theus, I’m looking at you.)

But, sometimes, you just need change for change’s sake. The players aren’t going to necessarilly keep responding to a short, white dude with no NBA experience when nothing he says is working. And when you’re a GM whose team is about to set the record for the worst start in NBA history and you’re still hoping to attract some big-name free agents next summer, you need to do something to turn things around—fast. You need to give the team a jolt. If you’re unwilling to take on any long-term salary and have no real tradeable assets aside from those that he wants to be a part of the Nets future (Devin, Brook, CDR, T-Will), the easiest way to get this jolt is changing leadership.

Sucks for Larry Frank, but he’ll find another job.