Saturday, January 20, 2018
Sports

Coach countdown: Three out on Day 1

The NBA's coaching carousel is already spinning in three cities, with more likely to come.

On the first day after the regular-season finales, Doug Collins resigned Thursday after three seasons in Philadelphia but will remain with the franchise as an adviser. However, Cleveland fired Byron Scott and Detroit booted Lawrence Frank.

Scott and Frank were probably the two coaches most likely to face firings, though others likely remain on the proverbial hot seat. Sacramento's ownership situation could affect Keith Smart's future, Dwane Casey in Toronto might be in trouble, and some coaches of playoff teams might not be safe, either.

Collins, 61, explained how he knew in his heart the time was right to retire from coaching because he simply missed being a family man.

When the emotional tug of five young grandchildren and a son about to take over as coach at Northwestern became too much to consider missing, Collins walked away.

"There's a lot of things I want to enjoy," he said. "I think it's every man's dream to be able to live that life that you've worked so hard to try to live. That's what I want to do."

Collins, a four-time all-star guard with the 76ers, stepped down after a season so full of promise unraveled starting with the knee injury to free agent center Andrew Bynum. The Sixers went 34-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time in Collins' three seasons.

Scott, 52, went 64-166 in his three years with the Cavs, who were weakened by injuries this season but also showed little progress under him. Scott was informed he would not be coming back one day after Cleveland closed the season with its sixth straight loss to finish 24-58 — the NBA's third-worst record.

All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said he was surprised by Scott's firing: "I feel like a piece of me is missing now. … I'm trying to get over the loss of my basketball father."

The Pistons ousted Frank, 42, after he went 54-94 in two seasons, including 29-53 this year.

The next coach will be Detroit's ninth since 1999, and although the Pistons won a title in 2004, their decline has been sharp in recent years.

Lakers' sigh of relief

Dwight Howard's first season with the Lakers has been filled with more twists, setbacks and disappointments than he ever imagined when he was traded last summer by the Magic.

He's still hoping the Lakers can come up with a few more surprises for the playoffs.

Los Angeles reached the postseason as the seventh seed in the West with a 99-95 overtime win over visiting Houston late Wednesday. And they did it with Kobe Bryant watching from home, his season finished with a torn Achilles tendon.

The win capped a 28-12 surge for a club with big preseason expectations that have been long overshadowed by a slow start, a coaching change, a ridiculous injury list and the everyday madness of being the biggest sports stars in Hollywood.

"Everybody counted us out," Howard said. "But one thing that I told the guys was that we've been through so much this year, from the injuries to the rumors and everything that has happened. It could have made us separate from each other, but we stayed strong, stayed together, and we won for each other. We're happy that we're in the playoffs, but we're not done yet."

Playoff favorite: Miami finished 66-16 and has been so dominant since Super Bowl Sunday that the betting site Bovada gave the Heat opening odds to win the championship that it said were "unheard of in recent years" — and then had to lower them when most of the action was coming in on the Heat, anyway. That dropped Miami to a 2-3 favorite, meaning a $3 bet only wins $2 more. Knicks center Tyson Chandler said the other contenders shouldn't feel slighted by the experts picking the Heat. "No, not at all. They should pick the Heat," he said. "They're the defending champions, and they should get that respect. But that's not what we believe. We haven't believed in that throughout the year."

Welcome, Pelicans: New Orleans officially announced its name change, from Hornets to Pelicans, and a new color scheme of blue, gold and red.

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