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Job security rankings for the new coaches

The coaching fraternity is more like a nursery this season, as 10 of the league's 30 coaches are new to their team, an amazing number that points to the impatience displayed by ownership.

How many of these first-year coaches will be around in five years, or even three? Most of them are struggling this season, and history shows that they won't be given much time to improve.

Here's a look at the rookies, and who might still be employed in, let's say, 2007.

+ Mike Woodson, Atlanta: It doesn't look encouraging. The Hawks have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and don't seem to have much hope of getting better. Their best player, Antoine Walker, is selfish, and point guard Kenny Anderson has never enjoyed much team success. Atlanta has managed to acquire three 7-footers, Jason Collier, Predrag Drobnjak and Kevin Willis, none of whom have any discernible talents.

Odds of survival: 50-1.

+ Doc Rivers, Boston: Rivers has made the most of what could be a tough situation. The Celtics are struggling to stay around .500, but Rivers has kept chronic headcases Ricky Davis and Gary Payton under control, and he deserves some type of congressional medal for that alone. The Celtics' roster has been in constant flux the past few years, but they now have a superstar in Paul Pierceand a couple of underrated youngsters in Tony Allen and Al Jefferson.

Odds of survival: 2-1.

+ Bernie Bickerstaff, Charlotte: The Bobcats have already exceeded expectations, because few pundits expected them to get into double digits in victories. Emeka Okafor is a nightly double-double threat, and Brevin Knight has become a tremendous passer. Bickerstaff, who never won more than 46 games in 11 previous seasons, is a chronic "seat-warmer" and it's likely that the Bobcats will go in a different direction.

Odds of survival: 20-1.

+ Michael Cooper, Denver: For Cooper, it isn't about the Denver job. The Nuggets are almost certain to hire a big-name coach, because management believes the team is capable of winning now. But if Cooper does well, he could be an attractive candidate for another job. It will be interesting to see how Cooper handles a team with superstars (Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin).

Odds of survival: 75-1.

+ Mike Montgomery, Golden State: Four of the Warriors' starters are 26 or younger, so Montgomery, formerly of Stanford, must feel like he's still coaching a college team. They have a 20-point scorer in Jason Richardson and a double-double threat in Troy Murphy, but they haven't won 40 games since 1993-94.

Odds of survival: 5-1.

+ Rudy Tomjanovich, Lakers: At first glance, he would appear to be the cream of this crop, but what happens if the Lakers don't rebuild? Jerry Buss isn't exactly a patient owner, and if the Lakers don't start winning, it's not ridiculous to think that Kobe Bryant would turn on Tomjanovich. So far, he seems to have escaped the wrath of Bryant, the guy who really runs the team, and that's what is really important.

Odds of survival: 5-2.

+ Mike Fratello, Memphis: The Grizzlies improved from 23 to 28 to 50 wins the past three seasons, and when Hubie Brown resigned this season because of health concerns, it seemed that this would be a great opportunity for some coach to take over an up-and-coming team. The Grizzlies are stuck in a tough division, and Fratello has proved to be just an average coach. He has coached in 13 previous seasons, and nine times he won between 40 to 50 games.

Odds of survival: 15-1.

+ Byron Scott, New Orleans: Scott made a terrible decision to take this job, but it does present a challenge and allow him to grow as a head coach. Scott's firing from the Nets was controversial, and his coaching reputation is on the line.

Odds of survival: 12-1.

+ Jim O'Brien, Philadelphia: The 76ers have reached the 50-win plateau only once in the past 14 seasons, and their fans are impatient. Three of O'Brien's four Boston teams made the playoffs, although he stepped into a terrible situation with the Celtics. Philadelphia fans expect the same type of success.

Odds of survival: 8-1.

+ Sam Mitchell, Toronto: This franchise is a mess. It just traded away Vince Carter, its only star, and is now left with a bunch of has-beens and never-weres for Mitchell to try to lead. Toronto ownership might realize this and give Mitchell, who is less than three years removed from the end of his playing career, a chance to grow as a coach. But, again, this is the NBA, which isn't big on patience.

Odds of survival: 10-1.

_ Los Angeles Daily News

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