Bucks Diary

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The curious timing of the Stotts firing

Larry Harris decided today to drop the guillotine blade on Terry Stotts' neck. The move was inevitable, but why now? Did Harris wake up this morning and realize Stotts was ill-suited to be a head coach? If so, then like King Lear in the storm, Harris appears to have come upon the truth of the matter way too late. To save this season, he needed to act a long, long time ago. We all saw it. Pressey saw it. The Diesel saw it. All those dudes who left 68 comments that one day saw it. My one year old nephew saw it. But Harris didn't. And thus the season is now too far gone to be saved.

So the move is too late to help the present in any useful way. But more troubling still, it may indirectly jeopardize the future.

Why? Simple. Let's say that, as expected, Larry Krystkowiak is named interim coach. Presumably, then, he has the remainder of the season to prove he is NBA timbre. What if he does? What if he gives the team the short term shot of adrenaline such regime changes generally bring? In other words, God forbid, what if the Bucks suddenly start winning? That's the worst thing that could happen. It would be like the Packers beating the Cardinals on the last day of the season and costing themselves Troy Aikman. It would be a catastrophe. They will have gained nothing but empty accomplishments. They need one of those two top picks very badly.

On the other hand, what if there is no bump? What if the Bucks continue to sag? That's good in one sense, but harmful in another. A bad debut by Krystkowiak takes the air out of the off-season for BucksNation. How can the organization then sell a better tomorrow to prospective season ticket purchasers? If the last two months are as bad as I'm praying they will be, would the Bucks let him go with just a cup of coffee? And if that happens, will they have cost themselves a man who, by all accounts, has the makings of a fine up-and-coming coaching prospect. So many questions. The bottom line is I can't see the upside in making the move now.

So why did it go down now? I have four theories.

(1) The Toronto game clearly established that the team had quit on Terry Stotts. The team exhibited no effort whatsoever on Monday night against the Raptors. On their home court, they appeared to be going through the motions, as they allowed the Raptors to come out of the gates and hit nearly 70% of their early field goal attempts. Perhaps Harris had seen enough.

Problem: While Monday's game may have been the most egregious example, for many of us, it is only one game in a long pattern of weak efforts.

(2) He waited to see what Stotts could do with Redd back in the lineup; the Toronto game convinced him there was no improvement. This theory is actually based on the interview Harris gave to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last month in which he said he wanted to see how the team would do at reasonably full strength.

Problem: This strategy made no sense then, and it makes less sense now. The shortcomings of the Stotts administration were plain enough for everyone to see in January. He should have seen it then and acted then... if he had perhaps this season could have been saved. By waiting until now, he has gained nothing and perhaps, as I mentioned above, hurt the team long term.

(3) Does Harris think the Bucks can make a run? I hope this is not the thinking. If it is, it calls into question Larry Harris' grasp of reality. The Bucks may not be mathematically eliminated but... come on.

Problem: This theory can't be true. I have too much respect for the Lizard to believe this.

(4) The 'Andy Reid Dilemma', or, How events forced Harris' hand. Ron Wolf loved Andy Reid as a coaching prospect. When Mike Holmgren left for Seattle, Reid was an unproven commodity, so Wolf made the safe play and hired the veteran Ray Rhodes. The Eagles saw differently and took a chance. It paid off big for them. Maybe the same dynamic is at work here. Maybe Larry Harris sees what the Mequon Diesel saw back in November -- a hot, albeit unproven, coaching prospect in the form of Larry Krystkowiak sitting right on the Bucks bench.

If that is true, then events may have forced Harris' hand. His urgency to act would have been caused by the media reports that have Krystkowiak as a serious candidate for the Utah Utes head coaching position. Under this scenario, we could probably assume Harris' original plan envisioned Krystkowiak taking over fresh next year, being content to allow Stotts to finish the season out and help the team make a run at Oden or Durant. When his plan was threatened, he accelerated his timetable.

Problem: This theory will obviously be null and void if the Bucks don't name Krystkowiak head coach, or if he takes the Utah job anyway (like Flip Saunder Redux). That said, it seems the most logical explanation for the timing. We shall see.

More on this matter will be forthcoming.


At March 15, 2007 at 1:48 AM, Anonymous The Bandit said...

I hear what you're saying about Harris, but I tend to think this may be a stroke of genius on his behalf. My theory? Larry knows what's ahead in the draft - you can smell Oden and Durrant a mile away. If you fire Stotts early, you get a crack at the 7 or 8 seed, an early exit and no forward movement in the development of the team. If you keep Stotts on however, you'll get a player mutiny with a heap more losses and a better shot at drafting the aforementioned freshmen. Larry is at the helm of a team desperately wanting to tank, but not too keen on making it public.

He has let the team become a tragic train wreck, but they're waiting third in line for the most coveted prize.

At March 15, 2007 at 11:33 PM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

I think the Bogut/flip off was the final straw that pushed Herb Kohl over the top. All the pieces you cite were in place, including Larry K. leveraging Utah.

But the Bogut bird was the topper to a guy like Kohl IMO. Here we had the #1 overall pick, the guy who wore a suit to the interview, the guy who was supposed to be the face of the franchise for the next ten-years now 18-months later screaming at a fan in our home arena and flipping him off after being ejected for a flagrant foul. It was an action that showed Stotts had lost control of the team. Up to that point he was just an awful coach...this put Kohl over the brink IMO.


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