Monday, July 09, 2007

Sonics Hire Carlesimo

I can't help but to have mixed feeling about the Seattle Sonics hiring P.J. Carlesimo as their new head coach. The opponents of this move say that he's too blustery to lead a very young group like this, especially Kevin Durant, the teenage prodigy that is expected to be the savior of the franchise. Maybe a coach with more velvet glove and less iron fist would have been a better choice as Durant needs a gentle segue into the NBA. Carlesimo has never been accused of having a delicate manner, in fact, in his previous NBA head coaching experiences; he has driven one veteran player (Latrell Sprewell) to strangle him and another (Rod Strickland) to walk out on him. Perhaps he has learned from these experiences and become a more relaxed person, but that’s yet to be determined.

The supporters of this hire point out that Carlesimo was once a very successful college coach and therefore has been successful teaching young men, like the ones on this roster, the intricacies of the game. Also, he has spent the past few years as a highly regarded assistant with the best managed organization in the NBA – The San Antonio Spurs. He was able to learn from Greg Popovich, a stern but still player-friendly leader, and he was able to witness how one of the most successful NBA players ever, Tim Duncan, conducts himself on and off the court.

If Carlesimo can avoid behaving like a tyrant, inspire Popovich-like confidence, and impress upon Durant the professionalism of Duncan, his experience and teaching abilities will make him the right choice for the job. But if he tries to bully and embarrass his players, as he once did, another choking is not out of the question.


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