While it is understood that players are responsible for the final outcome of the game and are the ones who get most of the credit for a win, blame always will go around to the head coaches. If appropriate adjustments are not made throughout the game, after the halftime whistle blows, then the coaches stand to be heavily scrutinized. Many will determine that if changes were made by coaches, the outcome would have been different. In some cases, coaches will call certain players off the court because of too many fouls. Some will pull a player who has had a hot hand during the game instead of giving him extended minutes. Should coaches stick to their regular rotation or go with the flow during each game?
There is an overabundance of questions that NBA coaches must ask themselves in an attempt to find the right solutions in leading their teams to the next win and beyond. Some coaches have done a great job at leading their teams to victories and these include Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich and Mike Woodson, among others. These coaches have figured out how to maximize the abilities of different players by instructing them well and putting them where they contribute the best. These are the primary reasons for their success.
Coaches that lead teams doing poorly will experience the embarrassment of being tagged the reason for most of the team’s failures. Some will ask, why did the coach allow a certain player to stay on the court for only 10 minutes when it should have been longer? What better play could have been chosen after the timeout? Why wasn’t the star player on the opposing team double-teamed after his stellar performance in the first half? The expectation of team performance will have a lot to do with how the coach is being viewed. Despite a bad overall record, coaches that do a good job with developing their players might not have made the list of worst coaches in NBA history. Here are 10 coaches that weren’t an asset to their teams during their tenure. You decide if this is true or not!
10 Randy Wittman
It's a little puzzling how Randy Wittman has kept getting head coaching jobs. While the Washington Wizards have improved the last couple of years, Wittman's whole body of work is being taken into account. He coached the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves. His tenures date back from 1999 to 2008. His overall record as a coach was 100-207. He was hired as the Wizards' head coach in 2011. Taking into account his record with Washington, his overall record is now 220-342.
When you talk about running a team into the ground, you think about Randy Wittman during his tenure at Cleveland and Minnesota. Of course, neither of these franchises had talented team players. At the time, both teams were trying to regain their form in the postseason. However, the Cavaliers and Timberwolves failed miserably under Wittman’s watch. Cleveland finished with a record of 62-102 prior to firing Wittman. During Wittman’s first season in Minnesota, the team finished with a record of 22-60. They fired him after a 4-15 start in 2008-09.
9 Don Casey
Don Casey coached the L.A. Clippers and New Jersey Nets. His tenure dates back from 1988 to 2000. His overall record as a coach was 85-153. The word to describe Don Casey is ‘horrible.’ He just wasn’t good at coaching in the NBA nor did he do well as a college coach with the Temple Owls. He had players hold the ball longer than normal to draw the opposing team out of their defensive zone. At one time, a player held the ball for 11 minutes and eventually turned it over (the shot clock hadn't been introduced yet). The fans, of course, booed the team and the opposing team won the game. With this kind of past, you would think that no NBA team wanted Casey, but he was able to land a job with both the Clippers and the Nets. He had a terrible record on both teams. He had a record of 41-85 with the Clippers before being substituted by Mike Schuler. For New Jersey, his record was 44-68 before he was fired for Byron Scott.
8 Garry St. Jean
Garry St. Jean coached the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. His tenures date back from 1992 to 2000. His overall record as a coach was 172-278. Let’s talk about Garry St. Jean – same thing. He was awful at coaching during his tenure. His worst year was with the Sacramento Kings during the first year of coaching. He is one of seven consecutive coaches that endured three years or less with the Golden State Warriors. The 1999-00 record was 19-63, which was the second worst in the Golden State Warriors' team history.
7 Wes Unseld
Wes Unseld coached the Washington Bullets. His tenure for the team dates back from 1987 to 1994. His overall record as a coach was 202-345. If you want to sink a franchise, then hire a coach and GM like Wes Unseld who happened to have been the team’s greatest player. The Washington Bullets did that when they put the future of the team into Unseld’s hand. Unseld had a yearly average of more than 53 losses in six seasons as coach with the Bullets. During his tenure, the team went to the NBA playoffs only once. What did the franchise do after this? They hired him as GM for 7 years (1996-2003). What were his results? He got the same results as he did as a coach – an average of more than 47 losses each season and one playoff appearance.
6 Larry Krystkowiak
Larry Krystkowiak coached the Milwaukee Bucks. His tenure with the team dates back from 2006 to 2008. His overall record as a coach was 31-69. Does anyone remember the hype? The Bucks locked Larry Krystkowiak in a four year contact, after a 5-13 mark in 2006 following the firing of head coach Terry Stotts. The Bucks defeated the Spurs in Krystowiak's coaching debut, and he received the contract because of it. How did he repay them? He led the team to a disappointing season with a record of 26-56. The franchise then hired John Hammond as General Manager. What was the first thing he did? He fired Krystkowiak. Can you blame him?
5 Rick Pitino
Rick Pitino coached the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. His tenure dates back from 1987 to 2001. His overall record as a coach was 192-220. Rick Pitino took Boston University to the NCAA tournament and Providence to the Final Four, but was he cut out to be an NBA coach? Well, he became legendary in the state of Massachusetts and that was possibly the reason that he got the job to coach the struggling Boston Celtics. However, no NCAA record could help him. His 102-146 record with the Celtics showed that he buckled under the pressure. He left money on the table as he walked away from the job with six years on his contract.
4 Eric Musselman
Eric Musselman coached the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. His tenures date back from 2002 to 2007. His overall record as a coach was 108-138. With a desire to turn the franchise around, the Sacramento Kings hired Eric Musselman in 2006 (because he did wonders for the Warriors, right?) Before Musselman came on the job, the team had gone to the playoffs. So momentum was building for Musselman to help the team get an NBA championship this time around. Before this could happen, the coach got arrested for DUI. He was fired after the team finished the season at a disappointing record of 33-49.
3 Bob Weiss
Bob Weiss coached the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, LA Clippers and Seattle Sonics. His tenures dates back from 1986 to 2006. His overall record as a coach was 223-299. Bob Weiss had some success with the Atlanta Hawks during his three-year tenure. Larry Brown had helped the Clippers get to two playoff appearances before he unexpectedly retired in 1993. Weiss was asked to coach the L.A. Clippers who were having a partially successful season. Under his leadership, the team finished at 27-55. For years after that, he floated into obscurity as assistant coach and then decided to give coaching another shot with the Seattle Sonics. He fell flat with a record of 13-17. He was fired.
2 Stu Jackson
Stu Jackson coached the New York Knicks and Vancouver Grizzlies. His tenures dates back from 1989 to 1997. His overall record as a coach was 58-78. Stu Jackson was given a coaching position with the New York Knicks after they had a fantastic season, having gone to the conference semifinals and had loads of talent like Charles Oakley, Mark Jackson and Patrick Ewing. Right away, he made the mistake of changing the offense. He turned the Knicks into a half court lineup instead of a running team. Of course, the outcome for team was third in the Atlantic Division. Jackson got fired when the team began their 1990-91 season at a record of 7-8. While there are plenty of coaches with worse records, he lands at no.2 based on the amount of talent he had, yet still crashing below expectations.
1 Johnny Bach
Johnny Bach coached the Golden State Warriors. He had two tenures with the Warriors, once in the 1979-80 season then from 1983 1986. His overall record as a coach was 95-172. Quite the dropoff from his predecessor Al Attles. During the 1985-86 season, under his coaching, the Golden State Warriors had a record of 30-52. That record got them last place in the Western Conference. Bach decided to retreat to his supporting role with the Bulls.