P.J. Carlesimo never had a chance. Even if he'd led the Nets past the Bulls in the first round -- Brooklyn lost in seven -- it looks like he'd have been replaced. Why? The Nets, according to ESPN Boston, asked the Celtics if they could talk to Doc Rivers about their opening.
Rivers is the highest-paid coach in the NBA at $7 million per season. If Brooklyn could have gotten a chat with Rivers, they would have no doubt offered even more of Mikhail Prokhorov's money. Having committed hundreds of millions to the roster, what's $10 million to a head coach, right?
It'll be interesting to see how long it takes before high-revenue teams begin flexing their advantage in this realm, the front office and coaching staffs. The new collective bargaining agreement attempted to neuter the player payroll power of high-revenue teams by putting sharper teeth into the luxury tax and restricting certain transaction types for high-payroll teams. The one area teams still have total freedom to spend spend spend is on coaches and GMs.
Some teams have done this already, though not to an outrageous effect. The Mavericks' coaching staffs under Mark Cuban have typically been quite large. I mean, you're spending $1 million for your 13th man. Why not an extra $100,000 for someone to develop your rookies, right? Some spendthrift teams have also thrown a lot of money at scouting, too. But I feel like the advantage hasn't been pressed as much as possible when it comes to signing the very best coaches.
That's what makes the Nets' bold request so fun. Prokhorov and Billy King weren't content to go get the best, biggest-name coach on the market. They tried to get the biggest name working ... even though he's the highest-paid head coach, he's signed for three more years, he works for a rival and he has never indicated wandering eyes. (Insomuch as Rivers' future has been uncertain, it hasn't been about finding another job in the league. It's been about wanting to take time off or go back to the safe confines of the announcer booth.)
Having been rebuffed by the Celtics, there are some obvious next steps for Brooklyn:
1. Request permission to speak with Gregg Popovich. Oh, man. I would hope Pop would answer that request personally.
2. Do a second full-court press on Phil Jackson, who has already rebuffed the Nets once.
3. Hire the top four candidates as co-head coaches at $8 million per year each. Assign them each one quarter of basketball as head coach.
4. Profit. Well, actually, register a manageable loss.