Friday saw two big developments in the world of NBA coaching. The Toronto Star says Sam Mitchell is returning as coach of the Raptors, and the Rockets officially fired Jeff Van Gundy. Mitchell was widely expected to explore coaching vacancies in Indiana, Charlotte or Sacramento, but ultimately decided to stay put.
When sportswriters rank the best vacant coaching jobs available, they tend to focus on the talent on the team's roster, their draft prospects, or their salary cap situation. Rarely do they discuss what should be a huge factor, the relative livability of these cities. It's why Warriors fans should be worried when Don Nelson says he's "not sure" he's going to stay as the head coach. The Warriors aren't competing against a job with another team for Nellie's affections; they're competing against Nellie's desire to begin drinking scotch at 10 AM every day in Hawaii.
If Mitchell was choosing between living in Toronto and living in Indianapolis, is that a difficult decision at all? Even if Indiana paid him more money, is that worth the lifestyle downgrade? Indianapolis drives NBA personnel so crazy, they end up getting into altercations with "small black males with handicapped short arms".
Meanwhile, Van Gundy has got to be relieved to be departing the humid, polluted hellhole that is Houston, Texas. The man used to live in New York City, and now he's spent four years in a city with no zoning, 95-degree mornings most of the year, and a light rail system that kills people. His choice was simple this offseason:
A: Stay in Houston, sign a new contract, and try to lead the Rockets out of the first round of the playoffs, or
B: Live and work anywhere in the world that isn't Houston, Texas
Any right-thinking human being would choose B.
My favorite part of the Van Gundy story is that the Rockets offered him a front office position, as if a vice president position makes it at all worthwhile to stay among the smog, traffic, and, worst of all, Houstonians. Look, Van Gundy didn't get fired. He got paroled.
Now Houston wants to get Rick Adelman to replace Van Gundy. Adelman has a history of success, but more importantly, he used to coach in Sacramento, meaning his expectations for weather and culture are low enough to find Houston, if not actually nice, at least acceptable.
The truly significant result of Van Gundy's firing is that he could team up with his brother, former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. Stan's Wikipedia page has a truly degrading photo of Coach Stan.) Omar's Van Gundy brothers coaching plan can become a reality. His idea is that the Van Gundys would share the head coaching role, "like a two headed ugly monster coach".
Omar explains further:
Jeff can feel free to run out onto the court and grab Zo's leg during their first matchup with the Heat, and then Stan can go punch Riles in their second matchup.
This is a brilliant idea. I think they, the Mega-Gundy, should be treated as a single entity - a technical for one is a technical for both, though it yields only one free throw. Stan has to shave his head, while Jeff has to grow a mustache. They will do interviews together, and be known as Jan Van Gundy. I think they should coach the Charlotte Bobcats, so they can torment Pat Riley four times a year in divisional play and give Adam Morrison's mustache the tutelage it needs. Also, the Charlotte job guarantees that neither Van Gundy ends up in Indianapolis, Memphis, or Sacramento, and you simply cannot put a price on that.