Bobcats Fire Vincent

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Sam Vincent was fired by the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday after one turmoil-filled season as coach.
Part-owner Michael Jordan, who has the final say on all basketball decisions, dismissed Vincent less than a year after he gambled by giving him his first NBA head coaching job.
Struggling to find a consistent rotation and clashing with players, the inexperienced Vincent led the Bobcats to a 32-50 record in a season the fourth-year franchise felt confident would end with its first playoff berth.
"The decision to remove Sam as head coach after just one season was difficult, but it was a decision that had to be made because my first obligation is to do what is in the best interest of our team," Jordan said in a statement.
Attempts to reach Vincent Saturday were unsuccessful. A team spokesman said Vincent planned to wait until Sunday to talk to reporters.
Vincent's ouster means Larry Brown could quickly become a candidate for the job. Brown and Jordan have a history from their ties to North Carolina, and Brown's mother lives in Charlotte.
Brown, who has been out of coaching since he was fired after just one season in New York in 2006, resigned as executive vice president of the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
Brown did not immediately return a phone message Saturday. Brown's agent, Joe Glass, refused to discuss the Charlotte job Saturday, but said his client is eager to return to coaching.
"Larry is interested in getting back into coaching in the pros or college," Glass said.
When Bernie Bickerstaff stepped down as coach to take a job in the front office at the end of the 2006-07 season, Jordan said he was looking for a young coach in the mold of Avery Johnson of the Dallas Mavericks.
Vincent, a former first-round pick of the Boston Celtics and Jordan's one-time teammate in Chicago, had worked for one year under Johnson in Dallas, his only NBA coaching experience.
Jordan said he was intrigued by Vincent's international experience. Vincent coached the Nigerian women's national team, and had coaching stints in South Africa, Greece and The Netherlands. Vincent was coaching in the NBA Development League before going to Dallas.
Vincent was given a four-year contract by the Bobcats, but only the first two years were guaranteed.
Vincent entered the job confident, saying on the day he was introduced that he'd be "incredibly discouraged and disappointed" if the Bobcats didn't make the playoffs this season. The Bobcats also significantly increased their payroll by acquiring Jason Richardson in a draft night trade with Golden State and re-signing Gerald Wallace to a big free-agent deal.
But the Bobcats got off to a poor start as Vincent clearly suffered growing pains. He struggled to define roles for players, constantly shuttling Raymond Felton between point guard and shooting guard. Matt Carroll, a 3-point specialist, saw little playing time early in the season. Rookie Jared Dudley also played little.
Vincent constantly switched from small to big lineups and angered players for questioning their effort and commitment in front of reporters. Charlotte was also hampered by the lack of depth in the frontcourt after season-ending knee injuries to Adam Morrison and Sean May.
While majority owner Bob Johnson gave Vincent a vote of confidence late in the season, Jordan was mum on the issue, saying he would decide on Vincent's fate after the season.
Charlotte finished with one fewer win than in 2006-07.
Vincent becomes the second coach to last just one season in Jordan's checkered history as an NBA executive. Leonard Hamilton resigned after going 19-63 with the Washington Wizards in 2000-01.
Jordan was eventually fired by the Wizards. He bought a minority stake in the Bobcats in 2006 and took over the decision-making from Bickerstaff.
But Jordan has failed to produce a playoff team, and now he's looking for a coach for the second straight spring.
The 67-year-old Brown, popular in the area because of his ties to the Tar Heels, could give the struggling franchise a spark. Charlotte ranked 24th out of 30 teams in attendance this season and fans have been slow to warm up to a new team after the Hornets left for New Orleans in 2002.
Brown, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, is one of five NBA coaches with at least 1,000 victories and led the Detroit Pistons to the NBA title in 2004. But Brown has had messy divorces from several jobs and has coached eight NBA teams.
He would also likely command a salary much larger than Vincent, who made about $1.5 million this season. Johnson has said he's lost millions on the team since paying $300 million for the expansion franchise.


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