Wake-up call: Fisher's deal makes Wittman's a bargain

Wake-up call: Fisher's deal makes Wittman's a bargain
June 10, 2014, 6:00 am
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Randy Wittman just put the finishing touches on a three-year contract worth $3 million per year with the Wizards, but maybe he should request a renegotiation. Look at the salary inflation around the NBA when it comes to coaches' salaries.

Wittman, a player for nine years who has served eight years as a head coach and led the Wizards to the playoffs for the first time in six years, won 44 games and advanced to the second round. Wittman has put in 22 years on NBA benches

But this is 2014. The pull-yourself-up-by-your-coaching-bootstraps model is dated. The less experience the better.

Derek Fisher is going the route of Jason Kidd of the Brooklyn Nets. After playing his 17th season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Fisher is on the verge of finalizing a five-year deal worth $25 million with the New York Knicks to replace the fired Mike Woodson. 

Kidd played his 19th and final season with the Knicks last season and went directly to the sideline with the Nets. His contract was more modest with four years, the last one not guaranteed, for $10 million. Kidd beat out Brian Shaw, a former NBA guard who served for seven years as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers, for the job. Kidd still led the Nets to the second round of the playoffs.

Something about the success of point guards such as Kidd, and Mark Jackson who led the Golden State Warriors to a 51-win season despite no previous experience, has inspired this surge. Jackson was fired after this season ended because of internal conflicts with ownership. 

And before the Knicks settled on Fisher, they fell short of their No. 1 target Steve Kerr. He has already signed the same deal with the Warriors that Fisher is receiving: five years, $25 million. Though Kerr is a former player with front office experience as GM of the Phoenix Suns, he has never coached and has spent most of his time in the broadcast booth. 

Long before these players, Doc Rivers went straight from the broadcast booth to the sideline with the Orlando Magic as their head coach in 1999, has won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics and is regarded as one of the league's elite. 

What's so different now? Jackson, who is now the Knicks' president in charge of turning around that troubled franchise. Jackson has 11 rings with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls, and if he shows interest the value of a coaching candidate skyrockets.

So get used to it. No-experience coaches are the in-thing for now, until somebody fails miserably. 

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