Bosses Leave Lawrence Frank Flapping in the New Jersey Wind

Frank's future is uncertain after Nets miss playoffs

Of the limited coaching carousel, few spots held actual uncertainty. One of these mysteries can be found in lovely East Rutherford, where the Nets coach Lawrence Frank continues to await his verdict.

This is not a situation in which mysterious anonymice appear in the New York media suggesting that Nets management might make a play for Avery Johnson or some such all while giving Frank the doomed "vote of confidence" in public. No, Nets boss Rod Thorn is quite transparently on the fence about whether to retain Frank. It's a bit refreshing, really. Refreshing and, in the end, irrational.

Questioning the success of a coach after a lottery season, you'll see no quarrel there. Coaches are far easier replaced than players in this league. If a new voice will improve results, a new voice should be acquired.

But Thorn told assembled media Wednesday that the consideration delaying his decision is whether Frank's voice still resonates with the team. Al Iannazzone of the Nets Insider summarizes.

Q: What are you weighing?

Thorn: "Is the voice still pertinent? Do I think the team will reach whatever its limitations are? Are we still headed in the right direction? Those types of things." [...]

Q: You realize people will interpret that Frank is out?

Thorn: "I realize I'm probably being naïve, but I don't think people should interpret it any way. It's just an organization trying to do its due diligence, trying to think where it is, where it's going, without any decision being made yet."

Thorn is being incredibly naive if he believes his very hedging hasn't damaged Frank beyond repair. Players hardly need impetus to doubt their coach. But by publicly questioning whether Frank has the right voice, by providing the dough of doubt, already risen and kneaded -- Thorn's killed Frank's power. Image is everything, perception the only fact needed in crises of confidence. If the Nets brass has to think twice (or two dozen times) about whether Frank maintains power, well the bones have already been cast, friends. Frank is toast. If not now, in December.

This fits into an issue (which perhaps should not be broached here), one in which team presidents and the like fear looking like the over-expectant, heavy-handed pessimists at season's end only to become treble the troubling boss at the start of the following campaign. Thunder management knew P.J. Carlesimo wouldn't be any better a general in 2008-09 before allowing him to take the team through training camp and a dozen or so games. The Grizzlies knew Marc Iavaroni was problematic with regard to Rudy Gay and Mike Conley.

But to avoid looking rash, these managers only delayed the inevitable. As preemptive foam collects in anticipation of Thorn cutting Frank free (see Dave D'Alessandro for a top choice example), Thorn may very well pardon himself from criticism this summer by granting Frank a stay. But again, his indecisiveness (which could apparently be blamed on his bosses, but whatever -- title comes with culpability) has doomed Frank! Thorn has doomed himself! And the cycle goes on ...

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