It might surprise you to learn that Lawrence Frank is the dean of Eastern Conference coaches. Every other team has made a change on the sideline since Frank replaced Byron Scott on January 26, 2004 which speaks highly of his survival instincts. All things come to an end, however, and Frank's decision to bench Devin Harris and Vince Carter in Saturday's loss to the Celtics may signal that change is coming to the Izod Center.
It wasn't a bad decision. Down 29 at the half, Frank sent a message to his two best players that their effort was unacceptable. The rest of the team responded with a better second half, so strategically it worked out. Coaching in the NBA is much more than X's and O's, however. At least half the job is psychology, and it doesn't appear that Harris was a willing recipient of his bench therapy.
He told the Daily News that higher-ups in the Nets organization weren't on board with the move and that he wasn't "over it" in advance of Wednesday's road game with the Hornets. After tonight's game, the Nets travel to San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City on a trip that could clarify their playoff chances. That they're even entertaining those thoughts is because Harris has played All-Star ball all season, and if Frank can't placate the team's franchise player he could find himself on the unemployment line.
That's how he got the job, after all. Scott was the winningest coach in Nets history with two trips to the NBA Finals but Jason Kidd tired of him during the 2003-04 season. The league is about players, not coaches, so Scott was sent packing while Kidd remained in charge on and off the floor.
Harris may not have Kidd's credentials, but he is as important to this Nets team as Kidd was to that one. Frank drew a line in the sand with the benching, and he may be the one who is ultimately forced to cross it.