Coach Chuck Daly's contract with the Pistons expires on June 1, and so far he has had no conversation with the Detroit hierarchy about his future. Meanwhile, the Spurs will finish the season with an acknowledged stop-gap guy—Bob Bass, San Antonio's vice-president of basketball operations—calling the shots on the bench. Don't Daly and the Spurs sound like a match? Consider these ingredients:
?It is no secret that Daly does not have a good relationship with Piston general manager Jack McCloskey, and Daly is not particularly close to Detroit owner William Davidson. Moreover, the Pistons have never been the easiest team to coach, not even during their heady championship seasons back in 1989 and '90.
?If he left Detroit, Daly would only consider coaching a contender; he will turn 62 on July 20 and doesn't have the inclination to work with second-line talent.
?According to sources close to the Pistons, Daly and Bass arc old friends. Daly would want considerable, if not final, say in personnel matters, and that could be worked out more easily with Bass.
?Spur owner Red McCombs likes and respects Spur assistant Gregg Popovich. who was retained after Larry Brown was fired last week. But if McCombs is really serious about Popovich, why didn't he promote him right away? Chances are McCombs will go for a marquee name to replace the marquee name he dismissed.
But Daly could have plenty of choices other than San Antonio, because job opportunities will be plentiful around the league. Even given that an NBA coach has the shelf life of a banana, the number of them perched on the edge nearly defies belief; it is easier, in fact, to name the coaches who will not be fired at the end of the season. They are Rick Adelman of the Trail Blazers, Cotton Fitzsimmons of the Suns, Chris Ford of the Celtics. Phil Jackson of the Bulls, George Karl of the Sonics, Kevin Loughery of the Heat, Don Nelson of the Warriors, Pat Riley of the Knicks, Jerry Sloan of the Jazz, Wes Unseld of the Bullets, Bob Weiss of the Hawks and Lenny Wilkens of the Cavs.
What about everyone else? Well, the Bucks' Frank Hamblen and the Kings' Rex Hughes may have been temporary hires. And there's talk that the Lakers' Mike Dunleavy may end up in his old home. Milwaukee. Except for Loughery. the expansion coaches—Allan Bristow of the Hornets, Matt Guokas of the Magic and Jimmy Rodgers of the Timber-wolves—have not won nearly as many games as their owners and fans would like. And there has been turmoil in Dallas, Indiana and Philadelphia that might spell trouble for, respectively. Richie Adubato, Bob Hill and Jimmy Lynam. (Don't count out Brown as a candidate for the Indiana job; he is still close to his old North Carolina chum Donnie Walsh, the Pacer president.) Don Chaney did such a good job last season in Houston that he may have raised expectations too high. Paul Westhead was on thin ice in the thin air of Denver when the season began, although the Nuggets have improved. And who knows what will happen in the confusing kingdoms of the Clippers and the Nets? Not Mike Schuler and Bill Fitch, that's for sure.
Some Choice Thoughts
Choose two or three players from this list of Eastern Conference forwards: Horace Grant ( Bulls), Larry Johnson (Hornets). Scottie Pippen ( Bulls), Dennis Rodman (Pistons), Dominique Wilkins (Hawks) and Kevin Willis (Hawks). Choose two or three of these Eastern guards: Michael Adams (Bullets), Joe Dumars (Pistons), Reggie Lewis ( Celtics). Reggie Miller (Pacers) and Mark Price (Cavaliers). Last week those were the kinds of tasks facing the NBA coaches, who are charged with completing the rosters for the Feb. 9 All-Star Game in Orlando.