Bob MacKinnon Out as Idaho Stampede Head Coach
"I don't know that anything went wrong," Stampede managing investor Bill Ilett told the Idaho Statesman Thursday. "But maybe the job wasn't quite what Coach wanted it to be. ... Nothing went wrong, but maybe we weren't hitting on all cylinders."
If I allow myself to read into this quote, it seems as though this parting of ways wasn't exactly as mutual as the press release suggested.
According to Ilett's quotes from the Idaho Press-Tribune, it seems the Stampede weren't happy with MacKinnon's performance.
"There is a little bit of philosophy difference of where I thought we were going and where Bob thought we were going on and off the court."
Ilett also told the Press-Tribune that he's looking for a coach not only to win games but also put down roots by being involved in the community and living in Boise year round.
The problem I see, however, is that it seems Stampede ownership is overlooking the "NBA Development" aspect of the NBA Development League.
MacKinnon, along with assistant Joel Abelson, put together a draft that Jon at Ridiculous Upside was fairly impressed with and it continued onto the court as the Stampede won 11 of their first 16 games.
The day before that 16th game, the Stampede's point guard and leading scorer, Sundiata Gaines, was called up to the Utah Jazz for the remainder of the season. The very next game Gaines' backup, Lanny Smith, suffered a season-ending knee injury. One week later Anthony Tolliver, the early favorite for the D-League's Most Valuable Player, was called up to the Golden State Warriors, effectively ending his season with the Stampede, as well.
The Stampede were able to replace some of the outgoing talent with the acquisition of Coby Karl, who was released by the Cleveland Cavaliers in early January, though Karl would soon be called up to the Warriors, as well, before eventually finishing the season with the Denver Nuggets.
All of that is essentially a long way of saying that it seemed as though MacKinnon did what the NBA D-League is designed to do: develop players for the next level. Gaines was able to break out with the Jazz when he hit a game-winning 3-pointer on TNT, Tolliver was solid all season for the Warriors and Karl's two call-ups show that MacKinnon didn't hinder his development.
While winning and developing talent aren't mutually exclusive, it would make sense that a league that prides itself so much on the development of players that it names itself as such would give more leeway to coaches that do their best to do just that.
For a preliminary look at possible candidates for this opening, I've started a list at Ridiculous Upside of coaches who have been connected to the job in the past.