...should not, at least initially, be judged on the basis of the team's win-loss record. As previously noted,
with or without Skiles, that should definitely improve, simply because the schedule in January gets really, really easy, with a bunch of home games against the dregs of the East and West, and ending with a home-and-home against Minnesota. As Souls of Mischief used to say, "It gets no phatter."
No, the proper metrics, as I see them, are as follows:
1) Increased playing time for Tyrus and Noah: The yo-yoing of their minutes was as good a reason as any to fire Skiles, and while "accountability" is great for the politicians, when it comes to young players, the buzzword should be "development." If Ty's not consistently getting 20-30 min. and Noah 15-20 (at minimum), then firing Skiles probably won't make much difference.
2) A reanimated Corpse: Ben Wallace seems to have been at least somewhat instrumental in the sacking of Skiles, and I suppose it's possible his distaste for Skiles is what's led to his listless, passive play this year. It had better be. There's not a player on this team who has disgusted me more this year than Wallace. I'd rather watch Hinrich bullet a one-handed cross court pass into the seats or Gordon dribble off his foot while trying to ineptly split a double team in crunchtime than Wallace fumble, finger-roll and turnaround fadeaway on the offensive end. Watching that sorry spectacle is like getting a root canal without the aid of novacaine, since his defense and rebounding have been nearly as terrible. At this point, his signing is looking less like an albatross and more like a franchise killer. At least the Heat got a championship out of Shaq; Wallace has given us nothing
. It's time for him to either step up on the court or pout with his fat-ass contract on the bench.
3) Can Thabo Get His Groove Back (or, more precisely, To Begin With)?: After the way he's played this year, I haven't been clamoring for more Sefolosha, and part of me thinks that if your confidence can be wrecked by a coach, your ass, to quote the immortal Bunk, is candy. But a Sefolosha who realized his potential--i.e., a long-armed defender who can facilitate the offense, rebound, and hit open jump shots--would be a real bonus. I'm not necessarily sold that playing him ahead of Du would help this team win right now---Du, incredibly (and tellingly), has been one of our better players this year
---but a good Thabo can do much more than a good Duhon, and whether he can blossom away from Skiles' shadow would be another positive indication that Skiles had to go.
Obviously, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng all need to start playing better, but I'm not sure whether their problems can be as directly linked to Skiles as the players above. Although I suppose if they all step back up to their career levels of production, we'll have even more evidence that Skiles had outstayed his welcome.