The New York Knicks have had a recent history of Type A - or even Type AA or AAA - coaches. From Hubie Brown to Rick Pitino, from Pat Riley to Jeff Van Gundy, the Knicks were often as overcoached as they were overanalyzed by a media crowd that rivals the one covering the war in Afghanistan.
Now the landscape has changed, with assistant coach Don Chaney taking over after Van Gundy's sudden resignation Dec. 8.
Chaney, Coach of the Year with the Houston Rockets in 1990-91, already has stated that he doesn't plan on working 18-hour days and watching game tape in the middle of the night, two habits that made some label Van Gundy "Van Grumpy."
"With Coach Chaney, it's like night and day," said center Marcus Camby. "We still work hard, but at the end of the day, there's more smiles around here now. It's been more laid back, more loose. ... Hopefully, that can be a good sign, and guys can just relax and play their games."
Camby responded by grabbing 22 rebounds in a victory over Indiana in Chaney's coaching debut with the Knicks. It has been evident in the four games New York has played under Chaney that the Knicks will open up their offense, but given their 1-3 record you have to wonder how much defense is being sacrificed.
"You can't just be a great defensive team and not be able to score. You can't win that way," Chaney said.
The Knicks had been the fourth-lowest scoring team in the league this season but also the second-best defensive team. They had started to turn things around before Van Gundy left, with five wins in the six games before his resignation. They are 6-4 since Camby returned from a foot injury.
Chaney has no guarantees past this season despite having coached the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers before coming to New York as an assistant under Riley seven years ago.
"I want to do the best I can do for the duration of this contract, which is this season," Chaney said. "You have to win to have longevity and to survive, but I've been around long enough and I've been in the last year of a contract before, and it doesn't bother me."
Not passing the buck
After starting the season 9-1, the Milwaukee Bucks lost five straight games, and things appeared to be unraveling for a team picked by many to win the Eastern Conference this season. Many of the problems centered around a deteriorating relationship between coach George Karl and star Glenn Robinson.
It didn't seem to be a coincidence that when Karl left the team for two games after the death of his father, the Bucks won both.
"When George left, he left us with a lot of negativity as far as what we were doing on the floor," said guard Ray Allen, who also has butted heads with Karl this season. "He had ingrained that in our minds. In the two games he wasn't there, we didn't think about losing five in a row."
Though the Bucks lost to the Miami Heat on Monday in Karl's first game back, things seemed to be a bit more relaxed.
"That's the most comfortable I've felt with the team all year long," said Karl, whose Bucks also beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. "I thought we were playing a little bit like we were last year. We were passing the ball. ... We were a great defensive team down the stretch."
Since he left the University of Maryland more than a decade ago, Tony Massenburg has played for 12 teams in two leagues in three countries.
But Massenburg, 34, hopes that he will finish out his career with the Memphis Grizzlies.
"My life has always been about change," Massenburg said last week. "But I must have been able to do something right."
Massenburg doesn't think he should be considered a candidate for the somewhat dubious NBA record set by Chucky Brown, who played for 11 teams in a 12-year career. Officially, Massenburg has played for 10 NBA teams (and two Spanish league teams) since being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round in 1990.
Released by the Spurs during his rookie season, he was given 10-day contracts by three other teams. This marks his second stay with the Grizzlies, the first having been the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons in Vancouver. He spent one year in Houston before returning with the Grizzlies before last season.
Massenburg has averaged more than seven points and nearly five rebounds in his career. He traces his unsettled existence back to his years at Maryland, where he played for three coaches in five years, starting with Lefty Driesell and winding up with Gary Williams.
"I think we had a stigma on us," Massenburg said. "There were a lot of guys I played with who should have played in the NBA but didn't get that chance, guys like Keith Gatlin and Derrick Lewis and Rudy Archer."
Despite being a backup for most of his career, Massenburg has managed to carve out a decent career, because at 6 feet 9 and 250 pounds, he can play all three frontcourt positions.
"He's a good guy and a good guy to have on your team," said Grizzlies general manager Billy Knight.
Must be some good Harry Potter karma going on. The Wizards have won five straight and seven of their past nine. The emergence of third-year guard Richard Hamilton (34 points Friday against New York) as a consistent scorer takes a lot of pressure off Michael Jordan, but the loss of veteran forward Christian Laettner could leave Washington thin up front.
The Los Angeles Lakers. What's going on in LaLa land? The Lakers had lost two in a row before beating the Clippers on Friday night. OK, enough kidding. It's really still the Houston Rockets, whose losing streak hit 13 games after last night's 73-70 defeat to the Miami Heat.
Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.