The lingering bitterness being felt by Mike Fratello was readily discernable as we spoke on the phone earlier this week.
The first coach to be fired this season gave ESPN.com a gauge of his grief:
"After it happens, you look back after a while and evaluate it -- and not just my situation, but any coaching change. If it takes the team in the correct direction, then obviously it was a good change. But if the team is going in the same direction, maybe people need to look elsewhere as to what the reasons are. Last I looked, the Grizzlies had the worst record in the NBA, and that speaks for itself," Fratello said.
A similar level of bitterness is no doubt being felt by Terry Stotts, who has not spoken publicly since he was fired last week as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. A source close to the team told ESPN.com that Stotts hastened his own departure by confronting management regarding its plans for assistant Larry Krystkowiak, who ended up replacing him.
Dwane Casey knows what Stotts is feeling right about now because he went through it eight weeks ago when the Minnesota Timberwolves fired him and promoted Randy Wittman. Not that Casey is rooting against the Wolves, but he's taking some emotional solace from the fact that they're 8-17 under Wittman after being 20-20 when he was let go.
"I've been making a list, writing down all the things I did right and all the things I did wrong, trying to improve from the experience, because if I'm not improving as a person from the experience, shame on me," Casey told ESPN.com. "Hopefully I'll be able to look back on this list in the future and learn from it."
Fratello, Casey and Stotts are the only three coaches to lose their jobs this season, although the Charlotte Bobcats recently announced that Bernie Bickerstaff will not return as coach next season. The Sixers took the pre-emptive measure of announcing a week ago that Maurice Cheeks will be their coach next season, despite much speculation to the contrary, given Larry Brown's looming presence. And the Orlando Magic issued a somewhat more lukewarm vote of confidence in Brian Hill.