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Utah Jazz president Frank Layden makes it a point to look at the NBA's coaching carousel each spring, and shakes his head in bewilderment at decisions by his peers.

"Why don't they fire the bum who hired the coaches?" he asks. "That's who they need to fire. We in the NBA need to do a better job of standing behind our coaches."Layden, former Jazz coach, has had the same coach the past eight seasons, making Jerry Sloan a rarity in the NBA. No coach has been with the same team longer.

Sloan is followed in seniority by the Chicago Bulls' Phil Jackson, who won his fourth NBA title in six years on Sunday night, and Houston's Rudy Tomjanovich, who won two of the three NBA titles that the Bulls haven't claimed this decade.

Despite those coaches' success, stability is clearly not cherished.

Coaching tenures are growing shorter. A win-now-or-else mentality runs rampant through league front offices.

There have been nine changes in the head-coaching position since the start of last season, a record turnover for one season. The highest previous total was eight, in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.

The Mavericks fit the current trend, having hired Jim Cleamons, their fifth head coach in five years, to replace Dick Motta.

High turnover is a poor reflection on the league, Layden said, as well as a misguided attempt to solve team problems, which he believes often rest above the coaching level.

"The coach was good enough to be hired by someone, wasn't he? So, if the coach is no longer any good, then the person who hired him is no longer any good, either."

The turnover started early in the 1995-96 season, with Minnesota's Bill Blair, New York's Don Nelson and Phoenix's Paul Westphal, all fired in the first half of the season. Charlotte's Allan Bristow, Milwaukee's Mike Dunleavy, Philadelphia's John Lucas, New Jersey's Butch Beard, Toronto's Brendan Malone and Motta were fired after the regular season.

"Toronto's only been in the league for one year, and they fired their coach? What's that all about? That means whoever hired the coach (Isiah Thomas) should also be fired," Layden said.

While Jackson and Tomjanovich have combined to win the past six NBA titles, Sloan has managed to keep his job - even though the Jazz has never advanced to the NBA Finals and has been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round four of his eight seasons.

"They've treated me real nice here," said Sloan. "The management team we have is, I think, the best in the NBA. I couldn't ask for a better place to coach."