Jackson took note of Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo's presence on Toronto's current road trip and thought it was a pretty clear sign Mitchell was in trouble.
"Some friends said [Colangelo] felt he had to go out and watch the team and that caused some suspicions on my part," Jackson said Wednesday night before the Lakers played the 76ers. "There had to be something going on there."
There was, none of it good. Toronto (8-9) lost to the Lakers on Sunday, then got blown out, 132-93, in Denver Tuesday night. Mitchell, the 2006-07 NBA coach of the year, couldn't survive that fiasco.
"It’s the curse of the coach of the year," Jackson said. "It’s a thing that we’ve seen time and time again. A guy takes a team that is struggling, rights it and gets it going, and then a lot’s expected. This year’s been a real struggle for them. But he’ll find another job. He’s done a good job."
Mitchell orchestrated a 20-game turnaround in Toronto, guiding a team that won 27 games in 2005-06 to a franchise record-tying 47 wins in '06-'07. The Raptors won 41 games last season, making their second straight first-round playoff exit.
"When you’re not doing as well as we think we should, or someone thinks we should, then it happens," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We understand when we take these jobs that expectations and things happen, and we have to live with the good and bad."
Cheeks could be next on the list. The Sixers were expected to make significant strides this season after adding Elton Brand, but they're 8-10 entering Tuesday night's game against the Lakers. Sixers president Ed Stefanski, addressing reporters before the game, gave what sounded sort of like a vote of confidence in Cheeks. The key phrase occurred when Stefanski said he and Cheeks are still communicating. When communication breaks down between a coach and his GM, it's over for the coach.
"Mo is coaching. The players are the players," Stefanski said. "They all have to figure it out, with me. OK? We talk and communicate daily to try to straighten this out. But all of us, including everyone in that locker room, are not happy that we're 8-10 right now."