A few NBA teams have already parted ways with their head coaches after disappointing seasons. Some of the dismissals came as a surprise (Frank Vogel in Indiana, Dave Joerger in Memphis); others did not (George Karl in Sacramento, Byron Scott with the Lakers).
The way the Magic and Grizzlies are fighting over Vogel, you get the sense that the Pacers don’t realize how good they had it. It’s not easy to find a steady hand to guide your ship. There are only so many Gregg Popoviches in the world. Watching teams try to find the right coaching fit is a lot like watching Rajon Rondo shoot free-throws: the mechanics look right, but the outcome is usually disappointing.
That’s not going to stop other teams from dismissing their bosses if 2016-17 doesn’t start as planned, of course. Last year, the Rockets made Kevin McHale the first casualty of the year; the Cavs’ David Blatt followed shortly thereafter. Both had gotten at least to the Conference Finals the previous year. With great expectations comes great vulnerability!
Who’s most likely to be kicked to the curb next? Let’s take a look at the odds.
Brown is entering his fourth season with the 76ers, who have easily been the worst franchise in the NBA during his tenure. Zero was expected from the team in his early years as the roster was a who’s-who of absolute nobodies, and injuries kept their top draft picks on the sidelines. But they have the no. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft and lack of talent is no longer an excuse. If they don’t start winning soon, or at least show signs of progress, someone else is going to get a crack in Philly.
Watson took over from Jeff Hornacek on an interim basis in Phoenix last year. The Suns were awful under Hornacek (14-35). They were worse under Watson (9-24). This team challenged for a playoff spot in 2014-15. If Watson can’t get them back to the realm of competitive, his tenure could be very short. And looking at the roster, competitive is going to be a challenge in the mighty West.
Milwaukee has a team full of young talent and was expected to do better last season. After going 41-41 and making the playoffs in Kidd’s first year, last year’s 33-49 regression has the former point guard on the hot-seat. If Milwaukee doesn’t look destined for a playoff spot early next year, Kidd could be gone.
The Pelicans are another team that drastically underperformed last season. Yes, Anthony Davis was injured for much of the year. But New Orleans was already out of the playoff picture before Davis ever went down, starting the year 4-13. The Pelicans front office wants to win and win now. Heck, they fired Monty Williams after he took the team to the 2014-15 playoffs. If this year starts like last, Gentry will be landing on the open market.
Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls): 8/1
David Joerger (Sacramento Kings): 12/1
Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers): 14/1
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])
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