Blogtable: Why have no coaches been fired yet this season?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Amazingly, not a single NBA head coach has been fired this season. Will this hold up? And who could be on the hot seat this offseason?
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Steve Aschburner: Never say never, right? Jeff Hornacek in New York surely isn’t buying green bananas. And even with two years on his contract, Earl Watson in Phoenix isn’t so expensive that the Suns wouldn’t consider eating it for a starry replacement. This season’s situation is just different from most because many sagging teams made their changes before it began (Luke Walton/Lakers, Kenny Atkinson/Nets, Frank Vogel/Magic, Dave Joerger/Kings). A couple others are coached by accomplished fellows (Rick Carlisle/Mavericks, Terry Stotts/Blazers). And a couple more (Fred Hoiberg/Bulls, Jason Kidd/Bucks) have job security with their front offices way beyond what reality would suggest. Factor in the guys who are their own bosses, holding both titles as coach and chief basketball exec, well, they’d really need to rankle their owners to suffer any job insecurity. But no one should get too comfy. Teams in this league have shown a willingness to fire playoff coaches, even Coach of the Year winners. No way we start 2017-18 with all 30 of these guys standing.
Fran Blinebury: If you’ve stuck with your guy till now, it makes no sense to fire a coach with a month left on the schedule. As unusual as it’s been for no coach to be fired in a season, for an assortment of reasons, I don’t think there will be a rash of changes over the summer. The top two on the hot seat will be Alvin Gentry and Fred Hoiberg. Gentry has been whipsawed by injuries, but there has been no real sign of progress in two years and it doesn’t appear the blending of DeMarcus Cousins into the program is going well. Hoiberg’s two seasons in Chicago have been mediocre at best and descended into complete dysfunction. Steve Clifford is apparently on the firing line in Charlotte, though he’s only coaching a failed roster that GM Rich Cho and team owner Michael Jordan have handed to him.
Scott Howard-Cooper: This will hold up until the end of the regular season. Then all bets are off. The hottest seats will belong not to the coaches who missed the playoffs, but to those that made the postseason and made an unexpectedly early exit. Some owner who spent a lot of money and didn’t like the return on investment will let his general manager know.
Shaun Powell: Yes, this is one of those quirky years when coaches can take a deep breath. And with the possible exception of Fred Holberg not surviving a housecleaning in Chicago, I don’t anticipate anything happening this summer; the Pelicans will give Alvin Gentry one more try with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. But going into next season, the hot seat will be Gentry, Holberg (if he’s not gone already), Dwyane Casey and maybe Nate McMillan.
John Schuhmann: I’m not sure why you’d fire a coach at this point in the season, so yes, it should hold up. Twenty of the league’s 30 teams have coaches in their first, second or third season. Among the other 10, only the Hornets could be considered a real disappointment this season. But Steve Clifford led a 22-game improvement in his first season in Charlotte and had his team in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency last season. I’d guess that Alvin Gentry and Fred Hoiberg are sitting on the warmest seats, but both of those guys are just finishing up their second season, have additional guaranteed seasons on their contract, and have been given two rosters that don’t work well offensively.
Sekou Smith: You know what happens now, right? Somebody gets run out of town now that some wise guy has bothered to bring the relative calm in the coaching ranks to light. I don’t think you can ever breathe a sigh of relief if you are a coach in this league. Somebody will get run out between now and the Draft, we all know it’s going to happen, no matter how senseless the move might seem. I consider this time the calm before at least a quick storm. There are warm seats on both sides of the conference divide that could heat up as we get closer to the end of the regular season and then into the months leading up to the Draft. Keep your eyes on Fred Hoiberg in Chicago and Jeff Hornacek in New York, not that I think either one of them is ultimately responsible for what’s going on in their respective franchises.
Ian Thomsen: The trend is going to hold up. All of the losing teams are in no position to blame the coach — and that includes Terry Stotts, who has basically maxed out his Blazers the previous three years, and Steve Clifford, who has provided Charlotte with an identity. Fred Hoiberg isn’t getting fired either — the Bulls’ ongoing issues are not his fault so much as they can be traced back to his bosses, who must decide whether they’re trying to win now or are rebuilding for the future.
Lang Whitaker: After so much musical chairs the last few seasons, we were probably due for a period of relative calm. And right now I wouldn’t even say any coaches are on a hot seat, although a few chairs out there must be at least feeling warm. I also wonder if perhaps the next coaching change we see will just be a change by choice, if a coach decides to just walk away and actually get some sleep for a change.
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