I seem to be in a major ranking/grading/evaluating the whole NBA-mode, so today we’re gonna check out which coaches might not make it through the season. Every year it seems like about six coaches are fired in the middle of the 82 game grind. And a few more who made it through the grist then are shown the exit during the summer. But we just finished one summer, so we ain’t talking about the next one yet. Just this upcoming season. Who’s Bulletproof? Who’s on the Hot Seat? And where does everyone else stand and why? Well, you’re lucky ‘cuz we’s about’s ta answer these questions fer ya.
Bulletproof (again, for this upcoming season only):
Doc Rivers – Celtics
George Karl – Nuggets: He might quit if it’s too grueling, but ya can’t fire a guy coming back from cancer. Ya just can’t. If you disagree, grow a heart, dude.
Phil Jackson – Lakers
Gregg Popovich – Spurs
Jerry Sloan – Jazz
95% Bulletproof, aka Impervious:
Scott Brooks – Thunder: After their insane turnaround, playoff performance and the unbelievable emergence of Kevin Durant, it’d take a lot to take Brooks down.
Stan Van Gundy – Magic
Rick Adelman – Rockets
Vinny Del Negro – Clippers: Donald Sterling hates to pay coaches for not working. Add that to the fact that The Donald waited through 537 seasons of Dunleavy losing before giving Mikey the axe, and it’s a safe bet that even if Del Negro is godawful, he’ll still have a job all season.
Tom Thibodeu – Bulls
Larry Brown – Bobcats: The Cats could fall apart, and Michael Jordan would still likely give his fellow Tarheel the full season. Particularly since MJ was the one who traded away half their good players.
Byron Scott – Cavs: The national expectations are so low that it’d be hard to fire him even though Cleveland and Dan Gilbert do/should expect the team can compete for a playoff spot. As I’ve said before, I also believe this team will do far better than the pundits are prognosticating. Ohh, it’s fun to say prognosticate rather than predict. Makes ya feel all smart-like.
Rick Carlisle – Mavericks: Mark Cuban has only fired a coach mid-season (Don Nelson) when he had a clear heir apparent (Avery Johnson) on the sidelines. That said, Jason Kidd has been known to be a bit of a coach killer when he’s unhappy, so if things go really, really poorly, and Kidd is really, really pissy, there’s a really, really small chance that Cuban wouldn’t let Carlisle finish the season.
Alvin Gentry – Suns: Gentry’s done a pretty good job, and with owner Robert Sarver having let Amar’e walk, it’d be hard for him to punish Gentry if the team’s worse this year. And with Nash still around, no way this team truly sucks.
Scott Skiles – Bucks: He brought respectability back to Milwaukee last year, so even if somehow the team were to take a step back, he probably doesn’t need to Fear The Deer decapitating him. Sure, he does tend to grate on players after a few years, but he’s only had young phenom Brandon Jennings for one season, so that shouldn’t be an issue yet. Then again, he’s been with Andrew Bogut longer, and the big Aussie has been known to speak his mind when he dislikes something.
Erik Spoelstra – Heat: After the flack Riley took for ousting Stan Van, I think it’s safe to say Spoelstra will have at least one full season to show what he can do. But if they don’t get rings this season, all bets are off for the next one…
Lionel Hollins – Grizzlies: Due to their nice turnaround last year and owner Michael Heisley’s record of cheapnosity, it seems unlikely they’d fire him even if the team underperforms.
Avery Johnson – Nets: The team sucked so much last year, that even if Johnson is a complete failure they should still be better. He should probably be in the “Pretty Safe” category, but I haven’t gotten a feel yet for how their new 6’6 Russian owner will run things. Is he the type to make an example of Johnson if the team isn’t as good as they can be? Or is he the type who believes Johnson should get at least a full year to show what he’s capable of? Honestly though, I’ve got faith in Avery, so I think he’ll do a decent job this year and won’t be anywhere near the hot seat.
Mike D’Antoni – Knicks: This will be the first year D’Antoni has had decent players, so I expect Donnie Walsh to let Mikey finish out this final season on his contract no matter what. But with James “Can I re-hire Isiah a third time?” Dolan in charge, nuthin’ is predictable in the Big Apple.
Nate McMillan – Blazers: He’s been so good since he came over that maybe he should be in the “Pretty Safe” category too. Then again ex-GM Kevin Pritchard had done a phenomenal job and he was shown the door, so clearly job performance is unrelated to whether you’re fired in Portland. And you think it’s hard to find work in your city? Geeze.
Today was the fun-happy-aren’t-there-such-good-coaches-in-the-NBA part. Tomorrow we go over the bottom two categories, so those of you with sensitive stomachs might wanna avoid it.
Topics: Alvin Gentry, Andrew Bogut, Avery Johnson, Brandon Jennings, Byron Scott, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Doc Rivers, George Karl, Jason Kidd, Larry Brown, Lionel Hollins, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Mike D'Antoni, Milwaukee Bucks, Nate McMillan, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phil Jackson, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Rick Carlisle, Scott Brooks, Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro