With the news that Larry Brown has decided to leave the Charlotte Bobcats, it’s time to check out what other coaches could be ousted during the remainder of the season. Back in mid-September we ran our views on which coaches were relatively safe and which were not. Shortly after publishing it, one of our top picks to get fired, Don Nelson, unsurprisingly was let go. While we put Larry Brown under 95% Bulletproof, we hadn’t thought of his very obvious past in which he always gets frustrated and leaves a job. The ‘Cats have said that Brown’s departure was a mutual decision, and this is kinda one of those rare instances where I believe that rhetoric. Anyway, let’s get on to the top coaches who might want to be making sure their resumes are updated:
John Kuester – Detroit Pistons: They suck, plus he’s had actual verbal fights with several players already. At best he makes it to the end of the season just ‘cuz GM Joe Dumars knows the team’s gonna be awful no matter what, so why pay for a new coach.
Lionel Hollins – Memphis Grizzlies: The team has regressed and Hollins has hurt his standing by destroying one of their young studs, OJ Mayo, sending him to the bench and cutting down his minutes. Hollins needs either a bunch of wins or for Mayo to return to form and publicly state that he loves coming off the bench.
Paul Westphal – Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans no longer looks like the stud he did last year and this team no longer seems like it could be up and coming. DeMarcus Cousins also seems like he’s not maturing/developing properly, both on and off the court. Westphal hasn’t even been able to find what starting five he wants.
Kurt Rambis – Minnesota Timberwolves: At the beginning of the season I thought Rambis wouldn’t last a month because everyone in the world was wondering why he wasn’t playing their perhaps best player, Kevin Love, more than 24 minutes a game. He’s since realized the folly of his ways and has let the Love fly. But they’re still losing. And if second-year point man Jonny Flynn, newly returned from injury, doesn’t get the minutes and development he needs, that could hurt Rambis’ cause even more.
Scott Skiles – Milwaukee Bucks: After adding a bunch more payroll this summer, the Bucks have looked far worse. Skiles also has a rep of making his teams play excellent defense his first few years by riding them hard, but that same demeanor then makes the players get fed up with him.
Jay Triano – Toronto Raptors: They’ve been awful, but everyone expected them to be awful, so one could even argue that perhaps the fact that they’re only awful as opposed to really awful could keep Triano safe. But like with Westphal, his inability to settle on a rotation hurts his cause. Plus he hasn’t been able to get young guys like DeMar DeRozen and Amir Johnson to improve and produce consistently.
Doug Collins – Philadelphia Sixers: Another bad team, but they’ve come on decently as of late. Then again, high rookie pick Evan Turner hasn’t been getting minutes or showing signs of settling into the NBA.
Flip Saunders – Washington Wizards: Although the team has underperformed, since phenom John Wall has missed so many games already, management likely feels that Flip can’t be judged by the outcome so far. Throw in the recent removal of supposed cancer Gilbert Arenas, plus Josh Howard is only just starting to be healthy enough to get minutes and now they need to incorporate Rashard Lewis, and I expect Saunders to be given a bunch of leeway.
Likely Will Make It Through The Season, But Not The Off-Season:
Monty Williams – New Orleans Hornets: They started the season off great, but since then they’ve been in a free fall. If Monty can right the ship, then all will be well. Otherwise over the summer the Hornets might need to hire a big name coach to convince Chris Paul that they mean business.
Larry Drew – Atlanta Hawks: The team hasn’t looked any better than last year, and often times they’ve looked worse. To get to the next level they need to add more talent, but since that’s not so easy to do, the coach will likely take the fall for the team.
Maybe, Maybe Not:
Nate McMillan – Portland Trail Blazers: They’ve taken a big step back, but that’s understandable when the two players with the most potential (Brandon Roy and Greg Oden) are revealed to have career limiting/ending injury issues. So McMillan shouldn’t be judged for the team’s descent, but that ain’t always the reality.
Avery Johnson – New Jersey Nets: The Little General should be given some time to turn around this franchise, but he hasn’t helped his cause by having issues with Terrence Williams, Troy Murphy and even cornerstone Brook Lopez. If they don’t get Carmelo Anthony, then Johnson better make sure that he gets rookie Derrick Favors to become a factor.
Erik Spoelstra – Miami Heat: It’s all about how this squad does in the playoffs. If they don’t at least make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, Spo could be in trouble due to the high expectations.
Vinny Del Negro – Los Angeles Clippers: If they had any other owner, Del Negro would be much further up this list. Yes, the Clips have sucked hard, but owner Donald Sterling hates to fire coaches because then ya still gotta pay them plus the new guy. Then again, usually The Donald then tries to just not pay the fired coach.
Stan Van Gundy – Orlando Magic: Make no mistake about it, it’s as much due to Van Gundy as it is to Dwight Howard that they’ve become a top team. However, as the team showed by making them recent big blockbuster trades, they realize the clock is ticking and they need Dwight to be happy with where they are. At times Van Gundy has grated on Howard, and if they have another disappointing playoffs, management might feel a new voice is necessary to take this team over the top.
Mike D’Antoni – New York Knicks: A week ago, he wouldn’t have been on the list. It depends what team shows up for the rest of the season: is it the disjointed group that’s lost three in a row (including one against the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers who were in the middle of a ten-game losing streak)? Or is it the exciting offensive bunch that beat the Denver Nuggets? If the team ends up with over 44 wins even without Melo, then D’Antoni’s safe. Basically they just need to keep showing the flashes of brilliance they had during the win streak and Mike is golden.
Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Avery Johnson, Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, Doug Collins, Erik Spoelstra, Flip Saunders, Jay Triano, John Kuester, Kurt Rambis, Larry Brown, Larry Drew, Lionel Hollins, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Mike D'Antoni, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Monty Williams, Nate McMillan, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Paul Westphal, Philadelphia Sixers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Scott Skiles, Stan Van Gundy, Toronto Raptors, Vinny Del Negro, Washington Wizards