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3 NBA Head Coaches Already On The Hot Seat For 2022

NBA Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks walks off the court after the loss to the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2021 in New York City. The Orlando Magic defeated the New York Knicks 104-98.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

 

Head coaching turnover in the modern NBA happens more frequently than ever before.

Every year, there are a handful of teams that experience turnover.

Sometimes that is due to a coach not meeting team expectations.

Other times it is due to the coach simply walking away.

Either way, the frequent turnover is typically in response to the ever-increasing desire to win.

It is rare for a coach to last longer than five years.

If the team is in a rebuilding phase, they will move on from the current coach when they want somebody to take them to the next level.

If the team considers itself a contender, they will move on from the current coach if the front office feels the coach is not winning enough.

The latter is the case for where the following three coaches find themselves for the 2022-23 season.

If results don’t get better, they will be on the way out.

 

Head Coaches Getting Warm

Think of this as an “honorable mention” section.

These coaches may not yet be on the hot seat but could be in a year or less.

Nate McMillan took over as interim head coach midway through the 2020-21 season after the Atlanta Hawks fired Lloyd Pierce.

And he kept the job for the 2021-22 season after finishing 27-11 and guiding the Hawks to a surprise Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

But he did not build on that strong finish.

The Hawks went 43-39 this year and lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

While the offense continued to hum, any defensive gains realized the year prior were lost.

Another coach who could start to feel the heat in a year is Michael Malone with the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets have consistently been one of the best teams in the NBA for the past five seasons.

They have four straight trips to the NBA playoffs and one Western Conference Finals appearance.

And even last year when they were missing two of their best players in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets still finished 48-34.

But Denver will need to see some real results if they have a full roster this year.

Malone will be entering his eighth season with the franchise and has a 21-27 postseason record to show for it.

The Nuggets will have the talent to compete for a title.

Anything short of being a true contender could put Malone on the hot seat.

 

3. Dwane Casey, Detroit Pistons

First up is the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, Dwane Casey.

A former Coach of the Year while with Toronto, Casey was brought in before the 2018 season to help lead Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond to the playoffs.

Which he did – but then promptly got swept in the first round.

Since then, the Pistons have pivoted into a rebuild.

Griffin and Drummond are no longer with the team and Cade Cunningham was selected first overall last year to be the franchise cornerstone.

Alongside Cunningham are some other intriguing young pieces.

Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and Killian Hayes are all younger than 22 and have shown plenty of promise.

They will be joined next year by the fifth pick in this year’s draft, whoever that may be.

Casey may stick around for the rest of the year.

A coach with 13 years of head coaching experience can be valuable to player development.

But that is not what Casey was brought here to do.

The Pistons hired him to win, not lead a rebuild.

And at 65 years old with a 63-157 record over the past three seasons, Detroit may want a fresh voice in the locker room.

A slow start in The Motor City could mean Casey is out the door quickly next year.

 

2. Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Next up on the list is Tom Thibodeau, the head coach of the New York Knicks.

Until Thibodeau arrived, the Knicks had not made the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.

With a Big Two of Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, Thibs was brought in to end the postseason drought.

And similar to Casey, he did just that.

The Knickerbockers went 41-31, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.

For the first time in seven years, Madison Square Garden would host a playoff series.

It would up being short-lived as Trae Young and the upstart Hawks dispatched them in five games.

But hopes were high in the Big Apple for the future.

Randle and Barrett would continue to lead the way while big offseason acquisitions would help jumpstart a poor offense.

That was not the case.

After being the stingiest defense in the league in terms of points allowed in 2020-21, New York fell to sixth this past year.

Meanwhile, the offense remained stuck in neutral in 26th place.

New York dropped to 37-45 this year and did not even sniff the playoffs.

Thibodeau has a history of overworking players and quickly wearing out his welcome.

Without a substantial turnaround in play, the Knicks will almost certainly be looking for a new head coach next year.

 

1. Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers

Last but not least is Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers for the past two seasons.

A coach who has seemingly been riding off his own coattails from his time in Boston.

Nine seasons with the Celtics yielded a 416-305 record, two trips to the NBA Finals, and one title.

Since then, Rivers has continued to be one of the best NBA regular-season coaches out there.

He has amassed a 456-262 record across seven seasons with the Clippers and two with the 76ers.

The postseason success has not followed.

After going 59-47 with the Celtics, Rivers was 27-32 with the Clippers and is 13-11 with Philly.

He has not made a Conference Finals with either team.

In 2020-21, Rivers can point to the collapse of starting point guard Ben Simmons.

This past year, poor injury timing with Joel Embiid cut short what could have been a strong playoff run.

But for a team as desperate to win as the 76ers, even valid excuses will not be enough for much longer.

Embiid has finished second in the MVP race two years in a row.

Simmons was shipped out in a deal to bring in James Harden.

And with another offseason from Daryl Morey to construct a strong roster, all eyes will be on Rivers to deliver this time around.

Anything short of a run to the Eastern Conference Finals would be the end of Rivers’ tenure in Philly.




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