With the season entering the home stretch, it’s time to look at the NBA coaches who are sitting on the hot seat. Several coaches have fallen short of expectations, and their fanbases are expecting sweeping changes before the draft in June. The Chicago Bulls (Fred Hoiberg) and Minnesota Timberwolves (Tom Thibodeau) already dropped the coaches who started the season on the bench, and we suspect more bench bosses need to watch their backs as the season winds down.
Keep in mind one or two of the coaches listed below may survive to start another season, but don’t expect all of them to keep residency in their current zip codes. Here’s a look at the five NBA coaches most likely to get fired at the end of the season.
Luke Walton — Los Angeles Lakers
You can’t start any list of coaches on the hot seat without Luke Walton. Once LeBron James signed with the Lakers, it was only a matter of time before Walton’s job would come into question. A roster full of veterans and key young draft picks didn’t mesh well once injuries took a toll on the team.
The Lakers went from sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference standings on Christmas Day to completely out of the playoff picture by St. Patrick’s Day, marking the first time in 14 seasons LeBron won’t be in the playoffs. Expect Walton to be fired at the end of the year, allowing Magic Johnson to bring in a coach equipped to handle the pressure of coaching LeBron (Jason Kidd maybe?).
Alvin Gentry — New Orleans Pelicans
At the start of this season, the Pelicans looked like a potential sleeper to challenge the Warriors and Rockets out West, but once Anthony Davis requested a trade, Alvin Gentry’s chances of remaining head coach dwindled. It didn’t help that former GM Dell Demps offered up trade packages to reportedly spite the Lakers advances, ultimately costing him his job.
The new leaders of the front office will have to take a close look at Gentry, who has been an excellent assistant coach but hasn’t been able to put it together as the leading man, with just three playoff appearances in 16 seasons.
Scott Brooks — Washington Wizards
Oklahoma City thrived under Scott Brooks, and with the trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter, Washington was expected to be a force in the Eastern Conference with Brooks at the hel. That hasn’t worked out this season, which is why Brooks is one of the NBA coaches sitting on the hot seat. Wall is on the shelf with an injury, and he has a huge contract extension set to kick in. The Wizards traded Porter to Chicago, and Beal is stuck carrying the team.
Fans should expect Brooks to be gone at the end of this season as the team looks to start a rebuild. That could mean dumping Wall’s contract and focusing on finding a star that gets along with Beal on the court to play alongside him.
Larry Drew — Cleveland Cavaliers
The post-LeBron era has gotten off to a terrible start for the Cavs. Coach Drew and company are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and although Collin Sexton looks like a promising combo guard, the team still lacks a true playmaker.
The front office may give Drew one more year, but it seems unlikely. If Drew doesn’t survive the season, then look for Cleveland to find a coach that can push the tempo and hopefully draft a big man to create a one-two punch with Sexton.
Igor Kokoskov — Phoenix Suns
This is the least likely scenario out of all the coaches on this list, but the Suns are going nowhere fast. This could be due to a lack of continuity in the front office, as the team has had three head coaches in the last three seasons. Poor drafting (besides Devin Booker) should also be taken into account, as DeAndre Ayton has played very well, but isn’t on the level of Luka Doncic, Trae Young, or Marvin Bagley, three Rookie of the Year candidates drafted after him.
For Kokosov to save his job the Suns might need to end the season on a winning streak, which is unlikely in the tougher of the two conferences.
Which NBA coaches o do you think will get fired?
Going over the coaches on this list who do you expect to get their walking papers when the season comes to a close? Are there more than five candidates to get their pink slips?