- NBA Coaches - One Month Gone but who’s under pressure?
NBA Coaches - One Month Gone but who’s under pressure?
new NBA season is a month old and patterns are already emerging. The
West looks much stronger than the East. The Southwest Division is
brutal, where New Orleans currently sit in last place with a 7-6 record
at time of writing. The East looks to be quite open as the favourites,
Cleveland Cavaliers have got off to a slow start, while the Bulls are
already dealing with injuries (wrapping Derrick Rose in cotton wool,
sitting him more often than he is playing).
There are teams who have got off to really disappointing starts and
might start feeling the heat from owners and fans for the performance
so far. It has to be said that in-season sackings are not frequent in
the NBA. Last season saw one dismissal mid-season – Maurice Cheeks was fired
by the Detroit Pistons – although 2012-13 saw a bit more in-season
blood-letting with four coaches losing their jobs during the regular
season. The time to dismiss is usually after the season finishes.
Coaching turnover at the end of last season saw nine coaching positions
Who could be on the hot seat at this time? Let’s look at the East in this piece, where there are a number of struggling teams.
New York Knicks & Brooklyn Nets – Both changed coaches at the end of last season, and the Knicks have installed Phil Jackson
in the front office who will preach stability, even if Derek Fisher is
off to a slow start. The Nets had a stormy relationship with Jason Kidd
(who left for Milwaukee) and Lionel Hollins may not be enough of a
marquee name for a franchise with big ambitions, although major
problems with an ageing staff and salary constraints should be taken
into account when judging him. I don’t believe either coach is in
difficulty at this stage.
Cavaliers were many people’s favourites for the Eastern Conference, and
with Lebron and Love joining a young core of talent, things looked
optimistic. However they have had a slow start. Fingers might be
pointed at the coach, David Blatt, if this continues, as there is a
fervent fan base demanding success by the shores of Lake Erie. Blatt is
new to the NBA, coming in from Europe and international basketball, and
he may be deemed the easiest to dump if things don’t work out. It is
really early to point fingers, but Blatt will feel the pressure.
The Difficulties of Expectation
There were high hopes for the Charlotte Hornets,
but the season hasn’t started well in Carolina. Steve Clifford got a
lot of praise for taking the Bobcats – as they were - to the Play-Offs
last season, but now may have to deal with the rise in expectations
that came with it. At the moment, Charlotte are bottom of the SouthEast
Division, on a seven game losing streak and looking like losing touch
with postseason contention , even at this early stage. It doesn’t pay
to raise hopes. This may be Clifford’s downfall.
Can They Get Any Worse?
The Philadelphia 76ers are bad. Very bad.
Historically bad. At time of writing they are 0-15. They can lose by
50, they can pull defeats from victories. How much of this is blamed on
the Head Coach, Brett Brown? Well, not a lot given the roster the Front
Office have put together. That doesn’t stop the coach getting fired
though, even if the people putting the team together are not doing
their jobs. Brett Brown was an assistant at the San Antonio Spurs, and
may wish he was still there. This won’t end well for him.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I have a feeling that if the Chicago Bulls don’t make the Finals, the Thom Thibodeau
era may be over in Chicago. The knock on Thibs is that he works the
players too hard, and that as a result, come the play-offs, they are
spent. This isn’t particularly fair, as the only season he had his star
player with him for the whole play-offs they were beaten by the Miami
Heat in the Conference Finals. In others, they’ve almost over-achieved.
This season there doesn’t seem to be as formidable a foe for the Bulls
as the Heat, and Chicago is a deep team. A failure to make progress may
mean the Chicago tide turning against Thibodeau. One to watch for.
Detroit are off to a terrible start, but this is a
rebuilding project for Stan Van Gundy, and it would be harsh to pin
much of the blame on him at this time. Toronto and Washington are the
two good news stories in the East, so no problems there. Indiana are
hamstrung by the loss of key players through free agency and injury and
their fall from the top of the East shouldn’t be pinned on Frank Vogel.
The Celtics, Hawks and Magic are all where they should be with the
squads they have, while Milwaukee have started well under Jason Kidd.
Also, keep an eye on the job Eric Spoelstra is doing without LeBron.
The Heat have a better record than the Cavaliers at this early stage.
Who would have thought that after this summer's events?