With the end of the regular season fast approaching, some NBA teams might be thinking about making a head-coaching change.
There are several coaches who underwhelmed or didn’t meet expectations this season, and it will be interesting to see if they get another chance to make things right or if they get served their walking papers. Here are eight NBA coaches on the hot seat:
Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second year in a row under Hoiberg. With eight games left in the regular season, they trail the Miami Heat by a half-game for the No. 8 seed in the East. Chicago had previously made the playoffs seven years in a row—two straight years under Vinny Del Negro and five straight years under Tom Thibodeau, who Hoiberg replaced in the summer of 2015.
While most of the blame falls on Hoiberg for a largely disappointing season, the front office didn’t do him any favors by signing a pair of 30-something-year-old veterans as the marquee additions in free agency. Rajon Rondo lost the starting point guard job about two months into the season and Dwyane Wade played just 57 games before suffering a season-ending elbow injury.
Still, there were questions about Hoiberg’s hold on the locker room this season, and that’s reason enough to put him on the hot seat.
Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans has a bright future ahead after trading for DeMarcus Cousins this season, but Gentry might not be around to see it. In nearly two seasons at the helm, the Pelicans have failed to significantly improve under Gentry. Last season, they went 30-52 and finished in 12th place in the West. This season, New Orleans is 31-43 and currently in 11th place.
Despite acquiring Cousins before last month’s trade deadline, the team hasn’t been able to make a strong enough push to get into the playoffs. That’s not entirely Gentry’s fault, but it doesn’t make him look good either. You’d think the Pelicans would win more games with two of the best big men in the league playing on the same team. Apparently not.
Steve Clifford, Charlotte Hornets
Clifford’s first season in Charlotte was a huge success. He took over a team that won just 21 games in 2012-13 and transformed it into a playoff team. But the Hornets never got past the first round in two trips to the playoffs, and they might not even make the postseason this year. Charlotte is 2.5 games behind the Heat for the last playoff spot in the East. Losing seven games in January and eight games in February didn’t help.
Clifford helped turn the franchise around, but the Hornets have been inconsistent during his tenure, making the playoffs one year then not making the playoffs the next.
Nate McMillan, Indiana Pacers
Despite the fact that the Pacers might make the playoffs this year, the regular season has been a huge disappointment for them. After making some major upgrades to the roster in the offseason, Indiana was expected to be a serious contender in the East. But with two weeks left, the Pacers are only one game above .500.
McMillan is in his first season as head coach after being promoted from assistant coach last summer. It seems premature to can McMillan after one bad season, but considering the talent this team has, the Pacers should have done a lot better.
Jeff Hornacek, New York Knicks
Derrick Rose called the Knicks a super team before the season started, but they’re not even a playoff team. At 28-46, New York is in 12th place in the East and all but eliminated from playoff contention. Most of the time, one bad season wouldn’t cost a head coach his job, but this is New York we’re talking about.
It’s also worth mentioning that team president Phil Jackson wants to run the triangle offense exclusively next season, and that’s not Hornacek’s style of play. Jackson might as well coach the team himself if he’s going to be calling the shots.
Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn Nets
Atkinson needs time to turn the Nets around, but they might not give it to him if seasons like this are the result. Brooklyn has the worst record in the league at 16-57 and is allowing a league-high 113.3 points per game on defense. But the Nets have shown some improvement as of late, winning seven of their last 15 games.
Keeping Atkinson for at least a few more seasons to see what he can do seems like the most logical plan of action for the Nets. But if a big-name head coach becomes available in the offseason, they might jump at the opportunity.
Frank Vogel, Orlando Magic
It has been rumored that Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers might return to coach the Magic down the road. When exactly is still unknown. But if Rivers were to become available, it sounds like the Magic wouldn’t hesitate to bring him back.
That’s bad news for Vogel, who signed on to coach the Magic for four years last May. But in Vogel’s first season with Orlando, the team is currently tied with Philadelphia for the second-worst record in the East at 27-47. Not what Magic fans expected from the same coach who led the Pacers to five playoff appearances in six seasons.
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
Van Gundy helped the Pistons end a seven-year postseason drought last year, as Detroit went 44-38 and finished in eighth place in the East. Even though the Pistons were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was still quite an accomplishment by the former Heat and Magic head coach.
So you can imagine how disappointing it was to see the Pistons struggle this season. They’re not quite out of the playoffs yet, but their chances have dropped considerably.
Detroit is in 10th place in the East, trailing the Heat by 1.5 games. If the Pistons miss out on the playoffs, they may be saying goodbye to Van Gundy after this season.
About Marcelo Villa
Marcelo is an associate editor at The Sports Daily, and has covered the San Diego Chargers for Bleacher Report. He also writes for Sportsdirect Inc.