The life of the coach in the NBA is definitely not an easy one.
They have many things to worry about, including plays, planning for upcoming games, injuries, rotations, players complaining about minutes, and of course, two of the most important things, winning games and keeping their job.
Truth be told, some of these tasks are easier to complete than others, especially if the GM has built a great team for the coach to be in charge of, but even when that is the case, sometimes it just isn’t enough, and that’s the point where NBA coaches are joining the unemployment lines.
Here are five head coaches who could be out of a job come June.
5. Steve Clifford
Clifford has been head coach of the Charlotte Hornets for the past four seasons now, and has had pretty mediocre success with the North Carolina team.
The Hornets have only made the playoffs 2 times in four tries under Clifford, losing in the first round both times. Steve is also under .500 as head coach, with a career record of 160-168.
With the development of Kemba Walker into an All-Star point guard, the signing of Dwight Howard, and the drafting of shooting guard Malik Monk, Charlotte is hoping to make the playoffs again after 36-46 season last year, and if the Hornets somehow can’t make the top eight in a depleted Eastern Conference, Michael Jordan will be handing Clifford his papers.
4. Billy Donovan
Billy Donovan was an all-time great coach in the NCAA, leading the Florida Gators to 2 NCAA titles and numerous March Madness appearances, but his success in the NBA has been minuscule compared to his college days.
Donovan was hired back in 2015 to replace Scott Brooks after his departure from OKC, and in his first season, coached the Thunder to a WCF appearance, and was one game away from the NBA Finals before Oklahoma City inevitably choked away their 3-1 lead.
Since then, Donovan has had to deal with the departure of Kevin Durant, which may have thrown a spanner in the works for his plans with the team, but thanks to Westbrook, OKC still managed to make the playoffs.
With the Thunder acquiring both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to pair with MVP Westbrook, expectations are high, and anything less than a top 3 finish in the West may result in the OKC seat becoming available.
3. Mike Malone
The Denver Nuggets are on the up-and-up coming into this season, with a real chance to compete for the bottom spots of the West’s playoff bracket after signing Paul Millsap in free agency and the ongoing development of Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris.
Mike Malone has done wonderful things with this team, turning Jokic into the crux of Denver’s offensive schemes, but if rumors are to be believed, Malone is looking to decrease Jokic’s role on the team and look to share the offense with other players, not just through the hands of Jokic, which could either propel the Nuggets into the playoffs, or send them back down to the depths of the West.
If it’s the latter, Malone’s two-year tenture with Denver could be up.
2. Dwane Casey
Dwane Casey has been head of the Raptors since the 2011-12 NBA season, and has done a lot of great things with this team, namely turning both DeRozan and Lowry into an All-Star backcourt, and winning a franchise record 56 games back in 2016, but other than breaking franchise records, what else has Casey actually accomplished?
Toronto’s biggest championship window was back during that 2016 playoff run where then ran into LeBron and the Cavs in the Conference Finals, and have actually regressed since then, winning 51 games last season.
Whether the blame can be placed on Casey’s coaching style or Toronto’s GM, they heavy iso style of play Toronto employs with DeRozan is becoming obsolete in the NBA, and is beginning to affect their success as their championship window slowly closes. If Toronto’s season doesn’t go as planned, falling back down to a 40-something-win season, Casey’s head will be the first to roll.
1. Alvin Gentry
Gentry’s tenture has been short in the Big Easy, but still can be considered a disappointment.
With Anthony Davis on the roster, the Pelicans should easily be competing for playoff spots in the West under his power alone, but for some reason, they continue to fail in that regard.
Because of this, New Orleans made the move to grab DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento, and still managed to miss the playoffs last season.
Their 34-48 record last year can be attributed to lack of chemistry between Cousins and Davis, but if NOLA underperforms this season with a full season of an All-Star frontcourt, there will literally be no excuse, and Gentry’s two-year stint with the Pelicans will be the first thing to change.