All 30 NBA head coaches will go into the season with expectations. Some expectations will be big, and some will be small. The likes of Steve Kerr will be focusing on winning an NBA championship. Then there’s coaches like Brett Brown, who will be happy to see his Philadelphia 76ers team reach 20 wins. So there are all sorts of expectations, for a lot of different coaches. Today we are going to examine and discuss some of the head coaches on the “hot seat”. These will be coaches who underachieved last season and will be going into the new season under pressure to succeed or else.
The Chicago Bulls managed to win 42 games last season and failed to make the playoffs. Finishing as the 9th best team in the Eastern Conference wasn’t how most Bulls fans imagined the season going. Hoiberg took over a team that appeared to have a good mix of old and young. With veterans like Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol in the line-up alongside Jimmy Butler. Chicago were confident of being a top eight team in the conference. Hoiberg failed to deliver playoff basketball in Chicago, and will need to improve this coming season.
The Bulls will head into the new season with a revamped roster. The team decided to let Gasol and Rose leave, along with Joakim Noah. The Bulls made major strides to becoming a playoff team again. The team added three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade and point guard Rajon Rondo this off-season. Wade brings veteran leadership and Rondo is a very creative player. Hoiberg and the Bulls hierarchy approached the off-season with the attitude of reload not rebuild.
If Hoiberg lets Butler take over and gets the best out of Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine, the Bulls will make the playoffs. There is no doubting Hoiberg’s coaching ability and if the team improves and plays as advertised, Hoiberg should be fine. But that’s easier said than done.
Under head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers have made the playoffs three straight years. Two conference semi final losses and last season’s first round exit have led to pressure being heaped on Rivers. With Blake Griffin‘s off court issues and injuries early on, the Clippers were still winning games but were struggling to see beyond the regular season. When the team finally got healthy and were ready for playoff basketball, both Griffin and Chris Paul went down yet again. The Clippers were beaten by the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. So with the team losing in the first round, Rivers began to feel the heat.
Heading into this season, the Clippers will once again rely on the “lob city” trio. Paul, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are all good players, but how many more chances do you give a group of players who cannot get the job done. Rivers has won 166 games in three seasons, so there is no doubting his quality. So Rivers isn’t really the issue, it’s the players. They fail to produce in big moments and can’t stay healthy. This Clippers team should win more than 50 games again this season, but playoff basketball is the challenge this team must overcome. Rivers has decided to keep the faith in the same group, a decision that ultimately could cost him his job.
After failing to make the playoffs last season, the Bucks will need to show major improvement this coming season. With Jason Kidd at the helm, the Bucks managed to win just 33 games. Despite entering the season as a playoff hopeful, Kidd’s Bucks took a step backwards. Milwaukee is considered by many to have one of the best young roster’s in the NBA. With players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, the Bucks future looks bright. Whether or not Kidd will remain a part of that future is another question.
The Bucks head into yet another season, with hopes of making the playoffs. With Matthew Dellavedova and the intriguing Thon Maker added this off-season, the Bucks have only improved their chances. Kidd will need to decide whether or not Antetokounmpo is the Bucks future starting point guard, and will need to do it early. Antetokounmpo is very talented but whether or not he succeeds at his new position, could decide Kidd’s fate in Milwaukee.
The young Bucks play in a very competitive division, so Kidd is already looking at a difficult challenge. But if all goes to plan, the Bucks could sneak into the playoffs as an 8th seed. Kidd is certainly on the hot seat in Milwaukee, but only time will tell if he is head coach this young roster needs.
Alvin Gentry went into his first season as Pelicans head coach, coming off a championship winning season with the Golden State Warriors. The future looked bright in New Orleans, as the team had its star in Anthony Davis and a nice group of players to surround Davis; playoff basketball looked set to come. But the Pelicans situation went south quickly. Injury after injury led to the Pelicans being the only team in their division to miss the playoffs.
Gentry took over a playoff hopeful, but ended as the 12th best team in the Western Conference. The Pelicans let a few injury prone players leave this off-season. With Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon both joining the rival Houston Rockets. So it appears Gentry is attempting to solve a problem, by simply letting injury prone talent leave. A decision that should benefit the Pelicans long term.
Now the attitude in New Orleans is no longer playoffs or bust, but just improvement every season. The team has dropped some experienced talent and picked up some good young players. The likes Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo both look promising and should see a fair amount of minutes in their rookie years. Gentry will hope for a healthy roster this year, after all it was the main reason last season was derailed.