NBA teams are about as loyal to their head coaches as Scotland is to the U.K. – commence laughter, those of you with knowledge of U.K. relations! The most recent casualty among the coaching ranks in the NBA was Pelicans boss Monty Williams, despite the team’s surprise return to the postseason. It seems like the only way to guarantee a coaching spot is to win a championship and even that may not be enough (eh, David Blatt?).
It’s a players’ league and organizations treat coaches like they grow on trees, plucking fruit from the college ranks or even grabbing newly retired players with zero experience. Other than Greg Popovich, the longest serving coach in the NBA is Erik Spoelstra, an honor he entirely owes to LeBron James (not to mention he’ll be on the hotseat this season).
With such a bleak outlook for coaches, let’s have some fun at their expense and forecast who will make it through the summer!
Odds to be fired next:
- James Borrego (Orlando Magic): 2/13 Despite salvaging a decent finish to a rough season for the Magic, it sounds like Borrego is getting passed over for Scott Skiles.
Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls): 8/1 The only reason Thibs isn’t the only pick here is that the relationship between he and Bulls management is so bad, reports indicate the organization is waiting, out of spite, until other coaching vacancies are filled before firing him.
- Melvin Hunt (Denver Nuggets): 35/1 Hunt’s name is still in the mix for the Nuggets job, even with a growing market of candidates. He at least has a chance of keeping his post.
- David Blatt (Cleveland Cavaliers): 140/1 Dan Gilbert backed Blatt a few weeks ago after reports came out he was gone, but what else would a GM say in that situation? This is still a guy that called for LeBron to inbound the ball. It’s unlikely the Cavs are eliminated before these other balls drop, though.
Odds to be fired sometime this offseason:
- Borrego: 1/1,000
- Blatt: 1/1
- Hunt: 2/1
- Byron Scott (L.A. Lakers): 3/1 The Lakers are reportedly interested in Thibodeau, whenever the Bulls cut ties.
Odds to be fired during 2015-16 season:
- Derek Fisher (New York Knicks): 1/1
- Brett Brown (Philadelphia 76ers): 3/1
- Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat): 9/2
- Dwane Casey (Toronto Raptors): 7/1
Odds to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls:
- Fred Hoidberg (Iowa State): 1/1 The name tied to the Bulls for months now, the Iowa State coach make sense as a clear favorite for Thibodeau’s spot. Thibs is gone because he clashed constantly with VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson. If Paxson wants to get his way, the team is going to steer away from big name coaches, and how much guff is he going to get from a young guy in his first NBA head coaching job
- Alvin Gentry (Golden State, assistant): 7/3 Currently helping run the NBA’s top offence in Golden State, Gentry brings experience as a head coach, most recently with the Suns, where he guided the team to the Western Conference finals in 2009. Genrty would help improve a Chicago offense that was right on the league average last season. As long as his views fit the organization’s goals.
- Adrian Griffin (Chicago Bulls, assistant): 3/1 The in-house candidate, Griffin perhaps has his value hurt after coaching under Thibodeau since 2010. One of the top assistants in the league, he was a candidate for openings last offseason in Utah and Cleveland. The players respect him, particularly Jimmy Butler, and his familiarity with the team would be an asset. At 40, he’s a younger coach, which is probably good for Paxson.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA derivative work: Chrishmt0423 (Tom_Thibodeau.jpg) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)