The pressure of expectations and the desire to win now has put more pressure on NBA coaches than ever before. The fact that every head coach that started the 2016-17 season finished it was a major surprise. Don’t expect that to happen again this season. The carryover means that the hot seats are warmer than ever for a number of coaches that are essentially with their jobs on the line. Here is a look at four NBA head coaches on the hot seat heading in to this season.
Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
The four-year deal that Gentry signed with the Pelicans heading into last season included a team option for 2018-19. That means that he is essentially coaching for his job this season. While there are plenty of structural issues with the way that the roster in New Orleans has been built, the expectation from management and ownership is that this team is ready to win now. DeMarcus Cousins could become a free agent after this year. That means the window for the Pelicans to get back to the playoffs is now. New Orleans lost nine of its first 10 games last season. If the Pelicans struggled out of the gate again this year, Gentry could be out of a job by the time that December rolls around.
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers
While the Pelicans face pressure to contend for a playoff spot, the Clippers are still expected to be a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. And that’s despite losing Chris Paul in the offseason. Owner Steve Ballmer committed $50 million to Rivers in 2014 but he has failed to deliver as the team president and head coach. He will enter this season as only a head coach. Jerry West’s arrival is another indication that change could be on the horizon if Rivers isn’t able to get more out of his roster this season.
Considering the number of teams that improved on paper in the Western Conference this offseason it’s clear that Rivers’ job security isn’t nearly what it once was. The Clippers still have enough talent to contend for a top-six seed in the Western Conference this season. Anything less could lead to substantial changes and a scenario where Rivers is fired by the Clippers at one point or another.
Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
It’s incredible that the man that oversaw all four of the winningest seasons in the history of the Raptors is on the hot seat again. However, Toronto is built to contend now and the expectation is that this year’s team will compete. That means challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics for Eastern Conference supremacy. That won’t be any easier with Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade in Cleveland while Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward boost the Celtics stock. However, the Raptors should have continuity on their side. And also enough talent and depth to contend for the best record in the regular season. Despite all that he has accomplished in Toronto over the past few seasons, there is no doubt that Casey will be on the hot seat this season.
Jeff Hornacek, New York Knicks
The Knicks have employed five head coaches over the last six seasons. The organization is definitely desperate for some stability. That said, it’s going to be difficult for the franchise to convince fans that Hornacek is the right man for the job unless he is able to turn things around in New York this season. The Carmelo Anthony trade dramatically changes the perception surrounding the team. Hornacek is expected to see a young roster through a rebuild this year. The change in perception in going with a young roster might buy Hornacek some time but he will need to deliver results if he is going to hang on to his job beyond this season.
The Phoenix Suns are supposed to be one of the youngest, most talented teams in all of basketball but we might be wrong in that assessment. They started the season with a 46-point loss, which set a record for the biggest opening night loss for any team in NBA history as well as the Suns biggest margin of defense as a franchise. That’s pathetic. The Suns were expecting growing pains but more showings like that will get him canned very quickly.
The 2017-18 NBA is well underway. It’s been a wild offseason already, but keep an eye on the betting lines as they move around at Diamond Sportsbook! Get the latest NBA betting lines right here.
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