One of the most overlooked storylines throughout a busy NBA offseason is the fact that there wasn’t a single head coach fired. It marked the first time in 46 years that there wasn’t a single head coach that lost his job. While it’s nice to assume their jobs are safe, the reality is that the axe could be close to dropping for several head coaches heading in to the 2017-18 season. Here is a look at five NBA head coaches considered the most likely to be fired first this season.
Jeff Hornacek, New York Knicks
It’s impossible to put all of the blame for the Knicks 31-51 record last season on Hornacek. However, Phil Jackson is out in New York following a tumultuous tenure and Hornacek could be next in line to go if he can’t turn things around. The Knicks will have an important decision to make when it comes to the future of Carmelo Anthony. They also have a talented young core that could be good enough to contend in a relatively weak Eastern Conference this coming season. Hornacek has been given the opportunity to turn things around in New York. He will need a strong start to the season to avoid getting fired by the Knicks this season.
Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors
Casey is regarded around the NBA as a defensive specialist. However, the Raptors have struggled with consistency at that end of the floor during his tenure. Toronto is at its best when it plays at a high level defensively. That could become even more difficult this season after the Raptors lost P.J. Tucker, Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph. Toronto doubled down on Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka as key franchise pieces. However, their lack of depth will be tested. This is clearly a make or break season for Casey. If the Raptors struggle early on, the Raptors could decide to make a change.
Steve Clifford, Charlotte Hornets
There is no doubt that the Hornets are an exciting team to watch. However, they have had their troubles closing out tight games and last season they finished with the second-worst defensive rating in the closing minutes of games. Charlotte needs to improve at that end of the floor in order to contend in the Eastern Conference this season. The hope is that Dwight Howard will help in that regard as a rim protector.
However, it will fall on Clifford to make sure his team is better in crunch time in order for the Hornets to maximize their win potential this season. Charlotte has enough talent to contend for a playoff spot in the East. Clifford will need to make sure they get to the postseason. Anything less could cost him his job.
Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have the best big man tandem in the NBA with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Now they need to find those two enough help to make New Orleans a legitimate playoff contender in 2017-18. Gentry will need to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of his roster in order to maximize the potential of the players he has. Running a big man-dominated system could allow him to maximize the potential of Davis and Cousins while also limiting the exposure of a limited backcourt rotation.
The Pelicans want to win now. More importantly, they need to win now. If not, they are going to lose both Cousins and Davis in free agency in the coming years. That means Gentry could be on a short leash in New Orleans this coming season.
Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are in a rebuilding stage right now but that doesn’t mean Hoiberg’s job is safe. Chicago underachieved last season, which is why the franchise ended up making major personnel changes this offseason. Hoiberg will now be tasked with maximizing the potential of the players at his disposal and finding ways to remain in contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It certainly won’t be easy for the Bulls. However, another disappointing season could end with Hoiberg’s dismissal.
The 2017 NBA futures are out. 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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