As the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs rages on, the other major NBA story line is the dismissal of a number of relatively successful head coaches this offseason. The removals of Lionel Hollins, George Karl, Vinny Del Negro and P.J. Carlesimo exemplifies an era where coaches are becoming the scapegoat for team failings more and more often. It’s remarkable to think that 12 coaches have been dismissed since the end of the regular season with four of those positions still vacant.
With that in mind Basketball Schedule breaks down five coaches who are likely to start the 2013-14 season on the hot seat and needing to perform to keep their jobs.
1. Dwane Casey – Toronto Raptors
After the acquisition of Rudy Gay, the Raptors played significantly better basketball finishing the season with an 18-18 run. Toronto hasn’t had a particularly strong or balanced team over the past two seasons and that has made Casey’s job extremely difficult. However, his 52-91 record in what has been a pretty mediocre Eastern conference is still pretty disappointing and it seems likely that he will need a positive start to the 2013-14 season in order to keep his job.
The problem that Casey might have is getting the Raptors disorientated parts to blend together. He will certainly be hoping that his GM makes some positive moves this offseason.
2. Mike D’Antoni – Los Angeles Lakers
Sadly for D’Antoni it feels like he has been on a hot seat ever since he took the head coaching position. There’s little doubt that the Los Angeles Lakers organization has been a mess over the past 12 months and that isn’t an easy situation to coach in. However, there’s also little doubt that D’Antoni has not made things any easier for himself. He failed to utilize the strength of his team with the front court of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, in fact he upset both big men and effectively relied upon the superb Kobe Bryant just to get the Lakers into the playoffs.
It seems certain that D’Antoni will switch up his system significantly in 2013-14. However, with Howard’s immediate future uncertain and an ageing roster, it is quite possible that next year will witness another overhaul for the Lakers and D’Antoni will surely be one of the victims of that unless he does a remarkable job of pulling this team together.
3. Mike Woodson – New York Knicks
Woodson has done a terrific job with the New York Knicks in general, but this is a franchise that has some serious questions to ask of itself. They gambled on a veteran roster and couldn’t get it done last season. It seems unlikely that the same roster would perform better than it did this season. It has become pretty obvious that Carmelo Anthony needs more scoring help. There have also been some fair criticisms that Woodson’s offense relies too heavily on isolation basketball.
If the Knicks switch things up in the near future, then Woodson could well find himself on the block.
4. Kevin McHale – Houston Rockets
This may seem like a strange selection after the season that McHale enjoyed with a young upstart Houston roster. Still, it seriously looks like Dwight Howard could be joining the Rockets and that brings significant pressures with it combined with the fact that expectations have been seriously raised after a successful season. If Howard does join Houston, can McHale manage expectations and make it work with his new big man plus James Harden and Jeremy Lin? He will surely have more than one season, but things could get a little hotter in Houston.
5. Scott Brooks – Oklahoma City Thunder
This may seem like even more a stretch for some, but Brooks’ ‘hack Asik’ strategy in the first round of the playoffs was the first sign of a man who was running out of ideas. He has not been able to control point guard Russell Westbrook and the Thunder looked weak and a little lost when Westbrook was lost for the playoffs. Oklahoma City needs Kevin Durant, along with Westbrook, to figure it out ahead of next season and there’s a good chance that their talent will. If it does go wrong, then Brooks could find himself on the block.