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Longest-Tenured NBA Head Coaches

The past year has been one of relative stability on NBA benches, as 24 of the 30 head coaches from this time last year are still in their respective jobs. Still, the list of the longest-tenured coaches is noticeably different from when we last compiled it in July 2014.

Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra and Rick Carlisle still occupy the top three spots, but the next three names from last year’s list are all absent from this year’s. The Thunder fired Scott Brooks after he spent nearly seven seasons on the job, and the Pelicans pink-slipped Monty Williams after five years. Most notoriously, the tumultuous relationship between the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau met its end when Chicago terminated the former Coach of the Year. Brooks also won a Coach of the Year award during his time with the Thunder, proving that even in a quiet year for NBA coaching changes, the position simply doesn’t offer much job security.

Jacque Vaughn, the No. 11 coach on last year’s list, was already long gone by the time Brooks, Williams and Thibodeau became unemployed, with the Magic having fired him in February. The Kings ousted 2014 No. 16 Michael Malone two months before Vaughn lost his job, but Malone still appears on this year’s list, all the way down at No. 30, as the Nuggets hired him in June, three months after they fired Brian Shaw, who was the 18th longest tenured coach a year ago.

George Karl, Billy Donovan, Scott Skiles, Alvin Gentry and Fred Hoiberg are the newcomers this year, though rumors that the Kings had already considered firing Karl surfaced earlier this summer. Karl may yet keep his job, but rest assured, the list below won’t look the same by next summer. Here are all 30 NBA coaches ranked by the length of time they’ve been in their respective jobs:

  1. Gregg Popovich, Spurs: December 1996
  2. Erik Spoelstra, Heat: April 2008
  3. Rick Carlisle, Mavericks: May 2008
  4. Frank Vogel, Pacers: January 2011 (interim; permanent since July 2011)
  5. Kevin McHale, Rockets: June 2011
  6. Dwane Casey, Raptors: June 2011
  7. Randy Wittman, Wizards: January 2012 (interim; permanent since June 2012)
  8. Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers: August 2012
  9. Jeff Hornacek, Suns: May 2013
  10. Mike Budenholzer, Hawks: May 2013
  11. Steve Clifford, Hornets: May 2013
  12. Dave Joerger, Grizzlies: June 2013
  13. Doc Rivers, Clippers: June 2013
  14. Brad Stevens, Celtics: July 2013
  15. Brett Brown, Sixers: August 2013
  16. Stan Van Gundy, Pistons: May 2014
  17. Steve Kerr, Warriors: May 2014
  18. Flip Saunders, Timberwolves: June 2014
  19. Quin Snyder, Jazz: June 2014
  20. Derek Fisher, Knicks: June 2014
  21. David Blatt, Cavs: June 2014
  22. Jason Kidd, Bucks: July 2014
  23. Lionel Hollins, Nets: July 2014
  24. Byron Scott, Lakers: July 2014
  25. George Karl, Kings: February 2015
  26. Billy Donovan, Thunder: April 30, 2015
  27. Scott Skiles, Magic: May 29, 2015
  28. Alvin Gentry, Pelicans: May 31, 2015*
  29. Fred Hoiberg, Bulls: June 2, 2015
  30. Michael Malone, Nuggets: June 15, 2015

* — The Pelicans hired Gentry on May 31st, but he didn’t assume the job until after he finished up as an assistant coach for the Warriors in the NBA Finals, by which time the Bulls had brought aboard Fred Hoiberg and the Nuggets had tapped Michael Malone. Still, since coaches whom teams hire in the offseason don’t necessarily begin their work right away, regardless of whether they’re still finishing up other obligations, we’ll list Gentry by his date of hire.

To see how this list has evolved over a longer period time, check out the list from June 2013.

Which of these 30 coaches do you think is least likely to hold his job by this time next year? Leave a comment to let us know.

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2 thoughts on “Longest-Tenured NBA Head Coaches

  1. Xyrak

    I’m not sure about least likely to stay around, but Dwane Casey and Doc Rivers are the two coaches for me that need real good play-off showings to keep their jobs. If the Raps or Clips bow out early, I think they would be gone.

  2. Arthur Hill

    We’ll see how patient Portland is with Terry Stotts. After a division championship and several years of being a playoff regular, he lost 80% of his starting lineup, and a lot of veterans were replaced by young talent. Portland could sink to the bottom of the West, and Stotts could wind up taking the fall.

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