The pace of coaching changes in the NBA isn’t nearly what it was two years ago, when 13 teams hired new coaches in the 2013 offseason, as I noted last week when I looked at how those 13 coaches had fared since then. Still, five coaches have lost their jobs since the beginning of the 2014/15 season, while a sixth, Tom Thibodeau, hangs in serious limbo.
It’s a reasonable assumption that if Thibodeau were to join the ranks of the coaches let go within the past several months, he would have the best shot among them to quickly land another NBA head coaching job, given his credentials. None of the five who’ve already lost their jobs have found replacement head coaching gigs, despite some impressive bona fides of their own.
Monty Williams just lost his Pelicans gig this week, so of course it would be quite a stretch to have expected him to land a new position so quickly. He’d engineered an 11-game improvement from last year to this season, clinching a playoff berth on the season’s final night. Still, that wasn’t enough to save him from the ax.
Scott Brooks wasn’t let go all that long ago, either, and while his Thunder lost a tiebreaker to the Pelicans for that playoff berth, he compiled an impressive 338-207 record during the regular season in parts of seven years as Oklahoma City’s bench boss. That record had plenty to do with the elite talent surrounding him, and Brooks only made it to one NBA Finals in his time with the Thunder, losing that series to the Heat.
Brian Shaw never sniffed the playoffs in his season and a half with the Nuggets, but he was long a sought-after head coaching candidate before Denver hired him. He has two rings from his time as an assistant under Phil Jackson on the Lakers.
Jacque Vaughn also cut his coaching teeth as an assistant with a team accustomed to long playoff runs, learning under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. The Popovich head coaching tree has expanded rapidly in the past couple of years, though it lost a member when the Magic fired Vaughn during the season, with Orlando largely stuck in neutral amid the third year of a rebuilding project.
Michael Malone didn’t get a third year in Sacramento, and he barely got a second before the Kings fired him just 24 games into his second season this past December. The Kings were off to a fast start this year before DeMarcus Cousins went down with viral meningitis, and the coach had connected with the sometimes-difficult star.
Vote to let us know which of the five coaches let go since the start of the 2014/15 season you think will be the first to find another head coaching job, and elaborate on your choice in the comments.