David Fizdale became the first head coach of the 2019/20 NBA season to be fired when he was let go by the Knicks last Friday. The move didn’t come as a huge surprise, having been telegraphed last month when executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference to express disappointment with the club’s slow start.
However, Fizdale is unlikely to be the only head coach replaced prior to the spring. As we detailed last fall, nearly every NBA season over the last decade or so has featured multiple in-season coaching changes. In 2018/19, three coaches – Tyronn Lue (Cavaliers), Fred Hoiberg (Bulls), and Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) – had been dismissed by the time the All-Star break rolled around.
While Fizdale had been on the hot seat for much of the season, there aren’t a lot of other head coaches in similar situations. Many of the teams off to disappointing starts either have accomplished coaches whom they believe in, such as Gregg Popovich in San Antonio or Terry Stotts in Portland, or have new-ish coaches that they’re willing to be patient with, like John Beilein in Cleveland and Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta.
Still, there are a handful of head coaches whose seats might be heating up. Here are a few:
- Alvin Gentry (Pelicans): Multiple recent reports have suggested that the Pelicans like Gentry and are willing to be patient with him, but the team was hoping for much better than a 6-18 start, even without Zion Williamson.
- Jim Boylen (Bulls): John Hollinger and Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested this week that Boylen is still well-liked by Bulls management, but not so much by Bulls players. Chicago entered the season with playoff aspirations but has struggled in the early going, with an 8-17 record.
- Scott Brooks (Wizards): The Wizards brought in Brooks in 2016 to coach a potential contender. With a new general manager taking over during the offseason and Washington embarking on a rebuild, it was unclear whether the franchise still envisioned Brooks as its coach of the future. He has done well so far though developing some of the Wizards’ young players.
- Mike D’Antoni (Rockets): The 15-8 Rockets have been solid, but D’Antoni’s failed extension negotiations with team ownership in the offseason cast a cloud over his future with the team. A source told Hollinger and Amick that D’Antoni probably won’t remain in Houston beyond 2019/20. If the Rockets have a prolonged slump at all this season, it’s possible the team will consider making a change even before next spring.
What do you think? Will all of the coaches listed above – and the rest of the NBA’s head coaches – make it through the 2019/20 season? Or will at least one more team follow the Knicks’ lead and make an in-season change?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your two cents!