Who’s Sitting On A Hot Seat Now?


HANG TIME, Texas — Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

In the NBA that familiar line from the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” has a different twist.

Every time the bell rings a head coach gets his walking papers and a handful of others start looking over their shoulders.

It’s a tenuous life.

Of course, this season has already been quite unusual with Mike Brown fired by the Lakers after just five games. But now that the schedule has reached the one-third mark and claimed Avery Johnson, it’s time to look at some others down around the bottom of the standings.

Randy Wittman, Wizards (3-23) – No, he hasn’t had John Wall all season. Yes, he’s had to play at times without Nene and Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal. But the Wizards are the only group in Washington that makes Congress look competent by comparison. After a recent 100-68 thumping by the almost-as-hapless Pistons, even Wittman seemed to have enough. “That was an embarrassment, and I apologize to our ownership and to our fans,” he said. “I especially apologize to anyone who watched that entire game. I would have turned it off after the first five minutes.” It would seem to be a matter of when, not if.

Monty Williams, Hornets (6-22) – It’s hard to see the Hornets turning right around and cutting Williams loose just months after giving him a four-year contract extension. There has been the matter of Eric Gordon’s injury and the fact that No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis was on the shelf for 13 games. But there are rumblings in New Orleans about his constantly changing rotations and collapse of his defense, which ranks 29th.

Byron Scott, Cavaliers (7-23)
— The Cavs are likely headed to their third straight trip to the lottery under Scott, but that doesn’t mean that he’s headed to the exit. The key to his previous success at New Jersey and New Orleans was having a top-notch point guard and Scott has an excellent relationship with maybe the next great thing in Kyrie Irving. This was always a long, heavy lift from the moment LeBron James bolted and that has not changed.

Mike Dunlap, Bobcats (7-21)
– What a difference a month makes. After beating the Wizards on Nov. 24, the Bobcats were 7-5, had matched their win total from last season and their rookie coach was getting praised. Now 16 straight losses later, Dunlap is preaching patience with his young core of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and Jeffery Taylor. He has earned that. A dozen of Charlotte’s 21 losses have come by 10 points or less, a dramatic change from the historically horrible last season when the Bobcats were rolled in one-third of their games by 20 points or more.

Lawrence Frank, Pistons (9-22)
— Frank insists that his Pistons are a better team than they were a year ago. The record — identical then and now — does not back that up. He says that his club now is more competitive, but just doesn’t know how to finish games. Some of the players have grumbled that there is also a failure of coach to make the right calls and adjustments when games get late. When push comes to shove, it’s the coach that gets nudged out the door.

Dwane Casey, Raptors (9-20)– Another one of those seasons when the Raptors were supposed to turn things around and make a push for the playoffs in the lesser Eastern Conference has gone south. Injuries to Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry and Linas Kleiza. Amir Johnson gets suspended for throwing his mouthguard at a referee. G.M. Bryan Colangelo says the talent is there, but the Raptors lack focus and attention to detail. The Raps’ offense is mediocre (ranked 17th) and their defense just bad (27th). Even in Canada during the winter, that all puts Casey on thin ice.

Keith Smart, Kings (9-19) – Smart got the job to replace Paul Westphal specifically because of what was perceived as an ability to work with the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins. So he turned Cousins loose last season, let him do just about anything he pleased and got enough results to earn a contract extension. Now that Cousins has abused his free-rein relationship with his coach and another season is sinking fast, it would be easy to just blame Smart, which the Kings eventually will do. But this is a bad team with a knucklehead as its centerpiece and ownership that can’t tell you where they’ll be playing in two years.

Alvin Gentry, Suns (11-18) — It was at the end of a seven-game losing streak when Suns owner Robert Sarver told ESPN.com that Gentry’s job was safe. “We’ve got confidence in our coaching staff and we’re not considering making changes,” he said. Of course, that usually means start packing your bags. It was all about starting over in this first season post-Nash in the desert. He’s changed lineups more than his ties and the result is usually the same. Gentry is a good bet to last out the season, but it’s probably going to take a big finishing kick to return next year.

30 Comments

  1. sportbet says:

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  2. SPORTS GOSPEL says:

    Hollins, Woodson and coach Drew are all winning right now, it’s not about race it’s about winning and losing and to be honest the NETS were winning with one of the highest payrolls… as of late they have been losing with one of the highest payrolls and the later dosen’t work in profesional sports so with that said the old saying goes “It’s cheaper to keep her” meaning makes more sense to fire a guy who makes $4.5 million over 3 years then a guy (Joe Johnson) who makes almost $18 million a year…just saying

  3. ben says:

    alvin gentry – because he has a decent team and it’s underperforming
    keith smart – because of cousins and kings awful gm

    other coaches on the list are coaching awful teams, no coach can win with those teams. have you watched the bobcats this year? they are a dleague caliber team, it’s depressing to watch them.

  4. Romesh says:

    Racism? really? wow!!! I dont think all the owners of the different teams got together in a boardroom somewhere and decided that it’s time we fired black coaches. Absolutely ridiculous statement, and then to say that it was the first thought that came to mind, well, I think you need to get your mind checked!!

  5. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    I wonder if Mike Brown was fired, partially because … he started coaching Kobe Bryant more meanly and vociferously … thus, Kobe whined and cried that he likes to do everything his way and no one else’s way. They started the season poorly which intensified things, and when Bryant is not happy, everyone else is on the chopping block. Literally all other players on his average Laker team and head coaches — all on the chopping blocks.

    Kobe Bryant appears to be “uncoachable.” He wants to chase individual goals instead of team goals. He comes first before the team???? Yah right. Their average Laker team would be better without … KOBE BRYANT. HE is the problem, NOT everyone else. The Lakers should’ve gotten rid of him in ’08. Now, they’re paying the price. Including two recent rings that were questionable and disputable at best — possibly fixed, rigged playoff games.

    Howard isn’t chasing his first ring; he already won in Orlando in ’09. Boston won in ’08 and ’10. Dallas in ’11. Miami in ’12. OKC in ’13???????????

    When Phil Jackson was their coach, did he ever “yell” or appear to coach Kobe sternly or harshly or publicly put responsibility on him? It appeared he just yelled at poor Pau Gasol for mistakes on the court — made Gasol the scapegoat.

    A real, good coach allocates responsibility equally on the whole team.

    I noticed during the 2012 Olympics that Kobe was also “uncoachable.” He did whatever he felt like, and for some odd reason, they kept starting him and giving him loads of playing time — although he stunk. He was out “chasing skirts.” Cheating on his wife. Whatever. Coaches didn’t penalize him for his extracurriculars. Bad move. Kobe almost cost Team USA the gold medal. Thank god he’s about to retire. Don’t want that Kobe loser on any future Team USA international teams.

    I am the truth from which you run.
    ;-)

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Kobe thinks he’s going far in the playoffs. Yah right. Keep dreaming, boy.

      Kobe, what did you say, PAPER CHAMPION????

  6. LAKER BOY says:

    Jeff Taylor, part of Charlotte’s “young core” ? Thats funny

  7. Jame says:

    you forgot to mention Mike D’Antoni.. he should be fired, should’ve been Phil Jackson or Jerry Sloan.. D’Antoni relies to much on Nash while he got a bunch of superstars that he doesn’t know how to use.. the guy only thinks about fast paced offense and no D..

    • 16going417 says:

      Finally, someone else who sees what the problem is and has been…..

      D’Antoni should be on this list too because he is not managing his players very well. Seeing Dwight not being posted up, Gasol shooting 3’s and Metta not going to the basket more often tells me it’s D’Antoni’s inability to properly utilize the talent he has around him.

      • Hm says:

        Gasol is 7/17 from beyond the arc this season. A better percentage than Kobe who made only 65/175.

      • Hm says:

        Fun fact, Kobe makes less three pointers than Blake Griffin makes midrange jumpshots. They take about an equal number of those per game on average.

  8. jasonc says:

    I’m a Canadian, albeit a long way from T.O.. I’ve absolutely hated watching the Raps post Carter/McGrady/Oakley. The Bosh era almost got me watching them again…..almost. That changed when Dwayne Casey became head coach. Coach Casey at least gets these guys to TRY. I enjoy the marked difference on the D-end. A lot of superstars don’t wanna play in Canada…I get that. They need Casey and his defensive philosophy. Without being to excessive, I must say that if CASEY WAS FIRED, I WOULD NOT BE WATCHING THE RAPS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. SMH…

  9. machbu21 says:

    The reason this race card is being seen because you allow it to be seen. I follow this stuff, but as I read the article, I didn’t even think about color. Racism still exists because people keep bringing it back to exist. Who cares the color of the coaches. If you look at the numbers, then you will see why the name is on the chopping block.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Judge others, not by the color of their skin, but by the CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Hector says:

    Shareef, your posts makes no sense. All that Fran did was post the coaches names who have the worst record in the league. It’s a shame you look directly toward race to find an excuse for coaches whose teams aren’t performing. The only change i’d make to this list is Rick Carlisle of Dallas. Every other name on this list deserves to be there. Should black coaches be given more of an opportunity then white coaches? I guarantee you those coaches would shake their head at you. No one who has any kind of work ethic wants to be given handouts.

    Here are a few names for you that hopefully you’ll recognize: Stan Van Gundy. John Kuester. Jay Triano. Kurt Rambis. Flip Saunders. Professional coaching is a high turnover position and all coaches know that going in.

  11. Bok says:

    Mike D’Antoni? I’m a Lakers fan and I felt they should’ve considered Jerry Sloan first. As a big fan of the Bulls of the 90’s Sloan’s Jazz took them to Finals – twice. He doesn’t have much talent, but he manages the team really well and you can see how systematic they are.

    • Stahl says:

      I dont think utah under jerry sloan lacks talent…the jazz probably has the best chance of beating the jordan led dynasty..they are capable..jordan just outsmarted them…think twice before posting sir..

      • Not really. Malone and Stockton are HOFers and they indeed had the best chance to beat MJ. But that still takes coaching. His system could have played a part in making these guys who they were (not taking anything any from their incredible work ethics or talent). For example, Deron was an all-star when he was in Utah and now he is a dud. Sometimes, not enough credit goes to the system of the coaches like Sloan;s or Phil jackson’s.

        But a guy cant go without being a CoY when he is third all-time in NBA wins, longest tenured coach, gave 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record and missed playoff only 3 times in 22 years with Jazz. People (voters) took him for granted. Thats that. The guy should have got in 2004 when both Malone and Stockton were gone and Jazz almost made the playoffs.

        Did he never make a mistake? Yes he did. Its the system and the no non-sense approach that he is respected for. He is one of the coaches that never really cared about the award or anything. If not for D-will, he might still be coaching and Jazz would be in a better place with the talented team they have.

  12. A.J. says:

    Hey, Shareef, perhaps somebody should hire Mike Dunleavy and then paint a brown face on him. That way when he’s inevitably fired, it would support your argument.

  13. A.J. says:

    What previous “success” did Byron Scott have in Jersey and New Orleans? His “success” in Jersey was courtesy of a Jason Kidd in his prime and the fortune of playing in an absolutely pathetic conference, and his “success” in New Orleans consisted of riding the talent of Chris Paul, and then rocked in the second-round once and the first-round twice, including a 58-point first-round loss AT HOME.

    The Cavaliers aren’t going to fire him only because Gilbert and his just as incompetent crony Grant don’t give a damn about winning, they just care about stringing along season ticket holders at their expense. Scott is just their front. This is now the 3rd season under Gilbert’s reign of error that they’ve been near the bottom of the NBA in payroll, and they’ve set themselves up to pull the same stunt again next season.

    Should Scott be fired? Of course. Will he be? Of course not.

  14. Shareef says:

    Before I make my point, I want to say that I think Fran Blinebury is a very good and objective writer. I’m not accusing him of anything. So, here’s my take. I think it’s weird that 2 black coaches have been fired thus far and also that this pretty accurate list of hot seat coaches includes a mostly black group. Racism is definitely something that’s unnecessarily brought up in sports discussions, but is it fair to bring it up in discussion of this issue in the NBA? I think Casey and Gentry are solid coaches. I think Scott and Monty, as well as Witt and Dunlap, are lousy. Their performances as coaches are all poor though. I’m struggling to express my thoughts clearly, but I really think that black coaches are not given enough of a chance. I don’t have much proof, but I invite y’all to watch these situations closely. I don’t see enough unique variables, besides facing more key injuries than others, to dismiss my expectation that the white coaches will hold on to their jobs for significantly longer than the black coaches. I hope I’m wrong. I wish the fans could get some insider perspective on this.

    • me says:

      yes I strongly agree with this. It’s racism, same thing happens in the NFL with black guys not given enough chances to prove that they are good QB’s

    • uoykcuf says:

      Funny you put out a race card in here but oh well. For the past ten years, there’s 4 black COY: Mitchell, Johnson, Scott and M. Brown. Others are pop, Larry brown, Carlislie, Hubie brown, Thibodeau, D’antoni.

      • Shareef says:

        uf, I openly suggested that I could be unnecessarily framing this racially. I couldn’t help that my initial reaction to the story was what it was. I opened my argument up to rebuttal, which you took. I think you’ve made a good point. But, the COY winners are voted by sportswriters, not the league nor NBA owners. Also, winning the award didn’t ensure job security. After winning COY, Mitchell was fired after 99 games, Johnson after 164 games, Scott after 91 games, and Brown after 1 season.
        I’m still not totally suggesting that racism, whether it’s unconscious or intentional, is at play here. I’m simply chiming in my reaction to today’s blog entry.

      • Jon says:

        You are proving his point by naming the black COY because Mitchel, Johnsson, and Brown lost their jobs a year or two after winning the award. In addition, Avery was just named coach of the month for November and fired a month later. Black coaches have a shorter leash than white coaches, plain and simple.

    • Rocket33 says:

      I think the two firings have nothing to do with race, but simply the huge expectations of being the coach of the Lakers (Brown) and a team in New York (Johnson).

    • Goncalo says:

      Really? Racism?? Or has he just mentioned the coaches of the 8 teams with the worst record in the current season??? Don’t think he could be much more objective than that…

    • slider821 says:

      Maybe it’s racism, maybe it’s coincidence. Either way, this article is written becuase DWill had two coaches fired; one was white, the most recent one was black. This is just a list about coaches on the ‘hot seat’ and many happen to be black. Better believe that D’Antoni is on that list too if the lakers don’t make the playoffs or get out in the first round…Same with Indiana’s coach.

      I think the racism observance is a coincidence of more black coaches coaching bad teams…

    • RH says:

      Have you considered that it’s the owners who are hiring/firing coaches? And the vast majority of sports owners are rich, old, and white? They grew up radically different from most of us. I’m not trying to excuse them for perceived racism, I just want to offer an explanation so we understand that it’s coming from a few individuals, and not from the league or the fans.

      • wide.awake.nightmare says:

        also who, exactly, are you accusing of being racist? A head coach is hired and fired by team owners, team owners have a whole fleet of personnel who crunch numbers, watch media, gauge fan acceptance, etc to help them make the best decision on behalf of the teams benefit. All these coaches are from different teams, and thus there is a huge number of people who are componants of the decision whether coachX stays or goes. Its not the NBAs decision, its not david sterns decision, its not any one person, or one collective group of people who make this decision for all the coaches? so who exactly is the one being a racist? or are you saying that ‘the white man, in general, is just holding african american coaches down non specifically’?