Heat Rising On Coaching Hot Seats

This is the time of year when the holidays are past, decorations packed away and the chill of winter sets in.

Unless you’re the coach of a struggling NBA team. It’s the time of the season when the heat starts to build and then roar like the inside of a fireplace and somebody gets burned.

By Jan. 18 last year, when the struggling Suns cut loose Alvin Gentry, four NBA coaches had been fired. Gentry followed Mike Brown, Avery Johnson and Scott Skiles out the door and that was just a warm-up to the off-season purge that eventually brought 13 new coaches into the 2013-14 season.

Now as the midway point in the schedule approaches, the temperature is getting hot at the bottom of the standings and there are more than a few coaches feeling the heat:

Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets

Record: 11-21

Thermometer reading: Boiling.

Team owner Mikhail Prokorov and general manager Billy King thought it was a simple task to throw out gobs of money to fill up a roster with old men and then get a future Hall of Fame point guard to trade in his jersey for a jacket and clipboard. But Kidd has seemed less interested in doing the necessary on-the-job training dating back to his first game ever in charge on the sidelines when he was taking in-game phone calls during his Orlando Summer League debut. He dumped Lawrence Frank as his right hand man and is becoming more withdrawn, except when ripping his team for the media. Just when it seems that his team has tuned him out, they win at OKC. It only makes the entire flop of a start more disappointing.


VIDEO: Go inside the Nets’ huddle with Jason Kidd

Mike Woodson, New York Knicks

Record: 10-21

Thermometer reading: Sizzling.

Despite the fact that owner James Dolan has told the team that no major changes are forthcoming and Woodson’s job is safe, check back in another month just before the trade deadline. Carmelo Anthony is healed and says he’s back in the lineup for the whole run through the Texas triangle that began with a shocking win in San Antonio. But ‘Melo has already called the Knicks the laughingstock of the league and there is no indication that the bad jokes will stop anytime soon. Hard to believe Woodson could survive another gaffe like the uncalled timeout against the Wizards. Because it’s New York — and that’s supposed to be synonymous with championships (even though there hasn’t actually been one since 1973) — Woodson will have to take the fall if it becomes apparent that the Knicks won’t even make the playoffs in the no good, horrible, very bad Eastern Conference.


VIDEO: Woodson still thinks the Knicks can win the Atlantic Division

Tyrone Corbin, Utah Jazz

Record: 11-24

Thermometer reading: Slow boil.

The Jazz franchise and the owning Miller family are not prone to making quick, emotional decisions. That’s probably a big reason that Corbin even made it through the bloody 2013 offseason when change was the norm. With his long time ties to the organization, he was moved into the job when Jerry Sloan quit in 2011 and was expected to be a smooth hand on the tiller as the Utah jockeyed for a low playoff berth. That job has changed dramatically with Utah’s full-on youth movement and it’s up to Corbin to show that he’s the man who can lead the turnabout. So far, it’s not working. He keeps playing veterans Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams and doesn’t have the young nucleus of Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks carving out any kind of identity. Without a contract extension, the hand-writing has been on the wall since the beginning of the season. But if the Jazz keep in free fall, GM Dennis Lindsey may have to pull the switch sooner.


VIDEO: Tyrone Corbin talks about Utah’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks

Mike D’Antoni, Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 13-19

Temperature reading: Slow boil.

There’s not a hotter seat in the league than coach of the Lakers … unless your name is Phil Jackson. It’s all about the legacy and all those past Lakers championship banners that Doc Rivers had covered up when he took the job with the Clippers. Unless you’re on the verge of hanging up another banner, nobody is going to be happy. And it’s never a good thing when your coach admits after a listless loss at home to the lowly Sixers that he doesn’t really know why his team often plays with a lack of energy or interest. Yes, he’s been without Kobe Bryant for all but six games and the Lakers have enough other injuries (Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar) to fill an ER. But if the Lakers are hopelessly buried — and who says that hasn’t already happened? — by the time Kobe is ready for his second comeback, a head could to roll.


VIDEO: How will Kobe Bryant’s injury affect the Lakers long-term outlook?

Randy Wittman, Washington Wizards

Record: 14-15

Temperature reading: Warm.

It’s about the end of the line for second and third chances and any more excuses for Wittman. Even though he’s had to go for a stretch without Bradley Beal, Wittman has had a healthy and productive John Wall doing all that he can from the season opener. The front office helped him out in the middle by unloading the infirmed Emeka Okafor for Marcin Gortat. The response has been a steady coming together of a team making a run at the .500 mark. It’s really quite simple: the Wizards have to make the playoffs and any dramatic swoon in the coming weeks could make Wittman an in-season casualty.


VIDEO: NBA Action takes a closer look at the Wizards’ season

Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 11-21

Temperature reading: Simmering

The Cavs’ old boss was brought back to return a sense of familiarity and stability to a franchise hoping for progress with its young talent to even make a certain native Ohioan (aka LeBron James) look at Cleveland again when he becomes a free agent this summer. Instead, Brown has not found a way to prevent Kyrie Irving from becoming a ball-hog in the eyes of some of his teammates. The Cavs were supposed to be making a run as a real playoff team rather than bickering like the Real Housewives of Cleveland. That’s no way to recruit LeBron or keep your job.


VIDEO: The Starters crew discusses the Cavs’ fallout with Andrew Bynum

Dave Joerger, Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 14-17

Temperature reading: Cool.

The Grizzlies have lost their teeth, their identity and the intimidating factor of playing at the Grind House. They’re 7-11 at home and even the absence of the injured Marc Gasol should not excuse that. But let’s face it. Team owner Robert Pera and his crew forced Lionel Hollins out the door and hand-picked Joerger as their man. If they gave him the boot so quickly, they’d really be admitting they blew it. So he’s safe for now.


VIDEO: Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger discusses the team’s loss to Chicago

15 Comments

  1. eddo81 says:

    it’d be interesting if dwight stayed with the lakers because he’d get his chance to show himself with kobe and nash out, it would of became completely his team really and obviously pau would help a bit too

  2. Matthew says:

    I don’t think Corbin should be on there. It’s a rebuilding season, and he’s done well in the past

  3. Jack says:

    I’m really not one that believes that firing a coach is a solution to turning a franchise around. But coach Woodson not calling that time out against Washington? That was just unacceptable. Especially given how hot his seat is. I felt bad for the guy, I mean he was practically crying in the post game conference, and while it was noble of him to take the blame (which he totally deserves) – it just shouldn’t cut it.
    The other thing is that it’s obvious the D’Antoni – Lakers thing is not working out… why are they so hesitant to pull the plug on that? It’s been long enough where it needs not be justified to anyone, everyone already knows there’s no chemistry there…

  4. KingLBjBoy says:

    Phil Jackson will win a Championship in L.A???? Ur kidding ryt???lmao

  5. Zachary says:

    What makes Memphis so frustration is the fact that they hired a coach with no real experience coaching at the NBA level.

  6. Patty says:

    Mike D’Antoni, Los Angeles Lakers should be fired today. The owners need to hire Phil Jackson back.

    Enough of Mike D’Antoni!

    Enough of Mike D’Antoni

    Enough of Mike D’Antoni

  7. Patty says:

    To hear about Coach Lionel Hollins getting fired was extremely sad to me. Hollins wanted to stay with the Grizzlies and most of all Lionel Hollins didnot want to leave the players on the team. He Loved those players on the Grizzlies.

    The owner of the Grizzlies should be ashamed of himself tearing the heart out of the team by firing Lionel Hollins.

    I cannot allow myself to watch the Grizzlies anymore. It is too sad to watch.

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    I think Corbin and Wittman are safe for now. Jmals makes some good points. Would you be scared of Dave Joerger? Hollins was good, his grumpiness probably helped. Getting rid of Bynum might really help the Cavs.

  9. I think Dantoni should’ve never been hired in LA. Brian Shaw should’ve been at the helm if not Byron Scott. Dantoni isn’t respected and has never been known for his defense. Not to mention, they didn’t even consult with Kobe before hiring Brown or Dantoni. I think you ask for the Franchise player’s opinion and allow him to weigh in. Even if the franchise player doesn’t like who the team chooses, there can still be some negotiation.

    Memphis goes to the conference finals last year and fires the head coach. Why? Clearly that was personal. I thought i was the only coach who got fired after winning a championship.

    Jason Kidd in as a head coach fresh out of the league was the worst idea ever. Especially when you’ve got coaches like Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan, Scott Skiles out there looking for jobs. I loved Jason Kidd as a player and in a few years I think he could be a good coach, but right now he’s not going to command the ultimate respect that he needs. Gotta give it some time.

    What do the Knicks run on offense beside dribble dribble shoot? Woodson has gotta get his team under control and have some structure.

  10. v says:

    I am not a die-hard wizards’ fan; however, you may want to revisit this time in the coming month. and also not a witman fan but he is not totally witless either!

  11. jmals says:

    I think that D’Antoni is safe for similar reason that Joeger is safe in Memphis. The Lakers had the opportunity to bring back Jackson and denied his “sleep on it” request and hired Mike D. To fire him mid-season (and never letting him coach an entire season), admits it was a mistake. Plus for two seasons the Lakers have been plagued with tons injuries (they’re old). Early this season the Lakers misfit group was doing okay and honestly fun to watch. Different players stepped up each night and the PG combo of Blake and Farmar was very effective. They go down and now there is a team that can’t run the pick and roll any more, and the Lakers are left with off the dribble scorers trying to make plays. Seriously, can you blame D’Antoni when they have a D’League call up as their starting PG? I don’t think he was the best choice as coach, but to blame the coach who is working with it’s 6th string ball-handler? They have a better record than the Knicks and Nets with far less talent and playing in BY FAR the most talent packed conference I can ever remember. Seriously, when has the West (or East for that matter) ever been so full of competing teams? Ya the Jazz and Kings have bad records (but they would probably both be play-off contenders in the East talent wise) and the Pelicans were pretty decent when Davis was healthy…just saying.

  12. josey says:

    Mike brown should never have been rehired! Mike woodson was a flop in atlanta! Byron scott shouldve gotten another season with the CAVS! DAN GILBERT AND MANAGEMAENT R SOME BUMMS! BENNET WAS A STUOID pICK wiTH THE 1ST pICK IN THE DRAFT! Cavs will b in the next lottery! The opposite happens everytime dan gilbert says something!

  13. John says:

    Remember when the Grizzles were ranked best franchise in all sports by ESPN Magazine? But boy, have they gone bad ever since… (the link to the article is on my name when you click it)

  14. jim says:

    Mike Brown is clearly a coach whose record reflects the talent of his teams, not his ability to extract Ws from middling talent. A fairly pedestrian coach, all in all.