Outside of the Detroit Pistons struggling to gain traction on an Andre Drummond trade, and Kyle Kuzma having a murky future with the Los Angeles Lakers, there’s minimal buzz leading up to the NBA trade deadline. Bummer.
On the other hand, there are several head coaches who are — or could be — on the hot seat. Here are five of them:
Luke Walton, Sacramento Kings
The Kings fired Dave Joerger after an impressive season, replaced him with Luke Walton, and the team is 15-28 this season, which is good for the 14th seed in the Western Conference. All three occurrences are perplexing.
Yes, moving on from a head coach after one NBA season would be drastic, but the Kings have been an immense disappointment this season. With a roster headlined by Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, and Marvin Bagley, the Kings have arguably the best young core devoid of a playoff appearance in the NBA. Yet, they’ve taken an enormous step backwards.
They opened the season losing their first five games and have since sustained eight and five-game losing streaks. Offensively, the Kings are stagnant, the ball isn’t moving, and they went into Monday 24th in the NBA in points (106.6) and 23rd in assists (22.7) per game. If they don’t finish the season on a high note, Walton could be looking for his third coaching gig in three years.
Lloyd Pierce, Atlanta Hawks
Is Pierce the direct culprit for the Hawks being the 15th seed in the Eastern Conference? No, but it’s difficult to vindicate the head coach of a team that was perceived to be on the rise in the second half of last season when they’re 10-34 the ensuing season.
Yes, John Collins, an integral figure in the Hawks’ rebuild, missing most of the season has hurt Pierce’s rotation. But the Hawks are too talented to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, especially with Trae Young, who’s averaging 29.2 points per game, running their offense. A lot of players are struggling to get into a groove offensively, are shooting inefficiently, and they’re overall struggling mightily on both ends of the floor.
The Hawks went into Monday 29th in offensive net rating (103.6) and 27th in defensive net rating (112.9). They’ve also posted back-to-back wins just twice this season. This is a team that’s severely underperforming. Their regression is startling, and if they continue to rot at the bottom of the East, Pierce’s player development will be called into question by team brain trust.
Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards
Brooks’ Wizards had few expectations for them going into this season based on John Wall recovering from an Achilles injury. With that said, times are rough in the nation’s capital, and severe blowups are piling up.
For example, Wall supposedly cursed out Brooks in a practice last season. It was recently reported that Bradley Beal is “as angry with and emotional about his team as he’s ever been since being drafted by the Wizards.” In all likelihood, Brooks cleared the air with his star guards, but these breakouts among the team’s franchise players, as well as no winning coming afterwards is a bad look for Brooks.
Plus, there have been minimal bright spots for the Wizards this season. Sure, they have nine players averaging double figures in points, but they’ve struggled to close out games and are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA; the Wizards went into Monday 30th in the NBA in opponent points per game (120.2) and defensive net rating (115.8). This is a set of circumstances that don’t bode well for a coach at exit interviews.
Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, and Josh Richardson, and they’re only the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Somehow, this team went into Monday 22nd in points per game (108.5). A depth chart that features the aforementioned players can’t be in the bottom third in the NBA in scoring. Yet, their stars struggle to close out games, occasionally they get outplayed in one-on-one sets, and we’re still waiting for that breakout season. When a team continually doesn’t collectively grow into its potential, coaching is at fault.
Brown has mostly gotten a free pass for any struggles the 76ers have endured over his seven-year tenure. Perhaps it’s due to him being there at the beginning of the process. This team is supposed to be a championship contender. Instead, they’re a mid-seeded enigma. Another second-round playoff exit or worse and Brown could easily be fired.
Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers
You can only disappoint in the playoffs for so long without getting fired. For Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, the end appears to be near.
On a yearly basis, Portland hasn’t been able to grasp the opportunity at hand and win the Western Conference. Or, they shock the basketball world and get swept in a series they’re expected to win. This season has been a mess. Despite considerable production from Carmelo Anthony, who they signed in November, the Trail Blazers haven’t been able to start up the engine offensively despite the likes of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum still running the show.
This is a deep team. It’s also a team with deep-rooted defensive issues, which you wouldn’t expect from a team with their familiarity; Portland went into Monday 24th in defensive net rating (112.3). In a conference with two teams who were widely expected to be on the outside looking in at the playoffs holding playoff seeds (Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies), the Trail Blazers missing the playoffs could be the final nail in the coffin for Stotts.