A handful of NBA coaches are reportedly on the “hot seat” as the season winds down.
Portland Trail Blazers’ Terry Stotts, Milwaukee Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer, Indiana Pacers’ Nate Bjorkgren, Sacramento Kings’ Luke Walton and Washington Wizards’ Scott Brooks are all coaches whose futures are worth monitoring, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
The Trail Blazers are increasingly likely to part ways with Stotts unless the team makes a deep playoff run.
If Stotts can’t “pull a rabbit out of his hat” with a playoff miracle of sorts, as one source put it, the Blazers are expected to opt for a new coaching voice. And the Damian Lillard timeline, it seems, is playing a big part here.
Sources say Blazers chairwoman Jody Allen, who took over for her brother, Paul, when he passed away in October 2018, has become increasingly focused on the Blazers’ future this season. What’s more, the absence of fans inside the Moda Center for so much of the season meant Stotts was being closely monitored by ownership inside a fishbowl environment that didn’t help his cause.
Among the potential coaching candidates for the Trail Blazers, sources say: Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan, 76ers assistant Dave Joerger, Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry.
There is significant pressure on Bucks head coach Budenholzer, as the team is likely to part ways with him unless the team reaches at least the Eastern Conference Finals, sources told The Athletic.
Budenholzer has one year, about $7 million left on his contract after this season.
A recent report stated that Bjorkgren’s future with the team was uncertain, amid a year of difficulties with players and staff.
More details have emerged about the situation.
Bjorkgren’s “abrasive” style and a tendency to be controlling with assistants and other staff members has been a cause for concern, notes Charania and Amick.
Multiple players, including Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, have expressed dissatisfaction with Bjorkgren this season.
Several Pacers players feel the analytical style Bjorkgren has employed doesn’t suit the team’s personnel, sources told The Athletic.
While there are growing pains, Bjorkgren has thus far shown a willingness within the organization to try to address those issues.
While Walton’s job is not 100 percent safe, the team’s current financial situation (losing approximately $100 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic) could work in favor of him retaining his job for now.
Walton still has strong relationships with general manager Monte McNair and several key players.
The Wizards recent hot streak of winning 13 of their last 16 games could help Brooks’ future with the team.
However, “it’s unclear whether a play-in entry would suffice if their season ended there,” notes Charania and Amick.
Brooks is still “extremely well-liked within Wizards circles” and he has a strong relationship with star Bradley Beal which could help the franchise decide to ultimately keep him as head coach.
Still, the long-term future of Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard is also somewhat uncertain, which makes Brooks’ status somewhat uncertain as well.