The life of an NBA coach is a precarious one, with job security often hanging by a thread. However, last season proved to be particularly rough for several coaches who found themselves out of a job before the season even ended. Ime Udoka, Steve Nash, Nate McMillan, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams, Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers, and Dwane Casey were all let go by their respective teams. Now, as a new season approaches, there are a handful of coaches who are already feeling the heat.
One coach who enters the season on the hot seat is Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks. The expectations are high for Kidd and the Mavericks, especially with a generational talent like Luka Doncic leading the team. The Mavericks made moves in the offseason, including signing Kyrie Irving to a $126 million contract and adding Grant Williams to improve their defense. However, with all of these moves, the Mavericks are backed into a financial corner. If things don’t work out and the team fails to be a serious threat in the Western Conference, it will be difficult to retool and build another contender around Doncic. Other teams are already circling like vultures, hoping to pick off Doncic if he grows frustrated with losing. With all of these pressures, no coach enters the season with more pressure than Jason Kidd.
Another coach on the hot seat is Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets. Clifford’s job security is less about what happens on the court and more about the reality of his situation. Michael Jordan sold his majority shares of the Hornets, and the new owners will likely want to bring in their own people. General Manager Mitch Kupchak is also believed to be in the final year of his contract. The buzz around the league is that the Hornets will clean house in the front office and coaching staff after this season. Even if the Hornets have a bounce-back season with the healthy return of LaMelo Ball and the development of players like P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges, winning may not be enough to save Clifford’s job.
Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls is also on the hot seat. Donovan faces high expectations with a roster built to make the play-in tournament. However, injuries have already hit the team hard, with Lonzo Ball being ruled out for the season due to knee surgery. If the Bulls continue to perform like a lower seed in the Eastern Conference, someone will have to take the blame, and Donovan could be that person.
In the high-pressure world of the NBA, coaches are always one bad season away from losing their jobs. This season, Jason Kidd, Steve Clifford, and Billy Donovan find themselves under the microscope. The success of their respective teams will determine their fates, but one thing is certain: the hot seat is a place no coach wants to be.