NBA Coaches Under Most Pressure in 2012-13
In professional sports, very few coaches get to walk away from their jobs of their own volition—it's the nature of the business. NBA coaches aren't immune from this fact of life: Rare is the bench boss who willingly leaves his post before he is unceremoniously dismissed.
This year, there is a handful of coaches whose time patrolling the sidelines may soon be coming to an abrupt end. Many of the men on the proverbial hot seat are victims of circumstances beyond their control, but since teams aren't in the business of firing players en masse, these coaches could find themselves on the receiving end of a pink slip before the season is over.
5. Dwane Casey, Toronto
The recent run of success by Toronto might be enough to save Dwane Casey's job for the time being, but his seat on the Raptors' bench is still a bit warmer than most.
The expectation to "win now" isn't extraordinarily high with Toronto, so Casey's future ultimately rests on whether or not his current charges continue to evolve.
Casey all but admitted as much in a recent interview with Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "As far as where we are with our program, I like our guys, I like our team, I don't like our record right now but I like the way we're headed in the right direction."
Casey's predecessor (Jay Triano) was given two-plus years to make things work, but Triano earned himself a little breathing room after leading the Raptors to a 40-42 record in 2009-10.
4. Alvin Gentry, Phoenix
Alvin Gentry led Phoenix to the Western Conference finals in his first full season as head coach of the Suns in 2009-10. Since then, he's never finished above .500, and Phoenix is flailing in the depths of the Pacific Division.
There isn't a whole lot that Gentry—or anyone for that matter—can do with the current iteration of the Suns: Their two leading scorers are Goran Dragic and Shannon Brown. Phoenix simply isn't built to win any time soon, and unfortunately for Gentry, he'll be the fall guy for the recent decisions made by the Suns' front office.
3. Monty Williams, New Orleans
From all appearances, Monty Williams is a good guy and is one of the most respected young coaches in the league, but he may not be right for the Big Easy. His winning percentage has regressed in each of the past two seasons, and the New Orleans Hornets are clearly the worst team in the Western Conference.
Injuries to Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis didn't do much to help matters, but even when fully healthy, the Hornets struggle on both ends of the court. The return of Gordon will help in the scoring department, and trading Ryan Anderson could help matters as well.
It just might not be enough for Williams to keep his job in the long run.
2. Byron Scott, Cleveland
Something's got to give in Cleveland. Dan Gilbert and the rest of the Cavaliers' front office have to part ways with Byron Scott sooner rather than later—it just isn't working out.
After winning just 21 games last season, Cleveland has limped out of the gates this year, and even a healthy Kyrie Irving can't stop the Cavs' free-fall. The team is still a few pieces away from contending in the Eastern Conference, but it's far too talented to be mentioned in the same breath as the Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards.
Even Scott realizes that the clock is ticking on his time in Cleveland.
"I'm probably the one losing more patience than anybody, because I know I want to win," said Scott when interviewed by Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I put more pressure on myself than anybody can put on me."
1. Randy Wittman, Washington
The fact that John Wall has yet to suit up for a game this year is likely enough to earn Randy Wittman a bit more breathing room, but the Washington Wizards have been flat-out abysmal under his direction this season.
After starting the 2012-13 campaign 0-12, the Wizards endured another eight-game winless streak before finally breaking through with a victory on December 28. Washington has yet to string back-to-back wins together this year, and the team is absolutely horrendous offensively.
If the Wizards' swoon continues, Wittman may even be fired before Wall is back in the lineup.