Updated NBA Hot Seat Meter, Midseason Edition
With the 2012-13 season more than halfway over, the majority of NBA coaches don't have to worry about their job security. And even those who are concerned should rest easy for the most part.
Making a change behind the bench now would be pretty inconsequential for those teams that are debating a move: Having to install a new system this late in the game could be more counterproductive than anything. The smart money says that we've already seen all of the firings that we'll get in the NBA this season. That said, there are a few coaches who might be on the way out if their respective teams completely pack it in over the next few weeks.
Byron Scott, Cleveland
Byron Scott is in a familiar position: The well-respected coach who appears to be underachieving a bit with a somewhat talented team. That was the case in New Orleans, and that may be the case in Cleveland, although the loss of Anderson Varejao is a crippling blow to a young Cavs team.
It's clear that Scott has more leeway than most other coaches would have in his situation: Cleveland will likely finish with less than 35 wins for the third season in a row, yet Scott's job security isn't a subject of much debate. The 51-year-old head coach has had numerous discussions with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, and it appears as though the team is resigned to take a wait-and-see approach...for now.
"We talked about it a couple years ago, that it was going to take some time," said Scott in an interview with the Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer. "I'm probably the one losing more patience than anybody, because I know I want to win."
Mike Dunlap, Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats are weighing changing their name back to the Hornets, and they may also be considering making a move on their bench.
Firing Mike Dunlap after one season would be extraordinarily myopic: The former St. John's coach was the toast of the town after winning seven of his first 12 games, but then he suddenly morphed into Public Enemy No. 1 after the Bobcats endured an 18-game losing streak earlier this year.
To expect Dunlap to have immediate success on the NBA level with such a talent-starved roster is laughable, and if the Bobcats organization is truly debating a change, then it shows how little direction there is in the team's front office.
Randy Wittman, Washington
John Wall's injury definitely bought Randy Wittman a stay of execution of sorts, but the Washington Wizards bench boss needs to show and prove over the next three months if he wants to be with the team in 2013-14.
Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal are the future, and their development over the next 39 games under Wittman is key. And to his credit, Wittman hasn't even closed the door on the Wizards making a late-season playoff run.
"I don't foresee us giving up on the idea [of the playoffs]," Wittman told Mike Wise of The Washington Post. "Every night they go out there and fight their [behinds] off."
Keith Smart, Sacramento
Firing Keith Smart in the middle of the season doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a number of reasons. The Sacramento Kings are already too far out of the playoff race for any change to matter, and it's only logical to install a new coach once the team figures out where it will play next season.
The constant uncertainty surrounding the Kings probably didn't do Smart any favors: He's spent the better part of two years coaching a team that had one foot out of the door heading to Seattle. A strong second half of the season could help him land a future head coaching gig, and he's almost certain to be on the bench until April unless the bottom completely falls out on the Kings.
Mike D'Antoni, Los Angeles Lakers
Mike D'Antoni isn't likely to be looking for work anytime soon: Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register reports that the Los Angeles Lakers aren't thinking about making yet another change on the bench this season.
The hope among the front office is that the Lakers turn it around at some point over the next month or so. If not, expect a roster move or two at the trade deadline before anything regarding D'Antoni is even remotely considered.
As mediocre as the Lakers have been with D'Antoni, the franchise would like to avoid paying three head coaches (Mike Brown is still under contract), if at all possible.