Sacramento’s Luke Walton went down first getting the axe from the Kings front office on November 21. The Kings were 6-11 and the franchise is desperate for a playoff berth, something Sacramento hasn’t done in 16 NBA seasons.
With Walton out, the next NBA coach on the chopping block isn’t all that obvious. There’s really no clear front runner in the race to be fired next. There are a handful of candidates though and in today’s “win now or else” culture, one of these guys could face the same fate as Walton.
STEPHEN SILAS – HOUSTON ROCKETS
Houston is young and they are continuing to rebuild under Silas, who was hired prior to the 2020-21 season. The Rockets went 17-55 last year and started this season 1-16. It looked pretty grim for Silas, who is given +500 odds to be the next NBA coach fired at top rated sportsbooks.
Then, the Rockets began a seven-game winning streak that is still intact prior to a Friday night (Dec. 10) game against Milwaukee. Houston beat Chicago 118-113 to start the streak then put up 146 points in an overtime win over the Hornets. There were consecutive wins over the Thunder and then two more over Orlando and New Orleans. Houston then won impressively in a 114-104 victory over Brooklyn.
Now 8-16, Houston looks like a different team. For now, Silas is safe. There will be several bumps in the road, but Silas should be able to improve upon the 17 wins from last season.
FRANK VOGEL – LOS ANGELES LAKERS
In 2019-20, Vogel was a genius. He led the Lakers to the franchise’s 17th NBA title. Last season, L.A. exited the postseason early losing to Western Conference champion Phoenix 4-2. Now, the Lakers are just 13-12 and they are nothing like the team of a year ago. That could be due to the acquisition of Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers are now one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.
A week ago, Los Angeles was under .500 and questions about Vogel’s job security began. The issue for Vogel is simply health. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook all back in the Lakers lineup, the team is 3-1 in its last four games.
Make no mistake, if the Lakers do not continue to ascend in the Western Conference Vogel could be out. Don’t forget Mike Brown. Brown succeeded the great Phil Jackson in 2011. At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Brown’s team that featured five former All-Stars struggled and the head coach was canned after five games. Vogel is listed at +300 to be fired next.
DWANE CASEY – DETROIT PISTONS
The Pistons are committed to a complete overhaul and rebuild. The problem is that Casey, the former NBA title-winning coach of the Toronto Raptors, might get caught in the middle. Detroit is losing and that is really the expectation right now, but at some point the Pistons are going to have to start winning some games.
Detroit made the playoffs in Casey’s first season after finishing .500 (41-41) in the regular season. Then the overhaul started. Detroit has won just 20 games in each of the past two seasons. Currently, the Pistons have the worst record in the NBA at 4-19 (prior to games on Dec. 8). Detroit is on pace to win just 14 games this season and, once again, obtain a lottery pick. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as mentioned at some point the Pistons have to win some games. Remember, Detroit’s top executive Troy Weaver didn’t hire Casey. If he doesn’t produce, Casey (+200) could be next on the list to go.
WILLIE GREEN – NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
The worst record in the Western Conference belongs to Green’s Pelicans. It’s not all Green’s fault. He has one of the league’s brightest young superstars in Zion Williamson, but he has yet to play a game this season. Williamson injured a foot in the summer, had surgery, and has yet to make his season debut.
Green is in his first season and the Pelicans are 7-20 overall. It’s probably a little early, but Green is listed at +600 to be fired next. With Williamson’s return on the horizon, the Pelicans might do enough to give Green a second season.