NBA Coaches “Rumored” To Be Fired
Mar 1, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd watches from the sideline as they take on the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets firing Jacque Vaughn on has piqued everyone’s interest. Typically, it’s rare for fans and analysts to revel in an NBA coach getting the boot. But since it happened right after Adrian Griffin was let go by the Milwaukee Bucks and Wes Unseld Jr. by the Washington Wizards, it has sparked intense guesswork.

The question is: who’s next? It’s a little late to dismiss coaches now that the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) 2024-25 campaign has already kicked off (although the Nets have just disproved this idea). Instead, let’s focus on offseason splits. Before that, remember this is only “speculation.”

Here are NBA coaches currently swirling in the rumor mill to be next on the chopping block:

Darvin Ham

Darvin Ham has been under the microscope this season, with many questioning his future with the Los Angeles Lakers, especially as the team strives for championship glory. Despite the Lakers’ impressive 8-3 run recently, they’re still battling from the ninth spot in the Western Conference, not where a title-contending team expects to be. In fact, Los Angeles Lakers odds show only a 32.7% chance of making it to the playoffs based on Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report.

The pressure on Ham could intensify if the Lakers falter in the play-in, especially with a potential showdown against the Golden State Warriors looming. Critics have already pointed fingers at Ham’s strategies, from leaning too much on Taurean Prince to puzzling lineup choices, not to mention the team’s struggle from beyond the arc (ranking last in the league in three-point attempts) and an offense that can stall without D’Angelo Russell’s hot hand.

These issues could fuel further debate over Ham’s coaching approach if the Lakers don’t ignite in the postseason.

Chauncey Billups

The Portland Trail Blazers have shown flashes of competitiveness this season. Yet, Chauncey Billups is staring down the barrel of his third consecutive season with a record below .500. With a career coaching win rate of just .344, much of this struggle can be attributed to a roster not built for contention and a slew of key injuries. However, even in games featuring star player Damian Lillard, Billups’ record stands at a disappointing 39-48.

While it’s not entirely just to blame the developmental hurdles of young players on the head coach, given that front offices are ultimately responsible for drafting and acquisitions and hiring the development staff, Billups is still the figurehead responsible for player growth. Under his watch, Shaedon Sharpe is undergoing his second season with a significantly below-average box plus/minus, a statistic measuring a player’s impact on the game.

Similarly, Scoot Henderson’s box plus/minus of minus-6.3 ranks alarmingly low among rookie seasons since the advent of the three-point era, placing him 937th out of 944 for rookies logging at least 1,000 minutes. With Sharpe’s return this season uncertain and Henderson’s need for marked improvement, hearsays about Billups’ future with the Blazers could intensify if the situation doesn’t turn around.

Jason Kidd

With Luka Dončić on the roster, the Dallas Mavericks might not need a complex offensive playbook. Handing him the ball for isolation plays or pick-and-rolls usually results in a scoring spree. His with the Slovenia national team indicates he can contribute more without the ball if he’s motivated (or coached) correctly. Kyrie Irving is another offensive powerhouse with the team who could add more dynamism to their game plan.

The real concern for Dallas lies in their defense, which has registered below average for the second consecutive year. Without a creative offensive strategy, having a robust defense to rely on becomes crucial, but the Mavericks are lacking in this area.

While some of the responsibility falls on the roster constructed by the Mavericks’ front office, recent signings like Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington show a potential shift toward improvement. Nonetheless, as one of the top players globally, Dončić’s potential absence from the playoffs for another year would undoubtedly lead to criticism, with much of it likely directed at coach Jason Kidd.

Steve Clifford

Steve Clifford’s return to the Charlotte Hornets was seen as a push towards immediate success, not necessarily a move aimed at player development. In the mid-2010s, Clifford managed to extract more from the teams led by Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker than many expected.

However, in his second tenure with the Hornets, Clifford’s impact wasn’t as significant, especially in terms of defensive performance. Under his guidance, the team is currently experiencing one of the worst defensive records in NBA history, only outdone by this season’s Atlanta Hawks.

While it’s true that scoring across the league has reached historically high levels, Charlotte’s defensive woes are stark, with the team allowing an alarming 121.0 points per 100 possessions. Given this poor performance, it might be more beneficial for the Hornets to consider a coach with a stronger focus on developing players, especially if the team’s results remain lackluster.

Final Thoughts

Remember that the landscape of the NBA can shift dramatically with a single decision. While the speculation about these coaches’ futures is based on current team performances and historical patterns, the reality can change based on numerous variables, including player health, mid-season trades, and unexpected team turnarounds. Stay up-to-date with the latest news.