There’s going to be a tremendous amount of pressure on certain players heading into the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season on July 30.
While teams gather at Walt Disney World in Orlando, some coaches are also under a ton of pressure.
From a head man in Philadelphia who was on the hot seat prior to the season being suspended to another in Houston, here’s a look at five coaches who could see their jobs on the line once the season resumes.
Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers
It’s not a secret that Sixers general manager Elton Brand failed to commit to Brown long-term during the spring. There’s certainly good reason for this. Philadelphia returns to the court boasting a disappointing 39-26 record. It is currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. That’s not what fans in the City of Brotherly Love had envisioned when the season started last October.
Since taking over as Philadelphia’s head coach back in 2013-14, Brown has been involved in major roster and organizational shake ups. He’s done well to lead the Sixers from the ashes of “The Process” to contention. Even then, Brown might not be the man to lead this squad moving forward. How Philadelphia performs during the NBA restart will tell us all we need to know about his future with the team.
Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
Seemingly on the hot seat since he took over as the Pelicans’ head coach back in 2015-16, Gentry’s situation is clouded by the presence of new front office head David Griffin. There’s no built-in relationship there. It’s led to speculation that Griffin could look for his own guy to lead the likes of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball moving forward.
Gentry boasts a disastrous 173-219 record as New Orleans’ head coach. The team is currently 28-36 on the season and the 10th seed in the Western Conference. It is 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for a top-eight spot. Short of the Pelicans earning a surprise playoff appearance, Gentry is as good as gone.
Steve Clifford, Orlando Magic
A respected longtime assistant of the Knicks, Rockets, Magic and Lakers, Clifford finally earned his first stint as a head coach with the Charlotte Hornets back in 2013-14. He proceeded to lead that organization to two playoff appearances in five seasons.
However, things have not gone too swimmingly in Orlando. Clifford did lead the Magic to a playoff appearance in his first season. But that culminated in a first-round playoff exit. While Orlando is once again in playoff positioning heading into Walt Disney’s bubble, it boasts a 30-35 record. An early playoff exit or missing out on the second season altogether could lead to his departure from Orlando after just two seasons.
Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers
A lot of the focus in the Pacific Northwest has been on Blazers general manager Neil Olshey. This makes sense given that he’s built a roster that’s been unable to come out of the Western Conference despite being in contention pretty much every season. Though, some of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of Stotts.
Portland heads into the restart of the NBA season with a 29-37 record and on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot. This comes following a 2018-19 campaign in which the team made it to the Western Conference Finals. Boasting a stud back court of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, that’s just not acceptable. Portland’s head coach since back in 2012-13, Stotts could become a victim of circumstance should the Blazers struggle upon their return to the season.
Mike D’Antoni, Houston Rockets
It’s been well documented that this could be D’Antoni’s final season as Houston’s head coach. His contract expires in October. And short of a title run for the Rockets, the expectation is that general manager Daryl Morey will be looking for a new head coach.
This is somewhat interesting in that D’Antoni boasts a stunning .590 winning percentage as the Rockets’ head coach. Though, a lack of playoff success has hurt him big time. Morey has made it clear that it’s championship or bust once the season resumes. The Rockets are not top-end contenders. Should they fall short of that goal, D’Antoni will see his tenure in Houston come to an abrupt conclusion this fall.