The 2016-17 NBA season was a time of peace on earth and goodwill towards head coaches — not a single one was fired, marking the first time that had happened since at least Millard Fillmore’s presidency. But the same cannot be said about the 2017-18 campaign, as Earl Watson and David Fizdale have already walked the plank less than two months in. Here are six more coaches whose seats are rapidly warming and could be in danger of following suit.
Doc Rivers, LA Clippers
A recent report suggested that Medicial Practicioner Rivers is likely safe for this season, citing the rash of injuries that have crippled his team in recent weeks. But the ice still seems to thinning underneath him with the Clippers relapsing into their futility of decades past. Their lack of effort and creativity made for a difficult watch even when Blake Griffin was still healthy, and Rivers’ rotations have largely resembled a dart throw otherwise. Welcome to the starting lineup, CJ Williams! Jawun Evans, come on down! And what’s more is that there’s hardly been a Clipper who has improved their play this season despite the increased opportunity with all the injuries and the exit of Chris Paul … except for maybe Lou Williams and Doc’s own son Austin. Now to be fair, the loss of the team’s best offensive player in Griffin and their best defensive player in Patrick Beverley will probably move Lord Steve Ballmer to show mercy on Rivers. But enthusiasm is quickly waning as “What’s up, Doc?” becomes more of a cry of exasperation than a Bugs Bunny catchphrase.
New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry believes in the Big Baller way.
Before his team played the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Gentry paid rookie guard Lonzo Ball the ultimate compliment by saying that he couldn’t see how Ball could possibly fail, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry says Lonzo Ball is an "old soul" and "a coach's dream." Adds: "I don't see how he could possibly fail."
While Gentry’s players seem much less enthused by the rookie, it’s certainly high praise from somebody who has coached in the NBA for decades and been around elite point guards such as Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Stephen Curry. Ball has been drawing rave reviews from other basketball higher-ups as well, and it’s becoming obvious that he is much more than just empty hype.
Holiday, 26, averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists per game for New Orleans in 2016-17. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, he should attract interest from a number of different teams and may even get the opportunity for a homecoming or the chance to team up with his brother.
Health is a concern with Holiday — he has averaged just 51.5 games played in his four seasons in New Orleans. But as an explosive two-way guard who can synergize with resident frontcourt menaces Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, it’s easy to see why Gentry and the Pelicans want him back.
“I really don’t give a s— about my job status,” Gentry said. “I’m gonna work hard and I’m gonna coach until the day they tell me I’m not the coach here anymore. I don’t ever worry about that. That’s not anything I ever spend five seconds worrying about. My worry is how do I get the guys in the locker room to play at the level I want them to. That’s where all my effort goes.”
Aside from Anthony Davis, who just may be the MVP of the league, the guys in Gentry’s locker room are not playing at a high level. And based on what Gentry said about Davis recently, we know he thinks incredibly highly of the superstar.
The Pelicans were swept in the first round of the playoffs two years ago, and that cost former head coach Monty Williams his job. The team won 30 games in its first year under Gentry and could be even worse off this season. He knows he could be getting the axe if things don’t turn around in a hurry.
Alvin Gentry thinks so highly of Anthony Davis that he wouldn’t trade the big man for anybody in the league — not even LeBron James.
The New Orleans Pelicans head coach joined Jay Mohr on FOX Sports Radio Tuesday and was asked about Davis. He then mentioned how valuable he considers the former No. 1 pick to be.
“I wouldn’t trade him for anybody, I can tell you that there’s not anyone in the league that I would trade him for,” Gentry told Mohr.
Mohr then asked whether he would keep Davis if presented with the opportunity to get LeBron in return.
“My guy is 23 years old — he’s going to be around for a long time. I love LeBron and he’s as talented as anybody who has ever played the game, but he’s also a little bit older than my guy by a few years as a matter a fact. But if you’re talking about starting a team right now then yes, but if you’re talking about the very best player in the league then I don’t think there’s any doubt that it is LeBron.”
Davis is in his fifth season in the league and seems to only be getting better. He’s averaging a career-high 31.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, and he’s shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 81.3 from the line. Unfortunately his team is only 6-12 this season, but it’s not for a lack of effort on his part. And Gentry probably isn’t crazy to want to keep Davis over anybody else.
The New Orleans Pelicans were torn apart at the seams by injury last season, and their luck still doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
In an appearance on The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe on Friday, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said that guard Tyreke Evans will not be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season.
“He won’t be ready for the start of the season,” Gentry said, per Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate. “He’s in a rehab situation. I think for us, we just got to move forward with our season, and then if he comes back and he’s able to help us, I think that just adds icing to the cake.”
Evans, 26, averaged 15.2 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 6.6 assists per game last year but was only healthy enough to suit up in 25 games for New Orleans. The former No. 4 overall pick was ruled out for the remainder of the season in February when he underwent his third right knee surgery in nine months and is apparently still very much in recovery.
While obviously a meaningful contributor to the team, Evans has had a tendency to drive the Pelicans’ offense into the ground with his chaotic dribbling and his high volume of touches. Being without Evans for the opening part of next season may not be entirely to New Orleans’ detriment, as they will be able to find more playing time for Buddy Hield, their No. 6 overall selection in last month’s draft, as well as new free agent additions Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore. But having gone 30-52 last year, they’re going to need everyone healthy for the upward climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture, let alone the lofty assessment Evans himself had of the team just last offseason.
“Sources tell me that [Demps] spent way too much of this year second-guessing his own hire as a head coach, often in very public ways within earshot of players, staff and even opponents,” Wojnarowski said.
Former coach Monty Williams led New Orleans to the playoffs last year, but Demps didn’t like him and gave him the axe, and now he’s paying the price for that.
The New Orleans Pelicans are all but eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race, and with Anthony Davis battling injuries, coach Alvin Gentry conceded that he would have to consider sitting him for the remainder of the season.
Davis had a knee-on-knee collision with Portland’s C.J. McCollum during Friday’s game against Portland and will miss Sunday’s game against the Clippers at the very minimum. Gentry admitted Friday night that the team may have to think about shutting Davis down for the season to prevent further damage.
“I wouldn’t say no to that. I wouldn’t say no to that,” Gentry said on the topic of resting Davis, via ESPN’s Justin Verrier. “I think we’ve gotta be smart collectively, along with him. And like I said, I think we’ll know a lot more after they talk to the doctors today. And then I think there can be some decisions made. I think that’s something that he would definitely have to consider.”
Gentry conceded several weeks ago that the Pelicans are out of the playoff race. If Davis is banged up, there is no reason to risk him and his future in dead-end games.
The Pelicans have 23 games remaining in the regular season and currently sit six games behind the Houston Rockets, who hold the eighth and final spot in the NBA’s Western Conference playoff race. In theory, New Orleans shouldn’t be written off yet. Realistically, well, that’s another story.
The Pelicans are certainly facing an uphill battle, one that head coach Alvin Gentry concedes is probably going to be too tough to climb.
An angry Alvin Gentry says the Pels are no longer in the playoff race. "No, we're not. We're not."
Wednesday night New Orleans lost its second game in a row, falling to the Rockets 100-95 to drop to five wins and five losses in their last ten games. It’s understandable why Gentry was upset after losing a game they could’ve used to make up ground. That said, this definitely is not what fans want to hear.
What started as a promising season after making the playoffs a year ago has largely been derailed by injuries. Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, and Tyreke Evans have all missed games due to various ailments and Jrue Holiday had his minutes limited early in the season as he recovered from surgery to repair a fractured tibia. One win in their first twelve games also didn’t help.
The good news is, as long as Anthony Davis is healthy, the Pelicans have at least a puncher’s chance to claw their way up into the top eight teams, even if it doesn’t seem likely.
Mike D’Antoni played an indirect role in the development of many players and coaches who helped the Golden State Warriors win an NBA championship, and his work was not overlooked on Tuesday night.
After the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6, both head coach Steve Kerr and assistant coach Alvin Gentry gave D’Antoni credit.
“Tell Mike D’Antoni he’s vindicated!” Gentry shouted, per ESPN’s Ethan Strauss. “We just kicked everyone’s ass playing the way everybody complained about!”
Gentry served as an assistant coach under D’Antoni with the Phoenix Suns from 2003 through 2008. It was during that span that Steve Nash emerged as a superstar and the Suns found success running an offense that featured plenty of 3-point shooting and pick-and-roll. Sound familiar?
D’Antoni’s influence was not lost on Kerr, who was the general manager of the Suns toward the end of D’Antoni’s tenure with the team.
“I think Steve (Nash) kind of laid out a vision for a whole generation of young point guards. And with the game changing, Mike D’Antoni kind of initiating that style in Phoenix, the floor starting to spread, the whole league kind of playing shooting fours and fives and playing a little faster,” Kerr said Tuesday, via Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk. “I think Mike and Steve in many ways set the table for Steph Curry. And I think Steph would tell you that too. He has great respect for Steve.”
While D’Antoni’s last several years as a head coach with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers did not go well, he had to have felt pretty good hearing the coaching staff of the NBA champions shower him in praise.