We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season. Today:
Which coach will be the first fired this season?
As the saying goes, coaches are hired to be fired. Fair or not — and plenty of times it is not, coaches get fired for a GM’s failings all the time — coaches are the first let go when a team struggles or doesn’t reach expectations.
This season, NBA coaches will be fired. Who is sitting on the hottest seat going into the season? NBC’s ProBasketballTalk team gives you their answers.
Kurt Helin: Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans
The smart answer here would be Brett Brown in Philadelphia, but nobody is accusing me of being smart. Down in New Orleans, there is growing pressure on the organization to get enough talent around Anthony Davis and start winning sooner rather than later (the Pelicans have already been passed on the up-and-coming team rankings by the Timberwolves and Jazz). The fact the Pelicans won only 30 games last season had everything to do with injuries (including to Davis), and that bad luck hasn’t changed as again they will start the season without Jrue Holiday (as he deals with family issues) and Tyreke Evans. Even if this roster were healthy, it would be unlikely to make the playoffs in the West, which will add to the pressure. Fair or not — and you can certainly argue that Gentry would pay for GM Dell Demps’ errors — if and when the Pelicans get off to a slow start the coach’s seat will get hot.
Dan Feldman: Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers
As tempted as I am to pick Dave Joerger, not even I think Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is that outlandish (though…). So, I’ll go with 76ers coach Brett Brown. Other teams most likely to lose a lot — Nets, Lakers, Suns and Kings — have coaches in their first full season. Some other teams most likely to underachieve relative to internal expectations — Pacers, Magic and Knicks — also have new coaches. But Brett checks every box: He’s been there a while, has a terrible record, works for a general manager who didn’t hire him and now coaches a team poised to fall short of even its meager projections. Philadelphia’s new veterans won’t produce much, and the roster is still imbalanced. That Brown never had a fighting chance will matter only so much. Worth noting: I’d take the field in a landslide over Brown AND my runner-up choice, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.
Dane Carbaugh: Brett Brown, Philadelphia 76ers
It’s easy to take Philadelphia Sixers head coach Brett Brown as the safest best to be on the hottest seat. Brown has won just 47 games in three seasons at the helm for Philly, a mark partially orchestrated by ousted GM Sam Hinkie. More importantly, Jerry and Bryan Colangelo now lead the way for the Sixers front office, and both father and son have shown the propensity to make drastic coaching changes. Jerry hired Mike Krzyzewski to head USA Men’s Basketball in 2005 after a disappointing run at the 2004 Olympics, and Bryan dropped Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell in Toronto after signing him to a 3-year extension the previous spring. Although Brown is held in high esteem as a basketball mind around the organization, it’s likely the Colangelos will want to bring in their own coach to move past The Process.