The Brooklyn Nets became the first team this season to move on from their current coach, as they parted ways with Steve Nash after a 2-5 start to the season. Nash left Brooklyn with a 94-67 career regular season record and just one playoff series win to his name. Now the question becomes which coach will be next?
It's still very early in the season, so no such moves may be imminent, but you never know in the NBA. With that said, here's a look at a few other coaches who could potentially feel their seat become increasingly warm as the season wears on.
1. Dwane Casey, Detroit Pistons
Casey is in his fifth year as the coach of the Detroit Pistons, and a lack of progress could eventually be the reason that the team decides to move on from the veteran coach. The Pistons have never finished over .500 during any of Casey's seasons with the team (they finished 41-41 in 2018-19) and they've missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
After a 2-7 start to the '22-23 season, it doesn't necessarily look like this is going to be the year that the team markedly improves. Granted, the Pistons are clearly in the midst of a rebuild and the roster is populated with young, inexperienced players, so expectations were tempered. Nonetheless, professional basketball is a results-based business, and another season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings could ultimately cost Casey his job.
2. Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks
Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA Coach of the Year after his first season with the Knicks in 2020-21 when the team finished with a 41-31 overall record after a string of underwhelming seasons under other coaches. Since then though, things haven't gone especially well for New York. They were eliminated in five games in the first round of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks that season, and last season they failed to qualify for postseason play entirely after finishing 37-45 -- 11th in the East.
After spending big to add guard Jalen Brunson in free agency over the offseason, there are expectations -- both internal and external -- for the team. Not necessarily championship expectations, but a playoff appearance, at least. If the Knicks struggle mightily during the season, or miss the playoffs again, the organization could decide to go in a different direction.
3. Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers
Doc Rivers' tenure with the 76ers has been a bit underwhelming to this point. He was brought in to lead the team farther than the inexperienced Brett Brown, but thus far he's been unable to do so. The Sixers secured the top seed in the East during Rivers' first season with the organization, but they ultimately folded to the inferiorly talented Atlanta Hawks in the second round. Last season, the Sixers again fell in the second round at the hands of the Miami Heat despite acquiring James Harden prior to the deadline.
The Sixers entered the current campaign with a retooled roster and championship aspirations, and if the team isn't able to take a step forward, there could be repercussions. The team struggled out of the gate with a 1-4 start, but they've since started to right the ship. It seems somewhat unlikely that the Sixers would part ways with Rivers in the middle of the season unless the team is severely underachieving, especially since he has a couple years remaining on his current contract. However, another early exit in the postseason could be the end of Rivers' time in Philadelphia.
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4. Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls
Billy Donovan is in his third season as the head coach of the Bulls, and the team might need to take a step forward in order for him to keep the gig for another season. Chicago missed the playoffs entirely in Donovan's first season after finishing with a 31-41 record, and they were eliminated in the first round last season after finishing sixth in the East with a 46-36 record. There was obvious improvement, but the ending of the season was somewhat underwhelming after the team added several pieces -- including DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso -- in free agency the prior summer.
The Bulls signed star guard Zach LaVine to a monster, $215 million extension over the offseason, and they now have the league's 11th-highest payroll, per Basketball Reference. With an increased payroll comes increased expectations, and if Donovan isn't able to meet them, Chicago might choose to look elsewhere.
5. Nate McMillan, Atlanta Hawks
Nate McMillan led the Hawks on a surprising run to the Eastern Conference finals two years ago, but the team took a major step backward last season when they lost in five games in the first round to the Miami Heat. After adding guard Dejounte Murray over the offseason to pair with Trae Young, the Hawks are clearly looking to make another postseason run, and it will be up to McMillan to make that happen.
During McMillan's tenure in Atlanta defense has been the main issue. The Hawks finished 26th in defensive rating last season, and they haven't been much better so far this season. If they're unable to improve on that end, it will be difficult for them to make too much real noise in the East, and it might also be difficult for McMillan to hold onto his job.