Seat Index: Rating the 9 NBA head coaches in danger of being fired

J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /
2 of 5
Cleveland Cavaliers
Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks, contemplating a heating seat. Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images /

Tom Thibodeau’s Seat Index: Not entirely comfortable

Some NBA head coaches are feeling their hindquarters warm up because they are losing, but sometimes the problem is early success setting expectations too high to meet. That could be the case for Tom Thibodeau, who led the New York Knicks to the second round of the playoffs last year.

If the Knicks stumble this year, either due to a key injury or to regression from Julius Randle as the team’s second star, it’s possible some of the blame gets redirected to Thibs. He is known for wearing out his welcome on teams after a few years, and if the players stop responding to his gruff demeanor he could be sacrificed on the altar of a better tactical coach in the name of playoff success.

Chauncey Billups’ Seat Index: Toasty Tushie

If Thibs’ seat is warming up due to setting high expectations, Chauncey Billups’ seat is heating up for the opposite reason. Billups has done nothing but lower expectations every step of the way in Portland, from the bungling of his introductory press conference to a pair of losing seasons that wasted a chunk of Damian Lillard’s prime. He has shown very little to suggest he is an above-average NBA head coach.

The reason why Billups’ butt isn’t blazing is that the Trail Blazers’ expectations for this season are low to begin with. They are almost certainly entering a rebuild, and that lack of pressure could allow him to stick around for another year or two. Long-term, however, it seems fait accompli that Billups will be fired before Portland starts trying to win again.

Steve Clifford’s Seat Index: Heated Heinie

Back for his second stint in Charlotte, Steve Clifford is a known commodity as an NBA head coach. He is going to elevate the defense, clean up the sloppy mistakes, and field a professional team with a high floor and low ceiling. When you factor in the sloppy front office work for this team across the last half-decade, you get a roster not ready to compete but an organization that doesn’t realize that.

With new ownership coming in, expect the Hornets to clean house next summer. Largely through no fault of his own, that probably means Clifford’s heinie only gets hotter as the season goes on.