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) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls, leaning away from his superheated chair. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images /

Joe Mazzulla’s Seat Index: Sweaty Shamrock

Joe Mazzulla wasn’t even supposed to be in the seat; he was going to work his way up the bench behind head coach Ime Udoka and one day get a chance to interview for head coaching jobs. Then Chip Hardy left for Utah just before Udoka was suspended by the Celtics organization, elevating Mazzulla to head coach just before the season began.

That was not a fair situation for anyone to be in, and Mazzulla taking the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals (and to Game 7 at that) was a solid accomplishment given the context. Even so, this is a franchise that expects to win a title with this core, and the excuses are now gone for Mazzulla. He has a veteran staff, a full summer to implement his system, and sky-high expectations. If he fails to deliver he could be casualty of those expectations next summer.

Willie Green’s Seat Index: Burning Buns

The New Orleans Pelicans are really good when they are healthy and mediocre when they are not. Unfortunately for head coach Willie Green, they generally haven’t been healthy at any point in the past two years. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum have only played 355 possessions together (per Cleaning the Glass). For a brief whisper of a moment, the Pelicans were one of the best teams in basketball early last season.

Missing the playoffs next season, injuries or no, is off the table for this organization. They want to win, and Willie Green needs to find a way to take them there. If they fall short yet again there will likely be significant changes; that could mean moving a star player, but it could also mean moving on from a promising young coach who wasn’t able to get this group over the hump.

Billy Donovan’s Seat Index: Roasting Rump

In one sense, Billy Donovan has been set up for a burnt booty. He was given a “win-now” roster without much depth, and lost his point guard 20 games in. He has cobbled together an above-average defense by mixing and matching various parts, but with a center who can’t protect the rim and two shaky defenders in the center of the lineup that has meant putting good defenders with limited offensive skills around them, limiting the downside and upside at the same time.

That patch job can only take a team so far, and the clock is ticking on this Bulls roster. If management or ownership have unrealistic expectations about what this team can accomplish (and they clearly do) then Billy Donovan is an excellent candidate to be sacrificed in pursuit of them.