Opportunities to Profit Off Uneasy Coaches: NBA Picks on Next Coach to Get the Axe

Matthew Jordan

Friday, May 29, 2015 1:53 PM GMT

Friday, May. 29, 2015 1:53 PM GMT

NBA writer Chris Sheridan, reported on Wednesday that he was told by an "NBA big shot" that "a coach is getting fired in next couple days, and nobody sees it coming." I speculate on who that might be.

I'm not going to include Chicago's Tom Thibodeau on here. It's a 100 percent lock that he's gone from Chicago and reports are that the team will fire him instead of holding out hope for landing a draft pick from a team in trade for Thibs. He could fired by the time this story is posted, but likely no later than Friday now that the conference finals are over (NBA prefers no major news during ongoing series). But Thibs being let go could factor into some team unexpectedly firing its coach. Right now, there are three openings: Denver, New Orleans and Orlando. The latter two have been linked to Thibodeau, although you hear that the Magic might hire another former Bulls coach in Scott Skiles.

There are two other teams I would include on this list: Toronto and Minnesota. However, the Raptors already have said they are retaining Dwane Casey despite flaming out of the playoffs in the first round for the second straight year. I could see the Timberwolves' Flip Saunders quitting as coach and going back to his full-time front office role but that wouldn't really count as a firing. Minnesota reportedly has eyes on Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg just like Chicago does.

Here are five teams, in no particular order, who might make a surprising change.

 

Los Angeles Lakers
I'm not even sure why the Lakers hired Byron Scott before last season. He was terrible in three seasons with Cleveland from 2010-13. True, Scott is a Laker legend and Kobe Bryant likes him. And, true, the Lakers knew they were going to struggle big time last season and maybe were just using Scott as a placeholder. But the team has been linked to Thibodeau in the past. So maybe the Lakers jump now because the rebuild looks a little better now with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, the emergence of rookie guard Jordan Clarkson this past season and tons of cap room to lure free agents (Kevin Love?).

 

Washington Wizards
Has any coach on a good team been more maligned the past couple of seasons than Wittman? The Wizards were terrible his first season but won 44 games in 2013-14 and 46 this past season, reaching the conference semifinals in each. I think Washington would have beaten the Hawks in this year's semifinals if John Wall hadn't gotten hurt. Maybe ownership thinks this team has reached a plateau under Wittman and wants to upgrade with Thibodeau or someone else. Plus maybe the Wizards want to hire a coach whom Kevin Durant likes as he will be a free agent after next season and may want to return home.

 

Brooklyn Nets
The Nets went a bit backward this season in Lionel Hollins' first year at the helm, winning just 38 games and then losing in six to Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. The guy Hollins replaced, Jason Kidd, did a better job with the Milwaukee Bucks. Plus Hollins called out point guard Deron Williams during the postseason, saying Williams is no longer a franchise player. That's correct but probably shouldn't be said in public. The Nets certainly aren't afraid to spend money so maybe they try to land a bigger fish.

 

Dallas Mavericks
I think Rick Carlisle is one of the better coaches in the NBA. In seven seasons with Dallas, he is 338-220 and of course won the NBA championship in 2011. But the Mavericks haven't won a playoff series since and seven years is a long time to stick with one team these days. I don't blame Carlisle for his feuding with Rajon Rondo, who will  not be back in Dallas. But perhaps the Mavericks need a fresh start after getting routed in the first round of these playoffs by rival Houston.

 

New York Knicks
New York was a disaster under first-year coach Derek Fisher, finishing 17-65 for the worst record in franchise history. To make matters worse, the team dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 in the lottery. It has to burn team president Phil Jackson that his first choice as coach, Steve Kerr, has the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Would Jackson dare dump Fisher after one year and get egg on his face? You would think not, but Jackson also has a big enough ego that he wouldn't care what people said. Fisher did look overmatched at times in his first-ever coaching gig.

NBA Free Pick: Casey would have been my favorite NBA pick here but I have to take Raptors GM Masai Ujiri at his word. I think it's Wittman. 

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