Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton appeared to be on a scorching hot seat before the All-Star break. The team was under .500 and didn’t look like a team that had a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. With LeBron Jameson the roster, that is considered unacceptable.
But he got a reprieve. Ty Lue didn’t get one in Cleveland after an 0-6 start to the post-LeBron era. Lue isn’t the only coach fired this season. The Timberwolves let Tom Thibodeau go following a big win over the Lakers on January 6. So, yeah—Walton could be fired once the Lakers season is over. But he is not going to be the next head coach fired during the season. The team could have a change of heart and do it anyway; if they get eliminated from the playoffs, it is entirely possible.
The odds of Walton being the next to go are not bad (+400). But there are guys with shorter odds and some with worse who are more likely to go.
According to BetDSI, these are the odds on who is going to get fired during the 2018-19 season:
- Igor Kokoskov, Phoenix Suns +150
- Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards +200
- Jim Boylen, Chicago Bulls +300
- Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers +400
- J.B. Bickerstaff, Memphis Grizzlies +1000
- Alvin Gentry, New Orleans Pelicans +1500
- David Fizdale, New York Knicks +3000
- Steve Clifford, Orlando Magic +3000
- Lloyd Pierce, Atlanta Hawks +3000
Teams that are looking like they are going to make the playoffs have been left off this list because such teams are not going to lose their head coach (with the possible exception of the Lakers). Playoff coaches have been fired before but not until after the conclusion of the season.
Interim head coaches are not fired during the season either making Larry Drew (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jim Boylen (Chicago Bulls), and Ryan Saunders (Minnesota Timberwolves) safe. First-year coaches are probably safe as well, meaning David Fizdale (New York Knicks), Steve Clifford (Orlando Magic), and Lloyd Pierce (Atlanta Hawks).
That leaves Kokoskov, Brooks, Walton, Bickerstaff, and Gentry. So – who’s next to go?
Alvin Gentry is a definite possibility. He has a losing record in his 3+ seasons as the head coach of the Pelicans, a franchise that will soon be looking for a new superstar to lead the way. With Anthony Davis all but out the door, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him go once the Pelicans are eliminated from the playoffs.
As of Friday night (February 22), they are 26-34 and seven games behind the Clippers for the No. 8 seed.
Bickerstaff is probably safe. The team didn’t make a ton of progress under him last season when he was the interim head coach. They haven’t made much this season either, but they have won more games than they did last season already.
Rumor has it that Luke Walton is safe for the season. But if the Lakers were to go on a losing streak and get eliminated from the playoffs, it would not be shocking to see him get fired the next day.
Scott Brooks got his time with the Wizards off on the right foot with a trip to the conference semifinals. But then it was a first-round exit last year, and they will likely miss the playoff this year. For many owners, that would be long enough. But with all the injury issues he has been forced to work around, Brooks could get one more year.
Igor Kokoskov should be safe since he is a first-year head coach. But when you look at the Suns record, it is not hard to imagine him getting canned—after the season. Count him as safe-ish; he is unlikely to go, but it is possible.
So – who will it be?
Walton is a good candidate, and they would have a decent interim in place in associate head coach Brian Shaw. But Gentry is a stronger candidate to go next. However, he doesn’t have an obvious choice for an interim head coach on staff, so the team would likely wait until later in the season (or as soon as they are eliminated).