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Checking in on NBA head coaching changes as Christmas Day approaches

It has been a rough time for most of the teams who made coaching changes in the 2021-22 offseason.

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
Head Coach of Rick Carlisle of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the game against the Washington Wizards on December 6, 2021 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

As the 2021-22 NBA season approaches Christmas Day, the seven teams who made head coaching changes in the offseason are trending in a variety of directions. The Wizards have cooled off from their hot start but remain in the thick of playoff contention, while the Pelicans and Magic are competing for the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft.

Boston Celtics: Ime Udoka (16-16)

The Celtics are hovering around the .500 mark and have been for most of the season. This isn’t what fans imagined when Brad Stevens moved into a front office role. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have slowly morphed from promising stars to low efficiency chuckers. Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, Grant Williams and Robert Williams haven’t developed into meaningful contributors yet, which is another worry in Boston. The Celtics are still in the playoff mix but this has been a rough for Ime Udoka.

Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd (15-16)

This has been one of the more interesting coaching situations. The Mavericks denied a report of front office turmoil before making big changes across the organization. There was a damaging report recently about Rick Carlisle’s deteriorating relationship with Luka Doncic and other players. Kidd has seemingly done well with everyone, but the record is not what it is supposed to be. Doncic missing time has hurt Kidd’s cause, although the Mavs were below expectations even with the star in the lineup.

Indiana Pacers: Rick Carlisle (14-19)

When Carlisle signed a four-year deal with the Pacers, many felt he would elevate a roster of veteran players. That simply hasn’t happened, and now Indiana is contemplating beginning a rebuild. That’s not what Carlisle signed up for, so it tells you how the season has gone. Things can change quickly and Indiana is still not out of the playoff picture, but it’s been a disappointing start to the season.

Orlando Magic: Jamahl Mosley (7-26)

The Magic are in a rebuild and judging by the progress of the roster so far, it’s looking like a long rebuild. Jalen Suggs is out indefinitely and while Franz Wagner has shown potential, it’s still only potential. Orlando desperately needs one of its older players to take a jump. Gary Harris was a prime candidate for that jump but he’s on an expiring deal and could be traded. Mosley will get time with this group but this is going to be a lengthy process.

New Orleans Pelicans: Willie Green (12-21)

With Zion Williamson unlikely to play this season, it has officially gone from bad to worse for New Orleans. Green likely took this job due to the possibility of having an elite scoring tandem with Williamson and Brandon Ingram. So far, that combination hasn’t been able to materialize into anything. The Pelicans have some significant draft assets coming in but any future as a contender likely involves Williamson proving he can stay healthy for a full season.

Portland Trail Blazers: Chauncey Billups (13-19)

No one has signed up for what is unfolding in Portland. Billups was already a controversial hire when he was announced as the team’s coach. Neil Olshey, the former GM, was ousted over misconduct according to team rules. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have both dealt with injuries and are in trade rumors. And on top of all that, the Trail Blazers are well under .500 and struggling on the defensive end. This entire thing could get blown up soon.

Washington Wizards: Wes Unseld Jr. (17-15)

It looked like the Russell Westbrook trade was going to be a stroke of brilliance for the Wizards, who sat at 10-3 to start the season. Those good vibes have slowly faded as Unseld’s crew is now sitting at the .500 mark heading into Christmas Day. Beal has been good but the early outlook on him likely to stay in Washington for the long haul has definitely changed. The Wizards will be in the playoff mix, which was ultimately the goal for this season.