As the 2023-24 NBA season approaches, several coaches are entering a pivotal juncture in their tenure with their current team. This campaign could determine whether they stick with that team for the foreseeable future or whether a change will be made in the offseason. Here’s a look at the coaches who are on the hot seat ahead of the new season.
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls
The Lonzo Ball injury excuse is no longer valid. The Bulls know he’ll be out for this year and that means working with the parts available. Chicago was just under two minutes away from eliminating the Heat in the play-in tournament, so the talent is there. It’s a matter of whether the All-Stars can find that form again. That falls on Donovan, who has brought this franchise out of the cellar but hasn’t gone beyond that. If this season is another mediocre one, the Bulls might have to scrap the entire operation and rebuild. That’s not something Donovan is going to stick around for.
Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have made big moves in back-to-back summers, bringing in talented players to increase their chances at raising banner No. 18. The last move they theoretically can make is changing the coach, so Mazzulla has to show he’s the right man for the job. If Boston starts slow, there could be a quick shift. There were times when Mazzulla was clearly in over his head, especially in the playoffs. That’s something Boston might not be able to afford much longer.
Chris Finch, Minnesota Timberwolves
It’s technically Year 4 for Finch, although he only coached half the season in his first year with Minnesota. The Timberwolves have made the playoffs in back-to-back years, something that hasn’t happened since 2003-04. In one sense, he’s already achieved something here. However, it’s time to win a playoff series. With Anthony Edwards on the rise, another first-round exit could mean a change in leadership. There’s not much the Timberwolves can do with the roster, so a coaching switch is the next option.
- The Hornets have a lot of young players, so it just might not be the right fit for Steve Clifford. There’s been little development internally, so it’s not like he’s cultivating them for a leap. Charlotte is going to be a tough gig to sell, especially after James Borrego was let go despite a 43-39 campaign in his final year. This is a situation worth monitoring.
- If the Clippers struggle out of the gate or the star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George decide against long-term extensions, Tyronn Lue might want out. Things haven’t been as good as fans and ownership expected, but the future is truly up the air now. If Leonard and George hobble through the season and then fold in the playoffs, the entire operation might be blown up.