NBA coaches on the hot seat

Five coaches heading into make-or-break seasons, and possible successors

Updated: September 29, 2013, 1:26 PM ET
By Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider

Mike WoodsonJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDespite last season's success, 2013-14 will be a make-or-break campaign for Mike Woodson.

The head coach in the NBA is a temporary position, as no other occupation on the management side experiences as much turnover.

Winning games used to be enough to keep the hyenas at bay, but as the years have gone by, the grace period for NBA coaches to prove their value gets shorter and shorter. Gone are the days when teams would stick with a coach if they believed in his philosophy and approach, as franchises seem to have less patience and a more specific definition of "progress."

For example, Doug Moe coached nine and a half seasons in Denver, winning more than 50 games just twice and making it out of the first round of the playoffs four times (and the conference finals only once). In today's NBA, it's doubtful he would have lasted longer than his third full season, a 38-44 campaign.

Last season, we saw 12 teams change head coaches, most notably: George Karl in Denver (despite winning 57 games in the regular season), Vinny Del Negro in Los Angeles (despite winning 56 games en route to the first division title in franchise history) and Lionel Hollins in Memphis (despite winning 56 games en route to the first conference finals appearance in franchise history).

With so many new faces, one would expect there to be a break from coaching turnover, but this is the NBA, and the seat is always sizzling for someone. Here are five coaches who will feel the heat this season, as well as five new faces who soon could join the head-coaching ranks.


Mike Woodson | New York Knicks
Regular-season record: 72-34 (.679)
Playoff record: 7-10 (.412)

Despite leading the Knicks last season to their first division crown in almost 20 years, Woodson has make-or-break employment status heading into this season, through no fault of his own.


To read Amin Elhassan's complete article about NBA coaches who are on the hot seat, and those next in line to join the NBA's coaching ranks, become an ESPN Insider today.