As we’re just a week into the 2018 NBA playoffs, three teams who failed to make the postseason have already fired their coaches. The New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.
With that being said who should each team look at as their top candidate for a replacement? Well let’s get into it.
NEW YORK KNICKS
The Knicks finished 29-53 and 11th in the Eastern Conference this season. If we’re being honest, this struggle has been going on since the 2012-13 season when the Knicks went 54-28 and finished 2nd in the East, but these last five seasons have been extremely bad as they’ve won 146 out of 410 games since then. Whether it’s the offense that year, or the defense (or both), the Knicks have stunk it up to the point where wearing brown paper bags over their heads became a popular thing for Knicks fans to do.
In fairness, personnel has been an issue, since the Knicks have had a lack of great players, especially in today’s NBA where it seems like you have to have at least two superstars (and a bunch of solid role players) to contend. However ever since Phil Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek as one of many of his questionable decisions, most people have doubted Hornacek as the right fit for the coach. Even after just two games earlier this season there were reports that he had lost the locker room, and this goes back to when players felt like he should have stood up to Jackson (who was President of Basketball Operations at the time) about implementing his own offense instead of running that blessed triangle offense.
However, to make a long story short Hornacek went 60-104 in his two seasons as Knicks head coach, it was time for a change.
You’ve probably heard a lot of names being thrown around for who should coach the Knicks next and who’s being interviewed, from Mark Jackson to Jerry Stackhouse to Mike Woodson. Personally I believe Mark Jackson would be a good fit since he’s a Knicks legend, a New York guy and had something to do with setting the defensive foundation of the Golden State Warriors that we know and admire today. Not to mention he brought them from 23 wins his first season to 51 wins by his third.
The Magic relieved Frank Vogel of his coaching duties after finishing 25-57 for 14th in the Eastern Conference and 25th in the league this season. This team hasn’t made the playoffs since the shortened season where they happened to sneak into the playoffs with a 37-29 record and the 6th seed in the East. Since then it’s been horrible season after horrible season. The last two seasons that Vogel is responsible for however, the team went 54-110.
There aren’t too many names you’ve heard go around for who can fill the coaching vacancy for Orlando, however I think current assistant coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Mike Woodson would be a good fit. He’s a well-respected coach around the league and his last year as head coach he had the 3rd ranked best offense in the league and 18th ranked best defense in the league. The Magic need a coach who can improve the play on both sides of the ball since last season they were ranked the 25th best offense and 18th best defense.
The Charlotte Hornets let go of head coach Steve Clifford after finishing 36-46 and 10th in the East this season. It’s been a bumpy road for Clifford and the Hornets since he took over as head coach in 2013. They’ve only won more than 40 games in a season twice.
However this firing was the most surprising out of all since the team just barely missed the playoffs this year. They also had the 13th ranked best defense and 16th ranked best defense. During Clifford’s time with the team they went 196-214, and seemed to be on the rise.
In my opinion, Doc Rivers is the best fit for the Hornets if the Clippers decide to let him go early, despite signing him to an extension.
During Rivers’ most recent coaching gig with the Clippers Doc went 259-151. This year they also had the 8th ranked best offense in the league, which is impressive given the lack of personnel they were working with this season.
Rivers is a guy who can not only do a good job coaching to have but if Michael Jordan trusts him with more power he would do a good job as President of Basketball operations as well since the team is in a rebuilding stage it seems like. Rivers would have a good eye for what players to bring to the team both in the NBA drafts to come and free agency periods.