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By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor - Archive - Email
Coaching hot seat already burning
(L-R) Frank Vogel, Monty Williams, and Kevin McHale Any early season slippage and these guys could be shown the door.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - With NBA Media Day barely behind us, it's perfect fair and reasonable to already speculate as to which coaches will be fired soonest.

We live in a world of immediacy. Blame it on the Internet and MTV.

Obviously, no coach is in immediate danger before we reach Halloween. Some skippers are more in need a big start than others. When it comes time to analyze those coaches likeliest to be shown the door, expectations play a large role.

For example, Jason Kidd is probably not worrying about his job security at the moment. The Milwaukee Bucks don't figure to be too formidable. Same goes for the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.

Although, some of their lead men should be a little cautious. Bad teams generally changes coaches as frequently as most change underwear. The blame always shifts to the coach instead of the roster, or the man in charge of putting the roster together.

Mike Malone of the Kings should be a tad bit concerned. Sacramento went 28-54 in Malone's only campaign and at times, Malone threw his players under the bus so frequently I thought he was the U.S. Ryder Cup captain.

Also going against Malone is the fact the Kings did not improve a little bit in the offseason. They regressed. Isaiah Thomas is gone to be the third point guard in Phoenix, while Darren Collison was brought in as a replacement. That's a massive downgrade. That's like Shemp joining the Three Stooges.

Sometimes, there's a limit to ineptitude. The Sixers could be worse than last season, when they planned on being the worst franchise in professional sports since the Cleveland Indians in "Major League."

Brett Brown knew the deal when he signed. It's why he got four years on his contract. General manager Sam Hinkie seems happy with Brown, and truthfully, John Wooden couldn't win more than 15 games with this roster. Brown is probably safe, but when Hinkie sees the futility the Sixers will display, he might think.

Jacque Vaughn in Orlando is an interesting case. He's 43-121 in two seasons at the helm in the Magic Kingdom and Orlando is not headed toward the postseason in June of 2015.

Vaughn is a great young coach, record notwithstanding. He's bright, professional and has a plan. He learned from the best in Gregg Popovich. Vaughn is worth the wait, but it's getting harder and harder to keep a guy who rarely wins. Two-plus seasons isn't a lot of time in the grand scheme. But in the world of the NBA, it might be long enough.

Of course, expectations, much like beauty, come in all shapes and sizes.

No coach on the hot seat has loftier expectations than Kevin McHale of the Houston Rockets. Some speculated he might have lost his job this past offseason. In two seasons, McHale has never gotten out of the first round of the playoffs and it's troubling considering his Rockets had home-court advantage against the Portland Trail Blazers.

McHale never got the credit he deserved for being an all-time defensive great who coached a group that owned a collective indifference to stopping the opposition. He looked at the makeup of his roster when James Harden arrived and decided to run and gun.

Things didn't get better with Dwight Howard, at least defensively.

Then, this past offseason was a disaster for the Rockets. General manager Daryl Morey swung deep this summer, trying to pry Chris Bosh from the Miami Heat. Swing and a miss.

Houston endured perhaps the worst offseason of any team. Not only did Bosh jilt them, the rival Dallas Mavericks swooped in and signed Chandler Parsons to a huge offer sheet. The Rockets passed on matching and now the third weapon is gone.

Also, the Rockets traded anyone they possibly could (Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin) in order to free up cash to sign Bosh. So, to sum up, the Rockets lost a starter, who happened to be their third-leading scorer, their two biggest bench players and failed to improve in any way.

That means McHale is in trouble. The Rockets are a perfect example of sacrificing the coach instead of confronting the real issue, which is the makeup of this roster. Houston is all about stars and has yet to prove this strategy is a prudent one.

When expectation meets timing, we see Monty Williams of the New Orleans Pelicans.

This is his fifth season in the Big Easy and he is a robust 128-184, making the playoffs just once, his first season in charge.

That's a long time to be the man without any successful results. Most coaches don't get three straight seasons under .500, but Williams is still guiding the Pelicans.

Over the last two seasons, New Orleans has taken a more aggressive approach to making the playoffs. They mortgaged some future in order to make the postseason in the crowded Western Conference. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans were brought in with the hopes of advancing.

In one season, everyone in New Orleans except the cast of "True Blood" got hurt. The Pelicans were 14 games under .500 and now Williams will get one more shot with a healthy roster.

Problem is, the Pelicans still may not be good enough to make the playoffs even if Holiday, Evans, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and, of course, Anthony Davis, avoid the injured list. It's impossible in my mind to see Williams staying if New Orleans misses the postseason.

The only other potential candidate in jeopardy would be Indiana's Frank Vogel. He probably will get a pass considering his best player, Paul George, is done for the season because his leg nearly became detached from his body.

Despite team president Larry Bird never wavering in his support of his man, there were whispers that Vogel might have been in trouble this offseason. Never happened and probably won't. Vogel's name just deserves a quick mention.

The truth is that all of these gentlemen face intense pressure heading into this season. Any early season slippage and these guys could be shown the door. It's unfair to bring this to light so early, but life in the NBA is unfair.

I still blame the Internet and MTV.

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