Five NBA head coaches on the hot seat if they fail in the playoffs

The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday. Every team entering the tournament will have a certain level of belief that it is capable of making it to the NBA Finals. At least nine teams will have the talent to be champions.
Five NBA head coaches on the hot seat if they fail in the playoffs

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the five head coaches who could find themselves on the hot seat if their teams fall short in the playoffs.

5. Ty Lue

The L.A. Clippers have four future Hall of Fame talents on their roster. They will be moving into their new stadium next season. Anything short of a Western Conference Finals appearance will likely be deemed as a failure.

Despite being one of the best coaches in the NBA, Ty Lue could find himself on the hot seat if the Clippers stumble. A first-round matchup against the Dallas Mavericks projects to be a difficult task. If his team bows out in the first round, Lue’s tenure with the Clippers could be over.

4. Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers finds himself in a difficult position after joining the Milwaukee Bucks midway through the season. His team enters the playoffs with Giannis Antetokounmpo nursing a calf issue. He could potentially miss the opening games of the first round. The Bucks have struggled on both sides of the ball this season.

A first-round matchup against an Indiana Pacers team that has bested them on four occasions is a potential nightmare. If the Bucks suffer their second first-round exit in a row, Rivers’ tenure with the franchise could be over less than six months after it began.

It’s unlikely their front office will want to run it back with the current rotation if they can’t make a push for the Eastern Conference Finals this season.

3. Frank Vogel

The Phoenix Suns pushed all their chips in when they acquired Bradley Beal ahead of the new season. With arguably the most talented offensive trio in the NBA, Vogel’s team is expected to make a deep playoff run.

A trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Beal must taste a high level of playoff success. Vogel was hired to lead this team to a championship. If the franchise suffers an early exit, his future at the helm will be a warranted discussion.

2. Joe Mazzulla

Brad Stevens has gifted Joe Mazzulla the best roster in the NBA. The franchise ran away with the Eastern Conference. It finished the season with the best record in the league. With so much talent and depth, the Boston Celtics are viewed as the favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season.

Mazzulla was thrust into the Celtics’ head-coaching job last season. He replaced Ime Udoka under difficult circumstances. He built his own assistant coaching staff this season. Stevens has proven to be a patient leader in the front office. However, if the Celtics fall short this season, Mazzulla will be walking on thin ice heading into the 2024-25 season.

1. Darvin Ham

After making the Western Conference Finals last season, the Los Angeles Lakers have heavy expectations on their shoulders. A season of inconsistency and struggle has left the Lakers operating as a low seed.

They will face the Denver Nuggets in the first round. Denver swept the Lakers last season and is undefeated against them this term.

Ham will likely face the unemployment line if the Lakers fall short this season. LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be hungry for success. If Ham can’t lead them over the finish line, GM Rob Pelinka will likely look for a coach who can.

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