Originally Published: Apr 5, 2013

1. Early Ride On The Coaching Carousel

By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Getty Images, USA TODAY SPORTSAre Mike D'Antoni and Vinny Del Negro's jobs safe in Los Angeles? We examine their situations here.

Coaching contracts are generally shorter. Coaching salaries are generally lower. Add up those variables and the impact is clear.

Firing coaches is easier than it used to be.

Shorter deals and more modest wages, not terribly far removed from the days when the $5 million-a-year coach was commonplace, gives teams the incentive to change course more regularly. As we could well soon see.

The fast-approaching end to the regular season means that the NBA's coaching carousel will soon be spinning with its first wave of firings. And the league record for the most offseason coaching changes -- 11 between 2002-03 to 2003-04 and between 1975-76 to 1976-77 -- is not out of reach when you scan through the following breakdown listing every team in the league whose coach's future is either in immediate doubt or has been questioned at some stage this season.

A breakdown that, based on those parameters, amazingly includes 17 of the league's 30 teams:


Larry Drew is the first Hawks coach to get to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons since the venerable Lenny Wilkens in the mid-1990s.

But Drew, like most of his players, is also a free agent at season's end. So his ability to keep so many players with uncertain futures reasonably bonded and on a playoff track, Eastern Conference or not, might earn him another deal. Or it might not.

The intentions of new Hawks GM Danny Ferry, who inherited Drew, are still a tough read at this juncture, not unlike Ferry's plans with the Hawks' cap space if, as expected, they're unsuccessful in their free-agent pursuits of Atlanta's own Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. What we do know: Ferry remains one of Mike Brown's biggest fans. So assumptions about Ferry's interest in bringing Brown to Atlanta will live on until Brown is no longer a coaching free agent.


P.J. Carlesimo has been more successful since succeeding Avery Johnson than many expected, with a record of 29-18 as interim coach entering Friday's play, but the consistent word out of Brooklyn remains that the playoffs will determine whether he has any legit hope of landing the job full-time.

Any hopes of getting to the Eastern Conference finals and helping his cause tremendously, however, would appear to require the Nets to slip to the No. 6 seed from their current slot at No. 4 to avoid a second-round collision course with Miami. If they stay where they are and go out to the Heat in the second round, as we'd all expect even should Brooklyn survive its first-round series, how competitive do the Nets have to be with Miami to keep Carlesimo in the running?

It's a question only Mikhail Prokhorov can answer. Yet the safe bet remains that the Russian billionaire won't wait too long after the Nets' elimination before re-opening the pursuit or Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy or another marquee name (if there's another one to chase) given how much easier it'll be to make a splashy coaching hire to try to elevate this team than making major changes to such a high-dollar roster.


Could Mike Dunlap actually be a victim of his own success?

Let me rephrase that: Could the Bobcats' inability to build off a 7-5 start no one saw coming, descending instead into a nosedive that has parked them for months in the bottom-two dungeon of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings amid the predictable whispers about how resistant Charlotte's vets are to a rookie coach branded as a college guy, cost Dunlap his job after just one season?

I really didn't think so, but more than one source consulted this week identified Dunlap as a coach in potential jeopardy, which undoubtedly stems from Michael Jordan's recent proclamation to a group of season-ticket holders that major offseason changes are coming in Charlotte. I'm just not quite sure how much more Dunlap -- who was hired, remember, for his rep in player development -- was supposed to get out of a group that still needs lots of developing. Lots.


The pressure is undeniably mounting on Byron Scott. Even after the final year of Scott's contract, worth a reported $4.5 million, was picked up well in advance of next season.

The pressure has been mounting, despite the fairly regular unavailability of Cleveland's three best players due to injury, through a 10-game losing streak that finally ended with a Friday night victory in Boston -- but not before testing the patience of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Scott is believed to have the support of the front office, but there's a growing sense in Cleveland that Gilbert will be moved to make a change regardless, no matter how much Scott's fortunes have been affected by the various absences of Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters, and irrespective of the money Scott's owed in 2013-14. And if Scott sticks? It could well have as much to do with the Cavs' reluctance to dive into a crowded marketplace to find a replacement as anything.


Even with so many teams being discussed here, no team in coaching...