The 2021-22 NBA season enters its final stretch with the All-Star break winding down and that means for some coaches, it’ll be their last stretch of basketball before having to find a new gig. Here’s a look at some of the league’s coaches feeling the most pressure during this last lap of the regular season.
Frank Vogel, Los Angeles Lakers
It’s been somewhat of a foregone conclusion that Vogel will not be back next year barring the Lakers pulling a championship run out of the magic hat. The front office has done a poor job building the roster, but Vogel is not without blame. He did lead this team to a title in the bubble, so it’s a bit shocking to see him in this position. With LeBron James, that’s how coaching situations usually go though; you either perform consistently or you’re out. We’ll see where he ends up next season.
James Borrego, Charlotte Hornets
It’s Year 4 for Borrego, which is typically when a coach has to show significant progress. The Hornets are still in the play-in tournament mix, which is where they ended up last year. Charlotte’s defense has been missing all year and there’s only so much they can do offensively to overcome that. If the Hornets flame out in the play-in tournament again, it’ll be interesting to see if Borrego gets another year with the team.
Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks
It continues to go from bad to worse for Thibodeau’s Knicks, who have now started dealing with injuries to key rotation players. The coach has not been able to develop the team’s most important assets to stardom, although RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson have elevated their play. Julius Randle has plateaued, while Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker haven’t made the impact they were expected to. If the Knicks don’t make the playoffs, Thibodeau is surely gone.
Other names to watch
- It’s hard to imagine Chauncey Billups signed up for a rebuild in Portland. The front office has cleaned house and this roster is quite bare. We’ll see if the Trail Blazers deal Damian Lillard in the offseason, and Billups might want to go in a different direction if the franchise point guard moves on.
- Nate McMillan’s Hawks have not reached the heights of last season, even if the situation has improved. Atlanta is now within striking distance of the No. 6 seed, which would keep them out of the play-in tournament. Anything short of that will have the front office looking at potential replacements.