The Oklahoma City Thunder are 0-4 for the first time in franchise history. Times are low and fans are calling for the head of the man with the slicked back hair. Donovan has placed blame on himself before. He admits when the Thunder have messed up but it feels as this time around, the blame is more generic than in the past.
The real question is if the seat Donovan sits on is hot? It’s probably not. That’s not a very Sam Presti like situation, most of the time. Only once in the franchise has a coach been let go midseason. PJ Carlesimo was fired 13 games in to the 2008-09 season and replaced by Scottie Brooks. The Thunder turned the tide and eventually played respectable basketball. Presti said at the time of the Carlesimo firing: “There’s accountability for everybody involved — players, coaches, myself and anyone involved with our basketball team. We understand that.”
If Oklahoma City was going to fire Donovan, it would most likely be at the end of the season. the Thunder aren’t going to put themselves in a situation where they’ll bring in a coach this season that’s not already on the roster. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean the Thunder won’t fire him. It’s just the coach is probably will be Mo Cheeks or Darko Rajakovic. There’s always the dark horse of Mark Daigneault, the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue.
Before the firing of Earl Watson three games into last season, no NBA head coach had been fired since May 2016, a streak of 533 days. He was the first coach to be fired in season since Derek Fisher was fired from the Knicks job in Feb 2016. There had been his weird continuity with organizational leadership and coaching stability. However, that’s out the window. Since the start of the season, two coaches have been fired (Fizdale Memphis and Watson Phoenix). There might be more on the way (see: Fred Hoiberg Chicago and Budenholzer Atlanta).
The NBA is so much different than the NFL. Most NFL coaches are fired on what they call “Black Monday.” The NBA owners react without care of public perception. They strike without justifying their terminations. The stability in which we’ve seen in the last year or so is really an anomaly of it all. In the last 10 seasons, there have been nine Coach of the Year winners (Poppovich won twice). Six have been fired. Not resigned. Fired. So, this is truly a league of what have you done for me lately.
With David Fizdale in New York, that’s not happening. We’re at the point in the season, which is any point past training camp through the end of the regular season, to where no organization in their right mind would bring in an outside coach. They would just promote an assistant to an interim position.
Firing a coach may not always lead to results. The last five coaches in season (not counting Fizdale) have seen difference of success. Jay Triano, who stepped in for the fire Earl Watson in Phoenix is 7-11 during his tenure this season. Which is nice considering the Suns started out 0-3, losing by massive margins. However, Phoenix is only 3-7 in their last 10 games.
When Derek Fisher was let go by the All-Star break in 2016, Kurt Rambis stepped in and went 5-12 to start his campaign. He finished an abysmal 9-19.
The Rockets let hall of fame player, Kevin McHale, go 11 games into the season that same year. Houston was 4-7 at the time. J.B. Bickerstaff, the same guy who’s been named interim in Memphis, was named interim in Houston. Bickerstaff went 37-34 over his time in Houston that season.
Not everyone is fired for performance issues. Mike Malone was fired 24 games into the 2014-15 season. Sacramento would go on in the middle of the season to lose 12 of 13 games under Tyrone Corbin, former Utah Jazz head coach.
Mike Brown has been fired twice, despite turning out excellent resumes. He won 41 games in the strike shorten season with Los Angeles. However, the Laker’s management cited lack of patience as a reason why they canned the former Cavs coach. Before that, Cleveland let him go as LeBron bolted for Miami despite him winning 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons. Mike D’Antoni replaced Brown, going 40-32 for the rest of the season as that was the last time the Lakers made the playoffs.
So, there are tons of reasons why coaches get fired. Donovan falls under the lack of performance one. However, the chances of Donovan getting canned mid-season are very slim, even with the bad start.
Then again, they could and I could have typed all of this for nothing.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!