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The 2018 NBA Head Coaching Carousel

The Toronto Raptors have hired Nick Nurse to be their ninth coach in franchise history. All of the head coaching vacancies in the NBA have now been filled. It has been a busy two months since the end of the regular season. A lot of bench bosses have changed locations, and nine teams will have new voices guiding them next season. Here’s a quick recap of the all the changes.

Toronto Raptors (59-23)

IN: Nick Nurse

OUT: Dwane Casey

Dwane Casey had the most wins in franchise history at 320-238 (.573) in seven seasons. He just couldn’t get his team over the hump that is LeBron James. Two sweeps in a row at the hands of LeBron and the Cavaliers, so the organization felt it needed a change. Nick Nurse is that change. This is his first NBA head-coaching gig, but he is widely recognized for improving the Raptors offense this past season. It will be hard for Nurse to improve on Casey’s three consecutive 50 plus win seasons and four division titles in five years though.

Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)

IN: Mike Budenholzer

OUT: Jason Kidd

Not even Giannis Antetokounmpo could save Jason Kidd’s job. Kidd was fired midseason after leading the Bucks to a 23-22 start. Not a terrible record, but not what management was expecting. Joe Prunty was named interim coach for the rest of the season. It didn’t seem like he was truly considered for the long-term position. Milwaukee turns to 2014 Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer to lift their talent to another level. Budenholzer is coming off a low year with the Atlanta Hawks. It was the only time in his five-year tenure that the Hawks failed to make the playoffs, but that might be due to a franchise tanking mindset.

Detroit Pistons (39-43)

IN: Dwane Casey

OUT: Stan Van Gundy

The Stan Van Gundy Era is over. Van Gundy lasted four years with the Pistons, only leading them to the post-season one time. He was unable to replicate the success he had previously enjoyed in Orlando. Dwane Casey didn’t stay on the market for long. He has found a new home in Detroit. Because of the format change, and the creation of the NBA Awards Ceremony, Casey could be the first coach in history to win Coach of the Year for a previous team while already being hired by another.

Charlotte Hornets (36-46)

IN: James Borrego

OUT: Steve Clifford

The Hornets parted ways with Steve Clifford after another disappointing season in which Charlotte failed to make the playoffs. Clifford was never able to turn his team into the contender that MJ had hoped. The Hornets have named James Borrego their new head coach. He is the latest to descend out of the Greg Popovich coaching tree that is the San Antonio Spurs. He has served two stints as an assistant under Popovich (2003-2010, 2015-2018).

New York Knicks (29-53)

IN: David Fizdale

OUT: Jeff Hornacek

Jeff Hornacek only made it two seasons as the Knicks head coach. I don’t think he can be blamed for the personnel, but still was not able to turn New York around. David Fizdale is another coach who didn’t have to wait long to find another gig. He was let go by the Grizzlies after butting heads with some of his players. It was strange, because Fizdale is someone who has previously always shown the ability to connect with his star players. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are two of his biggest supporters.

Orlando Magic (25-57)

IN: Steve Clifford

OUT: Frank Vogel

The Magic turn to former Hornets’ coach Steve Clifford. He has history with the franchise. He was an assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy from 2007-2012, and was a part of that run to the NBA Finals. In his two years in Orlando, Frank Vogel was never able to lead the Magic to the playoffs.

Atlanta Hawks (24-58)

IN: Lloyd Pierce

OUT: Mike Budenholzer

Mike Budenholzer had his worst season in Atlanta. Budenholzer had previously led the Hawks to a 60-win season and four consecutive playoff appearances. However, most of his core players had moved on, and it was time for him to move on as well. Lloyd Pierce is now the man behind the bench in Atlanta. Pierce is another long time NBA assistant coach getting his first head coaching opportunity. He had previously been an assistant for the Cavaliers, Warriors, Grizzlies and most recently the 76ers.

Memphis Grizzlies (22-60)

IN: J.B. Bickerstaff

OUT: David Fizdale

The Grizzlies parted ways with David Fizdale very early into the season. Apparently a spat with Marc Gasol is what led to the quick departure for Fizdale. J.B. Bickerstaff was promoted to the interim head-coaching role for the remainder of the season and was hired as the permanent replacement in Memphis this spring. Bickerstaff is another who has a long resume as an assistant coach in the NBA.

Phoenix Suns (21-61)

IN: Egor Kokoskov

OUT: Earl Watson

The Suns have made Igor Kokoskov the first European head coach in NBA history. After another tumultuous season, Phoenix has found their new leading man. Kokoskov spent the past three seasons as an assistant for the Utah Jazz. He also spent time as an assistant with the Suns back from 2008-2013. Kokoskov is most notably known for leading Slovenia and one of the top prospects in this year’s draft, Luka Doncic, to their first EuroBasket gold medal in the country’s history. Could the Suns reunite these two? DeAndre Ayton has made it pretty public knowledge that he is going to Phoenix first overall on June 21st, but who knows what can happen.


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