Jason Kidd, Mike Woodson Among NBA Coaches Feeling Early-Season Heat


Jason KiddIt’s rare but hardly unprecedented for a struggling NBA team to fire its head coach less than a month into a season. Just look at last year, when the Lakers canned Mike Brown with the team off to a 1-4 start. As it turned out, Brown really wasn’t the problem, and he landed on his feet back in Cleveland this offseason.

So, it’s never too early to ponder which coach might be the first to get a pink slip in the Association this season, and Bovada’s favorite on that prop is Washington’s Randy Wittman at 2-1. The Wizards had playoff expectations this season after playing well when John Wall was healthy last year. The team also made the first big trade of the season by acquiring center Marcin Gortat from Phoenix for the injured Emeka Okafor and a 2014 protected first-round pick.

That was a win-now trade with Okafor unlikely to play but also with a contract that was to come off the books after the season. Any draft pick next summer is likely to be valuable with a loaded class expected. Gortat has been pretty solid, and second-year guard Bradley Beal has been excellent at times, scoring 20.2 points per game. Wall also has been good (16.1 points, 9.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds per game), and the team has six players averaging double-digit points.

However, the defense hasn’t been good, as the Wiz have allowed at least 100 points in every game but one entering this week. Perhaps a turnaround is coming, as Washington has played a pretty tough schedule this far and recently was swept during its three-game swing through Texas. Following Tuesday’s game against Minnesota, the Wizards face five straight struggling teams: the Cavaliers, Raptors, Knicks, Lakers and Bucks.

Utah’s Tyrone Corbin is second on the prop at 9-4, as the Jazz have the NBA’s worst record and worst offense, averaging only 88.7 points per game. Utah has had a black hole at point guard with rookie Trey Burke yet to play because of a fractured finger, and he could return at the end of the month. The Jazz are likely to wait and see if Burke solves some problems before firing Corbin, whose contract is up after the season.

What is it with the Atlantic Division? Three of its coaches are on this list: Brooklyn’s Jason Kidd (13-2), Toronto’s Dwane Casey (13-2) and New York’s Mike Woodson (15-2).

The Nets took a huge gamble in hiring Kidd, who was a Knicks point guard last season. No one questions the future Hall of Famer’s playing resume or respect around the league, but learning on the job for a team with championship hopes is a risk. Brooklyn is the NBA’s biggest disappointment despite having former All-Stars at every position in the starting five.

Things are so testy for the Knicks that owner James Dolan guaranteed a win over Atlanta last week. New York badly misses center Tyson Chandler, the team’s only good defensive player. The Knicks need to win this year to assure that Carmelo Anthony doesn’t leave as a free agent.

The rest of the list is the Pelicans’ Monty Williams (7-2) and Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni (12-1).

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