December has not been kind to the Detroit Pistons.
Six losses in as many games this month has put a damper on what transpired over a feel-good first month and a half: A 10-3 start, the reemergence of Andre Drummond, boasting one of the top records in the Eastern Conference, knocking off NBA heavyweights, and even climbing the power rankings.
Now, the Pistons are carrying a six-game losing skid into Tuesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, have sunk to seventh in the Eastern Conference, and at least one publication says head coach Stan Van Gundy could find his seat heating up in his fourth season in Detroit.
The Sporting News on Tuesday broke down the job security of every NBA coach and, while Van Gundy isn’t in the “hot, hot, hot” category as far as hot seats go, writer Sean Deveney did slot in him with coaches whose seats are “warming up.”
At 14-12, the Pistons are close to being on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go, though it remains early in the NBA season. Van Gundy, who doubles as team president, has cautioned that things can change quickly in the NBA, and the Pistons have an opportunity to right themselves, with games against the Atlanta Hawks (6-20), Orlando Magic (11-17) and Dallas Mavericks (7-20) among their next five.
“The Pistons’ good start raised expectations,” Deveney wrote, “and though they’ve leveled off, Van Gundy can’t afford to let the team slide too far.”
Van Gundy’s situation, in Deveney’s view, is much better than a another former Pistons coach, Alvin Gentry, who’s among eight coaches in the “hot, hot, hot” seat category.
Gentry, who went 73-72 with one playoff appearance in three seasons with the Pistons from 1997-2000, is in his third season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans are 14-14, despite a formidable frontcourt of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
“Gentry has had tough luck with injuries since coming to New Orleans in 2015, and he’ll need to get this team into the postseason in order to keep his job,” Deveney writes. “A stretch of five road games out of six started Monday, and those games could decide just how hot his seat gets.”
Another former Pistons coach, Rick Carlisle, who guided Detroit to Central Division titles in 2002 and 2003, is “comfy” with the rebuilding Mavericks, Deveney writes. He’s in his 10th season in Dallas.
“Hard to imagine the Mavs pushing out Carlisle any time soon, even as the team struggles,” Deveney writes.