Odds for the Exciting Class of NBA Head Coaching Vacancies

Rarely are there so many interesting head coaching spots to be filled as there are right now in the National Basketball Association. In most cases, vacant positions appear from unsuccessful teams in the midst of a rebuild, or those perennially out of contention. 

Think of Dwane Casey, who guided the Toronto Raptors to six consecutive playoff runs only to be fired after a Coach of the Year campaign, having to settle for a taking over the Detroit Pistons – a team hopelessly tied to mediocrity for the foreseeable future thanks to the horrible contracts in their books. 

But this year is different. With the star-filled Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden’s Houston Rockets, and the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans looking to fill vacancies (and not forgetting the Thunder, the Pacers or the Bulls either), many veteran coaches and their agents are looking forward to an exciting offseason. 

Unsurprisingly, champion coach Tyronn Lue (who worked as an assistant for the LA Clippers this season) is favored by the bookmakers for all of the most wanted vacancies.

Here’s our look at the open NBA head coaching positions and the odds for the likeliest candidates to fill them.

The Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers endured a disappointing campaign that saw the team getting swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs. Ben Simmons’ injury was a big factor to the playoff fiasco, but Philly had difficulties in finding their rhythm all season long. Brett Brown paid the price and got fired as head coach, having held the position since 2013. 

Philadelphia has two superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but questions about their match for co-existing in the same team haven’t been answered. Furthermore, Philly’s books are about as stacked as they get in terms of player contracts, and the team is in dire need of shooters. Letting Jimmy Butler go during the offseason and giving Tobias Harris a $180 million 5-year deal seem like questionable moves in hindsight.

Even though there are challenges ahead, the 76ers head coaching job is extremely attractive. A team with genuine superstars that has the potential to seriously contend is something every coach would wish to have. 

Coach

Odds

Tyronn Lue

+200

Ime Udoka

+300

Mike D’Antoni

+400

Billy Donovan

+500

Jason Kidd

+600

Kenny Atkinson

+1000

Sam Cassell

+1200

Mark Jackson

+1400

Jeff Van Gundy

+1600

John Lucas

+1600

Stan Van Gundy

+1600

Adrian Griffin

+1800

Wes Unseld Jr.

+1800

Darvin Ham

+2000

Becky Hammon

+2500

 

The New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans hit it big in last year’s draft lottery and secured the services of Zion Williamson – one of the most exciting new talents to enter the league in recent years. The team’s future wasn’t looking very bright before the lottery, with Anthony Davis’ public trade request saga looming over the franchise. 

In the end, New Orleans were able to trade AD for a flurry of young talent and draft picks from the Lakers – including Brandon Ingram, who had a breakout campaign that led to his first All-Star appearance. 

With plenty of young talent to and roster flexibility to work with, the New Orleans job will be a coveted one. Here are the top candidates:

Coach

Odds

Tyronn Lue

+300

Mike D’Antoni

+400

Ime Udoka

+500

Kenny Atkinson

+500

Mark Jackson

+500

Jason Kidd

+600

Nate McMillan

+600

Adrian Griffin

+700

Darvin Ham

+1000

Wes Unseld Jr.

+1000

Jeff Van Gundy

+1400

 

The Houston Rockets

The strained relationship between head coach Mike D’Antoni and Houston’s front office led to his contract not being renewed, and recent reports suggest that it was D’Antoni who was not happy with the terms or the idea of signing for more years with the Rockets.

Indeed, the Houston Chronicle recently reported that re-signing D’Antoni was a top priority for GM Daryl Morey, but the coach was not interested. Morey’s position has reportedly been under threat as well after the pre-season Hong Kong controversy and the team’s failure to contend for the NBA title strained the relationship between the GM and owner Tilman Fertitta. 

But Fertitta recently told CNBC that Morey’s job is safe, so the renowned GM is now looking for a new head coach for his team. With a cutting-edge approach to basketball and James Harden leading the lineup, there should be plenty of interested candidates. Here’s who the bookmakers favor:

Coach

Odds

Tyronn Lue

+300

Sam Cassell

+400

Jeff Van Gundy

+500

Nate McMillan

+500

Stan Van Gundy

+500

Brett Brown

+600

Kenny Atkinson

+800

Jason Kidd

+900

Chauncey Billups

+1000

Ime Udoka

+1200

Billy Donovan

+1400

Wes Unseld Jr.

+1600

Becky Hammon

+1800

Darvin Ham

+2000

 

The rest of the pack

Chauncey Billups is the favorite for the Indiana Pacers job at +250, while bookmakers have Adrian Griffin as the top candidate to take over the Oklahoma City Thunder (+300), and Billy Donovan to coach the Chicago Bulls next season (also +300). 

How about this market as an investment, then? Consider this:

The Brooklyn Nets job was arguably the most exciting opening this year, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving coming back from injuries for the 2021 season, which alone automatically makes them contenders. 

Tyronn Lue was listed as the favorite for that spot as well at +125, but the Nets ended up hiring two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, who has no previous head coaching experience and was not even listed by bookmakers. 

It’s needless to say then that these types of futures opportunities can be very unpredictable. 

On the other hand, if you think that Ty Lue will most likely take over one of the top three teams in search for a head coach, you could build a winning trade package (albeit with a small margin) by investing in all three with the odds above.

We’ll let you decide if that’s worth your time. 

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