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Odds Suggest Luke Walton Will be the First NBA Coach Fired in 2018-19

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Updated Mar 27, 2020 · 11:45 AM PDT

Luke Walton and Brian Shaw
Luke Walton's days with the Lakers could be numbered. Photo by donielle (flickr) [CC License]
  • Who will be the first NBA coach fired this season?
  • The Thunder and Lakers are both off to slow starts
  • We’ve found the best value bet of the group

Well, what’s the first week of the NBA regular season without way-too-early speculation?

Sportsbooks have just released their odds on what head coach will likely be the first one out. It’s a pretty nice list – said everyone who is not an NBA head coach.

Let’s sift through the names and look into the crystal ball for upcoming carnage.

Odds to Be the First NBA Head Coach to Leave their Post

Coach Team Odds to Be First Coach to Leave their Post
Luke Walton Los Angeles Lakers +180
Tom Thibodeau Minnesota Timberwolves +200
Fred Hoiberg Chicago Bulls +500
Billy Donovan Oklahoma City Thunder +750
Tyronn Lue Cleveland Cavaliers +750
Scott Brooks Washington Wizards +1000
Dave Joerger Sacramento Kings +1500
Terry Stotts Portland Trail Blazers +1500

Luke Walton is the Early Front Runner

Most everyone believed the Lakers would at least be challenging for one of the top seeds in the Western Conference. While that’s been far from the case, it’s surprising Walton has the shortest odds.

LA ran through a who’s who of West elites and took their medicine in losses to Portland, Houston and San Antonio, before finally breaking through against Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Maybe it’s the rough schedule, or maybe it’s a preview of what’s to come, but the purple and gold are leaking badly on the defensive end. They’re dead last in points allowed at a whopping 127 points per game, while bottom-five in both field goal and three point percentage allowed.

In his defense, Walton – known more for his offensive innovation – is getting his team to play with pace (second in the NBA) and are top-five in offensive rating.

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Billy Donovan is Under the Microscope in OKC

No Russell Westbrook early set the Thunder back to start their campaign, and even with his return they are winless at 0-3 (with that loss coming at the hands of the lowly SacTo Kings).

It will be interesting to see how this is going to play out though. Even when he had Kevin Durant, Billy Donovan wasn’t known for running a crisp offense.

The additions of Dennis Schroder, Nerlens Noel, and locking up Paul George long term was supposed to help in that, but so far it hasn’t.

OKC is second last in the conference in scoring at 104 points a game.

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Who is the Value Pick?

Let’s give Tom Thibodeau a break. He wanted to bask in the Minnesota mess more than move Jimmy Butler to seal his team’s lottery fate. The fact they’re competitive – despite getting ripped by the Raptors on Wednesday – leaves him in better shape than most.

I also think that Portland’s 2-1 start is a nice indication that Terry Stotts still has the ear of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. While the odds are enticing, and the wheels could still very well fall off, it looks safe in Rip City.

The one that stands out is Scott Brooks at +1000 with the Washington Wizards. While they are missing Dwight Howard and his interior heft, this team has arguably the third or fourth best collection of talent in the East, but it hasn’t shown.

They were lit on fire by Steph Curry and the Warriors Wednesday, and save for a miraculous OT win in Portland Monday, this team could very well be 0-4.

Most concerning is that they’re top 10 in scoring at 118 points a game, but just behind the Lakers for most points surrendered at 124.5 a contest. If Brooks can’t write the ship, he’s a goner.

The Big Investment

Brooks is my pick, but if OKC gets torn apart by Boston tonight and somehow no-shows in Phoenix on Sunday, the 0-5 Thunder will be the one to make a move first. Such is the thin line between success and failure in the NBA.

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