- The Washington Wizards Scott Brooks and Detroit Pistons Dwane Casey are the betting favorites to be the first NBA head coach fired this season
- Changing expectations in Washington and a poor roster in Detroit could make for a difficult season for both coaches
- Which other coaches are under pressure as 2020-21 gets underway? See the odds below
The 2020-21 NBA season tips off on December 22nd. Several coaches, before a pass is made or a shot is taken, are under pressure. The arrival of stars, the increase in expectation, can lead to a head coach’s future being up in the air before the season has started. Sometimes a weak roster will leave a coach in an impossible position, too.
Whether at the top or bottom of NBA championship odds, most of the NBA’s head coaches could lose their job in the next few months. Only a select few have complete job security. It tends to be the coaches of the weaker teams who are under pressure, but it’s not always the case. Mike Budenholzer, for instance, is at +1600 to be the first coach fired.
The table below has the ten favorites to be the first head coach fired in 2020-21.
Odds on First NBA Head Coach to be Fired in 2020-21
Odds from Dec 14th
The Westbrook Challenge for Brooks
The arrival of Russell Westbrook changes so much for the Wizards. John Wall has been the center of the franchise since he was drafted first overall in 2010. Westbrook isn’t the easiest personality to get along with, and swapping Wall for Westbrook has increased expectations for the Wiz. Scott Brooks and Westbrook were together in Oklahoma City a few years ago, and Brooks has said all the right things about his relationship with the former MVP, but it’s unlikely to be straight forward.
Westbrook is particular off the court and ball-dominant on it. During Wall’s injury absence(s), the Wizards have become Bradley Beal’s team. Westbrook requested a trade because he wanted to lead the offense – how will Beal react if he is forced to spend most of his time off-ball? Will Beal agitate for a trade?
It’s likely any tension will result in a change of coach before the organization make another major trade involving Beal or Westbrook.
The nature of Westbrook’s contract, and the pick sent to Houston in the deal, also puts pressure on the Wizards to be a competitive team. Making the playoffs is a must, and members of the front office will likely be eyeing up the five or six seed to avoid a play-in. That’s a big ask for Brooks.
Patience of Detroit
Dwane Casey’s job security depends on expectation. He arrived to chase the playoffs after the Blake Griffin trade, but there’s no question the Pistons are rebuilding. If ownership and the front office expects this roster to be challenging for a post-season spot, Casey could be in trouble. Developing Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Sekou Doumbouya is the priority for 2020-21.
Could the front office look for a different coach to guide them through the rebuild? They are no longer focused on grinding out regular season wins. As organizations change direction, they often change coach.
Maybe that results in Casey losing his job early in the season when it becomes apparent to ownership and the front office that this roster cannot compete.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 9, 2020
It was a bit of a surprise to see Casey at such a short price. The Pistons should have low expectations, which should give Casey plenty of margin for error. He has already installed Hayes as a starter, a good sign that he is buying into player development.
Money on Walton
The Kings gave De’Aaron Fox a huge contract. They will hope Buddy Hield is happier after Bogdan Bogdanovic departed. Expectations are relatively high for the Kings, who have committed to their current core. There’s limited roster flexibility, and it’s an organization that’s increasingly desperate to end their playoff drought.
Luke Walton did not commit to starting Buddy Hield. He will assess during camp and make decisions that he believes are best for the team overall.
— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) December 1, 2020
Sacramento is unlikely to be a playoff team. They could end up deep in the lottery. Luke Walton is yet to coach a winning season, and his first year in charge of the Kings wasn’t particularly impressive.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sacramento looking for a new head coach in a few weeks’ time. Walton is a good bet at +500 to be the first head coach to lose his job.
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