Many Coaching Changes
There has been a lot of coaching overhaul in the 2023 offseason. Some of the firings have not been surprising, with the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets choosing to go in a different direction. However, teams with legit NBA Finals odds that did not meet expectations decided to move on from their 2022-23 head coaches.
The biggest franchises that made this decision are the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Phoenix Suns. All these teams had solid regular seasons and were seen as favorable NBA picks in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors are another team currently without a head coach, not having the same expectations as the others but making it to the play-in tournament.
Some fired coaches, Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, and Monty Williams, have decent NBA lines to find another job at the top of some contenders’ wish lists. Doc Rivers is one of the newer names in the rotation, but given the former 76ers head coach’s recent stretch of playoff failures, it is unclear what his next step is.
These changes broke NBA news, leading to available opportunities with top teams, which might be a step up for some coaches. The Bucks and Suns just played each other in the 2020 NBA Finals, and the 76ers have the 2022-23 MVP on the roster.
Whatever happens in the offseason will likely have a lasting effect on NBA betting, either making teams better or bringing up more questions.
Contenders Looking for New Leadership
There are three teams with legit NBA title odds for 2023-24 looking for a coach.
The Bucks fired Budenholzer, but with a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo, it is hard to count them out. The 76ers will have the reigning MVP, Joel Embiid, making them a likely destination for a high-valued head coach. Finally, the Suns let Monty Williams go, having a roster built around Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, which does need some support.
ESPN Sources: The Phoenix Suns are advancing four coaches to meet for interviews in the coming days: Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers, Kings associate HC Jordi Fernandez and Suns associate HC Kevin Young.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 24, 2023
The two leading names for the Suns are Nurse and Rivers, top-tier coaches with a winning pedigree. Nurse has been a high-profile name in rumors for every top-tier coaching opportunity.
While having the most talented roster is important in winning a championship, it is not the only factor. Look at the Miami Heat with Erik Spoelstra. He has pushed all the right buttons throughout the playoffs, from beating the No.1 seed Bucks, then the New York Knicks, and now a win from the NBA Finals. Spoelstra has also done this with a roster of undrafted free agents while dealing with injuries.
None of the available coaches are at Spoelstra level, but some are close. Nurse is one of the best tacticians, Budenholzer can create a winning culture, Williams has empowered his players, and Rivers’ experience is unmatched.
Early Betting Prediction
One thing to expect after an offseason with many coaching changes is a slow start. A team like the Rockets, who have already hired Ime Udoka, could take some time to get fully going.
When Udoka started his first and only season with the Boston Celtics, the opening months were not the best before the team eventually made the NBA Finals. The Rockets have been a struggling franchise for a few seasons, so getting back into winning habits could be challenging.
Even for the contending teams, having a new head coach can always lead to a rocky first month. The players and coaching staff are still getting used to one another, which could cause some issues on the court.
On top of that, there is a chance that contending teams take a step back in coaching talent. The Bucks, Suns, and 76ers have fired solid coaches, and there is a chance they make the wrong hire, going with someone who is not ready or suited for the roster, hurting the team’s chances at a title in the long run.