NBA Basketball Betting: First Coach Fired in the 2019-2020 Season

Written by:
C Costigan
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The NBA basketball season gets underway this week and along with trying to determine which teams will be most successful we’re also looking at the other end of the spectrum.  BetOnline.ag has posted prop odds for the first NBA coach to be fired during the forthcoming season.  There are several bad teams where the coach might not necessarily be at fault but will likely ‘take the fall’ should they struggle out of the gate.  One such example is the favorite in this betting market:  Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards head coach is a +225 favorite to be the first coach pink slipped.  The wording of the BetOnline.ag prop also stipulates that the first coach to be fired or ‘leave his post’ will be a winner so if there’s a situation where you think a fed up coach might resign that will cash the ticket too.

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Here are a few coaches that could present a good betting value.  Instead of looking at the obvious we’ll look for situations where a higher priced coach could meet an early demise:



If Billy Donovan does get fired, he’s a scapegoat.  Donovan did as good a job as anyone could have done in the post Kevin Durant years in Oklahoma City.  The team has won 47,48 and 49 games in the three seasons since Durant left but OKC hasn’t performed particularly well in the playoffs once they get there.  GM Sam Presti has obviously put the team into ‘rebuilding mode’ by dealing the Thunder’s former franchise players Russell Westbrook and Paul George.  The goal now is to build through the draft which means there’s a good chance for OKC to struggle in the short term.  Donovan could get the ax in response to a poor start to the season and it’s likely that once the team does bring in some young talent that he won’t be the coach management will want to oversee the rebuilding process.  The former University of Florida mastermind will land on his feet when the time comes and given the tenuous personnel situation in OKC it could come sooner rather than later.


Brett Brown—along with now departed GM Bryan Coangelo--has largely been the architect of the Philadelpha 76ers franchise turnaround.  It was a slow turnaround but everyone involved approach it with patience.  Brown went 19-63 in his first year at the helm (2013-2014), 18-64 the following year and 10-72 in 2015-2016.  There was a slight uptick in 2016-2017 with the team winning a ‘whopping’ 28 games going 28-54.  Since then, the team has been very competitive and enters this year off of back to back 50+ win seasons.  In both years, the Sixers lost in the conference semifinals.  Last year, the team had a very good look at their first Conference Finals appearance since 2001 before Kawhi Leonard broke their heart with the first Game 7 buzzer beater in NBA history.

So would Philadelphia pink slip Brown after sitting through so many bad years during the turnaround?  Possibly.  The team made some questionable personnel moves in the offseason.  Jimmy Butler is now in Miami though Philly picked up highly touted forward Josh Richardson.  Other than that, it’s going to be the Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid show once again.  Not sold at all on Philadelphia’s lineup and a poor start might get Brown fired.  There’s a mentality in sports that a coach in charge of turning a team around from bad to competitive might not be the same guy you want to oversee the transition from competitive to elite.  That rationale could be the impetus for a move.  Should the Sixers not improve upon their playoff performances of the previous two years you can all but expect Brown to not be coaching this team come next fall.


Saunders is the youngest head coach in the league.  He took over the T-Wolves almost exactly at the halfway point of the 2018-2019 season when management fired Tom Thibodeau after a 19-21 start.  Saunders’ early returns weren’t particularly good and Minnesota went 17-25 the rest of the way.  Saunders has some deep roots with the franchise and the area—his father is the late Flip Saunders who was the head coach of the team for over a decade between 1995 and 2005 and then again in 2014-2015.

Whether the younger Saunders’ ‘legacy’ status will result in management showing more patience with him than with the average young coach ‘learning on the job’ is unclear.  On one hand, he took over a team that wasn’t very good to begin with.  On the other hand, the fan base is growing impatient with the team’s substandard performance.  Minnesota has now missed the playoffs in 14 of their past 15 seasons.  They haven’t won a playoff series since 2004.  That is the only time in franchise history they’ve won a playoff series.  They’ve reached the playoff nine times and were eliminated in the first round eight times.

Karl-Anthony Towns is a budding superstar and President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas is already taking steps to keep him around.  Unfortunately, they haven’t really worked.  His big move was attempting to acquire one of KAT’s close friends, D’Angelo Russell who instead went to Golden State.  Minnesota picked up a talented shooting guard when they selected Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver with the #6 overall pick in the draft. 

Other than that, there’s a lot of questions and few answers on the T-Wolves roster.  Former #1 pick Andrew Wiggins has underachieved throughout his career.  He’s put up decent numbers, but hasn’t shown the all around game you’d expect from a top draft pick.  He’s also making more money than anyone on the team.  With the exception of Towns and Culver, there’s no guarantee that anyone else on the roster will be here a couple of years from now—they’re all unproven prospects or journeyman veterans who’ve not had a chance to raise their profile.  It could be an ugly year for the Wolves if things to work out just right and management might decide they need a more experienced head coach to oversee the inevitable rebuild.

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