- Sportsbooks are beginning to post betting markets on possible candidates for NBA coaching vacancies.
- Including Dallas there are seven vacant head coaching jobs in the NBA.
- The biggest issue for most teams is finding a viable head coach with so few in the market with previous NBA coaching experience.
Following Rick Carlisle’s resignation as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks there are now seven head coaching vacancies in the NBA: Dallas, Washington, New Orleans, Boston, Indiana, Orlando and Portland. Dallas is unlikely to be the first of these teams to hire a new head coach since they also have to replace longtime president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and according to team owner Mark Cuban that vacancy will be addressed first. That hasn’t deterred sportsbooks from posting odds on the Mavericks’ next head coach. We’ve looked at the ‘next head coach’ odds for a variety of teams and in this post we’ll try to figure out what Dallas will do.
If you’ve ever seen a nature documentary about penguins you probably know how they determine if it is safe to jump in the water. All of the penguins huddle around the edge and look into the water for seals or walruses or whatever it is that eats penguins. At some point, one of the penguins falls and/or is pushed into the drink. If said penguin isn’t eaten in due course the rest of the group concludes that they can all safely jump into the water. That’s a good microcosm for the postseason coaching market in any sport–teams are often hesitant to be the first one to make a hire. That’s somewhat counterintuitive since the more prospective coaching candidates that are looking for jobs the more leverage a team has in the hiring process. Once the top candidates get snatched up the ones that remain are in stronger negotiating position. That notwithstanding, this is the way it usually works.
Making the process all the more difficult to get a handle on in Dallas is the fact that a) they’re going to hire the new president of basketball operations first and b) we don’t know who that is yet. The plan is for the new executive to work with Mark Cuban to find a new head coach. Further complicating the process are reports that Cuban is hiring a consulting firm (Mike Forde’s Sportsology) to assist with hiring a new GM and there’s a good chance they’ll also have input on the head coaching vacancy. On top of everything, there is great concern about keeping superstar Luka Doncic happy. It’s unclear if Doncic will directly be involved in the hiring process but if he expresses any reticence about a candidate he won’t be getting the job.
DALLAS MAVERICKS NEXT HEAD COACH
Jamahl Mosley +100 Becky Hammon +600 Jason Kidd +600 Terry Stotts +600 Ime Udoka +900 Mike D'Antoni +900 John Calipari +1000 Pablo Laso +1200 Chauncy Billups +1400 Sam Cassell +1400 Mike Budenholzer +1600 Dirk Nowitzki +6600
Jamahl Mosley has the inside track due to a close relationship with Luka Doncic. Mosley is a well thought of assistant and will eventually get a head coaching job somewhere. This recommendation from Doncic helps a lot:
“He’s got the things that are needed for a head coach. He can be the head coach, for sure.”
So Mosley checks the Doncic box but another major concern–at least to hear the Dallas media articulate it–is stability. Mark Cuban has hired only two head coaches in the 22 years he’s owned the team. At the time of his resignation, Rick Carlisle was the third longest tenured head coach in the NBA behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra. Mosley’s status as a current Dallas assistant provides once type of stability but his lack of head coaching experience could be an issue. That’s why former Portland head coach Terry Stotts has been mentioned as a top candidate. Dallas will likely want a coach that can emphasize defense and some consider that a Stotts liability. It didn’t help that Portland GM Neil Olshey blamed the Blazers’ defensive struggles entirely on Stotts after he kicked his former head coach to the curb. Personally, I’m not buying it. The Blazers have solid defenders at center (Jusuf Nurkik and Enes Kanter) but the rest of the lineup ranges from ‘fair to middling’ on defense to a guy like Carmelo Anthony who has historically been considered a liability on defense. The reality is that if a team doesn’t have the personnel for the job no coach can turn them into tenacious defenders. If Dallas does pass on Stotts for this reason it opens the door for Mike D’Antoni.
We can narrow down the list a bit by looking at who *won’t* get the job. Becky Hammond is by all accounts a first rate coach and will get a head coaching opportunity somewhere. It won’t be Dallas. Jason Kidd and Chauncy Billups are unlikely to get a good look due to their off court issues–the same ones we talked about in our Portland coaching preview:
However, since Billups’ name has been brought up as a candidate for this round of coaching openings, a 1997 civil lawsuit saying that Billups and then-Celtics teammate Ron Mercer raped a woman at the home of teammate Antoine Walker began recirculating on social media. The suit was settled out of court in 2000.
Given the immediate, widespread backlash to Kidd’s candidacy in light of his 2001 conviction for spousal abuse, expect a similar response in Portland if Billups is ultimately the choice. From a basketball and relationships standpoint, he checks all the boxes, but the hire may be a tough sell to fans given the past allegations.
It’s also unlikely that Dallas would hire an assistant coach from outside. If they’re going to give an assistant without prior NBA head coaching experience a chance it’ll be Mosley. Pablo Laso is head coach of the Real Madrid basketball team and coached Doncic when he played with the team. Laso just signed a contract extension with the Liga ACB team and even given his relationship with Doncic is an unlikely choice. Calipari has quietly been lobbying for another shot at the NBA but his previous run didn’t go so well. Mike Budenholzer is reportedly on thin ice in Milwaukee but the deeper that the Bucks go into the playoffs the less likely he is to get fired.
Can’t really advise taking a position on Mosley due to the lack of value at the price. Stotts and D’Antoni do offer some value.