- Sportsbooks are beginning to post betting markets on possible candidates for NBA coaching vacancies.
- Boston, Orlando and Portland all have open head coaching jobs.
- The biggest issue for most teams is finding a viable head coach with so few in the market with previous NBA coaching experience.
Several interesting NBA futures betting markets posted at BetOnline.ag for the next head coach of the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Portland Trailblazers. In our previous post we looked at the situation in Boston and the top candidates to replace former head coach–and new President of Basketball Operations–Brad Stevens. In this post, we’ll head south and check out the Orlando Magic.
While the Celtics were a team that didn’t expect to be looking for a new head coach the situation in Orlando is more of a garden variety vacancy. Former head coach Steve Clifford got off to a good start with the Magic taking the team to a winning record and the playoffs in 2018-2019. Since Orlando hadn’t had a winning record or playoff appearance since a first round exit in 2011-2012 that was significant. Clifford was able to get some mileage out of the scrappy magic but ended up without anything to show for it besides two early playoff exits against the Eastern Conference elite–Toronto in 2018-2019 and Milwaukee in 2019-2020.
In a position like Clifford’s it is necessary for a team to keep showing progress of some sort. Instead, the Magic regressed badly in 2020-2021 finishing at 21-51. That put them 10 games out of the expanded 10 team Eastern Conference playoff field and gave them the second worst record in the Eastern Conference and the third worst record in the NBA. Clifford had one year left on his contract but on June 5, the announcement was made that the coach and the Magic had ‘mutually agreed’ to part ways. Most likely, the Magic wanted to give Clifford a face saving mea culpa due to the insanity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Magic President Jeff Weltman said that the team’s timeline for rebuilding and Clifford’s timeline were ‘no longer aligned’ which he went on to try and explain with this downright inscrutable statement:
“Obviously, we’ve repositioned our team. And so, there has to be alignment. There has to be alignment in everything you do in this league. And if there’s not alignment, it’ll undermine everything.”
When asked to further explain the decision to part ways with Clifford he started to yammer about ‘alignment’ again:
“The ‘why’ is quite simple here: alignment. And if Cliff is questioning whether the positioning of our team kind of aligns with his own career positioning, then he’s probably not the right guy at that point. I appreciate the fact that Cliff can look himself in the mirror and have those conversations with himself because I don’t think a whole lot of people can do that.”
Making the Orlando job attractive–Florida location, low expectations and two lottery picks in the NBA Draft. Downsides–high coaching turnover (the next coach will be the Magic’s sixth since February 2015) and that whole ‘alignment’ thing. Assistants Ty Corbin, Steve Hetzel and Pat Delany remain on the staff for now but they’re not given much chance of getting a shot at the big seat.
ORLANDO MAGIC NEXT HEAD COACH
Terry Stotts +400 David Vanterpool +600 Jason Kidd +600 Becky Hammon +700 Chauncy Billups +700 Pat Delany +700 Adrian Griffin +900 Jerry Stackhouse +900 Kenny Atkinson +900 Penny Hardaway +1000
Terry Stotts is the former Portland Trailblazers head coach who was fired…er…who ‘mutually agreed to part ways’…after another early playoff exit. Stotts had reached the playoffs in 8 of the 9 seasons he was on the Blazers’ sideline but the team had made the Conference Finals only once and the Conference Semifinals twice. He was thrown under the bus after the ‘mutual decision’ by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey who blamed Portland’s horrible defense on Stotts. Only 7 teams allowed more opponent points per game than the Blazers during the regular season. He may not want to get back into the head coaching grind so quickly but his phone will be ringing as one of the few proven head coaching commodities in the market.
David Vanterpool is a highly regarded assistant coach, most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Pat Delany is the only current Magic assistant being given much of a shot for the head coaching spot. Magic fans are in love with the idea of Penny Hardaway coaching the team–he’s currently head coach at the University of Memphis–but the prevailing wisdom is that Orlando wants a more proven NBA coach or at least an experienced assistant. There’s also questions over whether Hardaway wants to leave Memphis so soon.