Here at Doc's, I've already touched on the next head coaching candidates for the New York Knicks . I expect that Kurt Rambis will get that full-time gig, and Bovada oddsmakers agree with me as he is the -200 favorite.
Now let's examine the site's odds for the openings in Houston and Indiana -- for whatever reason, there is no prop for the Memphis job. The Rockets and Pacers are sort of in the same boat from where they stand as franchises right now. They both lost in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. They each have a superstar: James Harden for Houston and Paul George for Indiana.
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Other than that? The Rockets had Dwight Howard, but he hasn't been a superstar for a while and is 100 percent not going to be in Houston next season. Howard frankly doesn't like playing with the ball-hog Harden, and it could be tough for GM Daryl Morey to land someone in free agency because Harden doesn't have the best reputation around the NBA. You don't hear anything negative about George, who is a much better all-around player. Indiana also has an exciting young player in Myles Turner.
Thing is, free agents aren't exactly flocking to Indianapolis. At least with the Rockets, you have better weather and no state income taxes. Both clubs should have plenty to spend in free agency with the cap exploding this offseason. Then again, just about every team will have money to do so.
The Indiana job came open when team president Larry Bird decided not to renew the contract of the highly regarded Frank Vogel. The Grizzlies are interested in talking to him and he was +200 on that Knicks prop. For the Houston job, he's a +225 second-favorite behind former Rockets and Knicks coach and current excellent ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy (+150). Van Gundy still lives in Houston and is still thought of well in the organization. As of Monday, the team hadn't scheduled a meeting with Van Gundy. That's surprising. He and Vogel are very similar in that they both are defensive guys and have an extreme attention to detail.
Houston already has interviewed offensive-minded Mike D'Antoni (+550), the former Suns, Knicks and Lakers coach. Easily the most interesting name among the betting options is former Rockets player and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (+850). He interviewed Tuesday. If I'm Smith, I'm not leaving the TNT studio, but I might be selfish because "Inside the NBA" is great TV with him and Charles Barkley. Plus, with Morey on the hot seat himself does he really want to tie his future to a guy with zero head-coaching experience? At least Steve Kerr had general manager experience when Golden State hired him a few years ago.
The rest of the Houston options are: Sam Cassell (+1100), Jeff Hornacek (+1100), Stephen Silas (+1800), Shaka Smart (+2000), Chris Finch (+2500) and Bill Self (+3300). Smart isn't leaving the University of Texas after one year. And while I think Self will take an NBA job at some point, he's not leaving Kansas yet, either.
Cassell is an intriguing option. He is very respected around the league for his long playing career, including in Houston. And he, unlike Smith, has assistant coaching experience. He spent five years in Washington and got major kudos from John Wall, and Cassell is currently an assistant under Doc Rivers with the Clippers. Cassell already has met with the Rockets. He's great value at that betting price.
For the Indiana job, it's expected to go to an offensive mind as that was one issue Bird had with Vogel as Bird wants his team to play fast and small (like the Warriors). That would make D'Antoni a perfect fit and he's the +300 favorite along with former Pacers player and Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
At +400 is Brian Shaw, the former Nuggets coach, Pacers assistant under Vogel and ex-teammate with Bird on the Celtics. The lone worry with him was that Shaw's tenure in Denver didn't end well with Shaw complaining to the front office about some players' immaturity. Hornacek, the former Suns coach, is +750. He was fired midway through this season after the Suns started with a 14-35 record, but it wasn't his fault the front office made a few terrible player decisions. The Suns were a high-scoring team under him.
The rest of the candidates are: Vinny Del Negro (+850), Nate McMillan (+900), David Blatt (+900), Randy Wittman (+1200), Mike Woodson (+1200), Bird himself (+1500), Kevin McHale (+2500) and Jim Boylen (+3300). Bird's not coaching again and he already said he wouldn't hire his friend and former teammate McHale. I think D'Antoni is the guy. He basically invented the small-ball offense that's taking over the NBA these days. His Suns teams with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire were beautiful to watch. We shall soon find out if perhaps D'Antoni, currently a Sixers associate head coach, has his choice between Houston and Indiana.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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