The Minnesota Timberwolves fell to an NBA-worst 7-24 on Sunday night after losing 103-99 at the New York Knicks, and the Timberwolves decided to fire Coach Ryan Saunders afterward – the first head coaching casualty of the NBA season but almost surely not the last. SportsLine offers odds on which coach will be next, whether it's during the regular season or in the offseason, etc. Detroit's Dwane Casey and Sacramento's Luke Walton are the two favorites.
The Timberwolves went 43-94 under Saunders, which was the third-worst worst record in the NBA over that span (since Jan. 8, 2019), ahead of only the Knicks and Cavaliers. Saunders had some terrible luck as his two best players, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, only played five games together due to COVID and injuries – Russell is currently out 4-6 weeks.
From a betting perspective, Minnesota was 56-78-3 against the spread under Saunders. If you had bet $100 on the Wolves to win on the moneyline every game over that stretch, you would have lost around $2,400 – most in the NBA.
Minnesota isn't waiting to name a new full-time coach as the team has hired Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch to take over immediately. Presumably, he will be on the bench Tuesday in Milwaukee. Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and Finch have history going back to their days together in the Rockets organization. No assistant coach had moved up to a head-coaching job with a new team during a season since the Grizzlies hired Lionel Hollins from the Bucks in 2009.
Teams with winning records don't fire their head coaches very often, needless to say, so the fact that Casey, Walton and the Wizards' Scott Brooks are the favorites to be next makes logical sense as Detroit has the East's worst record at 8-22 and the Wizards not far behind at 10-17 – although Washington is playing much better of late. The Pistons are in a full-blown rebuild, already trading Derrick Rose and hoping to deal Blake Griffin sooner rather than later.
The Western Conference coach in the most jeopardy is Sacramento's Walton with that team a disappointing 12-18 and on a seven-game skid. Walton wasn't hired by current Kings GM Monte McNair and there's already a potential replacement on staff in assistant Alvin Gentry. He is 510-595 as a head coach in the NBA with the Heat, Pistons, Clippers, Suns and Pelicans.
Cleveland's JB Bickerstaff would be favored with his team on a 10-game losing streak, but Bickerstaff has only been the head coach for 42 games there, so he surely will get another season unless the wheels really come off. Other guys whose seats might be warm are Orlando's Steve Clifford and Atlanta's Lloyd Pierce.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Favorites to be next NBA coach fired
- Dwane Casey +250
- Luke Walton +300
- Scott Brooks +500
- Lloyd Pierce +900
- Steve Clifford +1200
- JB Bickerstaff +1500
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it returned over $5,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks last season. The model is also up more than $8,400 on top-rated NBA picks over the past two-plus seasons. Dating back to last season, it enters Week 9 of the 2020-21 NBA schedule on a stunning 83-48 roll on top-rated NBA picks against the spread. Anybody who has followed it has seen HUGE returns.