There are nine first-time NBA coaches taking over teams this season. Nine. There were four other coaches who moved around on the carousel (Mike Brown, Mo Cheeks, Doc Rivers and Larry Drew). But by and large when teams decided to make a change this year they went with the new guy.
Fans often like that — “hey, we went with new blood rather than recycling somebody else’s problem.” Teams sell this and how they got the smart young guy who is the next big thing, but there is another motive here.
Money. It’s always about the money.
Check out this quote from a coach that NBA.com’s Steve Aschenburner got at the two-day annual coaches meetings in Chicago.
Or as one NBA coach put it this week, “Part of the lockout talk back [in 2011] was, ‘If you’re losing money, why don’t you stop paying the coaches so much?’ Some of these guys were going to require big bucks to get re-signed. If you’re a team that’s rebuilding, why pay big bucks to a coach for that?”
Boston’s GM Danny Ainge has sold how he wanted to keep Doc Rivers and that Rivers leaving for the Los Angeles Clippers wasn’t mutual (something Rivers denies), but look at it this way: Rivers made $7 million last season with the Celtics and had years left on his deal, Brad Stevens will make less than half that. Memphis, Denver, Philadelphia and others saved money on coaches as well.
Look at all the new coaches this season and you could argue money at least influenced the decision in a lot of cases. That list of the nine new ones is: Stevens (Boston), Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta), Steve Clifford (Charlotte), Dave Joerger (Memphis), Brett Brown (Philadelphia), Brian Shaw (Denver), Jeff Hornacek (Phoenix) and Mike Malone (Sacramento).
Not every team made a move just for money, in some case the change was coming anyway and teams are now paying a couple coaches. In limited cases teams are paying more — such as the Clippers, it’s costing them extra as they are paying Rivers $7 million a year to get Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to make the right defensive rotation.
Remember, the NBA is a business. An entertainment business where we prefer to focus on the entertainment, but it’s a business first and foremost. And just like any business, the guys running the show are looking for ways to cut a few corners without hurting the product.