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Why so many coaching changes? Well, money for one.

Sep 18, 2013, 3:45 PM EDT

New Boston Celtics Head Coach Stevens smiles during a news conference at the Celtics training center in Waltham Reuters

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’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.

  1. flyingvien - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM


  2. cbking05 - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    So many coaching changes because coach’s cant fire the GMs …

  3. j0esixpack - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    Stevens makes sense for the Celtics in more than just the pocketbook

    First of all, he has shown himself to be a promising coach In college and a good motivator – he seems to be able to relate better to player’s perhaps because of his youth

    All of that is a big positive for a team that will be rebuilding with a lot of young players coming out of college

    But as a rookie coach with a nascent team, he’s going to lose a lot of games at first – another plus for a high pick in a deep draft

    Stevens has the luxury of growing into his job as he and Ainge grow a young team around him. History could look very favorably on Ainges choice for a head coach, well beyond the money savings

    • 1historian - Sep 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      1 Thumbs up.

      The Celts have got some young talent right now. If Rondo comes back intact and a bit more mature than in the past – this is his team. If he decides to be a PITA Ainge is as ruthless as anybody – he learned from Red Auerbach – and Rondo is gone.

      Right now they have 9 1st round picks in the next 5 drafts. Next year’s draft is supposed to be one of the best in a decade or two and the Celts will probably have a lottery pick, in addition to having NJ’s #1.

      As for Coach Stevens – I didn’t think it was a good idea but Danny didn’t ask me for my advice so it is what it is.

  4. adamsjohn714 - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Most coaches change teams because they’re all pretty much interchangeable, but GMs think guys can come in and “change the culture” or “provide a spark.” The way coaches are evaluated is pretty asinine. For instance, George Karl is arguably the worst coach in the NBA, and he won COY this past year…. and then got fired.

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