Conor McGregor is a legendary UFC fighter. Not many combatants can take a year off from fighting, announce their next bout, and instantly be established as the overwhelming odds-on favorite in the UFC 257 picks. Yet that's exactly how The Notorious one rolls. He will headline UFC 257 on Jan. 23, facing Dustin Poirier in a rematch of former UFC world lightweight champs. McGregor is the -235 favorite in the bout.
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Tom Thibodeau Favored To Be Next Pelicans Coach
Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the NBA and a defensive guru. He has a 255-139 record in five seasons with the Chicago Bulls and led the team to the playoffs each year. However, he and management have been at odds for a while and there are complaints that Thibs runs his players too hard and plays them too many minutes. Thus it's all but a given that he is not Chicago's coach next season despite two years left on his contract.
Thibs In Demand
So where might Thibodeau land? Bovada has props on him and the next coach in New Orleans after the Pelicans fired Monty Williams last week. Those props are intertwined because Thibodeau is the even-money favorite to be the next New Orleans coach. Thibs reportedly wants the job and the chance to coach young superstar Anthony Davis, whom Thibodeau coached with Team USA last summer. But the Pelicans may not be willing to meet his high asking price -- plus the Bulls want something for letting Thibs out of his contract. There is sentiment within the New Orleans organization that there is no need to offer compensation because the Bulls could fire Thibodeau anyway.
‘‘Until they tell me I’m not, I expect to be here,’’ Thibodeau said after the Bulls’ playoff run came to an end Thursday against the Cavaliers in Cleveland. ‘‘That’s the way I approach it.’’
Thibodeau would have a veteran team coming back (likely without free agent-to-be Mike Dunleavy), still would be coaching in the weaker Eastern Conference and would have Derrick Rose at full strength next season. If the Bulls do make a coaching change, Thibodeau could be content taking a year off, collecting his $4 million-plus from the Bulls and waiting for 2016 openings.
Taking over the Orlando Magic is 5/2, and remaining with the Bulls appears to be the long shot at 3/1. Thibodeau is 4/1 to end up anywhere else and 5/1 to not coach at all. The Magic fired Jacque Vaughn in February after a 15-37 start to the season and replaced him with an interim head coach. Reports are the Magic would pay Thibs somewhere between $7 million and $9 million to make him one of the NBA's highest-paid coaches while also giving him some say in personnel matters.
Pelicans Other Candidates
After Thibodeau, the favorite for the New Orleans job is Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry at +150. New Orleans president Mickey Loomis and general manager Dell Demps flew to San Francisco to chat with Gentry on Monday. Gentry is selling the idea of bringing an offensive system to New Orleans that would benefit star Anthony Davis, in part the way he did for NBA MVP Stephen Curry under Steve Kerr with the Warriors.
How about Kentucky's John Calipari? He coached Davis and New Orleans guard Tyreke Evans in college. Coach Cal taking the job is +500. However, Calipari took to Twitter to state his desire to stay put after NOLA.com reported earlier Tuesday that Calipari was interested in the Pelicans' job. Calipari recently agreed to an extension that keeps him under contract at Kentucky through the 2021-22 season. He makes roughly $8 million per year with the Wildcats.
The rest of the New Orleans list: Mark Jackson (+600), Scott Brooks (+750) and Mike Malone (+1200).
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