Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A start

It's been a slow, slow, slow start to the 76ers coaching search. It's been 13 days since Sixers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski fired Eddie Jordan and it appears little else has been done in the search other than gathering information and making preliminary calls to gauge preliminary interest.

A start

Could Jeff Van Gundy be the next Sixers coach? (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Could Jeff Van Gundy be the next Sixers coach? (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It's been a slow, slow, slow start to the 76ers coaching search. It's been 13 days since Sixers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski fired Eddie Jordan and it appears little else has been done in the search other than gathering information and making preliminary calls to gauge preliminary interest.

There is, as always, the issue of Larry Brown returning as coach. The Sixers will certainly make a phone call to Mr. Brown, but the prospect of Larry Brown being the head coach within an organization where Stefanski is Prez and GM seems unlikely, at best. Coincidence or not (and we're going with 'not'), when Stefanski took over as GM for Billy King, Brown quickly made his exit from his front office position, too. There's some confusion as to whether Brown has kept in contact with Sixers owner Ed Snider, but there's little confusion over whether Stefanski and Brown have kept in good contact.

And there is, of course, the issue of Stefanski's future as the team's GM. It's still not guaranteed, but he'll likely remain in the position until a game plan has been developed. That game plan could either involve Stefanski remaining and hiring an agreed-upon coach, or the game plan could not involve Stefanski at all. It feels like, until then, this coaching search is in limbo.

Here's a list of possible candidates for the opening along with whatever information has been gathered. The Sixers' coaching search may be in its infancy, but we might as well start talking about who might be best suited for the job.

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Dwane Casey: Assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks. Considering he was the only guy who received a second interview last summer (other than Jordan, of course), it would make sense the Sixers would reach out to Casey again. The Mavs are still in the NBA Playoffs, facing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. According to multiple people, the Sixers haven't yet reached out to the Mavs for permission and wouldn't do so until after they've been eliminated (or until after they've won the whole thing).

Avery Johnson: Former head coach of the Mavericks. According to the Times Picayune in New Orleans, the Hornets have already reached out to Johnson regarding their head coaching vacancy and Johnson is said to be "definitely interested" in the vacancy. The Hornets are obviously ahead of the Sixers in their coaching search, having also reportedly reached out to Jeff Van Gundy, so that could play a factor in taking one candidate off the market before the Sixers hit their stride.

Jeff Van Gundy: Former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. It sounds like he could be in the mix for the Hornets job, but there are conflicting reports about whether Van Gundy actually wants to get back into coaching. His brother, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, said Jeff has no desire to get back into coaching right now (Jeff's working for ESPN as an analyst), but the Times Picayune also reported that another source close to Van Gundy said Van Gundy is unsure about his future.

Doug Collins: Collins, former coach of the Chicago Bulls and now a TNT analyst, was the first name that dropped in the Sixers' search last year. Although Collins expressed interest in the opening, he apparently never received a call from the Sixers. Judging from talking to folks, Collins will likely get a call this year, although it seems the Sixers have yet to take any serious steps.

Jay Wright: Villanova head coach. Last year, Wright met with Stefanski about the Sixers' vacancy and then politely said he wasn't interested in the job and wanted to remain at Villanova. Wright is always an interesting possibility, especially given his closeness to Brown, who has reportedly been "angling" for a front-office position with the Sixers, and who could then -- in a perfect world -- bring Wright in as coach. But according to a source, Jay Wright is not currently in the mix.

Tom Thibodeau: Assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, known as a defensive guru. Considering Jordan's tenure was marked with some of the worst defense seen in some time, the Thibodeau option becomes even more appealing. Stefanski interviewed Thibodeau once last year, but did not ask him back for a second interview. The Celtics just defeated the Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs. Might be a little while before Thibodeau becomes available.

Byron Scott: Former head coach of the Hornets and New Jersey Nets. Scott has twice been fired, but both times after being pretty successful the year prior. Stefanski was in New Jersey during the same time as Scott, but we know how the last New Jersey connection worked out.

These are the main names you'd assume the Sixers would tag at the beginning of their search. Stefanski has said he would gather information on many, many candidates ... some even from the college ranks (take a look at Paul Hewitt, who coached Thaddeus Young at Georgia Tech and was an assistant at Villanova from 1992-97). There are a few other NBA assistant coach names that could be in the mix: Portland's Monty Williams, Utah's Tyrone Corbin, San Antonio's Mike Budenholzer, Houston's Elston Turner, and we could even see Patrick Ewing's name emerge as a potential head coaching candidate. If not for this year's vacancies, then maybe next year.

Right now, it really sounds like the Sixers aren't concerned with having a coach in place by June's NBA Draft. So this is all just the start.

--Kate

About this blog

Keith Pompey is in his first season covering the Sixers for The Inquirer after covering the Temple men’s basketball team for the past three years and Temple football the past two seasons.

Marc Narducci has served in a variety of roles with the Inquirer since beginning in 1983. He has covered the 76ers as a backup and a beat writer. In addition, Narducci has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series and a lot in between.

Narducci also has a true passion for South Jersey scholastic sports, which he has covered for many years.

Keith Pompey Inquirer Staff Writer
Marc Narducci Inquirer Columnist
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