The 76ers coaching search, now more than 2 weeks old, has been steadily expanding, contracting, then expanding again: Today was no exception.
Dwane Casey, currently an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, appears to be the first of the original round of candidates to receive a second interview, this according to a source close to Casey who confirmed that Sixers General Manager Ed Stefanski has met again with Casey, although location and timeframe of this second meeting remain unknown.
Another source with knowledge of the search has confirmed that Stefanski intends to reach out to both Jeff Van Gundy and Doug Collins, although he has officially contacted neither.
A source close to Collins has said that as of today, the Sixers had not contacted the former head coach of the Chicago Bulls and current broadcaster with TNT.
In an e-mail response requesting comment, Van Gundy, former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets who currently works for ESPN, said “I don’t believe it’s right to talk about jobs.”
A source close to Van Gundy said he would be surprised if Van Gundy landed in Philly, adding that Van Gundy generally wants input on player personnel decisions.
It is unclear whether Stefanski, who will be in Chicago tomorrow and Friday for the 2009 NBA Draft Combine, is offering front-office, player personnel authority to any candidates. An e-mail requesting clarification went unreturned.
It has also been confirmed that the Sixers connected with former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, but that Johnson has no desire to be part of a coaching search, preferring to be the only sought-after candidate of his next employer.
Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis, whom Stefanski interviewed last week, has been removed from consideration, primarily because of poor timing and also to allow Rambis to pursue the Sacramento Kings vacancy, for which he is expected to interview sometime this week.
Rambis joins Villanova coach Jay Wright – who requested removal almost immediately after interviewing -- as an original candidate no longer under consideration, leaving four candidates remaining: Eddie Jordan, Casey, Tom Thibodeau, and Chris Ford.
Casey’s follow-up interview makes him the first of these four candidates to receive a second look. Casey coached the Minnesota Timberwolves for 1 ½ seasons, finishing his tenure with a 53-69 record before his firing 40 games into the 2007-08 season.
Jordan, who coached the Washington Wizards until early last season, was the first candidate interviewed by Stefanski. He did not immediately return a text message requesting comment.
Thibodeau, who has coached 19 seasons as an NBA assistant and the last two with the Boston Celtics, is also scheduled to interview for the Kings vacancy.
Ford, who coached both the Boston Celtics and Sixers and is currently the Sixers pro personnel scout, said today he has only met once with Stefanski.
This swirl of information confirms what Stefanski said at the end of last week: He would continue conducting interviews and that no timetable exists for when the Sixers next head coach would be in place.
Two names that have been mentioned as possible candidates are Houston Rockets assistant coach Elston Turner and Cleveland Cavaliers assistant John Kuester, the latter of whom spent six seasons (1997-2003) with the Sixers, all under Larry Brown.
An NBA source confirmed that as of today, the Sixers have not contacted the Rockets for permission to speak with Turner, nor have they contacted the Cavaliers about Kuester.