FOR THE EIGHTH time in 11 seasons, the 76ers will have a new head coach when they tip off the 2013-14 season, as Doug Collins will coach his last game for the Sixers on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
So who will be his successor? Whom will ownership hire to lend some kind of stability to a position that hasn’t had any since Larry Brown spent six seasons on the bench?
Here’s a look at some of the names. Obviously, there are and will be others, but this should whet the appetite:
Michael Curry: He is Collins’ righthand man and the associate head coach, and is most likely the one who will get the endorsement of the outgoing coach. He is a tireless worker, a calm and engaging individual who coached a season in Detroit, compiling a 39-43 record. He may be enticing to the owners because he’ll probably come at a low price, and they’ve spent a boatload of wasted money over the past year (Andrew Bynum, $18 million buyout of Elton Brand).
Stan Van Gundy: The 53-year-old spitfire has had success in seven-plus NBA seasons (371-208): two-plus with Miami, five with Orlando. He possesses a great feel for the game, though his relationship with players has sometimes been a bit rocky.
Jeff Van Gundy: The younger brother of Stan, Jeff, 51, hasn’t coached since 2006-07 and has made a nice living for himself as an NBA analyst for ESPN. He knows pressure, as he was hired as the head coach of the New York Knicks when he was only 36, and spent parts of seven seasons there before spending 4 years with the Houston Rockets. His personality has shined as an analyst, a part of him that didn’t show when he was a head coach.
Mike Brown: The most recent memory of Brown, 43, is getting fired by the Lakers this season after only five games, during which he won once. He made his name in 5 years in Cleveland, where he won 50, 50, 45, 66 and 61 games and got to the NBA Finals in 2007. Of course, he did have a guy named LeBron James on his roster, but that was about it. In 2009, he was named the NBA’s coach of the year. He also spent time as an assistant coach under San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
Mike Malone: An assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, Malone also held that position for the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets. He was on the bench with Brown in Cleveland when it made its run to the NBA Finals in 2007. He is considered one of the hot assistant coaches whose name will be mentioned with most coaching vacancies.
Brian Shaw: Another well-talked-about assistant, Shaw spent eight seasons as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers before taking over the same position with the Indiana Pacers in 2011. He is 47; as a player, he won three titles with the Lakers.
Avery Johnson: He was in the running with Collins when then-general manager Ed Stefanski decided on Collins. He eventually wound up with the Nets, but faltered there in this, his third season and was fired 28 games into the season and a .500 record. He is a defensive specialist and another who has the reputation of grading on players. He spent four seasons with Dallas before landing in New Jersey/Brooklyn.
Mike Budenholzer: He has been with the Spurs for the past 18 seasons, 16 of them as an assistant coach, including the last 5 as the top assistant to Popovich. When you are an assistant to perhaps the best coach in the league and with the best organization, you will draw interest.
Kelvin Sampson: Currently an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, he has extensive college experience, most recently with Indiana University. He has been an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs.
Larry Brown: Could a return be possible? You can never count Brown out when another job opens. How interesting would that be?