Hours after the Sixers' worst season since 1996-97 mercifully concluded, the end officially came for coach Eddie Jordan.
Jordan's dismissal was announced this morning after a disastrous 27-55 season, with two years remaining on his contract plus an option for a fourth year.
The announcement was made by president and general manager Ed Stefanski, whose job status also has been in question.
"I met with coach Jordan this morning and relieved him of his duties as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers," Stefanski said. "I thanked him for his hard work, professionalism and effort throughout the season. I will begin putting a list together and going through background checks and things. There is no time frame, there is no rush that I’m going to go in to hire our next head coach. We need the right direction. We need that head coach to put us on the right path and give the spark.”
Who should the Sixers pursue?
“What I thought would happen did not occur, the decision was not a right one. That’s why I made the choice to go now in a different direction to get someone to get us the right path.”
Stefanski met with chairman Ed Snider and chief operating officer Peter Luukko on Tuesday afternoon, but his status has not changed. He said Snider and Luukko endorsed the coaching change. He said that was the first time he had brought up the idea of a coaching change to them, denying that the decision had been made long ago.
Asked specifically if he expected to be running the coaching search from start to finish, Stefanski said, "As I speak today, yes."
“I have had nothing but commitment from them," Stefanski said of Snider and Luukko. "As long as I am president and general manager, I am going to try to win basketball games and win a championship … I have no control over people who will judge my performance.”
“I would not agree with any statement that these guys don’t play hard. They are extremely resilient. They play hard. Sometimes when you’re not executing properly it looks like they are not playing hard. I thought there were times when we were not executing properly. The guys on this team, I don’t see them not playing hard.”
"I wouldn’t say there is not talent in that locker room. We underachieved this year … The theme we could use all year is inconsistency. We had guys who played well in spots. Guys didn’t come back from injury." Several times during the press conference he mentioned the potential of point guard Jrue Holliday, calling him a "gem." He also said Holliday will be the team's point guard of the future. He also mentioned Samuel Dalembert.
"The one thing I always felt with this team since I’ve gotten here was that defense fueled our offense. We got off to a very poor start. We talked about re-emphasizing the defensive end. We did emphasize it and our numbers, we got better statistically … We started to win some games and then we went away from that emphasis defensively and that changed."
"The qualities of the next head coach ... the qualities have to be a manager, teacher and motivator. Three qualities I would look for right away. When I got here, the players and the way we were built were built to play on the defensive end, got us out on the break and got into early offense … we emphasized that last summer but we’re going to have to emphasize that again."
On the offensive system: "Obviously, it didn’t work. We went through in the interview process all the personnel and what we had and the coach felt it would work. Because of the last two years in the playoffs, we were looking for that balance, efficiency in the halfcourt. We felt we had the defense, we felt we had the fastbreak … we needed the halfcourt system to control the game better. Obviously, it did not work."
On why the process will be different this time: "I am reviewing in my head and have been reviewing with all the paperwork we had and with the staff where we felt we did not go down the right line or didn’t ask the right questions. We asked a lot of questions, we had an exhaustive interview with all these guys. We will look at it again and see if there is anything else we can do."
On where the team stands: "We are not starting over. We took a step backward this year. ... We can get back on this path very quickly to build what we want to build."
He described the process of selecting the new coach as "wide open." He said he would consider a large range of options, from college head coaches, to NBA assistants to former head coaches.
He also said the Sixers would look at all possibilites to improve via the draft, trades, free agency.
"I realize that we have to look at every option available to us and make changes where necessary," he said. "The first two seasons we were progressing nicely and moving in the right direction. This year we took a step back. It’s unacceptable. We will rectify that. Our expectations and hopes this season were high. We did not meet them."