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  • Graeme Simpson

76ers Search For A New Head Coach

Last Monday, the 76ers announced they would part ways with Head Coach Brett Brown. Brown had just finished his 7th year as coach of Philadelphia, ending his tenure with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Other changes to the Sixers front office are expected to be made in the next couple of weeks, however 76ers General Manager, Elton Brand, is expected to stay at the helm. 

Although the complexion of the front office structure will have a new look, the plan will remain to build around their two young stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. “We failed. It’s not acceptable. Brett is a great friend and will always be family. He will be missed. We felt it was time for a new voice” Brand said in his media availability last Tuesday. So who will be the ‘New Voice’ of the Sixers? 

No one can know for sure yet, but the rumors have been pouring in since Philly relieved Brown of his head coaching duties. First, we have to go to ESPN’s Senior NBA Insider, Adrian Wojnarowski’s tweet about the 76ers coaching search. “The Sixers will run a coaching search and talk to multiple candidates, but the interest in Clippers assistant Ty Lue is expected to be mutual, sources said.

So it seems clear that Ty Lue, who won a championship with the Cavs, is one of the main candidates for the position. However, the Sixers will not settle for just anyone on this coaching search. Tyronn Lue, who is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, has shown that he can control multiple egos in a locker room. Lue dealt with both Lebron and Kyrie at the peak of Cleveland's NBA finals years. Lue has also shown interest in the coaching job for the Brooklyn Nets. So it is possible the Nets steal Lue from the 76ers this offseason? Lue, who does have NBA playing experience, has been regarded as a great ‘players coach’. 

Mark Jackson, whose name seems to pop up every time a coach gets fired, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for this Philadelphia squad. Jackson previously coached the Golden State Warriors after but was let go in 2014. Jackson also played 17 seasons as a point guard in the NBA. Mark Jackson is currently an analyst for ESPN and has chosen broadcasting over coaching gigs in the past. 

Many Sixers fans have been pushing for the ‘Jay Wright Era’ for the better part of three years now. Coach Wright has not been ruled out of being a possible candidate for the next head coach, to the delight of many fans. Wright, who is currently beginning his 20th season of coaching the Villanova Wildcats, has been brought into the coaching search. Wright is well known in the area (Villanova is located in Philly) and has brought success to the city. Wright has coached Villanova to two NCAA Championships and 14 tournament appearances in his 19 years at the helm. Wright has proven that he can lead a team to success consistently every year and fits the Sixers system of play. 

Villanova Coach Jay Wright could make the jump to the 76ers. Photo Courtesy: Forbes

One name that has been flying under the radar has been 76ers assistant, Ime Udoka. Udoka spent 7 seasons as the Spurs assistant before coming to Philly this year. Coming out of the Greg Popovich system seemed to work for Udoka. The Sixers had the 6th best defensive rating this season. One concern for Udoka will be his lack of experience coaching the offensive side of the ball. He had more of a defensive coordinator role for Philadelphia this past season. Brett Brown came from the Popovich coaching tree, are the Sixers willing to do that again? Popovich said earlier this season that Udoka was ready to be an NBA head coach. 

Stan Van Gundy is another name getting thrown into the conversation. Van Gundy openly criticized “The Process” during the rebuilding stages of the Sixers. He called the tanking for draft picks “embarrassing”. Now that Philly has two young and talented stars, his thoughts may have changed about the organization. Van Gundy is a huge fan of Sixers point guard Ben Simmons, saying that he should have won Defensive Player of the Year this season. Van Gundy, who has coached three NBA teams in the past, has a history of playoff success. He led his Heat team to an NBA Finals appearance in 2005, and his Magic team to the Finals in 2008. He has had a great record of coaching talented big men, building teams around Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, and most recently, Andre Drummond. This is an encouraging sign for Sixers star Joel Embiid to reach his full potential if Van Gundy were to get the job. 

Adrian Griffin has also been on the Sixers radar for the head coaching job. Griffin is currently an assistant coach for the defending champs, Toronto Raptors. He was interviewed twice in 2013 when Brett Brown got the nod as head coach. They were fascinated by Griffin then and that excitement still remains to this day. Griffin took the role of head coach for one of the seeding games for Toronto. Nick Nurse wanted his assistant to get a feel for what it's like to coach an NBA team. Griffin’s led Raptors team beat Philadelphia 125-121. The Sixers organization seems confident that Griffin will show interest in the job. 

Hall of Fame point guard and Lakers assistant, Jason Kidd has been rumored to show interest in the Sixers job. Kidd has two previous coaching stints in the NBA, coaching the Nets and Bucks. Kidd made the playoffs twice in his three years of coaching the Milwaukee Bucks. In his time with the Bucks, it was clear he had contrasts with the front office. There were also a lot of questions this upcoming season if he was going to be able to work with Lakers Head Coach, Frank Vogel, but it seems they have found success in their first season together. 

Ultimately, it is too early to tell who is a clear front-runner for the 76ers job. You can expect a flurry of rumors in the weeks and months ahead. During the hiring process of Brett Brown, the Sixers organization was relatively quiet when discussing the interview process so one could expect this coaching search to be dragged on for weeks. With many sources giving different information of who they think will be the next head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, here are my rankings from the candidates above: 

1. Jay Wright 

It seems like Jay Wright would be the absolute best fit for the Sixers team. He already has a home in the Philly area and is highly regarded as an elite basketball coach. The looming question will be if Wright will leave his Villanova team he has coached for 19 years. 

2. Tyronn Lue 

Ty Lue would be great for the Sixers in terms of how things would be handled in the locker room. After Elton Brand said they were going to keep both Joel and Ben, a lot of fingers pointed towards  Lue to take the head coaching job. Unfortunately for Philly, there is a possibility that Lue will take the Nets job, which is why he is number two on my list. 

3. Stan Van Gundy 

Stan Van Gundy seems eager to get back into coaching. Van Gundy has a great background, but is he the right guy for the job? Obviously he is a great coach but wouldn't fit into the Sixers style of play like Wright or Lue would.  

4. Ime Udoka

Coach Udoka already has great relationships with the front office of the 76ers. Along with the relationship with the owners, he also is a player favorite. Both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have had nothing but good things to say about Udoka, which can go a long way in the search for the next coach. 

5. Adrian Griffin 

Like I said previously, Griffin is very high on the list of the Sixers Front Office. Although Griffin would be good for Philly, I’m not sure if he is ready to leave his situation in Toronto. Also, it will be hard to tell how well he will take the scrutiny that comes with being a head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

6. Mark Jackson

Although Jackson’s name has been thrown into the mix it is unlikely that Philly will land an interview with Jackson. If Philadelphia does end up interviewing the former Warriors coach, that's when we can take him seriously as a candidate. Until then, it seems Jackson will choose his broadcasting career over coaching yet again. 

7. Jason Kidd

The reason I put Jason Kidd at the bottom of the list is that his previous two stints have been short-lived. Although it is possible he could be the next coach (hence the reason he is on the list) he is less appealing than the other candidates.

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