What avenue do the Sixers go for their new Head Coach?
The 76ers are currently at a crossroads in what could be a career-defining offseason in starting the correct path for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The wheels have been put into motion with the firing of Brett Brown. These decisions could turn out well or it could be another mishandled change that continues to waste the young primes of this star duo. Several adjustments need to be made within the organization. The right idea would be to have a complete overhaul of the entire front office. Currently, it seems things are trending towards a shockingly positive way. Elton Brand will remain while the rest of the group is expected to undergo some shakeups. The Colangelo leftovers seem to be on their way out with a new group taking over. So with that, we are looking at a new head coach going into next season.
There are several avenues of which they could explore. Some are dream scenarios, while others are ideal fits for what the 76ers have or want to be. And others are just what is to be expected from how this organization performs. This is my order of preference amongst the top candidates.
Wright seems to be at the top of every Philly fans list for the new head coach and has been for a long time. But this possibility will likely never fruition into a realistic candidate for several reasons. Jay has cemented himself as the face of Villanova and they have been one of the best top programs in the country. Philadelphia will reach out to him and want to have him on board but it all comes down to if Wright wants to leave. His aggressive and stern attitude while also being caring is exactly what the Sixers need from their lead guy, to motivate the stars and work a trickle-down effect. To me, there seems to be too much to lose leaving Nova and the risks outweigh the benefits of jumping from college to the pros.
This has been a name often brought up by my Co-Host Kevin McCormick along with others. Fired out of nowhere by the Sacramento Kings after producing what looked to be their most hopeful team in over a decade, Joerger has some great attributes to bring to the table. Working with the Grit & Grind Grizzlies from 2007-2016 (2013-2016 as the Head Coach), Joerger knows a lot about bully-ball and working with an attitude. If you want to continue to lean into that style it is a plausible option. The Sixers can continue their approach of zigging while others zag but that likely isn’t optimal. As the times have changed so has Joerger and he has proven to be great with the X’s and O’s and making the right moves during a game. Before he was fired the Kings in 2019 were a top 10 scoring team in the league. A lot of that had to do with conditioning. This was a team that ran a very quick offense and went from 30th to 1st in the NBA in pace in 2019. Although the current Sixers aren’t fully equipped for that offense with how Joel Embiid is, having a coach who emphasizes constant effort and running could make Joel Embiid incredibly dangerous.
Stan Van Gundy:
This has been a name thrown around that while the hire is intriguing, it isn’t known if he will be a legitimate option. Van Gundy has a few traits that a lot of Sixers fans are clamoring for in a coach. Many fans want to see Joel Embiid dominate and the star players are held accountable for the team’s success. Stan Van Gundy coached the last Center oriented finals team back in 2009 with the Dwight Howard Magic. Van Gundy also has a reputation for being a very hard coach towards his players and being basically the exact opposite of Brett Brown. If you’re looking to continue to push with your current set up and think this style of coaching can improve Joel and Ben this is another interesting route to go, but it doesn’t seem live SVG is leaving the announcing booth anytime soon.
Let me preface this by saying I have no hatred for Udoka as a coach. I think he has done a fantastic job as the 76ers assistant this season on the defensive end. Udoka has also previously been one of my favorites to land the job that I would support. But after doing some looking at other candidates and Udoka himself I don’t know if he is the proper fit for the job yet. I absolutely want him on the bench in 2021 and think he can play a valuable role in helping the new coach get situated with the roster. But for where you are currently it doesn’t make much sense to push forward with a rookie coach who might not bring everything you want to the table. Udoka is a great defensive mind but the question lies in how does he push his stars and can he get what the organization and the fans want out of Joel and Ben. I don’t think I have an answer for that yet but I still think Udoka has a bright coaching future either here or in the NBA as a whole.
This would bring everything full circle from 2001 after all as Ty Lue was the one infamously stepped over by Allen Iverson in the NBA finals. Several have reported that Lue is a top candidate for the Sixers as well as the Nets and Pelicans. Currently an assistant with the LA Clippers, Lue has the highest accolade compared to the rest of these coaches, an NBA Finals ring. Arguably one of the more incredible performances also, overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2016. While this is an absolutely gleaming thing to have on your resume, there is a glaring reason why that happened. That series was won through a herculean performance by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was an incredible Robin to LeBron’s Batman.
Lue doesn’t seem to be what the Sixers need at all as he is seen as a players coach and someone who isn’t anywhere near as demanding as Joerger or Van Gundy. It would feel too much like a Brown 2.0 situation here and it doesn’t help that he is heavily wanted by Ben Simmons. With what you have been searching for in a new voice it doesn’t seem like Lue can be that guy for the Sixers and I don’t feel he is the best fit. If he is hired I hope he can prove me wrong and be the voice needed in that locker room to take the Sixers to the next level.
These are just a few names listed but the list of candidates could be much longer with guys like Kenny Atkinson and Juwan Howard being named around the league. I think this team knows what they want in a candidate which is the exact opposite of Brett Brown. I expect that Ty Lue will ultimately be the new coach of this team but I think there are several other valid options out there.