Recent speculation has the Sixers firing Eddie Jordan by season's end, and four names have been thrown out as possible replacements: Jay Wright, Jeff Van Gundy, Doug Collins and Avery Johnson.
The four guys mentioned are all interesting choices. Some of them I like better than others, and one of them I don't want any part of. Here's a brief breakdown of the fearsome foursome ...
4. Doug Collins, 58 years old, 332-287 record, 15-23 in the playoffs
Collins is my least favorite candidate. He had the privilege of coaching Michael Jordan 5 of his 8 years in the NBA, yet never made a Finals appearance. His 15-23 playoff record is wildly unimpressive. He's 58 years old. He's been out of the league for 7 years. His teams were never spectacular at anything. His offense ranked in the top 8 only once, and his defense ranked in the top 8 twice. I see absolutely nothing good that can come from signing Doug Collins. Plus, he fails in the most important category -- he's boring behind the mic.
3. Jay Wright, 48 years old, no NBA coaching experience
The only thing I know about Jay Wright is that he coaches at Villanova. The fact that I don't know a lot about him paired with his lack of NBA experience is why I have him ranked third. How many college coaches have made a successful jump to the NBA in recent memory? Yeah I can't think of any either. And it's not like Wright is incredibly young -- which intrigues me for some reason. He's older than both Avery Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy (Really?! Yeah, by a month.)
2. Avery Johnson, 44 years old, 194-70 record, 23-24 in the playoffs
Johnson's the youngest of our candidates and had his name in the mix this summer before the Sixers settled with Eddie Jordan. Johnson has a ridiculous winning percentage in the regular season (.735), but drops considerably in the playoffs (.489). Sadly, the two things his teams are remembered for are: blowing a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals in 2006 against the Heat, and losing to the 8-seed Golden State Warriors in the first round in 2007, after winning 67 games in the regular season. I actually really like Johnson, and if a couple things went his way, he could have one or two championship rings right now -- plus he'd still be employed. The only reason he's ranked number two is because I think number one is a near perfect fit for the Sixers.
1. Jeff Van Gundy, 48 years old, 430-318 record, 44-44 in the playoffs
Van Gundy earns the number one spot because of his TV personality, his acting skillz, his fight-breaking up skillz and his teams' reputation for ridiculously sick defense. Remember how I was saying Collins teams were never spectacular at anything, and in his 8 years his teams' defense only ranked in the top 8 twice? Well, in Van Gundy's 11 years in the league his teams ranked in the top 8 defensively 10 times, and the top 4 seven times! Van Gundy has a great personality, knows the game well, and seems like he'd be a good leader -- which is important for such a young team. He also has 88 playoff games under his belt and he's only 48 (which shocked me, honestly). The Sixers roster -- which is built for tough defense and transition offense -- seems like a perfect fit with Van Gundy's pedigree. Sadly, I don't think Van Gundy will leave his job at ABC and even if he did, I doubt the Sixers would be his first choice.
Either Johnson or Van Gundy would be huge upgrades. Wright is the wild card. And Doug Collins is a complete waste of time, in my opinion. The important thing is, the whispers of Eddie Jordan getting fired are becoming louder and louder, and now we have potential candidates to discuss. It's somewhat of a perfect storm, because if the rumors are true, it gives Sixers fans a specific timeline for how much longer they have to put up with Eddie Jordan, and still gives the Sixers the best chance to earn a high draft pick this year. I'll admit, as someone who kind of swept the Eddie Jordan bashing to the side halfway through the season, these rumors even have me excited.
Yay for false hope.