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The Coaching Search

Now that Eddie Jordan is officially a thing of the past, it's a perfect time to look at potential replacements. Last off-season I feel like I did myself, and anyone who reads this a blog a disservice by not knowing enough about the candidates. The natural reaction to a new coach, player, draft pick, whatever -- is to be excited, because it's new. Last year I was going be excited no matter who they signed, because I was young(er), naive, and desperate for a change.

(If I was desperate for a change last year, I'd hate to know what that makes me this year? Desperater? Sounds like an action flick starring Antonio Banderas and Arnold Swarchenegger ... and Salma Hayek.)

This time the coaching search will be different for me, and hopefully the Sixers regime. One can only hope Ed doesn't hire another one of his buddies from New Jersey (Frank or Scott), and/or get duped by a chalk session. I don't care how many clothes are taken off (I thought I read somewhere that EJ took his coat off after a few hours, because it got so intense) during.

My goal this year is to become super-familiar with the candidates, and provide an educated opinion on the guy the Sixers end up signing. I think if we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into with Jordan, this season would've been easier to swallow. However; since the search has just begun, it's hard to narrow it down. Here's a brief breakdown of the two new candidates I've seen mentioned, in addition to the four who came up in March.

Dwane Casey, 53 years old, 43-69 record, no playoffs

Casey's name has come up before, and he received two interviews from Stefanski and company last year. He's known as a defensive-minded coach who got a raw deal in Minnesota, and all the ESPN guys seem to like him. However; if you remember correctly, people also claimed Jordan got a raw deal in Washington. 

Casey's record isn't really indicative of his skills or potential. He coached a bad roster during his tenure in Minny and ironically overachieved the year he was fired. Despite his combined 43-69 record he had the T'Wolves playing top 10 defense.

Casey's an interesting candidate. His defensive-first mindset fits the Sixers well, but he's not my first choice. I'll get more in-depth if Casey becomes a serious candidate. For now, check out these links if you want to read more about Casey.

Larry Brown, 70 years old, 1089-885 NBA record, 100-89 in the playoffs

Brown's currently the coach of the Bobcats, and claims he's not coaching for anyone besides Michael Jordan. But we know how that goes. As a coach, and coach only, Brown would rank second on my list of candidates. Much like JVG and Casey, his defensive-first attitude fits the Sixers perfectly. He always finds a way to get his team playing great defense -- with the exception of the Knicks --  but his offenses are usually ugly to watch, and average to below average.

The Sixers don't need an offensive mastermind. They need a defensive coach who allows them to get out in transition and create offense with their defense. This describes Brown to a tee. The three things that concern me with Brown are his age, his lack of loyalty, and his player/personal decisions. Like I said, as a coach only, he'd rank second on my wish list -- behind JVG -- but I doubt he'd coach without GM duties. Therefore he's not as high on my list.

Here's what I wrote about the other four candidates in March:

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.

Let the games begin!

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