The Sixers have now interviewed seven candidates to be their next head coach. My two favorite candidates -- Mike Budenholzer and Tom Thibodeau -- have not yet been contacted by the team. My preliminary wish list after the jump ...
1. Elston Turner - Turner has studied under a successful head coach in Rick Adelman for 9 years, and according to Chris Mannix, Turner "served as Adelman's chief game strategist and organized the Rockets' game plans during the 2008 playoffs". I can only assume he did the same for the Rockets semi-successful run in the 2009 playoffs, when they upset the favored Portland Trail Blazers in six, and took the world champion LA Lakers to seven games. Mannix also writes, "Turner is considered a strong communicator who has embraced Adelman's read-and-react offensive system."
The only thing working against Turner at this point is the "read-and-react offense", which is very similar to the Princeton Offense. After the Eddie Jordan era, the last thing this team needs is another offense like the Princeton, but I trust Turner's ability to adapt his system for a specific roster, rather than adapting a roster to fit his system -- much like his mentor Adelman has done throughout his career.
2. Sam Mitchell - Mitchell is 46 and has four full years as a head coach under his belt. He coached the Raptors from '04-'08, accumulating a 156-189 record in the process. Since, and prior to his job with the Raptors he's been an assistant in numerous places, most notably in Minnesota during the KG era. However; my interest in Mitchell has nothing to do with his past experience, but rather the things he said in an interview with Dei Lynam. Most note-worthy quotes:
"Just give [Sam Dalembert] his defined role," he explained. "Play him 35-38 minutes a night. Tell him to go get every rebound and block shot out there and if he fouls out in the process so be it. Just show him love."
"If I saw Iguodala attempt more then two threes in a game, I would cry," he said. He went on to add that Iguodala should be attempting double figure free-throw attempts as opposed to long jumpers.
3. Monty Williams - Williams was the guy I suggested the Sixers hire when I wrote Sixers Blueprint for Success 2.0. He's been a Trail Blazers' assistant for the past five years, and also an intern in San Antonio for a year. If hired, Williams would become the youngest coach in the NBA (38). The catch is, no 38 year-old receiving his first job is going to set the world on fire. The Sixers would have to be patient with Williams and anticipate some bumps along the way. I'm not sure they're wiling to do so.
4. Avery Johnson - Johnson has a lot going for him. He's young (45 years old), he has an absurd winning percentage in the regular season (.735, 194-70 career record), and already has a Coach of the Year award under his belt. The problems with Avery are, his teams have failed in the playoffs (23-24, including being on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in playoff history), he's rumored to have a massive ego, and he said some questionable things about the Sixers roster during a radio interview last off-season. The cons outweigh the pros in Avery's case, but he still remains an intriguing candidate.
5. Dan Majerle - Majerle (44) carries the most unknowns of the candidates on this list. He's been an assistant with the Suns for the past two years, and most known for his nickname, Thunder Dan. It's hard to tell what kind of coach Majerle will be, which is why I have him so low on my list, paired with the fact that he's only been an assistant for two years. The best thing about hiring Majerle is he believes the Sixers should play "fast", and he's right.
"They're talented," Majerle said. "They've got a lot of similarities to the way [the Suns are] set up. I think they're looking to play fast, which is probably one of the reasons they talked to me. With that personnel, they probably should play fast."
6. Bill Laimbeer - Laimbeer (53) is currently an assistant with the T'Wolves, but is most known for his tenure as a Detroit "Bad Boy" and his success as a WNBA head coach. He was the Coach/GM of the Detroit Shock for seven years, and won three championships during that time. Still yet to land a head coaching gig in the NBA, the Sixers would be Bill's first. Kate Fagan put 5-1 odds on Laimbeer becoming the Sixers next head coach, saying this:
Laimbeer could be an interesting candidate. You know he's going to demand a lot from his players, given his track record both as a player and in the WNBA. He's had a tough time getting his foot in the NBA coaching door, but he's had success whenever he's been given a coaching opportunity. Laimbeer has the potential combination of being able to raise people's interest in the Sixers, while also being a candidate with a whole lot of upside.
7. Doug Collins - Two recent articles (here and here) hint at Collins being the odds-on favorite to be the Sixers' next head coach. As you can tell by my wish list, the thought of Collins does not please me. I'll write more about DC in the coming days, since it's rumored the job might be his after the Lakers/Suns series.