Yet another candidate has emerged in the Philadelphia 76ers' head coach search. Following a 4-1 defeat in the second round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni has told the Houston Rockets that he’ll become a free agent and won’t return to the team, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski added that D’Antoni “will be considered among a group of candidates” for the Sixers job.
It’s not surprising that D’Antoni has the Sixers’ interest. They should be weighing up plenty of options, and any big names with extensive head coaching experience in the NBA will probably be discussed as possible candidates.
D’Antoni is clearly a smart, creative, successful coach. It’s also important to note that he hasn’t just stuck to one approach and avoided change since he broke out in the Seven Seconds or Less Suns days. He has adapted based on the personnel available to him, changing things up a fair amount during his time with the Rockets alone. Houston ran more pick-and-roll in the earlier days with James Harden and Clint Capela, then ranked near the bottom of the NBA in pick-and-roll usage and led the league by a mile in isolations with Chris Paul in 2017-18 and 2018-19, then went all in on super small ball this season after Capela was traded and Robert Covington arrived.
The reason to be hesitant when linking D’Antoni to the Sixers, though, is that his previous coaching styles still don’t match up well with the team as currently constructed. D’Antoni typically likes his teams playing fast and launching a ton of three-pointers, which is the opposite of what the Sixers’ roster can offer him. Their team is clunky, oversized, post-up heavy with Joel Embiid, and lacks perimeter creation, shooting and the versatility for much change on offense. They don’t exactly have the offensive firepower to unleash the systems D’Antoni has had success with.
Maybe D’Antoni will be up for a challenge and/or the Sixers make some significant changes this offseason (as they should). If the Sixers can adjust their roster and complete an Al Horford trade to smooth out some of their fit issues, adding an advanced, creative offensive coach like D’Antoni could help shake things up for the better.
We’ll surely hear about more candidates in the coming weeks, and whether D’Antoni himself has any interest in the Sixers.