Former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has clearly emerged as the front runner for the Philadelphia 76ers’ head coaching job. As our Dave Early looked at in his recent Sixers rumors round-up, Elton Brand is “pushing hard” for the team to hire D’Antoni and Joel Embiid has given his blessing, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. While D’Antoni’s interest in the job isn’t clear yet, and there’s certainly a chance he’s using it as leverage to help generate better offers from other teams, he’s the man Brand wants. D’Antoni is also someone ownership and members of the front office who are still in place from Bryan Colangelo’s tenure have been interested in before.
Tyronn Lue has fallen into the background somewhat in the head coach search over the last few weeks, but he’s still the only other major candidate besides D’Antoni and is scheduled to interview with the Sixers on Tuesday, as Pompey has now confirmed.
Pompey also noted in his latest report that Lue hasn’t been quite as engaged in talks with the Sixers yet either. Unlike D’Antoni, Lue didn’t interview in person during the first round of interviews, and hasn’t been in contact with anyone in the ownership group — Lue has only had discussions with Elton Brand.
Pompey added a couple more details about potential changes for the Sixers if D’Antoni is hired, and why Embiid is interested:
According to multiple sources, Embiid is happy that he’ll face the basket instead of posting up in D’Antoni’s proposed five-out system. D’Antoni’s plan is to move Tobias Harris back to power forward. The Sixers will also make trades if he’s hired, according to reports. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.
While teams shouldn’t execute major trades purely to suit a new head coach, the Sixers clearly need to make some changes regardless of who they hire. It’s intriguing to think about how their offense could improve with D’Antoni’s creativity. Especially if they are able to add a new ball handler to provide some extra perimeter creation and pick-and-roll play (Chris Paul, for example, would be a great target).
Of course, the Sixers’ current roster isn’t built to support a D’Antoni offense that emphasizes pace and three-point volume first and foremost. But D’Antoni has changed as need be through his career, from the pace he’s implemented to the amount of pick-and-rolls he’s used. As our Daniel Olinger detailed in his recent piece, D’Antoni’s ability to adapt and change his offense to complement the various stars he’s had over the years is an important quality that shouldn’t be overlooked.
We’ll likely hear more updates fairly soon as head coach interviews continue.