Sunday, June 9, 2013

The New Sixers Coach: Embrace The Unknown

Come on down, New Coach!
This is probably weeks, if not months, ahead of when the actual hire will take place, especially since nearly a quarter of the league has openings right now and this might be the least attractive of any of the openings, but it needs to be said.

The next Sixers coach should not be George Karl. Or Larry Brown, or Lionel Hollins, or Nate McMillan, Mo Cheeks or any other Big Name that might sell tickets to utter fools and/or give the franchise's remaining 38 fans delusions of a playoff run in 2013-14.

Rather, this. The next Sixers coach should be known to, well, nearly no one outside of serious basketball circles.

This isn't a quick job, folks. Other than point guard Jrue Holliday and tweener forward Thaddeus Young, there isn't a major piece in place right now, and if you want to cast doubt on both of those guys as being top 10 in the league at their relative positions, I won't argue with you. Starting center Spencer Hawes is soft and erratic, and a guy whose NBA destiny will be to disappoint any franchise that brings him in. Your shooting guard last year was Jason Richardson (old, hurt, never more than a useful role player. The small forward or shooting guard was Evan Turner, the mixed bag of meh who can rebound and handle the ball... but can't really defend, shoot consistently, or keep his head in the game, especially when the refs don't sign off on his slip and falls. The final starter was a rotating slopfest of Damian Wilkins (surprisingly useful but utterly pointless), Lavoy Allen (put it this way: he makes you long for Hawes), Arnett Moultrie (some moments in limited minutes, but greener than grass and will probably be exposed with more time), Dorell Wright (a three point shooter who's been buried by three franchises now, none of whom made the playoffs) and Nick Young (talented but clueless, and an obvious liability when the jumper isn't dropping, and he doesn't shoot for a high percentage).

Note that I'm not even bringing up the guy who was supposed to be the best center in the East. As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't play basketball any more, which is, well, absolutely on the nose if you look at actual games.

The team doesn't have a high draft pick. Even if it did, this draft class looks weak anyway. It doesn't have a ton of money to throw at a free agent, or reside in a state with no income tax (a la Florida and Texas) to get an additional boost for pure mercenaries. There's no crazy ownership that's ready to flout the salary cap, influential superstars who can put together a cabal, history of success with international markets or innovation. The building isn't a difference maker, and while the history and fan base are proud, that doesn't really matter at all to current players. It's a major market, but as the playoff success of this year's teams show, major markets don't really matter, either.

I'll go further. If this team goes to the playoffs next year, it's probably a *bad* year. Because NBA teams, especially ones with this little obvious starting class talent, don't come together in a year. Or maybe even two.

So what the Sixers need is someone who doesn't just have the ability to coach up young talent, but someone with the stamina, commitment and long-term job security to take necessary losses for, well, a good long while. Someone who plays Moultrie over Wilkins, who doesn't slow down the tempo to live with his team's current fitness level, and who is willing to try personnel that might actually work out despite, well, not looking like the classic idea of basketball players. (Which is, to say, the point of hiring new general manager Sam Hinkie, who comes from the Houston stat experiment environment, and has the stones to call last year's big trade a failure. Which is right up there with calling water wet in terms of a startling admission, but when you are a Sixers fan, you take what you can get.)

There isn't an established NBA coach around that should sign up for that.

Which means that if you get an established guy... we're gong back on the treadmill we've been on ever since Allen Iverson was at the height of his powers. Twelve years and counting on that, by the way.

So, to recap. If I've heard of the next coach of the Sixers, it's a bad sign for the franchise.

If they win as many games next year as this year's terrible team, it's a bad sign for the franchise.

And the new savior is the old second-in-command of a team that, for all of the good they've done, haven't gotten past the first round of the playoffs.

Such a fun team to root for, no?

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