Yesterday, Doug Collins officially notified the 76ers organization, the media and Philadunkia nation that he would not be returning to the sidelines next season – something he decided and informed Tony DiLeo of back in December. So the Sixers are officially in the market for a new head coach.
No, the Sixers’ struggles this season don’t fall solely on the shoulders of Collins. Not only did he have to deal with a serious string of injuries throughout the season, he never actually got to coach the team he envisioned, and built around, last off-season. With Bynum sitting the entire season, Collins was often left to play catch up, plugging players in as he went along.
Nonetheless, after such a disappointing season it is no surprise to see fingers pointed at the head coach, especially considering the large hand Collins had in assembling this underachieving unit.
This pseudo-rebuilding stage the Sixers are in is more than Collins bargained for, so it’s no surprise to see him stepping away.
Realistically, the best available coaches, the likes of hall-of-famers Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan are not going to come to Philly on a rebuilding mission. Coach Cal isn’t going to leave the comfort of Kentucky to revive the 76ers, and Larry Brown isn’t going to walk through the door accompanied by a 27-year old Allen Iverson. Let’s get those lofty options out of the way early.
However, even with all of those options eliminated, there are plenty coaching choices for the Sixers to pursue; coaches who will be eager to embrace the challenge of turning the team around.
1. Avery Johnson – Johnson was given a very short lease in Brooklyn this season, and was yanked from the job before the Nets ever even dipped below .500. Known as “The General’ during his playing days because of his knowledge and on-court leadership, Avery could be a great influence on a young Sixer squad. As the youngest coach ever to reach 150 victories, Avery has the energy, enthusiasm, and experience necessary to lead a team transformation.
2. Brian Shaw – Currently an assistant in Indiana, Shaw has been waiting in the wings to become an NBA head coach for what seems like forever. Several years of assisting under the great Phil Jackson, plus a plethora of playing experience make Shaw’s resume one of the best among available options. His relatively young age, which would allow him to grow with his players, and his desire to succeed at his first head coaching gig should provide the Sixers with further incentives to pursue Shaw.
3. Mike Brown – The 2009 NBA coach of the year, Mike Brown could bring defense and a structured game plan to the 76ers. Defense and discipline are important for a developing team, and Mike is a master at both. Brown has never had to coach a team void of a superstar, and he might actually enjoy developing a team where the agenda is not already set. The Sixers could gain from his X’s and O’s, and it would give Brown a chance to show his all-around coaching abilities; both sides could benefit.
4. Stan Van Gundy – This is a bit of a reach, but if Stan Van has any desire to return to the sidelines this season, the Sixers should at least give him a glance. Van Gundy has had success at each of his two NBA stops, and probably would have a championship ring had Pat Riley not stepped in and took the team to the title himself. Van Gundy can maximize the talent of a team, and puts his players in positions to succeed.
5. Aaron McKie – This guy knows the Sixers’ system in-and-out, as both a player and a coach and is extremely familiar with the franchise. He is respected around the League for his basketball mind and can relate to today’s players. Though he lacks the leadership experience the Sixers may be looking for, this could be a great opportunity for both sides to see how McKie has what it takes to be a head coach in this League.