End of an era in Philadelphia
Brett Brown was hired by the Sixers in 2013 to lead them through The Process. He was tasked with coaching a team to lose as many games as possible. Once those bad seasons resulted in draft picks that gave you Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, it was only right to give BB a shot at running a team with some actual talent. His first year in the playoffs they pretty seemlessly cruised by the Miaimi Heat, before they were destroyed by the Celtics. We all know what happened next.
In a perfect world, the Sixers would have fired Brett Brown after losing to the Raptors in 2019, and appointed Monty Williams the next head coach. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20. However, Elton Brand upended the roster, went for length instead of conforming to the small ball and shooting trend of today’s NBA. On paper, we thought he might have been a genius. However, it didn’t pan out as such. There was an obvious lack of chemistry, lack of leadership, and lack of shooting. By the end of the regular pre-pandemic season, it seemed pretty likely that anything less than a finals run would end Brett Brown’s tenure with the Sixers.
It’s time to move forward
It’s pretty clear that the Sixers need a new voice in the room. However, Brown deserves a lot of credit for his time here. This organization can be a disaster at times. And they always send Brett Brown out to answer for their decisisons. He has always done so with grace and class. He doesn’t lose his temper, he doesn’t get sassy while answering media questions, and he never passes blame on anyone other than himself. He’s done a great job developing Embiid and Simmons to this point.
Where do the Sixers go from here?
There are plenty of options out there for the Sixers. The “sexy” name out there is Villanova head coach, Jay Wright. Word is the only way Wright would leave Villanova is if the Sixers came knocking with a good offer. As intriguing as that may be, I don’t have the patience at this point for that experiment. Coaching NBA and college are very different. Wright is fantastic at taking 18 year old kids and turning them into young men. Working with grown adults is a different story. There are guys that thrive at the college level, but fail in the NBA. I don’t think we have time to mess around anymore while Embiid and Simmons are in their prime.
The other names that gets tossed around a lot are Jason Kidd and Ty Lue. Personally, I can never take Ty Lue seriously after he got stepped over by Allen Iverson. Also let’s be honest, we don’t actually know what he can do as a head coach because he was coaching the best player in the world. Then, after Lebron left, he was fired after six games. When it comes to Jason Kidd, I know that having him work with Ben Simmons could really help Simmons thrive. But beyond that, what could he bring to Joel Embiid? Would he help him grow as well? Would he help space the floor better? Would he hold his players accountable for turnovers, lack of effort, hustle, etc.? Kidd has had success as a head coach when leading young teams and developing talent, but not necessarily with veterans and taking them to the next level. Taking a team to the next level is the key for the Sixers.
Do they keep a theme or run far away from the Popovich tree?
Two of the most intriguing names to me as the next head coach of the Sixers are Becky Hammon and Ime Udoka. The only problem there is, getting away from the Popovich coaching tree might be crucial in this next hire.
Ime Udoka joined the Spurs staff in 2012 after bouncing around NBA teams including the Nets, Lakers, Spurs, Kings, and his hometown Blazers. Udoka was teammates with LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland, and was the main reason Aldridge signed with the Spurs in 2015. Udoka explains his coaching style as “similar to Pop, very demanding as well, but don’t get rattled on the outside”. (ESPN, 2018). Players described Udoka as a guy who knows how to handle and talk to players. All of these things considered, I think he would be a great choice as the next head coach. He also has been rumored as the Chicago Bulls’ top choice for their head coaching vacancy.
Becky Hammon is another Greg Popovich prodigy that would be deserving of this head coaching role. I’d love nothing more than for the Sixers to give her that opportunity. Hammon got involved with the Spurs while rehabbing a torn ACL. She sat in on meetings and was asked to contribute her opinion. A year later, Pop hired her to his staff. She’s become a staple on his staff over the last 6 years and gained the respect of the majority of the NBA. She’s earned immense amounts of praise for her coaching ability. I think she would also be a great choice for the Sixers.
However, does the team need a full overhaul from every aspect to breathe some new life into the locker room?
My choice – Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy has made his case as the next head coach of the Sixers by discussing how he would use Joel Embiid. And honestly, I’m intrigued. Van Gundy has worked with some of the best big men the league has ever seen like Shaq and Dwight Howard. He took those teams on deep playoff runs as well. In his last head coaching gig with the Pistons, he worked with Andre Drummond who was an All Star twice under Van Gundy. He would put Embiid in a position to succeed.
Not only would he work well with Embiid, but I think he’d also be a new voice for Simmons that would help him hone in on elite talents in passing, rebounding, and defense, while also helping him grow in other facets of the game.
The Sixers need to make changes, and fast
The coach isn’t the only problem facing the Sixers. He will be the scapegoat, but their needs to be a complete overhaul on the staff, and front office. They need to seriously address the lack of shooting on the roster. Their “shooter”, Furkan Korkmaz was 0-7 from the floor in 40 minutes through 4 games. That’s completely unacceptable.
There is still a lot of talent on this roster and before you completely blow up The Process, they need to bring in a new coach, add some shooting, and hold guys accountable each game.