The Sixers are looking for a head coach. Quite a few candidates have been mentioned as potential replacements for Doug Collins, everyone from Brian Shaw to Jeff Hornacek to Mike Malone. What hasn’t been mentioned enough, with the notable exception of our friends who pointed it out, is that the Sixers aren’t the only team with a vacancy.
Some of the top-tier assistants – like Shaw, who will be highly sought after – will have a good chance to pick where they land. The question, then, is why someone would want the Sixers job.
The day after the season ended, Sixers majority owner Joshua Harris insisted the Sixers are in “a good situation,” they want to “build a high-quality organization” and they’re confident they’ll “attract a high-quality coach.” Since we’ve already detailed why we aren’t as optimistic as Harris (see story), we thought we’d go the other way and outline reasons why a candidate would want to be the Sixers’ head coach.
It was initially envisioned as a top 10 list, but that’s asking a lot considering the current state of the franchise. (It might be easier to come up with 10 reasons to take a job with Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul.) Instead, we’ll start with five reasons the Sixers gig might not be so bad after all:
5. Evan Turner
I’m not crazy about Turner (see story). He shot a career-low percentage from the field this year, and he often tries to do too much. He’s a player who, by his own admission, believes he should be the “franchise tag” because he was once the second-overall pick in the draft.
While he hasn’t performed like the second-best player in that class, he’s still young. He’ll be 25 when next season starts, and he has talent. He’s a quality rebounder, he’s a good passer, he’s solid in transition, he plays defense and he creates matchup issues for smaller guards. If he focused on those things, on what he does well rather than trying to be the team’s primary star, he could be an asset (rather than a guy who went into a funk over the last 37 games of the season and shot just 39.7 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from distance).
A new coach – someone who fancies himself a molder of men - might look at Turner as a basketball home improvement project. If Coach X can change Turner’s approach and reprioritize his game, the Sixers might have something. Or, barring that, Turner might be an attractive trade piece.
4. Thad Young
Young bulked up over last offseason and had his best year as a pro, developing into a reliable front-court starter (see story). He had career-highs in minutes per game (34.6), rebounds per game (7.5), blocks (55), assists (125), steals (133) and field goals (509).
On a contender, Young would probably be best coming off the bench - as he did two years ago when the Sixers were within one win of the Eastern Conference Finals - because it would demonstrate depth. These Sixers don’t have that luxury. While Young isn’t their best player, he’s exactly what they need right now - a consistent contributor. He’s the kind of guy coaches love. The Sixers can keep him in the mix and utilize his nightly effort, or they could fold him into a trade. He has value either way.
3. Expiring contracts
They’re commodities in the NBA. Andrew Bynum, Dorrell Wright, Nick Young, Royal Ivey and Damien Wilkins are off the books at the moment. Next offseason, the Sixers will be able to cut loose Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown.
The team might choose to re-sign some of those players, but if the franchise decides to go cheap and young over the next two seasons (read: tank and rebuild) it could free up some serious cap space for the 2014 offseason, which has a pretty deep free agent class. The problem would be spending that money (see story), but first thing first. A new coach might like the idea of getting in on a potential free agent spending spree next year.
2. Wealthy owners
When the Brooklyn Nets were in town this season, someone asked then-interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo about working for an ownership group that was willing to spend money and push against (or over) the luxury tax threshold. “It means everything,” Carlesimo responded.
Then the Nets fired him. Poor P.J. But the point still holds. Money helps the NBA universe revolve and the Sixers, at least in theory, have it.
Last offseason, the Sixers slapped Elton Brand with the amnesty clause, essentially paying him to go away. Then they traded for an expensive center. Bynum did more bowling and dancing than dunking, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Sixers were willing to bloat their payroll. Including what they paid Brand (which didn’t count against the cap), the Sixers spent the fifth-most money in the NBA this past season - just under $82 million.
That doesn’t mean the organization will (or even should) keep writing fat checks. It simply means the Sixers have the option. The ownership group is led by Harris, who, according to Forbes, is worth $2.1 billion. That kind of money can buy a lot of tall men.
1. Jrue Holiday
Among point guards this season, Holiday was third in minutes per game, fourth in assists and sixth in points. He established career-highs in points per game (17.7), assists (8.0) and rebounds (4.2), and he tied his career-best in steals (1.6). He also made his first All-Star game. It was a break-out campaign (see story).
Holiday is signed for the next four seasons for $11 million per year. Given his production, that’s actually a fair price. And best of all, he’ll be just 23 when the 2014-15 season begins. Youth and talent make for an enticing combination.