Silence isn't golden for Sixers this offseason

Silence isn't golden for Sixers this offseason
June 11, 2013, 12:30 pm
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They weren’t kidding. When various members of the Sixers’ organization suggested the search for a new coach might take a while, they meant it.

“It’s an important decision,” Joshua Harris said at the draft lottery a few weeks ago (see story). “If you get the right coach really fast, that’s better. But at the end of the day, you want the right coach. We’re not putting a deadline on it. It doesn't work to your advantage because the reality is we have a lot of talented coaches on the staff right now. Some of them have been head coaches, so we’re trying to get the right coach, not to get a coach quickly.”

No danger of that happening. But while the pace of the process is important, so is the tone of the process. At present, the tone of the process is about as interesting as a TV color test.

If the Sixers want to take time to find a head coach, that’s fine. It might even make sense. What makes less sense is the radio-silent/communication blackout approach the team has curiously adopted. When you have a fan base that has been angry and/or uninterested over the last year, why run silent, submarine-style, and disappear into the depths of the NBA offseason? Every now and then you have to come up to the surface and remind everyone that you’re still around, and that the splash they’ve waited for is coming – eventually.

The team officially introduced Sam Hinkie as president and general manager on May 14. It was the right move, hiring a front office executive with a vision before doing anything else. But about that vision: it remains unclear. For those of you with smart phones or traditional calendars or maybe a sweet sundial in your yard, you’ve no doubt noticed that May 14 was almost a month ago. We haven’t heard much from Hinkie or the Sixers' brass since then.

Hinkie was recently at an event with Julius Erving, but he didn’t reveal much. Or anything, actually. When asked about the ongoing coaching search, Hinkie said, “So far, so good.” He added, “There is still plenty of work to be done.”

Yes. Plenty of work to be done. That part is clear. What that work entails, how it’s delegated and handled, and when some of it (like the task of finding a coach) might be finished is less clear. It’s as though the organization is suddenly being run by the Great Wizard from the basketball version of Oz. Pay no attention to the front office behind the curtain. Seriously. Don’t. They evidently prefer it that way.

If the Sixers were overexposed during the season – trying to get the fans and media excited about T-shirt cannons and Big Macs while stumbling through a disappointing and messy campaign probably wasn’t the best idea – then this see-nothing/say-nothing tactic is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s a strange method to employ for a business that depends upon your gaze (along with the money in your wallet).

In the absence of any real excitement or buzz about the Sixers, people have speculated about what’s happening (or not). Kelvin Sampson and Brian Shaw have been mentioned as potential candidates to replace Doug Collins. Lionel Hollins is available. So is George Karl.

ESPN recently reported that the Sixers might have interest in Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale or Denver Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt. You can add those two to all the other names that have been thrown around, a long list that also includes – and this one is my favorite – Larry Brown.

Brown is 72. He’s currently the coach at SMU, which is the 14th coaching gig of his career. He has a reputation for souring on players, and he’s stated publicly that he’s no big fan of analytics, which is the exact opposite of how Hinkie feels about the subject. And yet Brown’s name has surfaced because … why not? If this goes on much longer, we’re probably a few days away from someone reporting that the Sixers are interested in Doug Moe or the guy who coached Jason Bateman in Teen Wolf Too.

Maybe the Sixers will have a coach installed by the time the draft rolls around (it’s June 27, which is rapidly approaching). Or maybe not. You can’t rush these things.

Back to Hinkie. He had one other thing to say at the Dr. J event. The president and general manager stated that much of that work that has to be done will be handled “behind the scenes.”

“That’s the way I like it,” Hinkie said.

No kidding. 

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