Michael Curry, who has one year left on his contract with the Sixers, perviously coached the Pistons in 2008-09. (USA Today Images)
Who is going to coach the Sixers?
It is a question I heard repeatedly over the weekend. The job has been open since April 18, and it’s been an unusually long process in naming Doug Collins’ successor. And with each passing day, the question becomes more pressing.
So who will it be? Is Brett Brown the guy? Maybe Jay Larranaga? Or could it be David Vanterpool?
They are three good names -- all current NBA assistant coaches in San Antonio, Boston and Portland, respectively -- and each has interviewed for the position.
But it’s a different name I see rising to the top in what will be a challenging 2013-14 season: Michael Curry, who was an associate head coach under Collins.
The easy response is why Curry now? Why not have given the job to him back in April or May?
That’s not the Hinkie way.
Sam Hinkie, who is in his first season as the team’s president and general manager, has taken this opportunity to learn and discover as much as he could -- not just about possible coaching candidates, but also about how other organizations in the NBA operate.
Just as Hinkie was thorough and tedious preparing for the NBA draft when he worked out nearly 60 players, he has also done his homework scouring through a list of people with varying backgrounds to work with him in developing young players and, hopefully, make the Sixers a relevant team in the near future.
Some candidates knew they never had a chance at the head coaching job but still participated in the process. It got their name out there and it gave them the experience of interviewing for an NBA head coaching position.
There are only 30 such jobs in the world.
Hinkie absorbed knowledge and data from this interviewing process that can only be helpful in the future, running a franchise that was willing to be bold, trading away its best player in Jrue Holiday for a potential talent in Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick that is top-five protected from New Orleans.
This season, Hinkie will encounter situations that he has yet to face, but by asking candidates, “What would you do?” he was not only learning about those individuals and their leadership skills but also about the NBA as a whole.
Curry, along with Aaron McKie and Jeff Capel, is under contract for one more season. Curry has previous head coaching experience, coaching the Pistons in 2008-09.
Curry has had three months to show Sam Hinkie the kind of coach he can be. He conducted all the pre-draft workouts and coached the summer league team in Orlando. He’s shown up on the job every day, hoping his actions spoke louder than his words. And he showed patience, a characteristic that is essential in whomever the Sixers name as their next head coach.
This process is nearing the end, and a young roster waits.
When the Sixers do officially announce their next head coach, it won’t be the splash that their draft-night trade was. And people will say good luck, secretly thinking that the challenges ahead are too great for any coach to see the plan through.
Hinkie has publicly stated he wants a coach who, like himself, will work diligently in developing players, keeping an eye on implementing a plan that puts together a championship-caliber team for many years. He wants to form a partnership with his coach.
The sign on the door may say “coaching vacancy,” but that partnership might have been formed back in mid-May.