Source: Sixers to interview Jeff Hornacek, Mike Malone


Source: Sixers to interview Jeff Hornacek, Mike Malone

The Sixers have contacted Utah Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek about the team's head-coaching vacancy, according to a league source.

They have also been granted permission to interview both Golden State Associate head coach Michael Malone and Pacers Associate head coach Brian Shaw, according to the source. But because both coaches are currently at work in the NBA playoffs, when they have a conversation with general manager Tony DiLeo and the Sixers' brass remains up in the air.

Hornacek, who had a 14-year NBA career, interviewed for the Orlando Magic head coaching position, a job that was later given to Jaqcue Vaughn.

Over the years, Hornacek was asked first by Boston president and GM Danny Ainge in 2004 to interview for the Celtics head coaching position. Hornacek declined the offer to spend time with his family.

Ainge ended up hiring a man who, nine years later, remains in place. Doc Rivers has won an NBA championship and made another trip to the NBA Finals

In 2008, John Paxson, Chicago’s VP of basketball operations, interviewed Hornacek for the Bulls' head coaching position. Later that year, Steve Kerr, then president of basketball operations and GM with the Suns, invited Hornacek to interview for the head coaching position in Phoenix. Neither interview worked out.

But Hornacek was not out of the NBA loop after he retired from playing. In 2007, he was hired by the Jazz as a shooting coach. He would fly from his Phoenix home to Salt Lake City to work with Andrei Kirilenko and others. It filled his desire to be in the game without sacrificing time with his family, something clearly he did over his 14-year playing career. He held that position for four years until he became an assistant coach to Ty Corbin in 2011.

Hornacek has a connection to the Sixers, albeit a short one. He played a season and a half in a Sixers uniform, coming to Philadelphia in the trade that sent Charles Barkley to Phoenix. He was asked to play point guard because Hersey Hawkins was entrenched as the Sixers' shooting guard.

Fifty-three games into the 1993-94 season, Hornecek was traded to Utah for Jeff Malone. There, his NBA career was extended for seven more seasons that included two trips to the NBA Finals.

Known for being a guy who ran defenders ragged coming off screen after screen after screen, one can only imagine how Hornacek could help an Evan Turner who, three years into his pro career, struggles mightily to move without the ball.

Hornacek would be the first to tell you he didn’t have a 14-year NBA career because of his athletic ability, but because he knew the game so well. He shot 49.6 percent from the floor for his career and 40.3 percent from three.

The son of a high school basketball and baseball coach, Hornacek has said he always wanted to be a coach and always thought he would be a coach.

Sixers-Thunder 10 observations: Joel Embiid electrifies in debut

Sixers-Thunder 10 observations: Joel Embiid electrifies in debut

Joel Embiid and Dario Saric playing in a regular-season game for the Sixers? Check.

Russell Westbrook being, well, Russell Westbrook? Check.

An overzealous fan giving Westbrook a crude salute and getting tossed from the arena? Yeah, check that one off too.

The Sixers' tight 103-97 loss to the Thunder in Wednesday night's season opener at the Wells Fargo Center had a little bit of everything (see Instant Replay).

Let's take a closer look at the action with 10 observations.

1. Embiid is already a rock star among Sixers fans thanks to his personality and social media antics, but if his game ever matches his fame, look out. When he caught the ball at the free throw line during the first quarter and did a mini "Dream Shake" to bury a jumper for his first NBA points and then followed it up on the other end with a massive swat of a Westbrook layup attempt, he gave the crowd an in impressive glimpse of his vast potential. He was even showered with “Trust the Process” chants when he stepped to the free throw line during the second half. Embiid finished the game with 20 points on 6 of 16 shooting and seven rebounds along with two blocks.

2. That's not to say the big fella was without his faults. After spending two years on the sidelines, Embiid was understandably amped up and tried to do too much at times on both offense (held the ball too much, four turnovers) and defense (over-helping on rotations, which left the paint open). Like anything involving Embiid, it's a process.

3. Note to fans: Westbrook is already a supremely focused and competitive player. He doesn't need any help to get going. However, one Sixers fan took it upon himself to rev up the Thunder's All-Star point guard with a special salute in the first quarter before being promptly ejected (see story). No wonder Westbrook scored 12 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter and finished just one assist shy of a triple-double.

4. Saric didn’t have a great shooting night (2 of 12 from the field for five points), but he still looked relatively solid in the victory. The Croatian showcased the versatility that had the Sixers salivating over him for the past two years, including a number of pump/head fakes to get defenders off balance before he missed the ensuing shot. He was overmatched inside when OKC went to its super-sized lineup with mustache afficionados Steven Adams and Enes Kanter (combined 33 points and 17 rebounds) down low. But that’s more on Brett Brown leaving the rookie out to dry than Saric’s ability.

5. Speaking of Brown, I’m not sure if the Sixers will ever value possessions like they should under a head coach with his Spurs pedigree. However, just 14 for a squad that has finished 30th, 30th and 29th in that category during Brown's first three years at the helm is definitely a step in the right direction.

6. Surgery for a meniscus tear didn’t do anything to hamper Jahlil Okafor’s post moves. The second-year big man looked spry after playing in just one preseason game before the opener. His shot was a tad rusty (4 of 10), but Okafor managed eight points in 16 minutes.

7. I’ve been critical of the Sixers’ defense over the years mainly because … it was non-existent. That wasn’t the case Wednesday until the fourth quarter. They were outscored, 34-22, in the final period. For the most part, the Sixers closed out to shooters and rotated with purpose on the defensive end of the floor. They held the Thunder to 41.5 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three-point range. Not bad when the “crown jewel” of the D in Embiid was limited to 22 minutes.

8. Jerryd Bayless might want to hurry back from that wrist injury. Sergio Rodriguez had the ball on a string all night long for the Sixers. The point guard had 12 points to go along with nine assists, zero turnovers and countless dribble moves that left Thunder defenders grasping at air. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played an NBA game since 2010.

9. Sauce Castillo lives! OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but Nik Stauskas was excellent. He was decisive with his movements and got himself going by driving to the rim. The guard posted 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting off the bench. Perhaps coming into a season without the pressure of having to live up to being the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft and playing with close friend T.J. McConnell are what the third-year player needed.

10. Wednesday’s game was a thriller down to the end, but you can’t help but feel that some of the extra juice that would have been in the building for No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons was missing. Instead of suiting up, Simmons held a press conference to discuss his health after foot surgery (see story).

Instant Replay: Joel Embiid shines in debut but Sixers edged by Thunder in opener

Instant Replay: Joel Embiid shines in debut but Sixers edged by Thunder in opener


The Sixers' first game of the 2016-17 regular season and the first of Joel Embiid’s career is in the books.

The Sixers lost, 103-97, to the Thunder in a closely-contested game that came down to the final minute. The two teams were separated by two points or less for nearly the final four minutes of the game. Ultimately, the Sixers fell scoreless in the last 50 seconds as the Thunder pulled away for the win.

The Sixers led by six, 87-81, with 5:30 left in regulation, but Oklahoma City closed the game on a 22-10 run.

Embiid exceeded his 20-minute restriction to clock 22:25. He scored a team-high 20 points (6 for 16 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 7 for 8 from the line) to go with seven rebounds, two blocks, four turnovers and four fouls.

Thunder All-Star guard Russell Westbrook recorded a double-double. He led all players with 32 points (11 for 21 from the floor, 1 for 2 from three, 9 for 11 from the line), 12 rebounds and nine assists. He scored nine points in the final 4:09 of the game to help Oklahoma City finish the Sixers.

Inside the box score
• Point guard Sergio Rodriguez posted 12 points, nine assists and zero turnovers in 31 minutes.

• Shooting guard Nik Stauskas scored 13 points in 22 minutes off the bench.

• The Sixers blocked 10 shots, led by Richaun Holmes' game-high three.

• The Sixers were outrebounded by the Thunder, 53-43.

• The game featued 13 lead changes and seven ties. The Sixers' largest lead was 11 in the first quarter.

Sixers' regular-season firsts
The Sixers’ first basket/assist: Alley-oop dunk from Rodriguez to Gerald Henderson (you know, the play everyone — or no one — expected to see). 

Embiid’s first stat: A defensive rebound off a Westbrook missed jumper 19 seconds into the game.

Embiid’s first bucket: A 16-foot turnaround jumper with 8:17 remaining in the first.

Saric’s first field goal: With 8:51 to go in the first quarter, a 21-foot jumper off a pass from Rodriguez. 

Okafor’s first minutes: 7:47 left in the first quarter, subbing in for Embiid. Okafor scored eight points in 16 minutes.

Sixers’ first three: Henderson from Saric 1:14 into the first.

Injury update
Jerryd Bayless (left wrist soreness), Nerlens Noel (inflamed plica in left knee) and Ben Simmons (Jones fracture in right foot) did not play. Simmons spoke about his injury before the game (see story). Embiid was originally planned to be limited to 20 minutes, Okafor 12 to 14. 

Up next
The Sixers will host the Hawks on Saturday in an early afternoon game at 12:30 p.m.