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Do The Sixers Need A Splash?

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If you read between the lines, there could be a story developing quietly in the search for a head coach. After the jump I'll make an attempt to connect a few dots from various reports.

Let's set the scene first. As we all know, Ed Stefanski met with Eddie Jordan today. Prior to the meeting, we saw reports that Ed won't be backed into a corner. He's going to let this coaching search play out and he won't be forced into a decision by another team (Read, he won't be making a quick bid for Jordan to stop him from going to Sacto.)

The Sixers were tight-lipped about the meeting, only willing to confirm that it actually took place. Eddie Jordan, however, felt comfortable enough to put some pressure on in the form of a text message to Dei Lynam that read, "Most likely, I will take the first offer."

Now, let's take a step back. Ed Snider also did a Q&A for today's paper. In the interview, he went out of his way to say he wouldn't meddle in the decision on a coach and money would not be an issue. Nothing startling in those comments, but Snider also went on to say that he's disappointed that the team drew so poorly this season, and understandably so. Beyond that, Snider talked about how he thought they'd done quite a bit to generate buzz last Summer with the signing of Elton Brand and he doesn't really understand why that buzz has worn off. Snider also laments the transitory nature of the Sixers head coach position.

This is total supposition on my part, but that Snider Q&A read to me like he wanted to make a splash. Obviously, he wants the Wach filled, that's no revelation, but I think the hidden message here could be that not only is Snider willing to pay for a name, he'd prefer it. Think about it, $5M that doesn't count against the cap is a much better investment to put butts in the seats than $80M for a SG. I think if Snider has his way, and no matter what he says, at the end of the day he's the boss, the Sixers wouldn't settle for a guy like Jordan with a sketchy track record, a low probability of being a long-term solution and no cache with the fans. He'd swing for the fences with a guy like Jeff Van Gundy or Doug Collins.

Finally, to complete the picture, let's check out what the Sacramento Bee had to say about the situation, as it relates to their courting of the aforementioned Jordan:

Increasingly, it sounds as if Eddie Jordan would take the Philadelphia 76ers head coaching job if offered, which would eliminate him from the Kings' situation. The reasoning is pretty obvious. Sixers GM Ed Stefanski has more security than Geoff Petrie, the Comcast-owned club figures to be more generous with its offer than the small-market Kings, and the Sixers roster has better talent. Nonetheless, my sources in Philadelphia are telling me that Jordan would be a tough sell in the famously demanding market. The Sixers historically labor to fill the building - there were plenty of seats even during those classic Bird-Erving playoffs in the 1980s - and they trail the Eagles, Phillies and Flyers in popularity. There is a lingering suspicion among media types, in fact, that Stefanski, who has been friendly with Jordan since their time with the New Jersey Nets, might be pressed to pursue a higher profile coach such as Jeff Van Gundy (supposedly interested) or Doug Collins (definitely interested).
So here's the question, forget about the meddling owner, if he is indeed meddling, and simply focus on the decision at hand. Would any of the available coaches really make a difference at the box office? I mean, the Sixers draw what they draw. The people who go to the games are, for the most part, the diehard fans. Would bringing JVG or Doug Collins in really mobilize the fringe fans to get to the Wach and fill the remainder of the seats, or would a home run signing of a big name coach just excite the diehards who already go to the games?

Personally, I think winning is the only thing that's going to put butts in the seats. And I don't mean a decent start and a low seed in the playoffs. I mean legit contention, and probably more than one season of it. So regardless of the desire to make a splash with a big-name signing, wouldn't it behoove the organization to pick the best possible coach no matter how big his name is? If I'm not reading way too much into these stories, does it bother you that name recognition may trump all else in the search for a coach?