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Do The Sixers Need A Splash?

Jeff Van Gundy and Doug Collins may sound like splashy names to us, as basketball fans, but to casual observers the only really important pro-basketball coaches are Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, and they already have jobs. Unless we're talking about a local hero like Jay Wright or Billy Cunningham (who's still only 65), no coach is going to put fans in the seats.

Personally, I will only be happy with a defensive-minded coach. Offense comes from having talent, defense comes from being well-coached and playing with maximum effort, and I have no interest in watching a team that wins just because of talent. Along those lines, there was an article on ESPN a few months ago showing that only two coaches in league history have coached two different teams with top-5 offenses (in efficiency): Phil Jackson (who only achieved the honor this year) and George Karl. Meanwhile, a number of coaches have achieved the same feat on the defensive side of the ball. The lesson is that coaches have less effect on offense than defense.

The two best defensive coaches out there, in my opinion, are Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau. Since they run the exact same defense (Thibodeau was an assistant to JVG for 11 years), I don't care which one they pursue. But Eddie Jordan? No, thanks.

I'm with you on the defensive side, but I'd also like them to take a look at other assistants to great defensive coaches.

Honestly, I think I want a guy who can do the impossible. Namely, convince Sam Dalembert that he has the ability to completely change games and be a force in this league if he can simply concentrate on playing defense, rebounding, setting screens and keeping his mouth shut. I'm not even talking about an evolutionary jump for Sammy either, he has the ability and we've all seen what he can do on the defensive side of the ball when he's motivated and not sulking. I just want a coach who can get that out of him for this season. Asking for too much?

john reply to Brian on May 16 at 13:24

You're asking for the wrong thing
The change needs to come from within Sammy Dalembert, he's had numerous coaches and numerous off seasons and things don't change.
The only constant has been Sam and his 'approach' - what you're asking for is really Sam changing his approach and 'dedication' to the game of basketball and getting better, and no one can do that but Sam Dalembert.

Obviously the change needs to come from Sam, but I think a coach could reach him and motivate him to make the change. I don't know, I mean I feel like someone needs to sit him down and explain that he can do so much more to change the game if he simply concentrates on those few things, instead of thinking he's an offensive player. Maybe a coach he respects? Maybe a coach who really won't coddle him? Maybe a coach who runs a tight ship in practice and won't let him screw around?

john reply to Brian on May 16 at 13:29

Larry Brown
Randy Ayers
Mo Cheeks
Chris Ford
Jim I'brien
the pete newell big man camp
the head coach of the canadian national team

I'm willing to bet most if not all of them have tried to reach him and that doesn't include assistants, special advisors, etc...brought in specifically to help the big men on the team.

I believe it's to the point where Sam is what he is basketball wise and has no interest in getting better - no matter if james a nasimath, bill russell, and kareem abdul jabara had a 5 hour sit down with him

deepsixersuede on May 16 at 8:31

After reading the link about Turner, thanks Sean, he could be an interesting candidate.I hope it is not a big name guy because the names being mentioned won!t be in for the long haul.Snider!s comments suggested to me no more revolving door coaches.Find the next great coach from among the top assistants and get a system in here that is here for the next 10 years or more.Build a San Antonio east if possible because giving our young core a coach they can grow with is the key to me.

I think the Sixers would prefer a splash, much like what happened when they nabbed Larry Brown. But nobody available would do that. I am not that big of a fan of JVG, especially since I am worried about how he would perform without a strong defensive center(Ewing, Camby or Yao).

Honestly, I think the "delay" is a result of Stefanski's wanting to interview some still active assistants(Thibodeau, Turner, maybe Brian Shaw or Jim Cleamons from LA?). I get the feeling that Jordan was more of a cursory interview, out of politeness.

FWIW, the more I've read about Turner, the more I am intrigued.


He talks about how Adelman has given him more and more responsibility, including head coaching duties without the name. The piece also mentions how under Adelman and Turner, the Houston defensive ranking actually improved from 3rd to 2nd, while improving leaps and bounds offensively, something JVG admitted he could not have done. He is actually becoming my first choice. The retreads are not impressing me too much. BTW, He played for Collins in Chicago; Collins mentioned something about being willing to mentor a young coach as opposed to head coaching not so long ago. I'll take Turner with Collins as his veteran Deputy

If Ed Snider thinks hiring a 'big name' coach is going to help the attendance at the Wachovia - he's dumber than I thought.

He's too used to constant sell outs no matter how good or bad the flyers are - the flyers fan base is more dedicated and loyal than the sixers 'fan base'...the fans will show up in droves when the team consistently wins and looks like they can accomplish something in the nba finals.

No matter WHO the coach is.

It's not entirely connected, but a report was out that also indicated that comcast reassured investors that they had no plans to sell the flyers or sixers any time soon.

Which makes me sad as a sixer fan.

and I have no interest in watching a team that wins just because of talent

I hve interest in watching a team that wins as much as it can and contends for a title - i don't really care how...

noah reply to John on May 16 at 15:11

Yeah, I'm with you. I wrote that cause I got caught up in the moment. That's what drunk-commenting at 3:30 in the morning will do to you.

I agree that you don't hire a coach to sell tickets, you hire the coach that will turn this team into a championship contender. I don't care if Ben Franklin is coaching, the non-diehards won't care unless there's either a legit superstar or a team that is a legit threat to win a title. And the "legends" out there like Jackson, Riley, and LB win titles when they have elite players -- LB could've had Red Auerbach and Dean Smith on the Knicks sideline a few years ago and wouldn't have had any better luck making chicken salad out of that chicken $%#$. Plus, legends have to start somewhere, so why not hire the guy you think will do the best job, regardless of name.

The guy I like who I haven't heard mentioned very much is Bo Ryan. I live in Wisconsin so I know all about him. In 8 years as coach of UW he's finished first or tied for first in the big ten three times and never finished lower than fourth -- I think he's lost 4 conference home games that whole time. It is a testament to his coaching that he does all this with inferior talent (though maybe not a testament to his recruiting), but he wouldn't have to worry about recruiting in the pros. His critics also point to the fact he's never made the Final Four (the best he's done is the elite eight). But he's from Philly and would fit the city like a glove, and I personally would be more excited with a fresh face like him than a retread.

john reply to Nick on May 16 at 16:50

Bo Ryans system wouldn't work in the NBA - not to mention that i'd prefer he stay in wisconsin as well (badger alum here)

Nick reply to john on May 16 at 18:27

well at least it couldn't make the sixers halfcourt offense any worse. in general sixers shouldn't be afraid to think outside the box as long as king james is in the east

Um, I thought that Snider explicitly said he wouldn't pick a coach to sell tickets. You can discount that, but still. Secondly, JVG wouldn't sell any tickets. Much less Doug Collins. To the extent that the casual fan has heard of JVG, they've heard of him for coaching a boring style. Really though, he just isn't that splashy a name.

I do not think the coach will affect the attendance. Personally, I like Collins and Turner (Houston asst) seems very interesting to me. I definitely believe that the main interest in coach are some who are still coaching now and possibly Collins. If there were others, I believe we would have heard of them coming in already.

My biggest concern is getting atleast 2 new guards for the team this year. After listening to all talk about Sammy, I would like to give him 1 more year with a new coach (we have more to gain putting up with him than getting trash in for him).

Sean reply to Dean H on May 16 at 16:43

IMO, Sam is not going much of anywhere. His contract is too big for teams in this economy to swallow without dumping crap back. I think Ed Stef needs to bring in shooting in the draft(buying an extra pick would help(Christmas, Ellington or Thornton, perhaps Budinger might drop too) and the MLE. One question to be determined is whether Korver will opt-out. If the Sixers could get Ellington, Korver and trade Miller to Portland for (Blake and/or Outlaw and/or Webster), then the shooting has improved.

Fan Attendance is another reason I would like Turner. I think a Sixers team that plays like a more athletic version of this year's Rockets on both ends would sell tickets, don't you?

john reply to Sean on May 16 at 16:51

The sixers will draw if they win and contend - it doesn't matter HOW they win -

Sean reply to john on May 16 at 17:48

I agree with that to a certain extent. I do think that if the style is both gritty and entertaining, that will help while they are building up to contention. The 2 most common complaints I hear from the "fans" in this city are that the Sixers have no "chance" and are boring to watch. An improved defensive team running Adelman's Offense should take care of the "boring" part.

My problem with the fans of this town is that it should not take "contention" for people to come out, when it doesn't for practically any other sport in this town, but that is neither here nor there.

john reply to Sean on May 16 at 18:16

The spurs are 'boring' to watch - how's their attendance most years?

As the warriors descended back to where they belong - did the 'exciting' style help maintain the sellouts they got when they were taking out dallas?

Sean reply to john on May 16 at 19:55

Well, The Spurs are a bad comparison because they are the only game in town. San Antonio has only one pro sports team.

However, I feel we are having a bit of a false choice argument. I am saying that I want the team to be competitive and entertaining, but if I can only have one, obviously I'll take contention.

That being said, it is not against the law to have both, and I think a guy like a Turner, or an Eddie Jordan with a defensive guru as deputy, could get you both.

John reply to Sean on May 16 at 20:24

It's not against the law to have both - but in Philadelphia - if you win - they'll show up - they don't care how ugly - i'm sorry but larry brown plays ugly basketball and people showed up when they won...make the hire that gives you the best chance to build towards a title -

Sean reply to John on May 16 at 21:44

I don't know about that. One thing to keep in mind is that the novelty of AI not warn off yet, and he was a cross-cultural sensation. There was a curiosity factor. I mean, that team sold out their 1st playoff game when they were an underdog in the series. People try to sell on how this city needs to "believe" before they will come. The Magic were almost as big a favorite then as they were in this series.

One of the big things I think that hurts the Sixers is the battle of perception. AI was the #1, ROY and all of that. There are a lot of people out there that have persisted with the idea that AI never played with any talent in Philly. The media in this town majorly helped that along.

Iguodala is now the star of the team, but he was also part of the period where there was a perception that the team lacked talent, which was false. That perception often clouds Dala to this day. For example, Iguodala is 25, same age as Brandon Roy. Iguodala left school early to come to the league, Roy played all four years. When you look at their production, there is not much that separates them, truthfully. One advantage Roy does have is that he came into the league and was able to take over his team as a rookie whereas Iguodala was a role player from the jump that had flashes while in the shadow of an iconic star. As a hypothetical, let us say that Dala's 1st 2 years don't count, instead he came out as a Senior and played with AI for a month before Iverson was traded. Then Dala proceeded to throw up the 18, 5 and 5 he did in 2006-2007. Would he have made the Rookie team? Been ROY? How much would that "stardom" have caused the town to have more patience with him and be less down on the team as a consequence, since they would now be seen as building toward something around a young rising star.

What I am getting at is that the perception of this team right now will hurt them going forward until they have a stellar year like 2001. Then the people might come. They need to start off like gangbusters and it would not hurt that their style of basketball looked almost collegiate(which is what the Princeton/Read & React offense feels like to me.) It might draw in those Big 5 fans who love basketball but dislike NBA style hoops.

DeanH reply to Sean on May 16 at 20:25

I agree with you on all points. I really like Turner, I hope Ed feels the same way.

I really do not like the idea of another recycled coach unless they are a proven winner! I am fine with Collins but that is all on the experienced head coaches.

I do hope also that they make a decision soon. Hope LA wins tommorrow night so Ed can interview Turner on Monday! :-)

John reply to DeanH on May 16 at 20:29

Home teams tend to win over 80% of game 7's in the NBA according to some numbers I heard the other day...I wonder how that cmopares to other sports.

Sean reply to DeanH on May 16 at 21:50

Yeah, I've been thinking about the same. I figure that is why we are not hearing anything as far as interviews, the other candidates must be "occupied."

John reply to Sean on May 16 at 22:43

Except for various reporters that are reporting that Tom Thibodeau is allowed to take interviews during the playoffs - he's been given permission to interview with anyone if they ask by his GM

Sean reply to John on May 16 at 23:27

Wait, I only read the blurbs on those. I thought that was saying that Ainge would not deny permission, not that he would let him interview any time in the playoffs. I mean, if he were a Cleveland Asst, and was sitting around waiting for the next round, that's one thing. But since KG's Boston apparently does not believe in finishing teams early, there won't be much time between series. Hmmm.... I have to check on that. One thing I did hear as a negative against Thibodeau as a head coach is that he can be very abrupt. Not sure if Ed, who said he wants a good communicator, would count that against him.

deepsixersuede on May 16 at 18:18

Sean, I have had issues with this teams basketball I.Q. and wonder if, minus A.Miller,they even have the capability to pick up an offense when decision making makes it click, Scola,Battier and Yow all are very savvy basketball players and Artest, when his head is on straight,could be included there also.That is a concern I have with any coach that!s brought in.

Lou Williams probably has the IQ and has never had any real guidance
Iguodala, Brand, Speights, Young, I'm certain do

Evans, Dalembert, Green lack some combination of IQ and ability and would have to go immediately

That is true, team IQ would be a concern. However, my core of Dala, Thad and Brand could flourish in it. Everybody else needs to be able to function in the system and complement the core. Lou Williams, Jason Smith and M16 could also play quite well, especially Lou, who, with the proper discipline, could play like Aaron Brooks is playing in the playoffs. If those three can continue to progress, then you need only a few more pieces(wing shooter, banger/defender 4/5, point guard) so you have a premium rotation of 9-10 quality players. One of those(PG? Shooter?) can come in this draft, another (Korver? Kidd?) can come in free agency. Maybe Miller can help you get some pieces.

I think that it goes without saying that Evans, Sammy and Green need to be shelved or moved. Worst case scenario, this time next year all those players will become the favorite term of NBA GMs: expiring contracts.

But this will be a process, not a sprint.

Mitch Lawrence on Doug Collins

Two GMs who have worked with Doug Collins say there's no way that the Sixers will hire him, unless team prez Eddie Stefanski is under orders to win now. "There's high-maintenance guys, low-maintenance guys and no-maintenance guys, and Doug is a high-maintenance guy, even if he's a great teacher and near-brilliant," said one GM. "You have to manage Doug, every day."

bebopdeluxe reply to John on May 17 at 13:20

If the only reason not to hire Collins is that he's "high-maintenance", then f*ck that - hire the guy.

What the @#$% does ES do once the season starts anyway?

I think we BETTER be looking at winning now. I think this team has talent to win - especially if ES shows some creativity and a sack and finds us a PG...we find a way to get Hinrich, hire a quality coach like Collins, and I think this team has enough talent to win 50 games and be a top-4 seed in the East (after CLE and ORL, who else can't we beat with a PG like Hinrich and a quality coach like Collins).

Get it done, Ed.

Well 50 wins with only adding kirk hinrich is a rather optimistic view point in my opinion. Still got a terrible starting center, a weak bench, and weak 3 point shooting.

bebopdeluxe reply to John on May 17 at 14:24

We won 41 games with no Elton Brand and crappy coaching.

I think that - assuming EB is healthy - Collins and Hinrich gets us to 50 games easy.

I see that assumption you're making - i just think it's flawed.

A 20% increase in wins (actually slightly more) seems a lot for a new coach and a new system for all the players and 2 new players learning the tendnecies of the older players and a lack of improvement on the bench or the center position.

I'll give you 45 games - maybe - but 50 is an over 20% jump -

Let's put it this way - just adding hinrich and a healthy brand who is that 'last shot closer' that helps win those close games the sixers seem to be involved in an inordinate amount of time (cause of crappy half court offense)?

Or does brand and the new coach mean the half court offense will be tons better?

How many wins does just a healthy Brand add? I mean, had he been healthy this entire season, how much better would the Sixers have been? 4 games? 5 games? More? Less?

It's complete supposition, but I do believe the 2008-2009 Sixers would've been significantly better with a healthy Brand for say, 30 or 40 games. That's 30 or 40 games with fewer minutes from Evans, Lou and Willie.

bebopdeluxe reply to john on May 17 at 23:30


It's not just having Brand for a season...it's also having a coach that doesn't just pay lip service to demanding execution and accountability from the players...a coach who doesn't just talk about focusing on defense - but one who actually has DONE it at the NBA level...particularly a coach who has a proven track record (with more than one team) of taking over a team and improving the team's defense materially.

Brand alone gets us to 45 wins, I think.

Adding a coach who has a freaking clue has to be worth SOMETHING...right?

Swapping Hinrich for Miller is harder to quantify...but I would think that most observers would agree that two of the biggest problems that this team had last season was shooting from distance and perimeter defense...right?

I'm not even talking about Miller's predisposition to let even the most pedestrian PG with any kind of lateral quicks get penetration...I'm simply talking about the cascading impact of a PG who cannot defend the perimeter. To be fair, this is one of the biggest area where our defensive principles (as installed by our coaching staff) blew chunks...which did not exactly help cover Miller's poor D. However, it would not be hard to upgrade our D at the point, and a guy like Hinrich would be a big step up there. Hinrich is also an above-average 3 point shooter...and while it is nice to bring a Marshall in now and then to win a game or two, we need a guy who plays more than 2-3 times a month to make a difference...he has to be getting 25-30 minutes a game EVERY NIGHT...right?

This is not to say that Miller did not win games for us - he did. He had a solid season...and, surprisingly, he did not hit the wall against the Magic the way he bonked BIG-TIME last year against the Pistons. However, he is simply the wrong fit for this team, and I will gladly substitute those lob passes for a guy who can shoot the 3 and get in somebody's grill on D.

If you don't think that adding a healthy EB, a coach who has a freaking clue and Hinrich (or somebody who has a similar game) to this team gets us to 50 wins, that's cool...but that is what I think.

According to Dei Lynam, the Sixers have been in some contact with Dwane Casey. Not a bad choice, former Wolves head coach who got fired because McHale was an idiot. Currently an assistant for the Mavs. Used to be an assistant in Seattle under McMillan. Plus, apparently Dean Domopoulus(Ex Temple Asst who is now an NBA asst under McMillan in Portland) has reached out to Stefanski but has not heard back. She says she is going to check on Turner's status, but said that Adelman helped him get 2 interviews with Phoenix. She said the process is very secret. What do you all think?

I have no idea what to think at this point. Part of me feels like this is all a charade and Jordan's going to get the job. Old boys' network. I hope I'm wrong.

Sean reply to Brian on May 18 at 1:25

I had those thoughts, however I get the feeling now that Jordan might not be Stefanski's 1st choice. I mean, look at how the Kings did it. Jordan is pretty much their ideal, yet they also interviewed Westphal, while speaking of him in slightly less excited terms then they did for Jordan. Honestly, I think the Kings only hesitated because there is a perception that Jordan wants this job.

Meanwhile, the only sign of the Sixers beginning their search occurred because Jordan said it while after the Kings interview. That leads me to think that things are being held very close to the vest. They are not even floating names to the media, never mind the parade Sac is doing. That normally does not mean Old Boys Network. Plus, Stefanski is normally careful about what he says. He is less political and more direct then BK was, but he still watches his words. So, the fact that he was willing to say that the coach might not be here for the draft tells me he wants to look at people who might not immediately be available to be interviewed or hired, coaches who might be busy well into June, unlike his boy Jordan.

But we will see.

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