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Pressing Questions

I'm starting to think more and more about who the next coach should be, or rather, what kind of coach the team needs.

I think we can all agree that the team needs a defensive-minded coach. However, based on the list of coaches mentioned in a recent article, I'm wondering if it's better to choose an established coach or an assistant who had good mentoring.
Of course I'm talking about the Dallas and Spurs assistant coaches as opposed to Collins, Brown, Van Gundy, etc.

With an established coach, we know they can produce results. They can teach defensive fundamentals. They can most likely get this team to the playoffs, but at what expense? Will they leave after a couple of years? Will the younger guys get enough playing time?

With an aspiring head coach, we don't know if they can be effective. We know that they know defensive principles, and will probably stay the duration of their contract if given the opportunity, but can they run a team?

Unproven vs proven, there are positives and negatives to each. Given the current situation of the sixers (development, skill, etc.), which would you prefer: hiring a proven coach, or taking more of a gamble with an assistant?

This is a tough question. Personally, if they're going to get a guy who's been around the block, I want it to be someone who has a proven track record. Brown and Van Gundy fit the bill here, I'm not sure any of the other names do. Collins, maybe. I think he's got a solid coaching background, a good basketball mind and enough clout to get through to young players. Avery Johnson I really don't like. He wore out his welcome in Dallas so quickly, and as a commentator he leaves me scratching my head way too much. I'm on the fence as to whether Casey belongs in this group or not, I know he got a raw deal in Minnesota, and I'm sure he's a strong character guy, but I'm not sure I love his pedigree and I'm also not sure he's going to look like anything different to the players who have been here for a while. Like, "why should we believe this guy is going to be here any longer than EFJ was?" Maybe that shouldn't be important, but I think it is.

As for the unproven guys, I'm 100% sure I want a guy who either (a) has a completely fresh perspective, a strong philosophy and some cache. (believe it or not, I think the Butler head coach falls into this category, Brad Stevens) or (b) learned the ropes under one of the coaching greats in this league. And when I say the coaching greats, I'm really talking about Popovich, Jerry Sloan and Pat Riley.

In the grand scheme of things, though, I think whoever they pick as coach this summer is probably the third-most important decision that will be made.

1. The draft (where they land, who they pick, if they choose to trade up)
2. The overall direction of the team, including whether Ed Stefanski is kept around. They need to commit to building, not go for a quick fix, no matter who the GM is.
3. The coach.

If you want my short list, it goes like this:

1. Jeff Van Gundy
2. Mike Budenholzer (Spurs) maybe Tyrone Corbin (Utah assistant, but he may not have been with Sloan long enough for my money). Phil Johnson has been Jerry Sloan's right-hand man for 18 years, but I think he's too old, and he's also been around the block as a head coach. I think he's probably best in the role he's in right now.
3. Thibodeau
4. Brad Stevens

Jeff reply to Brian on Apr 29 at 23:36

Good insight, and that brings me to my next set of questions...

You stated that establishing the direction of this team is more important than choosing the coach, and I agree that they need to decide if Stefanski still has a job or not, but doesn't the team's direction (defend and run) also coincide with who is chosen as head coach? The current list of candidates are all defensive-minded coaches (mostly).

At this stage, if a new GM is brought in and wants to go in a completely different direction, wouldn't that mean we would see roster changes and a different selection of coaching candidates?

I'm of the belief that Stefanski will keep his job and be given one more chance to get this team in the right direction. It's still too early, but I think the direction is somewhat established and the actions taken thus far represent this.

Good points. When I say direction of the team, I'm really talking less about style of play and more about short-term expectations. I could see how the style of play could influence the draft pick if they're at #3 (favors or cousins) or 6 or lower, but ultimately, there are so many holes, I'd rather go best player available, according to DiLeo no matter what.

Direction of the team is a really simple question. Are they going to build for the future, or is their primary goal to get into the playoffs this coming season by hook or by crook. That question needs to be answered yesterday. And really, that question has a lot to do with the draft as well. If they care more about this upcoming season than the future, Aldrich is the smart pick at #6. He's going to give you more right away than Aminu, Davis, Whiteside, Udoh and Monroe. That would be a tragic mistake, IMO, but there you have it.

Jeff reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 2:58

You're right, and your response helped solidify my opinion.
I don't see much happening with this team until we have our center position locked up for a while and we know who for sure will be playing the SG/SF positions.

We need a coach who is going to develop the roster and set rotations/roles. There are too many issues with this team to expect a "win now" mentality, so I'm in favor of a coach coming here who is willing to work with this team until the holes are patched.

At this point we have to look at willingness to coach and prior experience. Therefore, if we have to pay X-million dollars to entice a big-name coach, maybe their interest isn't really there and they aren't willing to see things through. I don't want any half-interested coach coming to this team.

Charlie Ace reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 11:45

Brian, why do you and so many others think Van Gundy would be good for this team? The offense will slow to a crawl, with 22 second possessions being the rule. I think Van Gundy gets upset when his team runs.

And he doesn't leave you scratching your head during broadcasts? He alternates between sound analysis with clear explanations and goofy asides that would embarass anyone else. The guy is completely nuts. And he wore out his welcome in Houston after about a year.

johnrosz on Apr 29 at 21:07

I'm concerned about the "coaching search". Stefanski is contacting potential candidates and thats great...but I have to ask, whats the incentive to fly into Philly to interview with a guy that is likely about to get fired?

Old School SixerFan reply to johnrosz on Apr 29 at 22:08

To wina championship in the NBA, a team must have a "championship-quality coach. There are two ways to get one. You can hire him away from retirement or another team (Brown) or find one among the first time or second time coaches. Both choices have their risks. We are just as likely to strike out with a first time coach as with a high draft pick becoming a superstar. With an established coach, you have someone set in his ways, but you know what you'll get. I'd like to have Brown as coach. I still believe LB could have won 50 with this roster.

For the most part, guys who don't have coaching jobs want them, especially guys who have never had them. I don't think Stefanski flapping in the wind is an issue for any of the assistants, but it might be for the more established guys who are comfortable in their retirement/announcer jobs.

The brightest spot on this team right now is Jrue...so I have to wonder what his upside is.

Is hoping for Gary Payton with a 40% three point shot asking for too much?

johnrosz reply to ryano on Apr 29 at 21:46

I might be completely wrong about this but when I watch Jrue play I kinda hope he can turn into what Billups has become the last several years. I'd love to see Jrue continue to get bigger, use his size to get inside and maybe bully smaller PG's in the post to go along with what appears to be an effective outside shot.

I know Payton is an easy comp because of the defense and size, but I'm not sure how similar their offensive games are. I have trouble coming up with someone. Deron Williams would be an awesome comp, but he's a little more explosive off the dribble. Chauncey maybe, but I think Jrue will be a better distributor than Chauncey ever was, and probably never the focus of an offense, which Chauncey sort of was. Jason Kidd is faster with the ball, but Jrue has the all-around game.

Ultimately, I think he's going to be a hard guy to draw a comp for. Best-case, he's probably a 15+, 5+ boards, 10+ assists, 2+ steals kind of guy who can shoot 50% from the floor and 40% from three. That's a perennial all star.

Rich reply to Brian on Apr 29 at 23:30

I agree that he is going to be a new type of player. I think that he'll have a lot of the qualities that some guys dominate in. Instead of being dominant in a couple of categories, he will be solid in all of those categories. With a team that's such a mess, that's the perfect building block: Someone who fits with anyone, who can do it all.

It really is tough to find a good comp for all the skills we think Jrue will develop. One player who I thought would be an interesting comp would be Joe Dumars. I know he was more of a SG than a PG but he was a very good defender and he scored at a pretty decent amount, all things Jrue can do. Jrue will hopefully develop into a better distributor and shooter than Dumars ever was but since Dumars is in the HOF I would take his career for Jrue.

ryano reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 9:56

Brian, looking at those numbers, that makes Jrue look better than Rondo. Does that stack up long term? I guess the only thing Jrue would be missing is Rondo's mean streak. We have a very small sample size in, but do you think Jrue has that compulsion to impose his will inside of him?

If we put Jrue's ceiling higher than Rondo's, we have a very few PG's better than what Jrue potentially will be in the league right now. Paul, Deron W...anyone else?

Rondo's a different player. He's a much better finisher/slasher than Jrue will probably ever be, but he's also a despicable shooter. Personally, I think this is going to be exposed when he doesn't have an effective Garnett/Allen/Pierce around him anymore and he's responsible for more scoring.

Jrue's jumper opens up a ton of things, especially in the P&R, that simply aren't available to Rondo. On the defensive end, I think Rondo gambles too much, Jrue is a more in-your-jock man defender than a freelancer.

If his potential is fully realized, then I'd say CP3 and Deron are in the top tier, he could be in the second tier w/ Rondo.

Charlie Ace reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 11:53

A better finisher than Jrue? Jrue makes layups, Rondo doesn't. If you watch highlights of his dunks, you'll be left with the impression that he's a great finisher. If you watch him play on a regular basis, you see the improvised moves and missed layups and think, "What was he thinking on that drive?"

This year, Rondo was better on both dunks and layups than Jrue. That may not always be the case, but I'd say right now he's a better finisher and he definitely gets to the line more (even if he only shoots 62% from the line, getting there is important).

If you compare their rookie seasons, they're very close in just about all categories, save three-point shooting.

eddies' heady's on Apr 29 at 21:40

Is it safe to assume that since Stefanski hasn't been given the boot yet (and allowed to begin the coaching search) that ultimately his hiring of EJ and the 3 year contract he doled out has somewhat saved his own job? Meaning that EJ has to be paid for two more years and Stefanski is still owed one more year (I think), so with the low attendance and downtrodden economy Snider and Luukko are just going to hold serve and minimize how much they would have to pay former employees. Especially considering how much and how many years they have been paying former coaches the last 5 or so.

It sure seems that way being they have let him begin preliminary calls, no? I mean, if they were going to cut bait it would appear they would have done so by now.

Old School SixerFan reply to eddies' heady's on Apr 29 at 22:12

In the blogs, people keep saying that Comcast is pinching pennies, but where is the real evidence? Perhaps Comcastwill spend whatever they need to spend.

Evidence they're cheap:

1. Didn't re-sign Andre Miller.
2. Didn't use the MLE last summer.
3. Hired Eddie Jordan to coach (this is a possible supporting argument, not sure I'm buying it. Jordan's salary was less because WASH was still picking up part of the tab)

Evidence they aren't cheap

1. They fired Jordan and will be paying another coach this season and next season on top of Jordan's salary.
2. The Jason Kapono/Reggie Evans trade actually took on more money
3. They gave Brand, Iguodala and Lou Williams a combined $180M+ in contracts 2 summers ago.
4. They didn't make a trade simply to dump salary this year at the deadline, when there were plenty of options out there to do so.

Personally, I don't think they've been cheap on the whole. Last summer, there was a huge scare about the cap dropping drastically, there were really no moves that would put them over the top with the MLE, Miller was asking for too much money and too many years. There were basketball reasons for not doing anything, as well as just prudent financial reasons. This summer will probably tell the story, and to be honest, the cheap route would probably be preferable to the loose spending route if the latter means overpaying (for) veterans to make a quick fix.

Two thoughts:

#1. Snider and Luukko have Larry Brown as their plan A and don't really have a plan B in place yet, so they're letting Stefanski move forward.

#2. They don't really care until the Flyers' season is over.

I have a feeling it's probably a combination of those two, rather than a monetary thing at this point.

Max reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 10:00

Couldn't have said it better myself.

eddies' heady's reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 10:59

Heh, our ownership/management (1) not having a Plan B and (2) not caring more over hockey fixations.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the last 20 years or so. Damn, I wish someone could save us die-hards from the way-too-long madness.

Watching Beaubois & GHill tonight. Can Lou Will play the same role as those guys on a winner OR is his game(O & D) not at their level? There is quite a difference in their teamates. He doesn't exactly have Duncan & Nowitski playing with him.

They're both better shooters than Lou, which limits LW's effectiveness.

Rich reply to sfw on Apr 29 at 23:21

Hill's defense is also very good, which makes it light-years ahead of Lou's. I think Beaubois could turn into a better distributor too. He doesn't have it yet, but we know that Lou doesn't have that facet in his game.

i think beaubois has a pretty high ceiling as a scoring point guard or 6th man, much higher than Lou. Dallas might have blown it by not putting him in in the 4th tonite. is anyone else wondering about if we had kept kyrylo fesenko? hes slow as anything but hes a big body.

I don't know about Fesenko. Yes, he's stepped in for Okur and maybe added some toughness, but nothing in his numbers says he's going to amount to anything, he really hasn't rebounded the ball well, he's basically been a fouling machine, he shoots FTs worse than Chris Dudley. There are definitely things to lament about past drafts (like passing on Marc Gasol when they could've stashed him in Spain for another year at no cost, and taking Jason Smith instead, or trading away a later pick in the first round that could've been Gasol), I'm not sure Fesenko is really one that got away.

JohnMagee on Apr 29 at 23:52

Um, it's basketball related, so getting my masters in statistics, rebuilding my basketball databases (from scratch sadly) and earning the job to replace HP before he dies :)

But seriously, I'm actually fascinated by the number of 35,000 dollar fines being handed out this off season...the number of fouls that Dwight Howard seemed to draw in the first round - that could be a problem against the Cavalierss...are the mavs in need of being blown up and can cuban pull it off even if he wanted to...all that hype about the hawks - and still can't win a road game in the playoffs, which might be a problem since the bucks won a road game last night...will rick carlisle lose another job in which he led a team to a great regular season record but fell short in the playoffs...wake me when the thunder win a road game - then i'll be impressed...how is it possible for my two favorite sports franchises to disappoint me in the SAME DAY and then the sixers make it worse the next day - and the day after that - make it stop...will i really switch allegiances if ellison gets the warriors...i have a lot of questoins

You know, if Cuban trades with the Sixers, the Mavs are on their way to the second round right now and probably beyond. He got cheap at the absolute wrong time. The important question in Dallas is will Dirk opt out of his contract. There would be a number of max offers out there for him.

Carlisle is probably safe, but since we're talking playoffs, I'd like to be the first to congratulate Andre Miller on making the playoffs for the sixth time in his career. And also offer my condolences for his sixth first-round exit (hopefully not jumping the gun here, they're down 16 late in the third Q). Also props to Brandon Roy for his superstarness getting bounced in the first round for the second consecutive year and proving to be frail as well.

The Hawks just blew that game last night, and it was probably the final nail in Woodson's coffin down there. I hope the Sixers don't get him.

You aren't going to switch now if you haven't to this point. (was one of those disappointments the Kolb extension?)

The Thunder vs. Lakers series reminds me of the Sixers/Magic last year, except everyone wasn't riding the Sixers' jock, even though they actually won a game on the road. I think LAL realized who they are, and who they're playing and they'll lay a beating on OKC in game 6. I'll be shocked if it goes 7.

JohnMagee reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 9:45

THe phillies giving ryan howard the unnecessary and too long extension was the other one - the eagles thing, meh, it's one year, and i heard on the radio they couldn't give him an extension past 2011 - i figured it was just a new cba thing - waiting to see how it works out.

On the radio this morning they were talking guys without titles - and the mikes said barkley was better than nowitzki

interesting question and possible post for the summer

Without looking at a single stat, I'm going to agree that Barkley was better, much better. I'm pretty sure the numbers will back that up as well.

Statman reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 10:53

but since we're talking playoffs, I'd like to be the first to congratulate Andre Miller on making the playoffs for the sixth time in his career. And also offer my condolences for his sixth first-round exit

It's also Miller's 3rd straight elimination in a home Game 6. I didn't see the first part of the POR-PHO game but Miller must have been pretty bad (going 2-10 for 4 points in 18 minutes). I had to feel sorry for him, though, during his 1-minute cameo in the 4th, when Doug Collins immediately noticed that Miller destroyed the Blazers' spacing since the Suns didn't respect his outside shot (and then Miller got subbed out after one possession).

On the flip side, it's good to see Grant Hill get his first playoff series win (at age 37, after six previous failures -- so maybe there's hope for Miller). Hill had always been one of my favorite non-Sixers (in his prime, his all-around game was a smoother version of Iguodala's), and it's impressive that he's persevered this long. (He also, I notice, had more defensive rebounds per minute than Elton Brand this year.)

Speaking of Grant Hill, I was watching old film of him and I am almost ashamed to say that I'd forgotten just how supernasty he used to be. I was also struck by the similarity between Hill's game and Evan Turner. Prime Hill was likely a better athlete, but their strategic use of a multitude of moves(especially the spin) and their length is very similar.

What do you all think?

Manu got Ginoblied. Who could see Manu Ginobli coming back from the dead earlier this season and playing like a true superstar. Manu is a true closer/playmaker and he has capable of hitting the big shot. i wish he was a sixer...

Jeff reply to klein on Apr 30 at 3:00

he's also injury prone and we'd have to give a lot up to trade for him. At his age, how many more successful seasons can we see him playing (and by successful I mean in terms of durability as well as performance)?

opps i meant to say the Mavs got Ginoblied...

I can't see Iggy and Brand putting the Mavs over the Spurs. The Mavs would still lack a guy who can hit the big crunch time shots.


Article says that Manu return is the reason the Spurs beat the Mavs. i don't think any trade they would have made could have put them over with a healthy Manu. The guy is a beast...

JohnMagee reply to klein on Apr 30 at 9:47

Who on the mavs strikes you as a good on ball defender, or better than Iguodala?

(Hey brian, does synergy service show match ups? Iguodala vs Manu if it exists?)

You'd have to go through Sixers vs Spurs games and watch all the clips Manu touched the ball. Nothing player vs player.

JohnEMagee reply to Derek Bodner on Apr 30 at 13:03

sounds like an upgrade they should add :)

hank reply to JohnMagee on Apr 30 at 16:18

What if Iggy cant manu? Dallas would then be saddled with both the contracts of Brand and Iggy.

If we stay no lower than the no. 6 position after the lottery, would it be a good move to trade out of that spot with Memphis for the 12 & 24 picks in the draft. Any thoughts on this?
Of course, Memphis would have to want one of the players available at that spot. A combination of players to target could be Orton to groom at center and Avery Bradley.

sfw reply to sfw on Apr 30 at 9:07

That's picks 12 & 25.

JohnMagee reply to sfw on Apr 30 at 9:47

Why would that be a good idea and what else is memphis taking or the sixers getting, purely as a pick swap it's silly

Tom Moore reply to JohnMagee on Apr 30 at 9:56

Moving up to No. 6 typically costs more than Nos. 12 and 25. Also, I don't think the Sixers want two more young guys with guaranteed deals.

You can typically buy a #1 pick in the #25 range. The #20 or #21 pick has been sold in the last few years.

I'm all for buying a pick, trading for two lower picks in this draft doesn't do it for me, though. I'm not opposed to trading down to the 10-12 range (for Udoh possibly), but you need to accomplish something else from this list with the trade, maybe 2 things from this list:

1) Move a bad contract
2) Acquire a young player who fits the team and will contribute
3) Acquire a future first round pick, with reasonable lottery protection.

sfw reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 11:55

I hadn't realized that Marcus Thornton wasn't drafted until 43 last year. He certainly would've been on my list to go after last year. Seems like lately, we have not been looking to 'Buy' picks.

Jodie was the guy they had targeted in the second round, at the time they said it was too expensive to buy a pick for him.

Its actually easier to buy a 1st rounder than an early second. Its that guaranteed 3 year contract thing. The contract is no higher then what a vet min guy makes, but the vet contracts do not count against the tax.

The argument would be Udoh + Bradley would be worth more than Aminu/Johnson.

I'm not sure I agree with that at 6. I was thinking along those lines if we ended at 8-10, but there are clear delineations between tiers at 6 and 8 IMO.

Yeah, my feeling is that Aminu/Johnson + the $3M it would cost you to get a pick to take Bradley is worth more than Udoh + Bradley, minus the $3M. If that makes sense.

I think Bradley probably ends up going closer to 16-20 rather than 25-30. Not sure you'll be able to straight up buy a pick to get him.

If that's the case you wouldn't be able to get him with Memphis' second pick anyway.

Charlie Ace on Apr 30 at 12:08

Is Brand going to be a sub next year? Would Favors or Cousins start on this team?

I don't think Speights or Young will start at the 4 either. I read somewhere that Jordan realized that Brand was physically unable to play at the level he had before his Achilles injury, as if everybody in the world knows Brand is washed up, and this was a major source of Jordan's frustration, because he was "forced" to play him. I just don't see a new coach coming in and not changing the starter at that position. I guess Young has the best chance at this point.

Good idea to ask us for topics, Brian.

Excellent question, and I don't have a clear answer.

If somehow the Sixers wind up with Favors, I want him starting immediately at the four, and hopefully playing 30 minutes a game. So in that case, I'd say Brand is a reserve. If they get Cousins, I'm not sure what they do. He's a five, not sure he and Sam work together in the front court. If they get Wall, Johnson or Turner, I don't see a better option at the four. If they get Aminu, we're into a situation that I'll touch on in a post in the coming days.

As far as Brand's production, if he doesn't rebound the ball better, I don't think he's a 30+ mpg starter at the four. If the reason for his defensive and rebounding fall off is physical, he's probably a sub the rest of his career. If it was something else, and he bounces back in those areas, then you can use him in a smarter defensive system and he can be an asset on both ends of the floor.

To sum it up, if we use a high lottery pick on a PF, I think you move on from Brand as a starter immediately. If you don't, he's probably the starter out of necessity. We're going to have to wait and see if he's really worthy of the position in the latter case.

I think Brand gets "Sammy minutes" the rest of his contract. Meaning 20-30 minutes a night depending on circumstances.

Probably a safe bet. I'd love to hold out hope that the effort simply wasn't there this past season, but that's almost as depressing as if he's lost the physical skills, to be honest.

I figure Brand will at least begin as the starter- unless Speights beats him out.

I don't see a rookie (especially someone raw like Favors) beating him out.

But if the draft Cousins I could see them trading Sam and starting Cousins, because he could make an impact right away.

JohnEMagee on Apr 30 at 13:05

I think predicting who would start before a player is even drafted or a coach is hired is a bit too much.

Who predicted Andre Iguodala would start from day one?

Chris reply to JohnEMagee on Apr 30 at 14:30

Jim O'brien

JohnEMagee reply to Chris on Apr 30 at 16:38

Making him the starter and predicting he'd be the starter before he was drafted are two entirely different things

Greetings from Europe (Spain),
what do you think of Bill Laimbeer? It sounds good to me. On the other hand, I hate to see a GM still in his charge but no more than the owners who are more worried about Flyers than a future Sixers plan.

JohnMagee reply to Xavier on Apr 30 at 22:06

How much NBA coaching experience does Bill Lambeer have (the WNBA is not the NBA)

xavier reply to JohnMagee on Apr 30 at 23:15

yeap! I know. You're right on that point, I can't argue nothing about that(although Detroit Shock is much better than it was "6$ million dollar eddie"'s Sixers), , it's just a feeling, I like his "winner mentality" . Who's the best coach to fit the bill, JohnMagee? Jeff it sounds good to me too, but I don't think he want to coach this roster.

JohnMagee on Apr 30 at 22:14

Atlanta won a road game - Woodson forestalls being fired

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