After seven years as Philadelphia 76ers head coach, Brett Brown was fired after his team were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
We have taken a look at five candidates for the vacant position and look at why they should be considered to help the 76ers take the next step towards an NBA championship…
Lucas has reportedly shown interest in returning as head coach for the Sixers, who he coached in a three-season stint from 1994 to 1996. While he left the team with a 42-122 record, Lucas has become one of the best player development coaches in the league since joining Houston in 2016.
The 66-year old has been crucial in the development of players such as Clint Capela, P.J Tucker and improvements from Ben McLemore. As head coach of the Sixers, these skills could help push Ben Simmons to the next level while also helping the development of talented youngsters such as Zaire Smith.
While Lucas has expressed intrest in the Sixers job, his 17-year absence since any NBA head coaching job and his lack of success will likely take him out of the running for the position.
A legend in Philadelphia for leading Villanova to two NCAA titles, fans have been wanting the Sixers head office to hire Wright for years. He has turned many mid-level college recruits into solid NBA players, with Kyle Lowry, Josh Hart, Eric Paschall, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges just some of the current players who Wright has developed.
He has previoisly spoke of an interest to coach in the NBA and does have experience coaching elite talent, with him being an assistant on multiple Team USA Olympic teams and there would be no perfect oppotunity for Wright to enter the NBA than his hometown team with two all-stars and a strong roster already in place.
The question with Wright however is always the same one with any college coach coming into the NBA. Will his success on the collegiate level make up for his lack of experience at the professional level?
Udoka has made a name for himself as a strong defensive mind since leaving his assistant role at San Antonio and becoming defensive co-ordinator and assistant for Philadelphia in June last year.
Since taking over as the architect of Philly’s defence, the 76ers were the eigth-ranked defence and oversaw Ben Simmons rise to a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. An assistant taking over isn’t a new move, the last team to have an assistant take the reigns was Toronto in 2018 when Nick Nurse took over from Dwane Casey, a move which led to an NBA title in Nurse’s first season.
While the thought of Udoka immediately taking over is enticing, interest from Chicago and Brooklyn may take him elsewhere. His lack of head coaching experience may also scare off a front office looking to immediately see results.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has publicly stated that Lue is Philadelphia’s top target and it is easy to see why.
Lue made his name as a head coach leading Cleveland to the 2016 NBA title, famously coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals as well as making four straight NBA finals. What intrigues Philly the most is Lue’s abilty to change both personnel and game plans on the fly as well as not be afraid to call out his talent, like he did to Lebron James in 2016.
This could be crucial for a team criticized in recent months for not getting the most of the talent on their roster and allowing all-stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to coast through games.
Currently an assistant with Los Angeles Clippers, Lue is also the top target for Brooklyn and a reunion with Kyrie Irving may take him out of Philly’s grasp.
Stan Van Gundy
Previously a vocal critic of the 76ers during the ‘Process’ era, Van Gundy has changed his tune in recent times and become someone who has repeatedly praised members of Philly’s roster, particuarly Ben Simmons.
Van Gundy said that Simmons should be named as Defensive Player of the Year this season, comments that sounded like he is very interested in coaching the young Aussie.
He has a strong history of leading teams to strong playoff runs, making the NBA finals in 2009 and multiple Eastern Conference Finals with Orlando and making the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals with Miami, one year before they won the NBA Championship with Pat Riley as head coach.
His success in getting the most out of big men such as Shaquile O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond while head coach in Detroit could lead to an exciting partnership with Joel Embiid and push him to new hights.
The biggest knock on Van Gundy however is that he has never led the team to an NBA title after mutiple attempts and his relationship with Dwight Howard and Orlando ended on a negative note after he repeatedly called out the centre in the media.
For a team like Philly, who have been criticized for accountability in the past, Van Gundy may be the man to help them take the next step.