With the Bobcats, Kings, Suns, Hawks, Bucks, and Cavaliers naming their head coaches for the 2013-2014, the pressure is on for the Sixers the right decision, and swiftly. Larry Drew, Mike Brown, Mike Budenholzer, Jeff Hornacek, and Steve Clifford have all landed head coaching jobs for next season. Names such as Brian Shaw, Nate McMillan, Vinny Del Negro, and even Jerry Sloan still remain available
While Sloan remains unrealistic, the other three names listed above are legitimate possibilities. Del Negro seems unlikely at this point and has not been recognized as a serious candidate, but still, he led the Los Angeles Clippers to their best season to date before being let go by Donald Sterling.
That leaves Brian Shaw and Nate McMillan.
Nate McMillan has served as an assistant coach under Mike Kryzewski on the U.S.A. National Team since the 2006 FIBA World Championship. In the NBA, he began his head coaching career by being named the interim coach of the Seattle Sonics in 2000. Despite missing the playoffs, the team improved so much that McMillan was brought back as the head coach for the 2001-2002 season. In four seasons as the Sonics head coach, the team made the playoffs two times and compiled a record of 174-154.
After a 52-30 season and an exit in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, McMillan left the Sonics for a struggling Portland Trail Blazers. After two rough seasons with Portland, the team finally reached the .500 mark but still failed to make the playoffs. It was in McMillan’s fourth season that the Blazers finally clinched a postseason birth, but after three straight first round exits and a mediocre start in 2012, Portland parted ways with the veteran head coach.
Brian Shaw has been linked to nearly every head coach opening since being passed on prior to Phil Jackson’s retirement. Shaw was fully expected to fill the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching position post-Jackson. In an unexpected change of events, Mike Brown was hired in the summer of 2011.
Shaw has championship experience. After winning three as a player on the Lakers’ roster in the early 2000s, he added two more as a member of Phil Jackson’s staff.
If it makes any sense, two major points of emphasis in the Sixers’ coaching search should be the futures of both Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum. Turner was the second overall pick in 2010, and while being an average player thus far, he is far too close to being labeled a bust for Philly’s liking.
Bynum’s importance is a little more cut-and-dry. Last summer, the Sixers parted ways with All-Star Andre Iguodala, budding star Nikola Vucevic, and first-round pick Mo Harkless for the superstar big man with the hopes of re-signing him to a long-term contract and being a potential title contender. Despite not suiting up for a single game in 2012-2013, if the Sixers plan on being viable any time in the near future, Bynum must be a part of their plans. When healthy, he is the second best center in the NBA, if not the best.
Shaw, more than the other candidates, is known for his player relationships and motivation tactics with young players. Before this season, Shaw spoke to the Indiana Pacers’ young superstar Paul George. In that meeting, he showed the youngster a list of all the 2009 draftees that had already signed contract extensions with their current teams, and then proceeded to tell George that he had to put the pressure on the organization to lock him up by his play and consistency.
The improvement in George’s game may be the light in the midst of al the darkness for the 76ers if Shaw is the guy that Sam Hinkie decides on. Turner is almost certainly going to draw some trade interest from other teams around the league, but if Shaw can help him reach his full potential, the future may still be bright for Philly.
Regardless of who the Sixers like, they need to move quickly. Shaw can not be interviewed until after his postseason run with the Pacers ends. With the Clippers, Pistons, Nets, and Sixers still searching for their next head coach, it may be slim picking very soon.
Tags: Andre Iguodala Andrew Bynum Brian Shaw Evan Turner Jeff Hornacek Jerry Sloan Larry Drew Maurice Harkless Mike Brown Mike Budenholzer Nate McMillan Nikola Vucevic Paul George Philadelphia 76ers Steve Clifford Vinny Del Negro