Sixers rumors: Joel Embiid has given his blessing on Mike D’Antoni

Mike D’Antoni is the runaway favorite to coach the Sixers next season.

The Philadelphia 76ers have been keen on Mike D’Antoni for years. With Brett Brown out of the picture, all signs point to D’Antoni as the next head coach — and it feels as if we are edging closer to the inevitable announcement.

According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, sources have been getting mixed signals for weeks. It’s unclear whether ownership is pushing for D’Antoni, or if Elton Brand is truly running the search for a new head coach, as he initially claimed. This nugget from Pompey, however, seems to indicate that everyone is on the same page.

“Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Embiid gave his blessing.”

All important parties seem to have their hearts set on D’Antoni. He met with ownership in the first round of interviews, per Pompey, whereas Tyronn Lue has yet to meet the Sixers in-person. Brand is now pushing for D’Antoni, while the Sixers’ top star in Embiid has approved D’Antoni’s five-out style of play.

Embiid evidently likes the idea of facing up, rather than battling through constant post touches as he did in Brett Brown’s system. While Embiid is uniquely efficient in the post, and it’s not something he should give up entirely, he does have a wide-ranging skill set. He can do ample damage facing the basket with a spaced floor around him.

D’Antoni also plans to move Tobias Harris back to power forward, which should tell us all we need to know about Al Horford’s future in Philadelphia. He is a backup, and frankly, I don’t expect him to see a ton of time next to Embiid in a D’Antoni offense. The Sixers will likely try to trade him.

As for Ben Simmons, he does, in theory, have a D’Antoni-friendly skill set. He’s a snappy playmaker, a dynamic downhill creator, and he’s one of the most potent transition threats in basketball. How he fits next to Embiid in the halfcourt is a puzzle that hasn’t yet been solved, but D’Antoni has built his career on creativity.

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Per Pompey, the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. He also notes that D’Antoni will have a say in the players Philadelphia goes after, so expect more collaborative efforts in the Sixers’ future — for better, or for worse.