Tuesday morning, the first domino fell in what should be an incredibly interesting offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers. With 2 years remaining on his contract, the Sixers relieved Doc Rivers of his duties as Head Coach following another 2nd round exit under his supervision. It wasn’t necessarily a surprising move; people have speculated about Rivers’ future in Philly since the series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2nd round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. But, with everything on the table to try and salvage the Sixers’ championship window, there were plenty of questions as to whether or not the team would stick with Rivers. Well, now we have that answer, and the team will immediately begin a search for a new coach. This will be Joel Embiid’s 3rd coach in his NBA career, and the pressure is rising for whoever takes over to find a way to build a championship team around the big man. There’s a lot on the line with this hire from both sides of the coin, but the good news is this: it’s a great time to be looking for an NBA Head Coach.
Just look at the names that are currently available. It’s certainly not a list of bottom feeders. With a lot of teams in transitional periods around the Association, there are some strong candidates that could be brought into Philly to try and push this team one last time. According to this tweet from NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers are certainly gunning for one of the top names:
The Sixers’ search for a new coach is expected to include Mike Budenholzer, Sam Cassell, Mike D’Antoni, Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel and Monty Williams, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2023
The only names on that list that I wouldn’t be thrilled with would be Mike D’Antoni and Frank Vogel, and they’re both solid NBA coaches. Mike Budenholzer is a recent NBA championship winner, as is Nick Nurse. Monty Williams was the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2022. And Sam Cassell, though the least experienced of those options, has clearly developed a strong relationship with this group of players. It’s rare that you have 1 championship-winning head coach available in an offseason, much less 2 guys who have won in the past 5 seasons and a Coach of the Year winner. If I had my choice, I would prefer Monty Williams, who would be swapping Conferences, unlike Budenholzer and Nurse. He’s also the most recent Coach of the Year, even though Budenholzer and Nurse have both won the award in the past 5 seasons. None of the options are bad options, though.
The problem is that a good option is not good enough. The Sixers are in dire straits right now, or possibly even past the point of that expression. They’re either on the precipice of falling into another rebuild or already falling down into that chasm depending on who you ask. They need a coach who is not just solid, but one that can transform this team into a true championship contender and not just a 2nd round exit. Good isn’t good enough anymore. That might lead to some apprehension in taking the Sixers’ job, but with the opportunity to work with the MVP of the league, it shouldn’t be hard to overcome those concerns. There are some good options, but the stakes are high, and this might be the last chance to get this thing right. Hopefully, Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ brass make the right call to get the most out of the Sixers’ final chances of this era.