Doug Collins is stepping down. Oh, he could be back with the Sixers next season in some kind of front office role or as a consultant — the two sides will find some kind of buyout and graceful exit for him — but he will not be grinding the players in practice and storming the sidelines in games.
So who is next?
Philadelphia is a rebuilding team (unless you think Andrew Bynum comes back healthy next year and dominates… go ahead and bet on that). So they need to find a coach suited to that role, one who relates and can guide young players. Here’s a list of likely candidates.
• Michael Curry (current 76ers lead assistant). If management wants continuity, this is the guy, as CSNPhilly.com’s John Finger points out.
When Collins was ousted as coach in Detroit in 1998, he lobbied for his top assistant, Alvin Gentry, to take his place. Undoubtedly, Collins will push just as hard for Curry to be his successor this time around, too.
Curry has a good relationship with the players and he has been a head coach before — he got the 2009 Pistons into the playoffs. With 39 wins, but they got into the playoffs.
• Mike Brown (former Lakers, Cavaliers head coach). Andrew Bynum had one All-Star professional season — when Mike Brown coached him. And while you would have no idea watching the Lakers this season, Mike Brown is a defense-first guy. This Sixers team with guys like Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young (and maybe Bynum) should be a defensive force. He can help get them there, but make sure he brings and offensive guru in as an assistant.
• Jeff/Stan Van Gundy. Their names will come up by fans of every of team looking for a coach. I don’t expect the Sixers would go this direction — both of them take over the course of the organization and I don’t get the sense that’s what Sixers ownership wants.
• Brian Shaw (current Pacers lead assistant). Shaw leads the list of assistant coaches that deserves a shot. He’s been the lead assistant under some guy named Phil Jackson (but for reasons nobody fathoms that doomed him to getting the Lakers job) and in Indiana for a strong staff under Frank Vogel. He isn’t just a triangle guy, players like him and he deserves a shot.
• Elston Turner, Patrick Ewing, Mike Budenholzer. Here are your other top assistants who deserve a shot at a top gig and would be a good hire.
• Kelvin Sampson (current Rockets assistant coach). He turned a lot of heads doing a good job with the Rockets when Kevin McHale was out this year. A guy out of the college ranks that knows how to work with young players.
• Lionel Hollins (current Grizzlies head coach). It is possible he is out in Memphis this summer — his deal ends this summer and he doesn’t seem to be on the same page as ownership and the new front office. His status likely is determined by how the Grizzlies do in the playoffs.