Though Doug Collins’ departure from the 76ers was framed as his decision, it seemed Philadelphia wasn’t exactly heartbroken to see him go. But the three-year Collins era with the 76ers was a relative success. They made the postseason for consecutive years for the first time since 2008 and 2009 and a playoff series for the first time since 2003.
Even this season, with Andre Iguodala traded and Andrew Bynum out all year, the 76ers had a better record (34-48) than they did the year before Collins’ arrival (27-55).
Would Philadelphia look within for a replacement, hoping to retain the positive aspects of the Collins regime?
Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner hope so. John N. Mitchell of The (Philadelphia) Inquirer:
Jrue Holiday, who has voiced his opinion that the Sixers should consult him during the search, cast his vote for the promotion of associate coach Michael Curry.
“I’ve known him for the last three years,” Holiday said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “He’s somebody I trust, and somebody I’d love as a head coach.”
Evan Turner, who also had his best season in his first campaign as a starter, also endorsed a Curry promotion.
Turner admitted that he and Collins clashed at times. In those moments, according to Turner, he often looked to Curry to smooth the waters.
“He was great because he was calm in certain situations, and that helps,” Turner said. “He never really panicked. That’s something that players need.”
Curry served as the Pistons’ head coach in 2008-09, when the team went 39-43. The Pistons fired him after just that season, and most around Detroit found the move completely reasonable.
The team had internal dysfunction (fueled by an in-season trade for Allen Iverson that would be difficult for any coach to handle, but was handled especially poorly by Curry, who also alienated Richard Hamilton in the process) and questionable schemes at times (I recall a zone/man defense hybrid that players said they didn’t understand). In short, Curry seemed in over his head.
In hindsight, perhaps the Pistons were too tough on him. They haven’t finished better than 25-41 since and have fired John Kuester and Lawrence Frank.
Plus, many coaches get better in their second head-coaching stint. That should especially be true of Curry, who spent just one year as an assistant before becoming Detroit’s head coach.
But assistant coaches often play buffer between players and the head coach, and just because, as Turner said, Curry filled that role well, that doesn’t mean Curry would be a good head coach. He’s young enough (44) and savvy enough that he will get another chance as a head coach, though.
Thankfully for the 76ers, they should be in the best possible position to know whether he deserves that opportunity right now. And it matters a great deal that two of their players, including their All-Star, say yes.