If the Philadelphia 76ers DON’T want to win an NBA championship, they should hire Mike D’Antoni as their next coach.
For sure, they would make a splash, win the press conference and the league would be abuzz about it for a few days.
But if they actually want to win a title, the 76ers should steer clear of D’Antoni like the plague. His postseason failures are so many that there isn’t even enough room on the internet to list them all.
This idea makes absolutely no sense.
Yet, a report out of Philly is that not only is it now D’Antoni’s job to lose, but that the 76ers would even be willing to change the roster to suit his freewheeling style of play.
Yes, he’d have carte blanche. He could send Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons — or both, for that matter — packing to get players that fit his style.
We get it. D’Antoni is a big name. He’s coached all over the league, including Denver, Phoenix, L.A. (Lakers), New York and Houston.
He’s had nothing but talented players up and down his roster, including Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
This dude has won a ton of regular-season games, too (1,199 to be exact with a .560 winning pct.). His teams have won 60-plus games in a season three times. In fact, the 2017-18 Rockets won 65.
And yes, his patented style of trying to outscore you is fun and entertaining for fans to watch. But the end result is always the same. In 16 seasons at the helm, D’Antoni has yet to reach the Finals, forget about winning it.
For all his success, that is what’s glaring about his career.
And after all these years, this should scare the Sixers.
It’s proven, D’Antoni can’t win you a championship when defense isn’t a part of his gameplan.
And don’t bring up those two Italian League championships he won, the last in 2002. With the exchange rate, those titles are worthless in these United States.
And at 69 years old, you honestly can’t expect an old dog to learn new tricks. D’Antoni isn’t going to change and adjust. That’s the mistake.
But great coaches aren’t always stuck in their ways. Some are willing to make adjustments and figure out what works with the talent they have.
Pat Riley was a great example of that.
After leaving the Showtime Lakers, Riley took over the Patrick Ewing-led Knicks. They had little talent to match what the Lakers had. But instead of trying to make the Knicks play that fastbreak style, he changed to a slowed down, rough-and-tough team where defense was job one.
Riley got the Knicks to the championship in 1994, losing to the Rockets in seven games. It might have been his greatest coaching job when you analyze it.
The point is that you can make changes and still have success in the NBA.
The right hire for Philly would be Tyronn Lue, currently a Clippers assistant coach. You know ... the coach who won a NBA title in 2016, coming back from down 3-1 to beat the Golden State Warriors. That was the year the Warriors set the record for the most wins in a single season with 73.
Yes, the guy who coached LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
The belief is that Lue would be able to get more out of the talent on the roster through adjustments and better coaching. The cupboard isn’t bare by any stretch of the imagination.
In 2019, the 76ers were a bounce away from going to the Eastern Conference finals. Instead, Kawhi Leonard and Toronto eliminated them in seven games.
Winning a lot of games and getting to the second round can’t be the goal for Philadelphia. Been there, done that.
When you think back to D’Antoni’s days with the Suns, it’s mind-boggling they never got to a Finals. All that talent wound up being wasted.
The same just can’t happen in Philly.
The 76ers aren’t that far away. They need leadership from the front office and ownership. Bringing in the best-known coach shouldn’t be on the agenda.
The hiring of D’Antoni would be the insane move — doing something you know has never worked, just to have it not work in Philly, too.