Nothin' but Net: Sixers coaching search is kind of a joke

Charles Barkley has never been one to mince words.

So his take on the Philadelphia 76ers lack of a head coach is both interesting and hilarious.

"I think that's one of the silliest things that I've seen in sports in a long time," Barkley said on Comcast SportsNet's Friday edition of "Philly Sports Talk." "I'm in Philly during the summer as you know, and I'm watching and reading every day -- to not have a coach under contract by now, I think that's a joke."

We can all agree there are much sillier things going on in sports right now, let alone in a "long time." But Barkley's point has some validity.

It's a fact that the Sixers are the only team in the NBA without a skipper and it's come at a fascinating time in the organization's offseason.

Sam Hinkie was brought in as general manager. Scott O'Neil replaced Adam Aron as the team's chief executive officer.

On draft night, Philly shocked the NBA world by trading 23-year-old All-Star Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a first-round pick in next year's ultra- loaded draft. (It is protected Nos. 1-5 by the New Orleans Pelicans.)

By all accounts, the Sixers' plan is clear - they're going to be bad and hope to rebuild via the draft. It's a vision with potential flaws, but there's also proven elite teams where it's worked.

See Thunder, Oklahoma City.

However, there is one missing piece to the Sixers puzzle and that is head coach.

"I don't know what they're waiting on," Barkley continued. "You're playing summer-league games, people need to know who's in charge. They got players who are playing in the summer league, they got assistant coaches coaching the team. You just can't bring somebody in, and him have instant credibility -- he has to build rapport with the players."

Now those are some excellent points by Barkley, indisputable negatives to taking three-plus months to hire a head coach.

Some of Barkley's arguments could be offset if Hinkie names Michael Curry the head coach. He was Doug Collins' top assistant and has run all basketball- related activities since Collins resigned.

Curry has some rapport with returning veterans Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and whatever other rag-tag lot the Sixers will field next season.

Curry is apparently in the mix. By all accounts, it's down to him and San Antonio Spurs assistant Brett Brown.

I was in the majority claiming it was embarrassing the Sixers don't have a head coach. What was most concerning was Hinkie's silence. Actually, Benedictine Monks are silent. Hinkie went further underground than a mob informant on the lamb.

His reluctance to speak was frustrating. What bothered me was how Hinkie focused on the draft and used that as an "excuse" for not having a head coach yet. It appeared, to me anyway, that he couldn't focus on both massive tasks.

But time has cured me of that way of thinking.

And it all happened at my friend Joe's wedding.

For it was there that another friend, Gator, approached me with this gem.

"Listen, we know the Sixers are going to win maybe 16 games next season," opined Gator. "We know the guy they hire isn't going to be with the team if they get good. Give me $2 million, I'll do it next season."

Coors Light logic was never saner.

Gator's impeccable credentials of CYO basketball and managing the La Salle University basketball team aside, that's the truest point made about the Sixers coaching search.

It's the least desirable job in the world short of scraping squirrel carcasses off the highway.

When the Boston Celtics hired Brad Stevens and gave him a six-year contract, they decided to go forward with him. He also bought into it. It's the Boston Celtics for Red's sake. They're rebuilding around Rajon Rondo and some skilled bigs. The Sixers are rebuilding on the hope that they are so bad, Andrew Wiggins will fall into their lap.

So what happens if the plans doesn't come to fruition? The 76ers could get lucky and get two studs in the next draft, but it may not be enough. Then, that coaching wizard is stuck with the Sixers, and although the history and cheesesteaks are great, that coach is in a no-win position.

And what coach with some serious potential would want this job when chances are, he, or she, would be fired two years into it? Phil Jackson wasn't coming. Neither was George Karl or Lionel Hollins. Even the two best assistants available - Mike Malone and Brian Shaw - didn't bite.

If it's such a dead-end stop, what's the rush? It's not like Philly has missed out on great possible coaches. They don't exist in terms of the Sixers.

Problem is, the Sixers, for obvious reasons, don't believe the job is short- term with little upside.

"I've seen very strong interest, very strong interest in all the people we're talking with," Hinkie said at Noel's introductory press conference. "In part because they see what we're trying to do. It's fairly obvious what we're trying to do over time. We're trying to build something special.

"Believe it or not, that's pretty enticing for a lot of coaches out there."


This is not the first time a team has taken this long to hire a head coach. Hinkie pointed out on Tuesday that both the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic took longer last season. Pretty odd information to have at your disposal, huh?

Hinkie can say the focus is on finding the right guy and it should be. Problem is, he knows the right guy won't be the guy who is the next Sixers coach. The media knows it. The fans know it and every available head coach on the market knows it, too.

So what's the big deal if they don't have a coach already?

The joke isn't that the Sixers don't have a coach yet. The joke is how undesirable the job is on so many levels.

Maybe I'll give Hinkie Gator's number just in case.


- If you ever wonder about the significance of big men in the NBA, know that several teams, including the Miami Heat, are interested in Greg Oden, a man with 11 bad knees who hasn't played since 2009.

- Free-agent signing that flew under the radar I liked very much - Byron Mullens to the Los Angeles Clippers. Averaged 10.6 ppg and 6.4 rpg last season for the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. He will give L.A. much-needed depth behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

- Boy, did Brandon Jennings inflate his worth on the open market? He has to go back to the Milwaukee Bucks for infinitely less than he wanted, right? One- year deal or overseas?

- Movie Moment - Watched "Red" the other day. Not in anticipation of the sequel, rather because it was on the television. I heart Helen Mirren.

- TV Moment - As you know, I'm not a reality show guy, but perhaps the best one ever is "Deadliest Catch." Watched a guy strip to sweat pants and jump into the 35-degree Bering Strait to try and wrangle a dead walrus' body on to the boat. Wild.