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NBA AM: 76ers Confirm Talks With D’Antoni

The 76ers confirm Mike D’Antoni may be joining Brett Brown’s staff. What does that mean for all involved?

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Updated 10 months ago on
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76ers Confirm Talks With D’Antoni

Shortly after it was announced that the Philadelphia 76ers hired Jerry Colangelo as their new chairman of basketball operations, a rumor surfaced that the team was also considering hiring Mike D’Antoni as an associate head coach.

This was pretty big news, as D’Antoni is notable name in the basketball world and because the former Coach of the Year has a strong relationship with Colangelo that dates back many years.

Well, this is no longer just a rumor. The 76ers have confirmed that talks with D’Antoni have been ongoing for quite some time and that he could be joining head coach Brett Brown’s staff at some point soon.

This is an interesting story to follow for a couple of reasons.

When Colangelo joined the Sixers, it was reported by many outlets that the NBA league office was behind putting Colangelo in a power position in Philadelphia – presumably to stop the tanking, push the team ahead and make the franchise more successful (and profitable). That sent up some red flags about general manager Sam Hinkie’s job security and whether he’d still be calling the shots.

And now that the team may be hiring D’Antoni is even stranger. D’Antoni and Colangelo were side by side for years with the Phoenix Suns and they also worked together as part of Team USA’s program. The Sixers are publicly saying that the moves are unrelated – while backing Hinkie and Brown – but you have to wonder if that’s true or if we’re about to see a makeover in Philadelphia. Even Brown admitted he was surprised when the D’Antoni talks were made public.

“The timing is disturbing of the leak,” Brown told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We have been talking about it for a while.”

Brown just recently received a two-year extension from the Sixers, which means he’ll be under contract through the end of the 2018-19 season. However, this recent shake-up is strange to say the least and could end badly for Hinkie and Brown, whose ‘trust the process’ approach to rebuilding has been controversial. Even with the extension, Brown could be stripped of some power or fired depending on how things go moving forward.

Brown has put in two and a half seasons with the tanking Sixers. Prior to joining Philadelphia, he was viewed as one of the top coaching prospects in the NBA when he was an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich on the San Antonio Spurs’ staff.

However, now the 54-year-old has a head coaching record of 38-150 and probably more grey hairs than when he first arrived in Philly. For Brown, the plan was to not worry about his record early on and then those losses would be worth it if the Sixers could land multiple cornerstones through the draft. At that point, he’d finally get to coach a very talented team – and one that he helped develop and shape from day one. It would be unfortunate to see him lose the job in the near future, before finally getting that chance to lead an NBA-caliber squad.

Even though Philadelphia is tanking, there’s still pressure on Brown to develop the young talent and show that the players are making progress. There would be even more pressure if a veteran coach like D’Antoni is looking over his shoulder and having significant input into decisions.

D’Antoni has coached for 12 seasons in the NBA, serving stints with the Suns, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. Under Colangelo in Phoenix, D’Antoni went 253-156 (and he won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award in the 2004-05 season with the Suns). His overall coaching record is 455-426 in the regular season and 26-33 in the playoffs.

The 64-year-old is known for running a fast-paced, guard-oriented offense. This makes a potential hiring even stranger, since Hinkie’s rebuild has involved stockpiling big men like Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, while D’Antoni hasn’t had success coaching bigs (just ask Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard).

Despite the fact that Brown found the leak disturbing, he tried his best to praise the idea and talk about how such a move could help Philadelphia take their game to the next level.

Even though this could be bad news for Brown in the long run, he is saying all of the right things and insists that he has been looking to add to his staff for awhile.

“Having a graybeard, true-veteran-type NBA coach has been discussed for a while as it relates to growing my staff,” Brown told Pompey. “Vance Walberg and Chad Iske left last year. We opted to take our existing staff, which I think is fantastic and I love and has been great to me, and grow them.”

“This is a good thing,” Brown added. “That name is a good thing. How could that not be a good thing?”

That sounds a lot like a person trying to convince themselves that everything will be alright. The Sixers are currently 1-24, which is the worst record in the NBA.

NBA Reportedly Changing Hall of Fame Wait Time

In the past, an NBA player had to be retired for five seasons before they could become eligible for the Hall of Fame. Now, according to a report by Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, the Hall of Fame will now reduce the eligibility wait time by one year.

“People with knowledge of the plans said the Hall has finalized the adjustment to shorten the wait time from five seasons in retirement to four before a player can be nominated, wanting to avoid what becomes a sixth year by the time voting is complete near the end of the NBA regular season,” Howard-Cooper writes. “Under the new plan, voting and potential enshrinement would come after five calendar years, rather than five NBA seasons.”

This means that the 2016 class will be loaded with stars, including Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming among others. It also means recently retired players like Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and, soon, Kobe Bryant will be able to enter the Hall one year earlier than previously expected.

The only downside of this, as Howard-Cooper notes, is that players like Tim Hardaway, Chris Webber and Kevin Johnson may be pushed aside and miss out due to the flurry of new star candidates on the ballot.

An official announcement from the Hall of Fame is expected soon.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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