Where's the urgency in hiring a Sixers coach?

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER New Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, shown at introductory news conference, has no room to be complacent.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER New Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, shown at introductory news conference, has no room to be complacent.
Posted: June 10, 2013

YOU HAVE TO wonder about the lack of urgency new Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie has shown in searching for a head coach to replace Doug Collins.

Collins resigned on April 18, opening the door for Hinkie to be hired from the Houston Rockets on May 11.

Since then, there has been a lot of talk about how Hinkie might go about putting together a new roster for a team coming off a disappointing 34-48 season, but barely a whisper about who will direct the team once it gets on the court.

Perhaps Hinkie has some master strategy that didn't require playing the field before the apple tree of coaching candidates started getting picked.

Maybe when an announcement is finally made, the choice will be so overwhelming that there will be no need to question Hinkie's process.

I doubt it.

Right now, it looks as if the Sixers' situation either is so bad that top coaching candidates are not interested - which would be bad - or Hinkie believes he is so sharp, it doesn't matter who the coach is as long as his analytic approach puts together the proper roster - which would be worse.

Regardless of Hinkie's thought process, somebody higher up on the Sixers' food chain should remind the novice chief executive that his organization doesn't exactly inspire confidence it can get things right.

Hinkie might have been considered a whiz kid as an assistant general manager with the Houston Rockets, but in Philadelphia, he's merely the guy succeeding a long list of folks who failed to stop the Sixers from spinning in neutral since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001.

Hinkie has no clout here.

There is not a single reason to give him the benefit of the doubt that he will be any more successful than Billy King, Ed Stefanski or Collins in their failed attempts to revive this franchise into a title contender.

Hinkie needs to comprehend that perception matters. Whether it's fair or not, he is burdened with 3 decades of missteps, mistakes and mishaps made in search of the Sixers' first NBA title since 1983.

The Sixers' history has been so consistently disappointing over the past decade that it has become hard to distinguish what bad decision is tied to which particular management.

King often gets blamed for moves former Grand Poobah of Basketball Larry Brown made; Stefanski is pinned to decisions King made; Collins gets tied to actions Stefanski took.

One thing is clear to all Sixers fans: Whoever has been in charge has not gotten the job done. That, in itself, creates an atmosphere to question whether Hinkie will be any different.

What the Sixers likely view as a deliberate and thorough process is viewed outside the Wells Fargo Center as the team having no plan.

That's not exactly a high motivation for those who might be contemplating purchasing season tickets. Hinkie better not forget that this is also a business.

It's not that the Sixers have not hired a coach. It's that they have displayed little visible interest in the process.

Maybe Hinkie is just keeping backroom calls close to the vest, but each time a different team hires a new coach, you ask, "Shouldn't the Sixers have at least talked to that guy?"

The Cleveland Cavaliers rehired veteran head coach Mike Brown; the Atlanta Hawks hired Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer; the Phoenix Suns hired Utah Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek; the Charlotte Bobcats hired veteran NBA assistant Steve Clifford; and Sacramento hired Golden State assistant Michael Malone.

The Detroit Pistons are reportedly on the verge of hiring former Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks.

Are we to believe that Hinkie is so sharp that he didn't even need to get in the conversation with any of those guys?

As far as we know about the Sixers, they've asked the Houston Rockets for permission to talk to assistant Kelvin Sampson and had Larry Brown, who coaches Southern Methodist University, deny they had contacted him about making a return to South Philly.

While available candidates were being snatched up, speculation was that the Sixers had their eyes on some assistant still working in the playoffs.

But if that is the plan, then it's likely to get blown out of the water.

The jobs with the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Nets, who both made the playoffs, are vacant. The Denver Nuggets just fired 2012-2013 coach of the year George Karl for again getting bounced out of the first round of the playoffs.

The Memphis Grizzlies are letting Lionel Hollins, who coached them to the Western Conference Finals, look at other opportunities.

If you were a hot commodity such as Hollins, San Antonio assistant Chip Engelland or Indiana assistant Brian Shaw, why would you look to the Sixers when teams possibly on the verge of contending for titles are looking at you?

Sixers fans are smart and knowledgeable. They know who has come off the board and what it means to their team's options.

Frankly, unless the Sixers pull Phil Jackson off his ranch in Montana, it's going to look as if they ended up settling for whoever is left.

From the way Hinkie has conducted his business so far, it appears he's perfectly fine with that.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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