More than 100 days have passed since Doug Collins resigned as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, but new general manager Sam Hinkie seems to be in no hurry to fill the vacancy on the Sixers bench.
In an interview with Comcast SportsNet's "Philly Sports Talk," as quoted on FOXSports.com, TNT personality Charles Barkley called the coaching situation a "joke."
“I think that’s one of the silliest things that I’ve seen in sports in a long time,” said Barkley, who played his first eight NBA seasons in Philadelphia. “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. I don’t know what they’re waiting on. You’re playing summer-league games, people need to know who’s in charge.”
Barkley is absolutely right. The lack of a coach is a black eye for the organization and is another blow to the team's loyal fans who were duped by Andrew Bynum just a year ago.
The head coach of an NBA team is about more than just X's and O's. He has to be a disciplinarian and a friend, a mentor and a taskmaster.
It is the coach's responsibility to watch over the players, to guide the younger players through the development process and to motivate the veterans to play at their full potential.
As Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News points out, the most important thing the new coach has to do is develop the team's young talent.
Beyond his ability to help young players with skill development, the new man will be largely irrelevant. The Sixers announced on the evening of the NBA draft that they are not trying to win in 2013-14 at least and likely for several seasons beyond that.
Jerardi was actually making a point that the head coaching position is largely irrelevant, but I would argue that the reasoning he uses is exactly why the Sixers must hire a coach soon.
The Sixers' summer league schedule is already over, and 29 head coaches are sitting down and watching game tape on their young players.
Of course the general manager should have the final say in all personnel matters, but he has to have the input of a head coach. Without a head coach, the Sixers have no system. Without a system, it is impossible to know which players, whether they be from the summer league team or free agents, would make a good fit for the future of the team.
Last year was about as bad as it could get for the Sixers from a public relations standpoint. The team traded away Andre Iguodala and Nik Vucevic for Andrew Bynum in one of the most disastrous deals in franchise history. Bynum never played a single game for the Sixers while Iguodala and Vucevic made strong contributions on their new clubs.
The lack of a head coach is just the latest PR nightmare for a team that is struggling to hold its fanbase. While the Philadelphia Eagles made a huge splash with their new coach Chip Kelly, the Sixers have been stagnant, slipping out of the consciousness of fans.
One look at Twitter and it's easy to see the apathy Philadelphia has for its basketball team.
Team CEO Scott O'Neil appeared on Angelo Cataldi's WIP radio show trying to convince fans that the long coaching search is worth it, saying, "At the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather have the right guy, than the guy we can get tomorrow?”
I don't know what the team is looking for in the "right guy," but if he's not out there today, what is going to change three weeks from now?
The team lost almost all of its credibility with the fans during the Bynum debacle, and it has done nothing in the time since then to convince fans that things are going to change. Instead, by not hiring a coach, the Sixers are assuring fans of an unwatchable season.
At some point the team needs to hire someone. Even if it's not the "right guy," someone has to sit on the bench and call timeouts and stand at the podium in the postgame press conference and say he needs to do a better job.
The fans have already stopped caring. Soon the players will stop caring, too. Charles Barkley's right: The lack of a coach is a joke.
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