Why Doug Collins Will Be the Next 76ers Head Coach

James Senbeta@@BetaGetsBusyCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

With Tony DiLeo telling Ed Stefanski he prefers his old job as senior vice president and assistant general manager on Monday, the Sixers are now sexiest NBA head coaching position available this offseason.

With Byron Scott and Alvin Gentry re-signing with New Orleans and Phoenix respectively, and Eddie Jordon set to take the Sacramento Kings job as Flip Saunders takes his old spot in Washington, who will be the guy to take the 76ers to the next level?

In house, there are to individuals who could take the position if asked to do so: assistance coach Jim Lynam and scout Chris Ford.

There are four possible candidates are former NBA head coaches that are currently color analyst for NBA broadcasts: Doug Collins, Avery Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mike Fratello.

There are five current and former college coaches that could become candidates, whether reasonable or far out there: Villanova’s Jay Wright, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Boston College’s Al Skinner, former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, and former Arizona coach Kevin O’Neill.

Other possible names that could be in the running for the 76ers: former Kings coach Reggie Theus, Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, and Mavericks executive Paul Westphal.

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Before going nuts about the first important decision of the offseason there is process of elimination to be played.

We can cross off the name of Jay Wright, as his job at Villanova is visibly better than that of the Sixers.

After the tumultuous one and a half season in Sacramento, Reggie Theus would send the wrong message to Sixers faithful.

Al Skinner, a 76er in the 1978-1979 season, is still enjoying his perks as the current head coach of Boston College’s men’s basketball team, including his radio show and being a spokesperson for a local clothing store.

Step two to the head coach search would be rather or not he is a big enough name to draw interest to the organization.

Chris Ford and Jim Lynam will remain on the backburner of the search, as well as Kevin O’Neill retaining his current position as assistant coach and special assistant to the GM for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Step three is if the coach can instill disciple and yet not be an overbearing dictator.

Color commentators Avery Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mike Fratello will retain their current jobs while Billy Gillispie will remain unemployed at the current time.

Next is if they have any connection to the Philadephia 76ers. So long Rick Pitino and Paul Westphal.

We are now down to two noteworthy candidates to become the next head coach of the 76ers: Doug Collins, and Tom Thibodeau in the order of relevance to Sixers' history.

Tom Thibodeau, career NBA assistant coach and basketball defense guru, has recently helped the Celtics win the NBA championship as well as mold defenses of John Lucas and Jeff Van Gundy coached teams. He was an assistant coach during Lucas’ two seasons as Sixers head coach from 1994-1996.

Thibodeau has had head coaching experience in 1984 in charge of his alma mater Salem State College men's basketball team.

Current TNT analyst Doug Collins was coach of the Chicago Bulls for three seasons from 1986-1989 during the early Michael Jordan era. In his first season, he improved the Bulls from 30-52 to 40-42 and a playoff berth.

He continued with two consecutive winning seasons progressing to the second round (’87-’88, 50-32) and the Eastern Conference finals (’88-’89, 47-35) before being displaced by his assistant Phil Jackson.

Collins later had a three season stint with the Detroit Pistons from 1995-1998 with only two first round appearances. He gave the team an initial 18 win increase from 28-54 to 46-36 in the 1995-1996 season, and made another improvement to 54-28 in 1996-1997.

Collins was fired after 45 games (21-24) of the 1997-1998 season due to reports of him having issues with his players. What should be noted is that the main person that was a constant in the Detroit lineups was Grant Hill since management had a continuous swapping of players, including Christian Laettner.

He was then hired by then Washington Wizards' president of basketball operations Michael Jordon to coach the team from 2001-2003.

Collins managed to temporarily fix the Wizards from 19-63 to 37-46 in his first season despite dealing with first overall draft bust Kwame Brown and a returning 38 year old Jordan.

The record was the same in an injury filled 2002-2003, and was let go after Jordan was dismissed from his executive position. It was rumored that Jordan forced Collins to bench Larry Hughes for Tyronn Lue.

Collins is relevant to the Sixers as the first overall selection to Philadelphia in 1973 and played seven seasons as a starting swingman before a leg injury forced his retirement during the 1980-1981 season at age 29.

In 415 career games he averaged 17.9 points with a .501 field goal percentage, an .833 free throw percentage, 3.2 rebounds, 3.3 assist to 2.8 turnovers, and 1.2 steals in 33.6 minutes. He was selected to four NBA All Star games from 1976-1979, but failed to play in his last on due to injury.

Collins is the heads on favorite for the head coaching position as the only one expressing interest in the job and having support from Andre Iguodala. He could be paired with Tom Thibodeau to create a formidable coaching to push the 76ers to major contention in the Eastern Conference.

If Collins chooses not to take the job afterall, then Thibodeau will take the reigns of the Sixers.

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