The Pacers were reportedly expected to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
But sources are saying he backed away from the Pacers gig because the Sixers’ interest is real.
a league source said the job could be D’Antoni’s to lose. The source said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job, and said D’Antoni is the candidate they want. A team source denied that, saying the ownership won’t know who it wants until candidates are interviewed.
It’s getting difficult to find the true story amid all the smoke.
D’Antoni was on the outs with the Rockets since last year. Brett Brown also spent all season on the hot seat, and speculation especially intensified in the bubble. How did the Philadelphia 76ers‘ interest catch D’Antoni off guard?
Likewise, Philadelphia would’ve known for a while if D’Antoni were its prime candidate. He used to be a 76ers assistant coach. People in the organization know him well.
So was the Indiana rumor the smokescreen? Or is this? Everyone is trying to gain leverage with Tyronn Lue also on the market. Philadelphia doesn’t want to alienate other candidates, including former Thunder coach Billy Donovan, until finalizing a deal.
D’Antoni is an excellent coach when he has players who fit his system and a poor coach otherwise. He requires players who create space and pressure through speed (not necessarily in terms of pace, but also with active movement and crisp passing within sets).
Maybe D’Antoni would succeed with Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. But probably not both. And Philadelphia plans to build around both.
Al Horford adds to the big-man logjam. Even Tobias Harris, who could thrive at power forward in a D’Antoni system, could just be an ill-fitting small forward because of the rest of the roster. With Horford and Harris on expensive contracts, it will be difficult to retool.
Maybe D’Antoni has some creative ideas to get the 76ers to a higher level. He has proven capable of innovation, and it makes sense to interview him.
It’s tougher to justify being smitten with him before even hearing his plan for this roster.