But is he an actual fit for the City of Brotherly Love?
“I certainly don’t think Mike D’Antoni checks the box for Philly,” Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard told me on Monday’s episode of the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“Now I’m in the minority I believe, in that I’m one of the rare guys that thinks that D’Antoni is a Hall of Fame coach.
“Maybe there’s more and I’m sure there’s more, but I don’t know that it’s a majority of ‘pundits’. I think that clearly he is even though that he doesn’t have a championship. He’s been instrumental in the game changing, he’s had great success… he’s like a modern day Don Nelson. Actually, I think that he had more success than Don Nelson but, I think he’s a Hall of Famer but, he’s a one-trick pony for the most part.”
After guiding the Houston Rockets to a 44-28 record and a fourth place finish in the NBA’s Western Conference, D’Antoni guided the James Harden, Russell Westbrook-led team to the NBA Playoffs where they’d lose in the Western Conference Semifinals matchup to the Los Angeles Lakers.
After the series, D’Antoni informed Houston that he wasn’t looking to re-sign and that he’d take his talents else where.
Which would be where? The Indiana Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans are teams not named Philly who have interest in the former Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Rockets coach.
If D’Antoni were to become the next head coach of the 76ers, he’d inherit a Sixers team that has a roster with talented All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The duo are exciting to watch when healthy. They also have a roster with a supporting cast that includes Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Josh Richardson. “He’s not going to adjust to that talent that he has,” warns Chris Broussard.
“He’s going to make that talent adjust to his style. And he doesn’t want a big! He doesn’t want a big man like Joel Embiid!
“And what’s he going to do with a point guard that CAN’T shoot?
“And so, like Steve Nash — and I don’t know people are saying and thinking that, ‘Oh, Ben [Simmons] can be a Steve Nash…’ Steve Nash was a great shooter; he didn’t shoot a ton but could shoot it over 50 percent and 40 from the three. So you know so, I think that, that would be disastrous and I think it would kind of lead itself to breaking up Embiid and Simmons.”
For the record: D’Antoni had success in his earlier head coaching career days with the Phoenix Suns with two-time league MVP point guard Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. Under his leadership, D’Antoni’s seven seconds or less offense was successful; the Suns almost made it to the NBA Finals in 2007.
“You know, he shifted a little while he was in Houston,” noted Broussard.
“But he has his style of play and if he doesn’t have the type of players to fit that style, he’s STILL going to try to put them into that style.”
Philly with Simmons and Embiid is a different story, however says Broussard.
“What I say when I’m looking at those two is bring in a coach that has a track record or that convinces you through your interviews and what he shows you and the strength of his personality that he can maximize Simmons and Embiid together,” he noted.
“And then if it doesn’t happen… they cant, they just can’t work it out, they can’t excel together… Then after the next season, move one of ‘em. But I don’t think D’Antoni’s that guy so you’re probably going to end up moving one of them prematurely and so, I would think that would be… horrible.”
So where would D’Antoni actually fit? “I think New Orleans is good for D’Antoni,” said Broussard.”
That makes a ton of sense actually. Word locally in New Orleans back in August was that the Pelicans were closely monitoring D’Antoni.
D’Antoni’s ties to David Griffin, the Pelicans’ President of Basketball Operations runs deep. An Arizona State University graduate, Griffin was a 17-year employee of the Suns dating back to 1993. He’d work with the public relations department and later on the basketball operations side.
“Alvin Gentry is a bit of a disciple who plays similar to D’Antoni,” notes Chris Broussard.
“But I think D’Antoni would be good in New Orleans.”