Next Sixers Coach? Hall of Famer Leaves Door Open for NBA Job

Jay Wright

Getty Former Villanova coach Jay Wright would be an interesting candidate to replace Doc Rivers on the Sixers' bench.

Doc Rivers went out of his way on Wednesday to defend his coaching record, specifically the three times his squads have blown 3-1 series leads. He challenged reporters to do the research and “tell the whole story” about what happened. It was a fair point, one befitting of the man with the fourth-most wins of any coach in NBA playoff history.

Of course, fans and media are certainly allowed to question Rivers. Especially after his Philadelphia 76ers just squandered a 3-0 series lead against the Raptors. No team has ever dropped a playoff series after jumping out to a 3-0 lead. It would be a historic collapse. They haven’t lost yet. And panic hasn’t quite set in.

But, if they did blow it, the question needs to be asked: Would that kind of meltdown be enough to get Rivers fired?

Well, there are minor grumblings among those in the know. Remember, Rivers was already linked to the Lakers’ vacant head-coaching gig. He denied any interest but the smoke is billowing from Los Angeles. If things did go awry in Philly, one name is certain to be at the top of everyone’s tongue: Jay Wright.

The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Sixers!

Wright on NBA: ‘Something I Always Thought About’

Wright announced his surprise retirement from Villanova University on April 20. After 21 seasons at the school, the 60-year-old said he was worn out and his heart wasn’t in it any longer. A week later, Wright re-opened the door on his coaching future by telling ESPN that “I’d be lying” if he said he hadn’t thought about the NBA.

“Not right now. That was something I always thought about,” Wright said of coaching in the NBA. “Right now I definitely need a break. But I’m going to take this year and really throw myself into this position at Villanova, and then see what’s out there. I just didn’t want to be the coach at Villanova and not be 100 percent in.”

Wright reiterated that he is committed to taking a break this year, but obviously, there’s a chance he might get that itch again. If he does, the Sixers would make a lot of sense. Wright is a Pennsylvania native and resides in the affluent Main Line suburbs around Philly.

And the Sixers have made overtures to Wright on multiple occasions, including in 2020 before hiring Rivers. The topic was something he talked about at length in a 2018 interview, too.

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright told The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil. “That challenge is appealing, but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

Sixers Fans Clamoring for Dawn Staley, Too

Wright isn’t the only name being mentioned as a possible Rivers’ successor. Dawn Staley — the pride of Temple University — started gaining traction among Sixers fans immediately after her South Carolina squad captured their second women’s national championship in early April.

She is a Philly native who has served as the ceremonial bell ringer at multiple Sixers’ games, most recently prior to Game 2 of the Raptors-Series series at Wells Fargo Center. The cheers for Staley were deafening that night.

Staley only added fuel to the fire by posting pictures with everyone in the arena. She visited the Sixers’ locker room where she posted pictures with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Tyrese Maxey.

And she spent some time with famed Philly rapper Meek Mill. Safe to say that Staley already has strong support around town. And maybe within the organization.

Read More