As expected, Doug Collins has walked away from his job as Philadelphia 76er coach. He admitted on Thursday that he had been planning to step down from his gig since before the midway part of the 2012-13 season, and Collins said that no mixture of success, health, and on-court appearances from Andrew Bynum would have swayed him into sticking.
Again, this is the guy that the Philadelphia 76ers hired in 2010. This is the man they expected to stay beyond his typical three years, and this is the coach they gave a contract extension to through 2013-14. Collins will remain with Philadelphia as an “advisor” so as to make up for some of the coaching money he’d still like to cash in on next year, but it remains to be seen what role he’ll have in the team’s front office. His influence during last year’s offseason did not test out all that well.
Why the 76ers though Collins’ typical pattern – out after three years as Chicago Bulls coach, disengaged and fired after two and a half years as Detroit Pistons coach, out after three years as Washington Wizards coach – would break this time around is beyond us. We can understand Collins talking himself into that fourth year, just months before basically giving up on his team midway through his third year, but the organization needed to be the smartest voice in the room and understand how these things usually work out. Instead, they decided to follow the charismatic former 76ers star’s every word.
As a result, the 76ers are left with a mess in the front office, with three voices in Collins, Rod Thorn and Tony DiLeo that have plenty of names in their rolodex, but little to show in terms of game-changing influence in the modern game. They’ll be forced to save face by bringing Collins back to the team as an advisor because they think, in what is a massive misreading of their fanbase, that 76ers fans want Collins around and in the war room. For a franchise that prides itself on social media networking, this is a team that has completely lost touch.
This was clearly was the case with Collins, as well. He grinds and puts in the hours, there can be no doubt, but he’s left practicing the same medicine that hasn’t worked since the isolation-heavy, pre-zone days of the mid-1990s. Collins’ choices in play calling and roster maneuvering fell right in line with his last few years as a broadcaster with Turner. It’s an unfortunate thing to write, but unless your name is “Hubie Brown,” you can’t be trusted as an NBA voice in this era unless you know how to fire up a laptop.
That statement has nothing to do with the advent of advanced statistics, mind you, even though Collins has an infamous aversion to potential new basketball influences. It’s about keeping up with the rest of the league, understanding career arcs, and possibly taking a pass on Nick Young. Or maybe copping that sideline three-point play that Gregg Popovich used to draw up for Brent Barry, instead of harping endlessly on why players need to see that 18-footer go through the net first before they can visualize making their next five mid-range shots.
The 76ers are a mess, and despite Andrew Bynum’s distaste for the game of professional basketball and subsequent lost season, it’s nobody’s fault but their own. They shared Collins’ stubborn hope that, despite all precedents, this time would be different. Nothing’s changed, though. And the team appears ready to move on with remnants of the old regime calling the way, deluding themselves into thinking that the on-paper results from 2012 (one win away from the Eastern Conference finals!) were an accurate portrayal of the team.
Somehow you get the feeling that Philadelphia has ideas above its station, and that the team hasn’t hit its low point yet. Nothing’s going to change with this franchise until it realizes just how much of a clean sweep it needs to make.