COMMENTARY | Doug Collins is out as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers after a career-typical short stint trying to bring an NBA title to a city that hasn't celebrated one in three decades. And with his departure comes the realization that the franchise must search for a coach to lead a team that is no closer to a championship than it was when Collins was hired in May 2010.
The new coach will inherit one of the league's youngest teams and work for an ownership group that at least talks as if winning is the number one priority.
So who should be the next head coach of the 76ers?
The Obvious Choice
Let's first eliminate the obvious -- Phil Jackson. The Sixers have a better chance of getting the first-round pick in the upcoming draft - which is a less than 1 percent chance - than having Jackson ride into town on his motorcycle to coach a team that isn't built to win now.
No amount of brotherly love or control of player personnel can coax the greatest coach in NBA history to take over the Sixers.
Hiring from Within
After an 11-year NBA career, Curry led the Detroit Pistons to the playoffs in 2008-09 during his only year as an NBA head coach. Collins, now a special advisor to the team - an official way of avoiding a controversial buyout after his resignation - most likely will push for his top assistant to be hired.
As a Temple graduate who played for the Sixers, McKie would be a popular choice. But history has proven that fan-favorites as players don't always equate to successful coaches (Collins and former Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks quickly come to mind).
Neither current assistant is the correct choice to be the new head coach.
Andrew Bynum's Choice
Former Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown coached Andrew Bynum during his lone All-Star season. Brown is a defensive-minded coach who would inherit a team made up of athletic players capable of becoming an excellent defensive unit.
However, there are questions when considering Brown. What if Bynum doesn't come back? Who is going to coach the offense? Is Brown the type of coach who can coax a top free agent to play for the Sixers? Will Cleveland hire Brown back for a second stint before the Sixers make a move?
Too many questions, not enough answers to hire Brown.
Brian Shaw (Pacers associate coach) might be the top NBA assistant available and his experience under Jackson makes him an interesting choice. The Sixers don't need an interesting choice right now.
Kelvin Sampson (Rockets assistant) has been lauded as a top NBA assistant and was a very successful NCAA coach. But the Sixers need a coach known more for success as an NBA head coach than compiling NCAA violations.
Lionel Hollins (Grizzlies head coach) reportedly doesn't get along with team management and so despite a playoff appearance this season, he might available for hire. Another former Sixers player who specialized in defense, Hollins is probably the top choice in "the others" category.
Like any professional sports team, the Sixers need to win in order to sell tickets and be successful. And like any business, ownership wants to be successful now. The Sixers need a coach who will not only excite fans but who can make an immediate impact regardless of potential roster moves.
Stan Van Gundy is that coach.
Van Gundy coached under Pat Riley with the Miami Heat before taking over for the legend in 2003. In his first season at the helm, Van Gundy led a team that had won just 25 games the previous season to 42 wins and the second round of the playoffs.
In 2007, Van Gundy was named head coach of the Orlando Magic and guided the team to 52 wins, the franchise's first division championship since 1996, and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time in 12 seasons.
Van Gundy has proven he can win immediately and over the long haul. He compiled a .641 regular-season winning percentage with seven playoff appearances (48-39 playoff record) in a little more than seven years as an NBA head coach. (Van Gundy resigned as Miami's coach 21 games into the 2005-06 season.)
As for attracting fans back to the Wells Fargo Center, perhaps Van Gundy's most endearing quality is his "tell it like it is" personality. It's a rare trait for any professional coach, but one Philadelphia fans will not only appreciate, but adore. And it's one that might come in handy if the Bynum situation gets uglier before it gets resolved.
Van Gundy would instantly become the most popular coach in town, at least until Eagles coach Chip Kelly leads the team into the playoffs. Van Gundy would be a media magnet for a team that right now probably sits fourth out of four in terms of popularity among the city's professional teams. It's safe to say Van Gundy would increase season-ticket sales immediately before any roster move is made or draft position determined.
In pro sports, owners want to win. But owning a team is a business, and in the end it comes down to the bottom line. The difference between being in the red and being in the black at the end of the fiscal year is putting fans in the seats, which only happens when wins outnumber losses.
Van Gundy can win and put fans in the seats. And he can do both right away.
And that's why Stan Van Gundy should be named the next head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jon Buzby is an award-winning sportswriter from Delaware and has followed the Sixers since 1976. He contributes regularly to multiple newspapers, magazines and websites. Follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.
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