The dots are easy to connect.
The logic is hard to follow.
As the Sixers move past scapegoating Brett Brown for massive organizational failures, names have started to emerge as potential replacements. Rumored candidates like Ty Lue (championship pedigree, handled big personalities in Cleveland, better-than-you-think x’s and o’s coach), Ime Udoka (Nick Nurse 2.0?), Dave Joerger (no thanks!) and Mike Brown (yawn) have been floated. I’m sure we’re only hours away from the Van Gundy brothers (either or both) entering the mix.
But none will move the needle among fans like Jay Wright. The future Hall of Famer has become as respected as any coach you’ll ever see in Philadelphia. He’s a great basketball coach, and everyone in this city knows it.
He also makes zero sense for the Sixers, and the Sixers make zero sense for him.
Look, I’m not doubting Wright’s ability to adapt and become a good NBA coach. If he truly wanted to do it, he could. I respect his basketball mind. If the Sixers were a developmental team or just starting a rebuild, Wright could build a culture like Brad Stevens did in Boston. He could actually coach, and help fringy players get better while the team found stars. It wouldn’t be too dissimilar to what he’s done at Villanova for years.
But that’s not the Sixers.
This is a win-now team without a win-now roster. It’s one that needs a coach that can relate to star players, win over a locker room that just got its last coach fired, somehow balance accountability (whatever that means in the modern NBA) with a creative offensive scheme and work around a franchise that has zero clue what it's doing in the front office.
If that sounds like the job for a lifetime college coach, you and I see basketball differently.
What about Wright’s career would make Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons stand up and give him full attention and respect? A couple of national titles? Overachieving and turning Villanova into a powerhouse? How many times do you think Embiid or Simmons have watched a full Villanova game from start to finish with Wright on the sidelines? More than five? I doubt it.
Wright is a coach that has made a career out of small-ball, guard-dominant lineups and taking advantage of the numbers game by launching threes. The Sixers are built to be the exact opposite, in part thanks to a point guard (point forward?) that refuses to shoot. You couldn’t find a worse fit between scheme and roster than Wright’s philosophy and the players the Sixers currently have.
The Sixers job isn’t as attractive as we want to make it out to be. It’s going to take a certain type of candidate to check all the boxes necessary to win over two stars that don’t fit together and an island of misfit toys roster. Wright is an excellent coach, but he’s not that coach.
Then there’s the other side, which comes with an almost equal amount of suspended belief needed to buy into the idea.
Wright has a great thing at Villanova. He’s a legend. Generations of players will one day play at Wright Pavilion (or Wright Court or Wright Fieldhouse) at Villanova. He’s a lock Hall of Famer. With 593 career wins, Wright just has to average 27 wins per year (a more-than-attainable task) to be in the top-10 all time by his 70th birthday. 1,000 career wins and (at least) two titles isn’t out of the question. The only coach to have that combination of accomplishment is Mike Krzyzewski. This is the company Wright can one day keep.
Maybe Wright is motivated by money, but I doubt it. If he wanted NBA riches, he could have made the jump by now. Maybe he has the itch to see if he can do it in the NBA. Maybe he truly believes he can unlock something more out of the Embiid-Simmons pairing. But after all these years, Wright seems too smart to enter an organization without an ethos, functioning front office or true direction.
Would Wright making the jump to the pros be fun to watch? Yes. I’d love to be wrong on this. Maybe he’s even smarter than I’m giving him credit for. Maybe he can be Brad Stevens 2.0 or a modern-day Larry Brown. But the Sixers are in a place where even the right coach may not be enough to fix deep-rooted issues.
Wright would be wise to stay away, and the Sixers are probably better off if he backs away from the interview process now.