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Joel Embiid Already Gave Mike D’Antoni His Blessing?

Joel Embiid Already Gave Mike D’Antoni His Blessing?

The Philadelphia 76ers are the best remaining team in the NBA without a head coach.

After a disappointing first round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Philly front office parted ways with Brett Brown.

The rationale was that he had taken this Sixers group as far as he had the capacity to take them, and that it was time for a fresh voice.

Now they want someone with some pedigree. A coach who, although he may never have actually won an NBA title, has at least gotten close.

By all accounts, that man is Mike D’Antoni.

According to multiple reports, D’Antoni and the Sixers front office are rapidly moving in the direction of a deal. To make the transition even smoother, the team’s star center Joel Embiid has already apparently given his blessing for the hire.

“Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Joel Embiid gave his blessing,” Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Wednesday night.

“In addition, there are reports that the Sixers will make trades if D’Antoni is hired. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.”

Although there has been a lot said in recent days about how the Sixers are not presently constructed to be a D’Antoni team, it is worth remembering nobody is expecting him to reshape the roster overnight. His two biggest success stories, the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets, looked very different when he arrived as compared to when he left.

Moreover, Embiid and Ben Simmons are actually strong fits for a D’Antoni-run offense. Both are skilled passers and move well. Obviously the latter’s shooting leaves a lot to be desired, but presumably his struggles can be masked a bit if surrounded by more consistent shooters.

Big picture, although an NBA championship has eluded him, D’Antoni is a high level coach. He has won two NBA Coach of the Year Awards and is coming off a 217-102 mark after four years with the Rockets.

Moreover, he led Houston to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the past four years at .682 – second only to the Toronto Raptors’ .695 leaguewide.

D’Antoni has also delivered in the postseason.

Despite playing in the Lion’s Den that is the West, he recorded 28 playoff victories over the last four seasons. Only the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, and Raptors had more.

Fit is a legitimate concern and will need to be addressed, but D’Antoni deserves the benefit of the doubt. That is probably why Embiid has already endorsed him and why, barring some crazy catastrophe, he will likely be the next head coach of the Sixers.

The East is going to be wide open for the next few years. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are not currently built for playoff success, the Miami Heat and Celtics are good but not unbeatable, and the Raptors need a star to be truly competitive for a title.

Philly will have an opportunity to win a championship in the next several years. Whether or not they will be able to actually do it remains to be seen, though.

Related: Delonte West Spotted Homeless In Dallas

Jennifer Withers Hoey

Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.

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