Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue is scheduled to interview Tuesday for the Sixers‘ head coaching vacancy, but the ownership group is strongly in favor of hiring former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
What effect that endorsement will have on the process is uncertain, along with the question of who will make the final decision, Pompey adds. The stated plan was for general manager Elton Brand to be in charge of interviewing and to make a recommendation to ownership, which would approve or reject it. However, sources tell Pompey that D’Antoni met directly with team owners during the first round of interviews, although the Sixers are denying their involvement. Sources say D’Antoni had a meeting with Brand as well, as did Billy Donovan, who was hired by the Bulls this week.
Pompey cites leaks from the organization indicating that Brand and star center Joel Embiid are now on board with hiring D’Antoni. Embiid is looking forward to facing the basket in D’Antoni’s offense, rather than posting up. The coach also reportedly plans to make Tobias Harris a power forward again. The front office is willing to make trades to build a roster that fits D’Antoni’s style of play, and he will have input into choosing players, according to Pompey.
Pompey questions whether Lue is watching the situation in Philadelphia closely and if it would be worth his time to go ahead with the interview. Lue was considered the top candidate for the job when Brett Brown was fired in late August. There was mutual interest, Pompey adds, and negotiations were expected to intensify once the Clippers’ playoff run ended.
Lue was excited about the chance to coach Embiid and fellow All-Star Ben Simmons and wasn’t bothered by the perception that both star players would have a significant role in picking the next coach. Pompey notes that Lue has been around huge stars throughout his NBA career, dating back to his playing days with the Lakers.
Sources tell Pompey that Lue’s interactions with the Sixers have been limited to a few discussions with Brand. He hasn’t met directly with the GM like other first-round candidates and hasn’t been contacted by ownership. Pompey hears that D’Antoni would have to “bomb his interview” to not be offered the job, so Lue’s hopes of becoming a head coach again may have to happen elsewhere.