Sixers head coach candidate profile: Mike D’Antoni

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers are currently searching for Joel Embiid’s third head coach of his NBA career.

Philadelphia ousted Doc Rivers after another disappointing exit in the second round of the playoffs. 


In our series of profiles of potential coaches to replace Rivers, we’re going to dive into a coach with plenty of connections to the Sixers organization: Mike D’Antoni.

Yahoo Sports reports D’Antoni is on a short list of candidates under consideration by the Sixers.  

Who is Mike D’Antoni? 

D’Antoni, 72, is a former longtime NBA head coach. He’s currently a coaching advisor with the New Orleans Pelicans.

D’Antoni was most recently the head coach with the Houston Rockets from 2016-2020, where he helped James Harden transform into one of the most dominant players in the NBA and win MVP. D’Antoni also had stops as a head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets.

D’Antoni is known for his fast-paced offensive system. His “7 seconds or less” offense with the Suns changed the way basketball is played at the professional level forever.

D’Antoni won NBA Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2017.

During the 2017-18 season with the Rockets, D’Antoni’s squad had the best record in the NBA at 65-17. But they fell to the Golden State Warriors in seven games in the West Conference Finals. In total, D’Antoni’s teams have been to the conference finals three times, but he’s never made it to the NBA Finals.

D’Antoni’s coaching career started overseas in Italy and he was also an associate head coach with the Sixers under Brett Brown from 2015-16. 

Rockets Celtics Basketball
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni stands with James Harden (13) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. The Celtics won 99-98.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Does it make sense? 

When Morey traded for Harden in 2022 and signed P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. in free agency, fans and analysts joked that he was trying to bring the entire Rockets organization to Philly.

Hiring D’Antoni to replace Rivers as the head coach would be in line with that thinking.

Before hiring Rivers in 2020, the Sixers were reportedly ready to hire D’Antoni, and Embiid apparently gave the hire the greenlight.

Morey said at a press conference last week that Embiid and Harden wouldn’t have input on the next coach, but it wouldn’t hurt if the team’s best players were on board with the decision.

Giving the job to D’Antoni could also help grow Tyrese Maxey’s game. When he was the head coach in Houston, Harden thrived in his offensive system.

With Harden expected to opt out of his contract and hit free agency, hiring D’Antoni, a coach he had success with before, could help the Sixers retain their point guard. 

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