If there’s one thing that’s definite about this pandemic, it’s that nothing is definite.

While we did hear some good news this week about practice facilities opening in early May (with 15 pages of restrictions), the odds of the NBA returning this season look grimmer and grimmer.

The narrative that the 76ers organization entered the season with was that the 76ers’s fate in the playoffs would determine head coach Brett Brown’s future (or lack thereof) with the organization. A flame-out in the first or second round would likely mean the conclusion of Brown’s run with the Sixers, and a run to the Conference Finals or Finals would grant him some more time in the organization.

It’s become clear the organization is seeking some return on their massive investment in the team’s future, and much of the blame always (justly or unjustly) falls on the head coach.

Photo: Yong Kim / Philadelphia Inquirer

In the event that the season ends now, it’s unclear how the organization should proceed with Brown. I’d be inclined to give him another year because he’s well-liked, hardworking, and has kept his team in enough contention to have a home playoff series in each of the last three seasons. He’s a safe bet in that regard. If the NBA does go forward with the playoffs and tragedy ensues for the Sixers, they must look elsewhere for the head job. In terms of where to start, this is not the time to make a gamble on a current college coach or bring someone in from overseas.

The roster is built to win now, and an experiment, while having the potential to be a resounding success, is too risky for an ownership group who emptied their pocketbooks to put together a team with this much star power. They need a leader with NBA experience, and winning experience. This is an odd year to be in the head coaching market because many teams seem to be settling in with their head guy.

There are a few names the 76ers should take a look at, if they do end up being cut loose and/or interested in coming to Philadelphia.

Scott Brooks

 Photo: Mark D. Smith

Many of you remember Scott Brooks for leading Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and the Oklahoma City Thunder into battle with the Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals.

What many don’t know is that Brooks had one of the most impressive starts to a coaching career in NBA history, save maybe Steve Kerr. He won Coach of the Year during his second season with the Thunder and led them to the playoffs his first five seasons as head coach. It’s safe to say he had an impressive resume for being fired after his first season of not making the playoffs. Understandable criticism did exist surrounding only making one Finals appearance with a roster of three future NBA mega stars.

Brooks has flown under the radar in the past five years as head coach of the Washington Wizards because he was tasked with coaching one of the NBA’s youngest rebuilding teams. Now that the organization has gotten to the point where they’ve added some young talent, developed Bradley Beal to an All-Star level talent, and will get star PG John Wall back in the near future, many owners would opt to bring in a new face that represents winning, even if Brooks isn’t directly at fault. While they may keep him around, he’s definitely on the hot seat.

Ime Udoka

 Photo: Jabari Young / The Athletic

This one is an exception to the NBA head coaching experience rule I laid out above, but it’s hard to ignore what Nick Nurse did for the Raptors organization as a rookie head coach. He was Dwayne Casey’s right hand man, and he stepped in without skipping a beat. I read some great things about Udoka when he joined the 76ers staff this summer.

Like Brett Brown, he was a veteran of Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff for seven seasons, which is probably one of the best head coaches one could learn from as a young assistant. The 76ers clearly heard enough good things to lure him away from San Antonio and bring him in as Brett Brown’s top guy this summer. He has a year under his belt in Philadelphia and is a familiar face to the players; someone who’s developed relationships with these guys throughout the season.

I think the role of the lead assistant is undervalued because they don’t have the “head” in their title, but sometimes their role in the day-to-day is even more important than that of the head coach. The league also seems to be shifting in the direction of hiring more ex-players as coaches. They simply have a unique perspective from experiencing that everyday basketball grind at some point in their lives. Udoka brings a 12-year professional playing career to the table, with time spent overseas, in the D-League, and the NBA. He’s seen the game from every perspective possible and deserves a shot at a promotion.

Who should be part of the 76ers coaching search?

Featured Image: Nelson Chenault/USA Today Sports
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