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Villanova MBB (Twitter)

The case for Jay Wright as the next Sixers head coach

It’s Friday, Villanova is having a parade for the national championship in Center City and Sam Hinkie’s resignation from the Sixers has every basketball mind three and a half miles down Broad St. freaking the heck out and Jay Wright is publicly talking about reports that the Phoenix Suns are interested in hiring him.

This has been a weird basketball week in Philadelphia.

This morning, at the same time Wright was being interviewed on WIP radio, Sixers head coach Brett Brown was being interviewed by The Fanatic, with the rival stations tweeting comments about job speculation from both of Philly’s top basketball coaches. Wright, of course, is pushing aside rumors he’s leaving town for the NBA. Brown, with Hinkie’s departure, is fielding questions about him leaving town for a very different reason. (Note: Brown also followed Wright on WIP later in the morning, answering the same questions.)

When Wright was asked by WIP about leaving Villanova, he replied, “I hope not. I love my job here, I really do.”

He should. The guy is getting a parade for chrissakes! Of course he loves his job. But that doesn’t mean he may not leave it. Wright, 54, has done all he can do at Villanova, and at some point he’ll have to make the decision to either call Villanova home for life or take a chance at something bigger.

Slick as he is, Wright doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would leave a very comfortable (and successful) gig on the Main Line for the glitz of a higher profile college job like UCLA. Wright isn’t going to leave a place he built into a national power to follow in the footsteps of John Calipari at Kentucky should Cal do exactly what people are speculating Wright may do. So the only real option for Wright is the NBA.

But not Phoenix.

Unless influential friends like Charles Barkley can convince Wright that the dry heat in Arizona and blank slate the Suns have become are attractive enough to pick up and leave Philly, it makes little sense for Wright to leave Nova for THAT job in the NBA, of any. No, THIS job in the NBA…the one here…makes the most sense.

Only, the Sixers already have a coach, and despite his career record, Brown is a good coach who deserves a chance to show what he can do with a roster that has actual NBA talent on it. Brown is tethered to Hinkie, yes, but that doesn’t mean Jerry or Bryan Colangelo should cut ties with him at this point in the Sixers’ development.

It also doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

When asked by The Fanatic about his job security, Brown said what he could say:

In other words, he has no idea if he’ll have a job in a week, because the guy who will be making the decision about his job security doesn’t even (technically) have the authority to make it yet.

“I have spoken to Bryan Colangelo,” Brown said, per The Fanatic. “I don’t know him well. We’ve talked briefly in the past. I spoke to him recently.”

What a terrible situation for a coach to be in. Brown has been given nothing to work with, tasked with developing one or two players on one of the worst rosters ever constructed in NBA history. And right when the team has a chance to cash in on all the tanking, the Colangelos could realistically boot him for their own guy.

Frankly, it might be doing Brown a favor at this point to fire him, especially if the plan is to go in a different analytic direction than Hinkie’s Process was headed. And if Brown is on his way out of Philadelphia, why would the Sixers bring in another retread coach from the NBA? Is Mike D’Antoni the answer? Is Derek Fisher? Is Tom Thibodeau?

If the Sixers are going to dump Brown at this point in the rebuilding, ahem, process, it stands to reason they would want a fresh start with a coach who can galvanize the fanbase and get people in Philly excited about the Sixers again.

Who better than Mr. Wright?

Now, that assumes the Sixers are a step up from Villanova, and there’s no guarantee Wright would want the headache of going from coaching the best basketball team in the city to the worst. The Sixers are, perhaps, two draft picks and a stud free agent away from being a real contender in the Eastern Conference. Or they are a decade away from getting out of the NBA cellar. Nobody really knows.

So maybe this year isn’t the right time for Wright to jump ship. Maybe this isn’t the right time for the Sixers to cut ties with Brown. But if Wright turns down the Suns and the Sixers don’t can Brown, this is a very real conversation we could be having a year from now.

And it would make just as much sense then as it does now.

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