Thursday, April 15, 2010
Jordan dismissed after one season
PHILADELPHIA -- Samuel Dalembert has become numb to the coaching changes. In and out of Philadelphia they shuffle, taking with them various philosophies that were scrapped almost as soon as the 76ers learned the playbook. His next coach will be his eighth in 10 seasons with the team.
Philly's coaching carousel has become a punch line around the NBA.
"When I tell guys around the league, they laugh at me," Dalembert said.
Eddie Jordan is the latest coach fired by an organization that can't find the right mix of players or the right coach to contend for NBA championships. Jordan and his maligned Princeton offense were given all of one season to make it work.
One year in Philadelphia is like lasting through a multiyear deal with other organizations.
Since Larry Brown left in 2003, four other coaches have failed to coach more than 82 games for the organization. Jordan's dismissal means a second straight offseason of a coaching search.
Unlike last season, there are no guarantees that team president and general manager Ed Stefanski will lead the process. He took all the questions at Thursday's news conference -- Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider and chief operating officer Peter Luukko were absent -- and said he intended to be the point man for the interviews.
If he gets that chance.
"We're going to evaluate the organization as a whole structurally and we'll go from there," Luukko said by phone.
When asked if he trusted Stefanski to hire the next coach, Luukko stood by that comment.
Jordan's departure shifts all the heat to Stefanski, who has yet to make a big move with a satisfying payoff. The $80 million contract he gave to free agent Elton Brand in 2008 was a mistake and the $80 million to keep Andre Iguodala has not paid dividends in the standings. Jordan's hire was panned by fans and media from the day he arrived last May.
Stefanski said the Sixers took an "unacceptable" step backward in finishing 27-55 and missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
"What I thought would happen did not occur," Stefanski said. "The decision was not a right one. That's why I made the choice to go in a different direction to get someone in here to get us on the right path."
Jordan is finished after a woefully underachieving season that had the Sixers sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Jordan sold his half-court, backdoor-cut style Princeton offense as the way to turn Philly into a contender.
Instead, players were unhappy with his system almost from the start and the Sixers struggled to put together any kind of winning streaks.
"We're not starting over," Stefanski said. "We took a step backward this year."
The Sixers will look for their fourth coach in three seasons. The decision to fire Jordan was made this week after a meeting with Snider, Luukko and Stefanski. Stefanski made the call and he had the backing of upper management.
Luukko and Snider could have a greater say in hiring the next coach after another one-and-done deal.
"We'll be as involved as we need to be," Luukko said.
Jordan was fired for the second straight season. He was let go by the Washington Wizards last year and was hired in May by Stefanski, his longtime friend from their four seasons together with the New Jersey Nets.
Jordan, who could not immediately be reached for comment, has two years left on his contract and is owed $6 million.
Jordan said Wednesday night he was "not concerned" about his job security before the Sixers lost to the Orlando Magic 125-111 to end the season.
"If you want to be judged alone on the record, then we are where we are," Jordan said. "But as far as track record, as far as how the league works, as far as evaluating your personnel, maybe we need more time."
He won't get any more.
Jordan's dismissal had been widely speculated for months as the players never warmed to the Princeton offense.
"It didn't fit, it didn't work out," Brand said. "I think with the personnel we have, the offense could have been set up for what we have instead of just bringing in a set offense in mind. It didn't really work for the pieces we have."
Marreese Speights, Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams were among the promising core of young players who did not progress this season. Brand hasn't performed up to his lucrative contract, Dalembert was his usual erratic self and Iguodala continued to prove he can't carry the franchise.
The decision to bring back former franchise great Allen Iverson was a short-lived bust.
"Overall, we were confused," Dalembert said. "A lot of guys were confused. We didn't know what was going to happen each day."
The Sixers could undergo a roster shakeup.
"We will have to make changes, no question," Stefanski said.
No one expected the Sixers to contend for the Eastern Conference title. But this kind of steep drop was a surprise.
"Forget the Princeton offense, we should have been focused on defense," Dalembert said.
This move could be seen coming in January when Stefanski refused to say Jordan's job was safe for the rest of the season with the team off to a 10-25 start, nor did he offer a single word of praise for his first-year coach.
"We have to pull out of the hole we got into this year," Stefanski said.