The 76ers will begin interviewing candidates next week for their vacant head coaching position, and a picture is taking shape as to which direction the Sixers may go.
The Sixers have identified a group of assistant coaches, all 50 years old or younger, as their primary targets. The group includes Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Malone, both of whom are still coaching in the NBA playoffs.
According to a report from Yahoo Sports late Wednesday, the Sixers have gained permission to interview Malone and Utah Jazz assistant coach and former 76er Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek has been an assistant in Utah for the last two seasons after serving as the team's shooting coach.
The 76ers also plan to interview assistant coach Michael Curry, a Sixers assistant for the last three seasons.
All of the candidates - and there are others, according to majority owner Joshua Harris - are a stark departure from former coach Doug Collins, who guided the Sixers to the third-worst winning percentage (.415) in their last 15 seasons before resigning last month.
According to team sources, some of the players became frustrated with Collins' old-school ways or, as one Sixer said, his "tendency to be overbearing."
"Clearly we want the right cultural fit for our organization," is how Harris described what he called a "wide-ranging" search for a replacement.
"There are a number of people that we have identified, and it would be hard to put names and numbers to it," Harris said after Collins departed. "There is a fair amount of talent out there, and we're just sifting through it."
According to a source, the Sixers will most likely speak with Hornacek first because Utah did not make the playoffs. Hornacek spent two seasons (1992-94) with the Sixers. Hornacek and Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo, who joined the Sixers in 1990, have maintained a friendship over the years.
Shaw's name has come up frequently as a potential head coach in recent seasons. Last season, he came close to landing the Charlotte job - which is again vacant after Mike Dunlap was fired - and his name has also been mentioned in connection with the Detroit Pistons.
After retiring as a player in 2003, Shaw, who briefly played for the Sixers in 1998, joined the staff of the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won two championships as an assistant from 2004 to 2011. He has been an assistant in Indianapolis the last two seasons.
The son of former head coach Brendan Malone, Mike Malone has been an assistant for the last 12 seasons with New York, Cleveland, and New Orleans. Malone is considered to be a top defensive coach.
The Sixers, Detroit, and Charlotte are the only teams with coaching vacancies. However, the Atlanta Hawks will likely replace Larry Drew, who is interested in the Sixers job, when the Hawks are eliminated from the playoffs. There could also be openings in Brooklyn, Memphis, and with the Los Angeles Clippers.