Sources have said Mike D’Antoni would become a 76ers head coaching candidate once his tenure with the Houston Rockets concluded.
That day came Sunday when D’Antoni announced he wouldn’t sign an extension with Houston. His contract expired Saturday night after the Rockets lost in five games to the Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs at Walt Disney World.
Los Angeles Clippers assistant Ty Lue, former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, and D’Antoni will be considered among candidates for the Sixers job, sources have said. The Sixers fired Brett Brown on Aug. 24 after seven seasons.
However, the expectation is that D’Antoni will be hired by the Indiana Pacers, who fired Nate McMillan last month. D’Antoni is familiar with the Sixers organization, serving five months as the team’s associate head coach during the 2015-16 season. The Rockets hired him on June 1, 2016. The Sixers players loved him, and some were sad when he left to accept the Rockets' coaching position.
The Sixers hired D’Antoni in December 2015 to assist Brown. The team showed instant improvement during D’Antoni’s first workday as Brown’s associate head coach. They snapped a 12-game losing streak with a 111-104 road victory over the Phoenix Suns. That also marked the first game of Ish Smith’s second stint with the Sixers after he was acquired two days earlier in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Smith tossed an alley-oop to Nerlens Noel on the first play of the game. D’Antoni took advantage of Smith’s quickness and Noel’s athleticism in up-tempo pick-and-rolls the rest of the season.
The Sixers went 6-9 in D’Antoni’s first 15 games on Brown’s bench. They were 1-30 before that. The Sixers finished that season at 10-72.
D’Antoni, 69, leaves Houston with a 217-101 record in four seasons. He has a 672-527 career record, with head coaching stops with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Rockets.