Monday, December 15, 2008


One could certainly make the argument that Mo Cheeks had the best name of any head coach in the NBA. One could also make the argument that he was possibly the first coach fired this season with just cause. PJ? Sure he may have had it coming and he certainly wasn't "coaching 'em up" in any sense, but it's not like the Thunder were threatening to overtake the much-coveted 1-14 spots in the West with that roster. Smitch? The Raps are woefully thin, Jermaine isn't quite the dream that some people imagined, and losing TJ Ford's scoring and penetration might have hurt a bit more than anticipated. Eddie Jordan? No Gilbert, no Haywood, no reasonablebeliefthatthisteamwon'tbeterrible. Wittman? Kinda similar to PJ. I don't think he even resembles a good coach, but I mean, what did you really expect from the Wolves?

But the Sixers were supposed to be somebodies. They seemed destined for a top four seed in the East, but now they're sitting pretty at 10-14, dead last in their division behind the Knicks and Nets. Ouch. But what's weird is that Mo is likely the most talented head coach out of that group, and yet probably the most justified firing. He was given a good defensive team, a cast of seemingly versatile young players, and boatloads of momentum after a surprising playoff showing and netting the big fish of the free agent pool. But obviously, we all took Elton Brand's integration for granted. He's not a prototypical big man; he's undersized, and though he can be bullish, he's very, very reliant on that short to midrange jumper. What does that mean for one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, lacking the capability to effectively space the floor? Well, it means Mo Cheeks loses his job, that's what.

This is pretty damn far from an unfixable situation, but handing the reins to non-coach Tony DiLeo is probably a bad idea. Okay, it's a damn terrible idea. Nearing EPIC FAIL status. How do you give up on a roster like this? Elton Brand is still Elton Brand, even if he's not putting up ridiculous, punch-you-in-the-face type numbers. Iggy (can we call you Iggy?) is immensely talented, even if he earns about a dollar a turnover. The supporting cast is admirable, it just might take a bit more creativity to get this team clicking. But make no mistake, if Philly doesn't find a replacement head coach soon, they are effectively giving up on 2008-2009. Game over, man.

Or, even more tragic, is it possible that Elton Brand is one of those bizarre types of star that, by nature, limits the abilities of his teams to succeed? Free agent hijinx aside, Brand had a pretty spotless track record as a teammate and leader, so this would seem to be a purely on-court manifestation. It's a cruel and (possibly) unfair classification, but with the Sixers rudderless, the '05-'06 Clippers are looking more and more like the exception that proves the rule.

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