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76ers, Kings on parallel courses

76ers, Kings on parallel courses
Right now, the 76ers and Sacramento Kings have more in common than the NBA's only head coaching vacancies.

The two franchises are also overlapping on candidates for those vacancies, pursuing three of the same ones and making it seem possible - if not quite likely - that the two teams could target the same coach.

Last week, the Sixers and Kings both met with Eddie Jordan, 54, the former Washington Wizards head coach.

This week, Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski interviewed Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis and Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, and confirmed that he would interview Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau. It is unclear when the meeting with Thibodeau will take place.

On Tuesday, the Kings announced that they, too, would interview Rambis and Thibodeau. Sacramento called Celtics general manager Danny Ainge yesterday to request permission, a respectful gesture, given that Thibodeau is no longer under contract with Boston.

Thibodeau is the only candidate for either team without head coaching experience. He has spent 19 years as an NBA assistant.

Thibodeau worked with the Sixers on John Lucas' staff in the mid-1990s. He also spent the better part of a decade working with Jeff Van Gundy, known to be a strong defensive coach, with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Because of that connection, as well as a proven track record on the defensive side, Thibodeau seems to be pegged as "the defense guy."

Van Gundy said Thibodeau is more than that.

"Having worked in Philadelphia, [Thibodeau] understands the market, the demands, and the media pressures," Van Gundy wrote in an e-mail. "He has been pigeonholed as a defensive guru in the media, but he has great leadership abilities and he relates extremely well with great players as well as young players."

Sacramento has not set specific dates for its interviews with Thibodeau and Rambis.

Each team has pursued one candidate independently. The Sixers spoke with Casey, who spent 11/2 seasons as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Kings interviewed former Phoenix and Seattle coach Paul Westphal.

The Sixers' coaching search has progressed steadily since last Monday, when coach Tony DiLeo withdrew his name from consideration to continue. But the Kings' search has stalled. They conducted back-to-back interviews with Jordan and Westphal before general manager Geoff Petrie paused the search, traveling to Europe to scout players for the June 25 NBA draft.

During that downtime, it was unclear as to whether the Kings had concluded their search or were simply waiting for Petrie's return. The latter proved true Tuesday when the Kings restarted their search.

Now, it also appears the two teams have returned to similar timetables, each with a candidate or two to interview, each seemingly poised to make a decision in the near future.

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan

at 856-779-3844


Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 21, 2009


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