News » DiLeo crosses his name off list for Sixers coach

DiLeo crosses his name off list for Sixers coach

DiLeo crosses his name off list for Sixers coach
WE'LL NEVER KNOW what decision Ed Stefanski carried with him into yesterday's meeting with Tony DiLeo.

We'll never know how Stefanski weighed the factors: DiLeo's 32-27 record as the 76ers' coaching replacement for the fired Maurice Cheeks; the first five games of what had been a taut, tough, first-round playoff series with the Orlando Magic; a total meltdown in Game 6 that ended it all.

We'll never know how DiLeo would have responded to whatever the decision might have been.

Here's what we do know: Someone new, someone fresh will be coaching the Sixers next season. Whether that would have been the case anyway is immaterial, because DiLeo - a year shy of completing 2 decades of service with the organization in just about every possible coaching and front-office role short of president or general manager - withdrew his name from consideration.

Stefanski, the president/general manager, had never referred to DiLeo as an interim coach. He had simply said that DiLeo would coach for the remainder of the season. And that's what DiLeo did, finishing with the most victories and the second-best winning percentage among the eight replacement coaches in the NBA this season. Of that group, Jay Triano has been given a new contract with the Toronto Raptors and Alvin Gentry has been rehired by the Phoenix Suns.

DiLeo, the most loyal of employees, is simply resuming his role as senior vice president and assistant general manager, work that he has performed with honor and dedication.

Before Stefanski could speak with him about anything more than an evaluation of the season, DiLeo told him "I don't think [coaching] is what I want to do going forward."

DiLeo's decision apparently was based in large part on his interest in closely following the careers of his sons, T.J., a Basketball player at Temple, and Max, a rising soccer and Basketball player at Cinnaminson (N.J.) High.

DiLeo, who was scheduled to meet with reporters today, did not respond to a message left at his home last night.

Here's what else we know: "The decision was not up to him," Stefanski said. "But when he doesn't want to be considered . . . That's speculation [concerning what my decision would have been]; Tony doesn't want to be considered, [so] we're moving forward. I'm not going to answer your questions about what we were going to do."

In effect, Stefanski's first coaching search in his tenure with the Sixers began as DiLeo stepped back into the front office. Even as Stefanski conducted a teleconference with one set of reporters and then another session in front of cameras and recorders, he had already been contacted by "a couple of agents." Stefanski said the search would be "wide open," and that he did not necessarily have to have a history with a candidate.

While it is clear that Doug Collins, the outstanding TV analyst, former coach and All-Star guard, has an interest in the Sixers , agent John Langel said last night that there had been no contact from either side; Langel planned to speak with Collins before offering anything beyond that. Lonnie Cooper, the agent for former Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, also said there had been no contact. Jordan has been rumored as a strong candidate to return to the Kings, but Cooper was putting all business on hold as he headed to Jupiter, Fla., for the funeral tomorrow of his longtime client and close friend Chuck Daly, who died Saturday at 78, the victim of pancreatic cancer.

"I have not contacted one person, inside the NBA, outside the NBA, anywhere," Stefanski said late yesterday afternoon.

He insisted he does not have a working list of potential candidates, but he very much has a list of attributes that he deems critical. He is looking for "a communicator, which is huge in any walk of life; a leader, who will hold the players accountable, someone who can develop players, and X's and O's are part of it, too."

"This will be wide open," he said. "We'll look at everything in every area."

Interestingly, Stefanski said he will lean on DiLeo and director of player personnel Courtney Witte for input. He praised DiLeo for the work he did, and tried mightily to deflect questions about the effect of the Game 6 blowout loss to the Magic, which was missing Dwight Howard and Courtney Lee, saying, "One game does not make a season. In the playoffs, you've seen a lot of teams getting blown out. We didn't have a trademark on Game 6."

Later, he said, "We took [the Magic] to Game 6 when a lot of people didn't think we'd win a quarter of a Basketball game."

"We have to get it right, and we will get it right," he said. "We won't rush into it . . . I think [candidates] will be lining up to coach here."

Six shotsEd Stefanski said he had no interest in re-signing free-agent center Theo Ratliff , who accused Tony DiLeo of not being tough enough in addressing repeated mistakes . . . As for the rehabbing Elton Brand , Stefanski said, "I do know that any coach we do get will really like that we have Elton Brand in the stable." *

For more Sixers coverage, read the Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville, at

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Added: May 12, 2009


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