September 02, 2020
Villanova head coach Jay Wright has removed himself from consideration for the Sixers' head coaching position, Wright announced on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Wright expressed confidence in the direction of the Sixers but says he does not consider himself a candidate for the Sixers job.
Out of respect for our Villanova community and our 76ers organization, I feel the need to address speculation about the 76ers head coach position.
The 76ers have a great leader in Elton Brand, outstanding young talent, and an incredible opportunity for any coach to compete for a championship. As a lifetime 76ers fan, I have confidence they will bring in the right coach to build on what Brett Brown has developed.
I am not a candidate for the job. I am very happy and honored to coach at Villanova.
That's about as clear as Wright can be on the subject. Though it's fair to point out this is the strongest negotiation tactic he can employ, essentially demanding an offer he can't refuse, Wright is a pretty straight shooter when it comes to addressing speculation about leaving Villanova, and has been transparent about opportunities to leave whenever they've come up in the past.
The first and most important question about Wright's candidacy has been answered: was he interested in leaving his post at Villanova? There's a strong case to be made that he has a better gig where he's at. The Villanova machine is basically self-sustaining at this point, and Wright gets paid handsomely to churn out winning seasons and rarely faces any blowback when the Wildcats bow out early in the NCAA Tournament. Not wanting to give that up for less control and higher stakes at the NBA level makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider how messy Philadelphia's roster situation is.
This is no doubt a blow for the Sixers, however, even if you were a skeptic about Wright making the leap to the next level (as you should be about any coach going from college to the pros).
Wright is a guy the organization has been a fan of for a long time, one who understands the Philadelphia market and has a track record of sustained success at a school that was not a traditional power when he joined it. His program has consistently turned less-heralded recruits into better players during his time with Villanova, and with the Sixers needing to unearth gems in the draft to sustain the program moving forward, a coach with developmental chops would be nice to have to lead the way.
The best possible outcome for the Sixers this offseason involves picking from the deepest and strongest field of candidates possible. Wright removing himself from consideration is a blow from that perspective, even though the market remains strong.
Wright's decision leaves the Sixers picking from a smaller if still an attractive group of candidates. Former Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue has been the most prominent name discussed following Brett Brown's ouster, but the Sixers will have to compete with multiple teams, including the Nets and Pelicans, for the services of the title-winning coach.
Lue and the other top candidates will be forced to answer a similar question as Wright just did — is it worth taking this Sixers job over the jobs they have, or other jobs they might be in the mix for? With the front office situation still in flux and the roster a jumbled mess, that remains to be seen.
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