By Sam Bush
Angelo Cataldi is a well-known fool, which he proves every morning on WIP and on Tuesday on the PhillyVoice.com,
And he knows less about pro basketball than Donald Trump knows about health care.
So, when he writes that Jay Wright should replace Brett Brown as Sixers coach, you should take it with a grain of salt.
Make that a truckful of salt:
Three entirely separate stories unfolded over the past week that combined to provide a perfect solution to the current problems of the 76ers.
I’m betting that you missed the connection.
First, Jon Gruden gave up his ESPN analyst job to take a $100-million deal to coach in Oakland. Then Villanova moved back to No. 1 in the NCAA basketball polls. And finally, the Sixers blew a 22-point lead in London to fall back under .500.
Gruden’s decision to give up a job he loved – but was terrible at – to take the biggest coaching payday in sports history proved everyone has a price. Villanova’s ascension was just the latest affirmation that Jay Wright is the best college coach in America. And the latest blown lead showed Brett Brown is floundering in his fifth season as Sixers coach.
One plus one plus one equals three. If Gruden had a price, so does Wright, and what better NBA job to accept that the one right in his own backyard? Is there one person reading this who thinks Brown is a better coach than Wright? Does anyone not think Wright would be a major upgrade?
For many years, Wright has maintained that he is happy at Villanova, where he has less than half as many games to coach per season as the pros, and where he doesn’t have to deal with tyrant owners and petulant pro players. There are valid arguments.
However, what does Wright, at 56, still have to prove in college basketball? He is an extraordinary judge of talent, a brilliant manager of personalities – many of whom are around the same age as the kids on the 76ers right now – and an accomplished strategist.
He’s also no dummy. The Sixers’ roster is playoff-caliber today, thanks to four years of tanking. Elite young athletes like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons just need time and a savvy coach to develop into the kind of stars around which a champion can be built. It’s safe to say the Sixers will be better next season, with or without Wright.
The Villanova coach has everything to gain and very little to lose. Which brings us to the money. If Gruden is worth $100 million after sitting out for nine years, what is Jay Wright worth? And it goes without saying that billionaire owner Joshua Harris has the money. The real question is, does he have the foresight?
If I were the owner of the Sixers – I’m a few billion dollars short at the moment – I would call Wright the day after the college season is over and make him an offer he can’t refuse.
The Sixers desperately need Jay Wright – and he needs them, too.