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Philadelphia 76ers ‘taking a careful process’ in coach search; Milwaukee Bucks interview Kelvin Sampson

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks interviewed their former assistant and current Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson for their coaching vacancy Wednesday, ESPN reported.

Sampson, 67, has coached 958 career games with four teams at the collegiate level, but he also spent six seasons as assistant coach in the NBA, three of those with the Bucks (2008-11).

The Bucks have also interviewed Washington Wizards assistant Joseph Blair for the opening, created when the organisation fired Budenholzer earlier this month after five seasons and an NBA championship. REUTERS

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey said on Wednesday that the team plans to take its time in its approach toward naming a new head coach.

“We’re taking a careful process with the coach,” Morey said Wednesday, one day after the Sixers fired Doc Rivers.

“We do not think it will move quickly. We have to be careful with the process word but it is true.”

Rivers led the 76ers to the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference semi-finals in each of his three seasons at the helm. Third-seeded Philadelphia fell apart in the second half of Game 7 on Sunday and dropped a 112-88 loss to the second-seeded Boston Celtics.

Morey admitted on Wednesday that he recommended the move to part ways with Rivers.

“My job is to evaluate everything and we felt like that was the best move for helping us get to our goals going forward,” Morey said. “It was carefully thought out and I recommended it to ownership and they accepted it.”

Per ESPN, the 76ers’ search for a new coach is expected to include Mike Budenholzer, Sam Cassell, Mike D’Antoni, Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel and Monty Williams.

Morey also said Wednesday that newly minted NBA MVP Joel Embiid – or any other player on the 76ers’ roster – will not have a say in the identity of the new coach.

Which brings us to James Harden, who is expected to decline the US$35.6 million (S$47.8 million) option on his contract and become a free agent.

Morey admitted that the 76ers “are interested in bringing him back,” however he also said the team would get creative if it doesn’t come to pass.

“There’s like 26 teams that would rather have our roster,” Morey said. “We’re starting with the MVP of the league. The draft lottery yesterday was hoping to get a top pick to hope that player becomes as good as the MVP of the league. We’re starting in a great spot.”

Bleacher Report said on Wednesday that 10-time National Basketball Association All-Star Harden is looking for a four-year contract with a team that has a “competitive roster,” and he wants the “basketball freedom... to be himself,” per the report.

Harden, 33, averaged 21.0 points, a league-leading 10.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds in 58 games (all starts) in 2022-23.

The report cited a long-term deal with Philadelphia as “the only logical option” and downplayed Harden’s rumoured return to the Houston Rockets.