By FRANK WARD
In recent weeks, Sixertown has wondered how Eddie Jordan was keeping his job. In fact, general manager Ed Stefanski failed to give his coach a vote of confidence a couple weeks back. And, the Inquirer’s Kate Fagan took the coach to task for his lack of set rotations.
Two days later, in a poignant column, Fagan correctly laid blame at the coach’s feet in one of the best columns we’ve seen in a long time.
In the wake of this mess, the coach may have lost some of his power, his confidence, or both.
Just one day after Stefanski proclaimed on 97.5 The Fanatic that Elton Brand — the GM’s prized free agent signing — had played himself back into the starting lineup, guess what? Brand replaced Thaddeus Young. This move clearly was made in response to the boss’ comments. While we can’t blame Jordan for taking directions from his superior and trying to save his job, the fact is he is not deciding who is on the floor these days.
If you want more evidence of this, read his quotes from before last night’s 92-81 win over the Dallas Mavericks. By starting Brand, he had to decide whether to sit Young, or move Andre Iguodala to shooting guard, thereby benching Lou Williams. In the end, he benched Young and Williams. He started rookie Jrue Holiday at the point. The question is: was there any thought of benching Allen Iverson to let both Holiday and Williams play? We were assured bringing in Iverson would not inhibit the growth of the young guys.
Apparently, the coach is too worried about what Iverson wants. Kate Fagan included the following in a story today:
“That’s another thought process: ‘What do you do?’ ” Jordan said. “When [Brand] was starting, Andre was a guard. Do you put Andre back at guard and keep Thad and Elton in or do you replace Thad with Elton? It’s always a thought process. We want Allen [Iverson] to start. Now, can Allen and Andre co-exist in the backcourt as starters? We’ll see. I don’t know if Allen wants to be a point guard to get it going.”
The last part is extremely frustrating. He’s worried about what AI wants. Your DailyPhiladelphian was in favor of bringing Iverson back to fill in for Williams as long as the young guys still grew. Now, Iverson is taking playing time away from the young guys.
It may seem trivial to bring this up after an impressive win against one of the league’s better teams. However, this is about the future of the franchise. Williams, the guy Jordan raved about earlier this year, is averaging 15 points and more than four assist per game. Iverson is averaging 14.5 points and four assists as a Sixers this year. The numbers are comparable.
Holiday is averaging 5.7 points and nearly three assists in about half the time. He also is a better defender than Williams or Iverson at this point. Getting Holiday in the lineup may be the right call. However, is sitting Williams for Iverson?
That’s something we hope Jordan is deciding and not the players. Of course, we also wonder if Jordan is just assuming what Iverson wants, or if he’s actually ever asked him.
Judging by his comments and actions, the coach isn’t running the ship.