The Sixers are hiring Mike Longabardi, a veteran NBA assistant coach, as the next head coach of the franchise’s G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.
The move was a bit of a surprise as the team’s previous coach, Coby Karl, led the Blue Coats to their first G-League championship this past year. As it turns out, the reason for the change is a good one as it’s expected that Karl will join the Sixers’ coaching staff under Nick Nurse. As Blue Coats’ star Jaden Springer inches closer to being a true NBA player, its likely that Longabardi, Karl, and Nurse will work together to transition him into a full-fledged member of the Sixers.
Longabardi, 50, has served as an assistant coach with a total of seven NBA franchises since 2003. He was first hired by the Houston Rockets under Jeff Van Gundy, where he served as an assistant coach for four years.
In 2007, Longabardi was brought onto the Boston Celtics under former Celtics and Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers. In his first year with the team, the Celtics won their first championship since 1986, and in 2009, he was promoted to the team’s primary defensive coordinator.
He stayed with Boston until 2013, when he joined the Phoenix Suns along with Jerry Sichting. That year, the Suns saw a massive jump in their record, going from 25-57 in 2012-2013 to 48-34 in 2013-2014, though they did not make the playoffs nor see a winning record again during Longabardi’s tenure.
In 2016, Longabardi was hired as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defensive coordinator under Tyronn Lue. The Cavaliers won the championship that year marking the second time Longabardi won a championship in his first year with a franchise. He stayed on board until 2019, and since then has spent time with the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, and most recently, the Atlanta Hawks.
The 20-year veteran joins the Blue Coats at a critical juncture. With the future of franchise players James Harden and Tobias Harris remaining uncertain, and the organization lacking the cap space and flexibility to make other substantial roster moves, the team will likely rely on G-league standouts to fill in the back of the rotation.
Longabardi will be tasked with developing the Blue Coats’, and thus the Sixers’, substantial young talent, such as 2021 draft pick Filip Petrusiv, two-way forward Louis King, and undrafted signing Terquavion Smith, who has been a major eye-catcher during this year’s Summer League. Other key Sixers signings, such as Ricky Council IV and Azuolas Tubelis, will also fall under his purview.