PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Philadelphia 76ers appear in no rush to choose their next coach.

Team president Ed Stefanski promised a broad search and has so far looked at some expected candidates such as Eddie Jordan and surprising ones such as Kurt Rambis. The NBA draft is on June 25 and the Sixers are likely to have a coach in place by then.

Who it will be is up to Stefanski, who is getting his shot at making his first real hire since he took over as president and general manager in December 2007.

He inherited Maurice Cheeks, then gave him an extension after leading the Sixers to the playoffs in 2008. Stefanski fired Cheeks in December 2008 and replaced him with front office veteran Tony DiLeo.

When DiLeo returned to the front office last week, Stefanski was faced with his biggest decision in Philly yet.

And his vote rules.

While team chairman Ed Snider and executive Peter Luukko will have a say, Stefanski makes the hire.

“We might come in and meet a candidate or two at Ed Stefanski’s request, but ultimately it’s up to him to make that choice,” said Luukko, the COO of Comcast-Spectacor. “He’s the basketball expert.”

Stefanski has declined to talk about the search. When DiLeo decided to return to his old job, Stefanski said that he wants a communicator, a coach who holds players accountable and who holds a shared vision of how to run the team.

“That’s the kind of coach you have to find, the guy who says, ‘I see the talent, I understand what we have to do here,”‘ Stefanski said.

Stefanski met with Jordan, a former Washington Wizards coach, last week. This week he has interviewed Los Angeles Lakers assistant Rambis and Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey. The Sixers have permission to interview Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, but no date has been announced.

“Each coach has his own style and personality and that’s not really an issue with us,” Luukko said. “It’s getting somebody that can work with Ed and coach the basketball team.”

The Sixers had not named any other candidates as of Wednesday afternoon. Stefanski was expected back on Thursday from a West Coast trip where he scouted potential draft picks.

Jordan seemed like an early favorite considering his ties to Stefanski from their four seasons together with the New Jersey Nets. Jordan was an assistant coach and Stefanski in the front office when the Nets played in two straight NBA finals.

Because of their friendship, Jordan has been linked to the opening almost since December, when Stefanski fired Cheeks.

Jordan and Rambis also interviewed for the Sacramento Kings job. Jordan started his head coaching career in Sacramento and has a working relationship with team president Geoff Petrie.

Mike O’Koren, one of Jordan’s friends and former assistants, believes Jordan would be a good fit on either coast. O’Koren was associate head coach in Washington when he was fired with Jordan in December after the team off to a 1-10 start.

“From what he’s told me, he’s had two very good interviews with Geoff Petrie and Ed Stefanski,” O’Koren said. “He’s excited to get back in. I’m sure there’s a lot of anxiety going on with him right now seeing what’s going to happen.”

Philadelphia made the playoffs after finishing 41-41, but was eliminated in six games by the Orlando Magic, the second straight season the Sixers lost in the first round. Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young give the Sixers a promising nucleus. Stefanski has to decide if he wants to re-sign free agent point guard Andre Miller or trade erratic center Samuel Dalembert.

DiLeo, who led the Sixers to a 32-27 record, was given lukewarm endorsements by several Sixers players after a one-sided, season-ending loss at home in Game 6 against Orlando.

O’Koren said that wouldn’t be a problem with Jordan.

“He’s a good teacher and great in the locker room,” he said.

Luukko also backed Stefanski and his job in trying to mold the Sixers into Eastern Conference contenders.

“I think he’s done good job. We’re stabilized,” Luukko said. “We’d like to go further like we do every other year but we’ve made the playoffs twice.”

Also, Luukko said the company that will oversee the development of retail space, bars and restaurants on the site of the Spectrum is on schedule could soon be discussing leases.

The Spectrum, the former home of the Flyers and 76ers, is to be demolished to make room for Philly Live!

AP-ES-05-20-09 1815EDT

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