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Sixers set to hire Mike Longabardi as Blue Coats coach, promote Coby Karl

Karl led Delaware to the G League title last year.

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The Delaware Blue Coats will have a new head coach the season after winning their first championship. 

Mike Longabardi will lead the Sixers’ G League affiliate, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the hiring.

Longabardi will take over that role from Coby Karl, who’s set to receive a promotion. Karl is expected to join new Sixers coach Nick Nurse’s staff, sources confirmed. PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck first reported that news. 

Along with Karl, Nurse and new Sixers assistant Bryan Gates have won titles in what is now the G League. Karl actually played for Gates on the Idaho Stampede.

Karl, who's the son of Hall of Fame coach George Karl, guided the Blue Coats to a perfect run through the G League playoffs in his second season. Sixers guard Jaden Springer won Finals MVP. Mac McClung and Louis King were also standouts for Delaware last year.

“You look around the NBA and you see Nick Nurse and you see these G League coaches that are popping up in the NBA,” Karl said in October of 2021. “I think it’s the most fun league to coach in — because you really get to coach, you get the experience — and then it’s the most difficult, because players are popping in and out. So it really makes you be present. You can’t really get ahead of yourself. You’ve really got to teach on a daily basis, and it’s going to change. So it’s helped me in my life and my career to stay present and not get ahead of myself. 

“Every day is a new day in the G League. Your lineups change; your players change; injuries; call-ups; assignments. And then not just our team, but the other team. You’ve got to prepare for their assignment guys and their two-ways. It really makes you focus on what you’re doing as a coach, what you’re doing as a staff, and I think that resonates down to the players — to really stay present and stay in the moment.”

Sixers center Paul Reed has cited Karl as influential in his development. 

“One of the the biggest things … I’ve got to give credit to Coach Karl,” Reed said in April. “He was telling me about building trust with my teammates, and doing the same things over and over again so they know what I’m doing when I get the ball — and they can know how to react to what I do.

“For example, (dribble handoffs), they know I’m going to do that every time, so it makes it easier. That’s one of the things I picked up and brought to the big team — just making sure that I stay consistent and doing the same things so my teammates can build trust in me.”

Longabardi has served as a defensive coordinator at several NBA stops. He’s been an assistant with the Rockets, Celtics, Suns, Cavs, Wizards, Kings, and Hawks, winning titles with Boston and Cleveland. 

Longabardi’s college coaching experience included a stint as an assistant at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. Before that, Longabardi learned under current Hornets head coach Steve Clifford at Adelphi University.

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