Elton Brand and the 76ers called an impromptu press conference on Tuesday morning, opening up to the media for questioning. Brand briefly discussed COVID-19 related news, before turning things over for questions. I (David Esser) actually happened to be in the conference call and was able to get a first-hand look into Brand’s thought process at the moment. Here are my biggest takeaways from the call.
The Sixers are planning on the season resuming
Despite clarifying that he has no sort of special information regarding a potential return date for the NBA season, Brand overall seemed like he was expecting play to resume at some point this summer.
During his opening statement in the call, Brand had this to say about the season picking back up again:
“Want you to know that we’re preparing for as many scenarios as we can right now. I’m very hopeful the season will resume, (and we) can get back out there and compete”.
Later in the conference call Brand also answered a question regarding a potential first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics. Brand highlighted that the team had in fact begun preparation on the Celtics, along with other potential early playoff matchups.
Everyone is healthy
Last time Sixers fans saw Ben Simmons in action, he was hobbling off the court clutching his back against the Bucks. Obviously expecting a lot of questions about his All-Star point guard, Brand was quick to address Simmons’ health.
“A quick update on Ben Simmons, he’s doing really really well…think he’ll be ready to play if and when we’re given that green light to resume”.
Brand was also asked later in the call if Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid were experiencing any sort of setbacks from their own respective nagging injuries. Brand pretty much played it off, citing that he feels both will be 100% if the season returns.
The Sixers have started their *unique* draft process
The question I personally asked Brand was in regards to the team’s approach to the upcoming NBA draft. After seeing the NFL go fully virtual just a few weeks ago, questions arose on if the NBA planned to follow suit.
“Great question… I’ve been talking to agents, players, family… but with potentially five picks we think this is a deep draft, I’m excited”.
“We were one of the first teams to actually pull our scouts from the road… so absolutely preparing everyday”.
Brand was questioned about the draft again later in the conference call and recited the same point that the organization has begun video chatting with players, coaches, etc. He did relay that they expect the pre-draft process to be a bit more challenging this year with the lack of actual workouts, but emphasized again that they feel they can have a successful draft given how many draft picks they have.
No Brett Brown comments
Jon Johnson from over at SportsRadio94WIP broke the ice by being the first person to ask about potential staff changes this offseason. Brand was quick to dodge the question:
“It’s very hard to speculate on what changes would be made if we don’t have a season. Right now we’re just focused on making sure the players are healthy both physically and mentally. I speak to Brett Brown everyday still… and he’s preparing for the season”.
Not the clearest answer from the Sixers general manager now was it. Brand clearly had no direct desire to comment on Brown’s status as the head coach post-2020, which is understandable considering he will be the team’s head coach if the NBA does resume here in the near future.
Ben Simmons shooting
Towards the conclusion of the call, Brand was asked about Simmons and his continued lack of shooting. Bringing up the comments Brett Brown made earlier in the season about potentially benching Simmons if he continued to pass up open jumpers, Brand had this to say in response:
“You know Ben is a two-time All-Star, dynamic player on both ends. We’re going to encourage him to shoot and I think once he unlocks that part of his game which is going to open it up for his growth and become even more unstoppable and help our team. Where he is as a player he is very dominant, very hyper-focused on both ends to help us win. He wants to make the right play, and at times he feels (shooting) might not be the right play… I’m more on Brett’s side with that”.
Brand wasn’t shy in addressing Simmons’ lack of shooting during games, but he also made the point of saying he overall agrees with the thought process behind not taking jumpshots. Simmons is clearly dominant in a whole plethora of areas, and shooting just to shoot isn’t the ultimate solution to everything.
Overall, Elton Brand’s press conference with the media was quite enlightening. We learned about how the Sixers are still preparing for a returning NBA season, along the overall health status of the team. While it’s normally challenging to get a general manager to reveal too much information, Brand did tip his hand a bit regarding how the team views Simmons’ lack of shooting and even how they’re approaching the draft process.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports