The Sixers are at perhaps one of the biggest crossroads they have faced since “The Process”. They will have to navigate the upcoming playoffs without All-Star Ben Simmons and perhaps a hobbled Joel Embiid. The team could face a potential first-round exit without Simmons. Such an early dismissal from the playoffs could bring Brett Brown’s tenure in Philadelphia to an abrupt end. However, if the Sixers blossom with the additional spacing created by the subtraction of Simmons, the franchise could consider trading him, who’s game tends to clash with Embiid’s on the court.
On top of all of this, the roster is poorly constructed. Simmons and Embiid thrive around shooters and capable playmakers, which the Sixers have only two of in Shake Milton and Alec Burks. They signed Al Horford to a massive contract this summer and that experiment has yielded poor results. If the Sixers get bounced early in the postseason, Elton Brand could find himself on the hot seat. No matter how the playoffs play out, the Sixers must make a change this offseason. Let’s take a look at the different paths they could explore.
Option 1: Sixers fire Elton Brand and reshape the front office
Elton Brand was hired in 2018 after the resignation of former Sixers General Manager, Bryan Colangelo. Brand played for the Sixers in his final year as a pro and even became the General Manager for the team’s G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, in 2017.
Brand was hired to reshape the 76ers roster and turn them into immediate championship contenders. He has been aggressive in his pursuit to create a team worthy of contention, making trades for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in the 2018-19 season. The Sixers made it all the way to the 2nd round of the playoffs that year, where they lost to a devastating game-winner from Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors. Instead of running it back, Brand decided to retool the roster yet again.
The team let go of JJ Redick and lost Butler in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat that netted the Sixers Josh Richardson. Brand then signed 5x All-Star Al Horford to a massive 4 year, $109 million dollar deal and brought back Tobias Harris on a whopping 5 year, $180 million dollar contract. Brand’s expectations were to have the giant lineup of Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford, and Embiid overpower smaller teams and be an unstoppable force on defense. Those dreams haven’t exactly panned out.
As we all know, Horford has been an awkward fit on this team and the Sixers failed to replace the shooting they lost in Redick, which has resulted in a clunky offense that has taken space away from their two stars, Simmons and Embiid. Brand also failed to add any secondary playmakers or capable shot creators.
Simmons and Embiid need shooters and ball handlers around them and Brand did a poor job of addressing those needs during this past offseason. He’s squandered the assets that he had when he first entered the job and is now stuck with a roster that is poorly designed for 2 young superstars who need spacing and shot creators around them in order to succeed.
Brand was given a monumental task that would have been large to ask of anyone, let alone a first time NBA general manager. However, he has proven that he really doesn’t know what it takes to build a championship team in the modern era. He has been aggressive but in all of the wrong ways.
The Sixers could look into firing Elton Brand and hiring a new voice for the front office. Preferably, they should sign someone who already has years of experience as an NBA executive as well as a winning track record running a front office. Whoever the Sixers hire should also be given the liberty to reshape the front office as they see fit seeing as how there are still people from the Colangelo days who might not be good fits anymore.
Option 2: Fire Brett Brown
Brett Brown has been here since the beginning of “The Process”. While Sam Hinkie might be considered the father of this whole thing, you can think of Brett Brown as the fun uncle. He was hired in 2013 to oversee a massive rebuild. It was one that he knew would be strenuous and difficult when joining the team.
In his first year with the Sixers, they finished 19-63, an abysmal record but one that was expected from a franchise in the early stages of an overhaul. In the following three years, they went 18-64, 10-72, and 28- 54 respectively. During the 2017-18 season, which was arguably Brett Brown’s first year with a proper NBA roster, the Sixers managed to go 52-30, a 24 game improvement from the previous season. In the 2018-19 season, they ended with a 51-31 record and this season are a disappointing 42-28.
Despite making one of the biggest season-to-season improvements that the 76ers franchise has ever experienced, Brown has been slammed with plenty of criticism, especially this year. He runs out with strange rotations, struggles to make in-game adjustments and has very clearly failed to get the most out of Simmons or Embiid.
Brett Brown is a great man who has genuinely cared for his players and this franchise. However, it might be time for the 76ers to make a coaching change. The Sixers must bring in someone who can handle coaching superstar players and who has had a successful history of winning games in this league. They could take their chances on someone new with potential but this team can’t afford to take a swing and miss again.
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