Brett Brown is simply the not the Sixers biggest problem.
The Sixers were obviously unsuccessful during their first two games against the Boston Celtics, and the cries for Brett Brown to be fired reached an all-time high following the back-to-back losses. He was criticized for the starting lineups he picked, the offense he ran, the lack of touches that Joel Embiid received, and for the overall defensive scheme that he employed.
This is nothing new, Sixers fans have wanted Brown gone pretty much since the day he got out-dueled by Brad Stevens back in 2017. While firing him after this season is likely the obvious play for Philly’s “front office”, the Sixers need to be extremely cautious moving forward with this mindset that Brown is their only problem.
Personally, I believe Brett Brown is a pretty above average coach in the NBA. He’s repeatedly been handed horrifically built rosters, has dealt with nonstop injuries to his two best players, and his general manager has been shuffled around like a deck of playing cards almost routinely over the last few years. Despite all that, his team has found its way into the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
Starting at the top
The endless stream of problems that plague the Sixers run far deeper than just their head coach, in fact, it’s a full-blown disease that’s managed to infect the entire organization.
For starters, Josh Harris is a truly atrocious owner.
He barely seems to care about the sport of basketball, has routinely raised season ticket prices for no reason other than to make more money, he tried to fire arena employees during a pandemic, he bent over backward to Adam Silver during the Sam Hinkie-firing saga, and he’s constantly meddling in other sports franchises with his Harris-Blitzer monopoly partnership.
I could keep going, but the list of flat out awful decisions that Harris has made as the owner would take an entirely separate article to break down. When it comes to any sort of company/business/franchise, dysfunction starts from the neck down, and Harris is the perfect example of someone whose own personal failures have bled all the way down into actual employee performance.
Front office by committee?
You’ve probably never even heard their names before, but Alex Rucker and Ned Cohen are two of the most responsible men in the organization when it comes to diagnosing failure. Handpicked by the infamous Bryan Colangelo himself, both have continuously flexed their deranged control over the team over the last few years.
Despite having one of the most asset-loaded teams in the league at the time, the primary reason the Sixers were unable to land a more experienced general manager back in 2018 was due to Rucker and Cohen’s relationship with the ownership.
Neither party wanted to give up control, instead preferring to prop up a “collective front office”, where no-one could be blamed and everyone could take credit for decisions. It was an awful idea from day one, and one that Harris never should have signed off on, to begin with. Both Cohen and Rucker are essentially Colangelo (a man who literally got fired for having a burner Twitter account) clones, and neither has a proven track record of success.
This led to a widely inexperienced GM in Elton Brand being hired, which has obviously not worked out in the slightest. Whether it was Brand, Cohen, Rucker, or even Harris himself calling the shots when it came to free agency decisions, pretty much all of the team’s moves in the last year have completely flopped.
Brand was an in-house hire who was just two years removed from playing professional basketball at the time and never should have been considered for the job in the first place. The only reason he was hired was due to the fact that the personnel already in place in the front office felt they could “manipulate” him to an extent.
For what it’s worth, they’ve been able to do just that. Brand has been on the receiving end of almost all the blame when it comes to the Tobias Harris and Al Horford contracts, while Cohen, Rucker, and Harris have been able to hide away in the shadows
Brand’s awful decisions
Horford and Harris are two of the most overpaid players in sports history, Josh Richardson has been a questionable fit at best, Mike Scott can’t even see the court anymore, Jimmy Butler looks like a max player down in Miami, and Trey Burke is now thriving in Dallas.
I guess you can blame Brand for all of this if you really want to, but you should probably start first with the guys who signed off on hiring such an inexperienced GM in the first place. Until Harris and his cronies leave the building, we’ll continue to get the same woeful decisions being made time after time.
So what does all this mean?
While I will be the first to acknowledge that Brett Brown’s time as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers needs to come to an end, you are flat out lying to yourself if you think switching head coaches will change anything for this team.
Embiid just hung 30+ on the Celtics last night, and the team still got the breaks blown off them. That’s reflective of a full-blown organizational issue, not just a simple rotation mix-up or a defensive scheme change. This team is terminally ill, and it’s only getting worse.
Josh Harris and co will fire Brett Brown this offseason, and then falsely preach to everyone and anyone that this is the move that will finally push them over the edge towards a championship.
Regardless of who becomes the next Sixers head coach (it could be Phil Jackson for all I care), in a year from now, the team will once again be staring down an early playoff exit, as guys like Horford and Harris eat up 50% of the cap.
After multiple years of self-destruction above them, maybe Embiid and/or Simmons finally requests a trade, and heads start to roll in the Philly front office because of it. Sixers fans will finally get to see first-hand just how dysfunctional things were, and how it was never ever a result of just “bad coaching”.
After catching verbal abuse for years as the front office’s human shield, hopefully, Brett Brown can relax and smile once all the dust clears, as basketball fans everywhere can finally come to the realization that he was never the main villain in this saga.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.