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Elton Brand takes 87ers' GM job a little over a year after retiring with Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. — Less than a year since retiring from 17 seasons in the NBA, Elton Brand has begun a new phase in his basketball career as general manager of the Sixers' G-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

“When I see these young guys move and jump and run, I was like, ‘Man, I did that only 13, 14 months ago?’” Brand said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “It does feel like a long, long time ago.”

Brand, the No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft by the Bulls, played five seasons for the Sixers. He was a starter on the 2012 squad that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals and re-signed in January 2016 to provide veteran leadership. 

He officially stepped away from the game as a player last October and became a player development consultant in December. Brand, 38, began to see the front-office side of the game and was enticed after participating in the pre-draft combine process in May. 

“Being in those high-level meetings with Josh Harris, David Blitzer and Bryan Colangelo really piqued my interest,” Brand said. “I like this, I could really work basketball instead of playing it.”

Brand has sought advice from former players Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Malik Rose, who have transitioned into front-office roles, as well as Sixers special advisor Jerry Colangelo and his former college head coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski. Brand knows he will face challenges he did not encounter in his 1,058 NBA games. 

“It’s a totally different mindset and a totally different type of energy,” he said. “I’m discussing players and trades and the business side of it. I was exhausted yesterday. Basketball is one thing, but it was a different kind of tired. I’m looking forward to growing in that aspect.”

Brand’s familiarity with the Sixers organization will keep the Sevens closely tied to their affiliate. He plans to implement the same offensive and defensive plays as the Sixers. This symmetry will be key as more players will split their time between the NBA and G-League with the debut of two-way contracts. Brand will be tasked with deciding which league benefits the players and teams the most. Additionally, Sixers roster players such as Furkan Korkmaz are expected to be assigned to Delaware for development and reps. 

“It’s going to be high-level talent out there,” he said. 

Brand still will keep a close eye on the Sixers this season. He said he will miss being around the players he has gotten to know since he retired. Brand urged patience given the youth of the team, especially with a pair of rookie ball handlers in Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons. 

He also spent time with Joel Embiid this summer at Basketball Without Borders in South Africa and said the big man was “working his butt off.”

“I definitely feel the hype is justified,” Brand said of the Sixers. “It’s going to be a process that we will trust. But it’s going to get there. We’re going to get there for sure.”

Brand will be with the Sixers during training camp to evaluate talent and get a look at potential players. The Sevens will begin their season on Nov. 3. He is eager to prove himself in a front-office role.

"I don’t want a job because of my name," Brand said. "I want a job because of what I can bring to the table and potential. That’s why I really wanted to do it."