The Philadelphia 76ers made a shocking move on Tuesday, promoting Elton Brand to be the franchise's newest general manager after a lengthy search.
Bryan Colangelo resigned from the 76ers back on June 7, and there felt like there was little progress made on the GM-search front as September wore on. But Brand, who was the No. 1 pick by Chicago in the 1999 NBA Draft, is an internal hire that is both inspiring and scary when you consider his lack of experience in the front office.
He spent 17 NBA seasons playing for the Bulls, Clippers, Hawks and 76ers. And after his playing career ended he dabbled in front office work, joining Philadelphia's staff as a consultant, and then later on as the GM of their G League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.
Brand's hire could have far-reaching implications. If the Sixers unique front-office structure works out, other franchises will take notice. Brand will be the GM, but head coach Brett Brown—who acted as the head decision-maker in personnel matters during the GM search—will still have a powerful voice, and is more likely to work with, rather than for Brand. And there is nothing wrong with that, but is interesting in the fact that usually we see GMs overrule their coaches on divisive personnel matters, whereas in Philly, big decisions will definitely have a more open-eneded approach when trying to come to a conclusion.
And the biggest ripple-effect of all comes from the fact that Brand is a (quite recent) former player.
If his initial run as the Sixers GM goes well, it will surely inspire more NBA franchises to take a serious look at former players as front-office candidates. Notably, former players like Shareef Abdur Rahim and Allan Houston have looked for prominent roles in an NBA front office with varying degrees of success, working for the NBA and Knicks front-offices respectively. But Brand's quick ascencsion to GM in Philadelphia could serve as a blueprint for future teams, epspecially those that want to empower their head coach even more, without bestowing upon them the dreaded—at least from a fan perspctive—head coach/President of Basketball Operations role.
The Brand-Brown partnership will allow Brown to focus more on day-to-day team management and less on big-picture team building. And in turn, it will allow Brand to sharpen up his skills as a front-office exec with a team already made to compete, while providing Brown with another voice to rely on about coaching decisions. It is the exact type chance that the Sixers that have become known for taking over the years, the high-risk hiring that could usher in an era of stability or further expose franchise fragility.