76ers

Brett Brown embracing a difficult job as Sixers' interim GM

Brett Brown embracing a difficult job as Sixers' interim GM

Heading into the NBA draft, there was some uncertainty about how the Sixers would make decisions. Nobody seemed willing to say whether interim GM Brett Brown would have the final say, or whether it would be a truly collaborative process.

Thursday night, Brown confirmed he’s the man in charge.

“I was the one that approved the final decision,” Brown said after the Sixers’ first-round trade for Zhaire Smith and a 2021 unprotected first-round pick. “We have many people in that room that are aggressively speaking to people. We have information, we put it on a board and we discuss it. At the end of the day, (managing partner) Josh (Harris) looked at me and I did what I did. I approved the deal.”

Brown made sure to credit the people around him who made a difficult job easier. As Brown put it, “This has been a really different June” for him. There’s no way he could have expected he’d be pulling the trigger on draft night when the season ended, but he’s taken leadership of another team, this one in the front office.

“There is an incredible amount of teamwork that is required in that room,” Brown said. “You’re on the clock. I thought (vice president of basketball operations and chief of staff) Ned Cohen did a fantastic job helping organize this. The analytics side with Alex Rucker and Sergi Oliva, those guys were awesome. And then I think (vice president of basketball operations) Marc Eversley, delivering the group, you know, ‘These are the players with our scouts,’ it was a very collaborative process. It was a systematic process where you felt like you were a part of a team.”

Separating the head coaching part of his job from the GM duties he’s been thrown into hasn’t been painless for Brown. He acknowledged he felt the “human side” of trading away a high-character local kid whose mom works for the organization in Mikal Bridges (see story).

“The torment of trying to do my job in the very limited role I have for a moment as the general manager versus the role that I have as the head coach of this program, it’s a toggle,” Brown said. “And this is where we arrived.”

It’s obviously not a job Brown wants to do long term. At some point, he’ll be able to return his full focus to coaching. For now, though, he says he’s enjoying his new role. He’s always loved preaching about his program and cultivating a positive culture. Persistently optimistic, Brown looks at the aftermath of the Bryan Colangelo saga as an opportunity to fully embrace those passions.

“I said right when I accepted the responsibility that I have no intent of doing this,” Brown said. “I’m a basketball coach. When this came up, I felt a responsibility to do the best that I could under the circumstances to help move us forward. ... Down deep, I love it, because you just bleed for the program. You’ll do whatever you can to bring a championship to this city. That’s the bottom line. As we corral the analytics people, the scouts, my coaching staff and the people that work in the building and try to hold us together and move us forward and show daylight, that’s my job.”

There’s still no official timeline from the Sixers on when Brown’s tenure as interim GM will end. But free agency starts on July 1, and Brown is ready to recruit. He also sounded prepared to go all-out in pursuit of possible trades for stars (see story), including a hypothetical example that seemed to very closely resemble Kawhi Leonard, who wants out of San Antonio and has expressed his desire to return to his hometown of Los Angeles.

“When you talk about what are you going to do to show the program the way we want it to be seen, sometimes it’s in-house, sometimes you have to travel,” Brown said. “Whether we have to go mobile and, as an example, go to Los Angeles and deal with a family, an agent, the player. Whether we can attract him to come here to the city of Philadelphia.

“The whole strategy of how we do that, the presentation of information, we’ve been talking about that for a while. I feel completely that we will not miss a beat now that the draft is done, that we can focus in when free agency kicks in on July 1.”

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Sixers vs. Knicks: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Knicks: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers (8-5) return to the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday to take on the Knicks (4-10) after a disappointing road trip.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

Home cooking

Yes, the Sixers starting 8-5 is disappointing, and with the amount of talent they have, they should be better.

But they’ve had a brutal schedule to start the season. Not necessarily in the teams they’ve played, but with the amount they’ve had to travel. If it feels like you’ve barely seen the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center, it’s because that’s the case. Just four of their first 13 games have been at home.

Wednesday’s game is the start of 14 of their next 20 at home. Thought it’s been only four games, the Sixers currently have the best defensive rating in the NBA at home. They still have other things to figure out, but this stretch should help. 

At full strength

If the starting five is able to finish the game Wednesday, it will mark just the fifth time they’ve played together for an entire contest this season. It’s a small sample size, but the Sixers’ starting unit has the fifth-best net rating in the NBA among five-man lineups that have played at least 70 minutes together. 

The players are far from a perfect fit together. The biggest issue seems to be Al Horford’s fit. He’s playing next to a center in Joel Embiid that the offense runs around. He’s also playing with the most untraditional point guard in NBA history in Ben Simmons. With his experience and willingness to fit any role, Horford still has plenty of time to figure it out.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing over the past two games has been the performance of the team’s other two starters — Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. They’ve both shot the ball significantly better and more importantly are both looking more comfortable finding their spots on the floor. The pick-and-roll or two-man game with Embiid seems to have helped both players — when Embiid has rolled to the basket hard.

Bold strategy

It was an odd strategy when the Knicks decided to sign ALL the power forwards this offseason. Fourteen games in, the strategy isn’t any less head-scratching. Philly native Marcus Morris has played well, but New York is 4-10 and looking like they’ll be watching ping pong ball this summer.

They do have young pieces that are intriguing. Though Knicks fans clamored for Zion Williamson, his Duke teammate, R.J. Barrett, has been excellent in his rookie campaign. The No. 3 overall pick is third on the team in scoring (15.8 points per game) and is shooting a surprising 37 percent from three.

But it seems head coach David Fizdale is more interested in playing the team’s vets than giving time to high flyer Mitchell Robinson and second-year players Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier. To each their own.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Sixers release hype video officially revealing 2019-20 City Edition uniforms

ben_simmons_city_edition_gray.jpg
NBA

Sixers release hype video officially revealing 2019-20 City Edition uniforms

While a sneak peek last night from Sixers president Chris Heck teased the City Edition uniforms, they were officially revealed Wednesday morning with this epic hype video.

It seemed next to impossible to top last year’s design, as the theme was centered around local icon Rocky Balboa. Yes, Rocky is real and an icon but don’t get me started on that right now.

One season later and the Sixers went the historic route again. This time drawing inspiration from the iconic rich history of Philadelphia's culture. You can certainly appreciate the classic design, though they do seem fairly similar to the City Edition uniforms from the 2017-18 season.


Image credit: Twitter, NBA, NBC Sports Philadelphia 

Once it was hinted that the uniform had a copper stripe as an ode to the Liberty Bell, I was thinking of a National Treasure-esque hype video … but this one is equally (who am I kidding, this is definitely way better) than what I could’ve imagined. The artist, Alix Philogene, narrated the video to describe the every day people of Philadelphia and the grind this city has in a tribute called "What is Philly. 

Check it out:

 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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