Elton Brand was able to complete arguably the biggest trade in franchise history since Moses Malone.
Not bad for a guy with no prior GM experience that’s been on the job for less than two months. The excitement surrounding the Jimmy Butler trade is palpable. The team has coveted a third star to form a formidable triumvirate with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
So next stop NBA Finals, right?
“I’m taking my time,” Brand said Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. “This is a step toward getting to the Finals, in my opinion. The championship talk is a little premature for me. But this is definitely a step in that direction. There’s still work to do. Maybe not trades or anything like that, but we have an open roster spot and we’re definitely going to be evaluating our team.”
For a fan base that’s been painfully patient, those may be tough words to read, but at least it’s honest. Give Brand credit for being transparent about the team state of his team.
When he was introduced as GM, he acknowledged that he felt this team needed another major piece — whether it was a player on the roster stepping up or an external option. Even before opening night, he again mentioned that the team wasn’t quite where he wanted it to be.
There’s no doubt Butler will make this team better, but on the court, he’s not a perfect fit next to Embiid and Simmons. That’s not to say Brett Brown won’t make all the pieces fit, but it’s going to take time.
What it sounds like is that Brand didn’t necessarily believe Butler to be the perfect piece, but that he knew he needed more. The Sixers swung for the fences on LeBron James this summer and whiffed. It’s hard to say if they were in on Kawhi Leonard, but the reported asking price of Simmons or Embiid is a non-starter.
Sure, this summer’s free-agent class is loaded, but none of the players on the market have a clear path to Philadelphia. Maybe Brand could’ve waited for the Wizards to completely implode to try to snag Bradley Beal.
But when the chance of acquiring a talent like Butler came up, Brand felt like there was no time to waste.
“It’s tough to get these superstar players, All-Star level talent, as we know,” Brand said. “I talked with a GM, he was waiting for a certain player for three years … he didn’t even get a sit-down with him. It’s hard to get free agents in the open market. When you have an opportunity to add a Jimmy Butler, four-time All-Star, one of the best players in the NBA, I feel I had to pounce.”
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.