According to general manager Elton Brand, he’ll be heading the Sixers’ search for a new head coach to replace Brett Brown.
In response to a question about whether CEO Scott O’Neil would be involved in the search, Brown opined that the Sixers’ “consensus-oriented” front-office approach has been ineffective.
“To be clear and frank, we feel that the collaboration days didn’t work too well, so I will be leading the search,” he said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “I will make the recommendation to (managing partner Josh Harris) and (co-managing partner David Blitzer), of course, but we’re getting better.
"And I’ve grown as a leader, I’ve grown as a general manager. I was put under fire, I had so many great, tough decisions to be a part of. But now, I’m looking forward to putting my stamp on this thing and take full accountability for whatever happens next.”
Brown handled the GM job on an interim basis after the Bryan Colangelo “Burnergate” scandal, then passed the torch to Brand. A two-time All-Star and a player under Brown at the tail end of his NBA career, Brand had no executive experience besides serving as GM of the Sixers’ G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. Brand acknowledged Tuesday that he had limited knowledge to equip him for the position. The Sixers have made a slew of franchise-altering moves during his tenure, including trading for Jimmy Butler, acquiring Tobias Harris and then giving him a five-year, $180 million contract, and signing Al Horford to a four-year deal with $97 million guaranteed.
“I’d say it grew,” he said of his power within the organization. “I was a rookie thrust into the position to lead a team with championship aspirations that the fan base sacrificed and struggled for some years. My understanding of the game grew, and how to manage and how to lead. I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot, but now, I do know a lot more. I’ve been through almost every situation there is, so I’m looking forward to leading this offseason and figuring out how to get us back on the right path.”
Executive VP of basketball operations Alex Rucker and assistant GM Ned Cohen have been two key figures during Brand’s time as GM. Both were hired by Colangelo, as was Marc Eversley, who left the Sixers to accept the Bulls’ GM job in May.
While Brand said, “Change can and will be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary,” he didn’t yet have a firm answer to a specific question about whether Rucker would be returning.
“I’m doing a thorough assessment of our front office,” he said. “I don’t want to pinpoint Alex as a scapegoat or anything like that. Our group has to get stronger, we know that. So I’m taking time to assess where we are and how we get better. We failed and we’re not happy about it. We’re actually pissed about it.”
He twice mentioned the possibility of supplementing the Sixers’ analytical staff with “more basketball minds” and appears open to a variety of options. Brand, it seems, has been given the chance to stay within the organization and play a prominent role in rectifying mistakes.
Why does he think he’s been entrusted with that opportunity?
“I think my unique insight into relationships with the players, what the needs are, what the organization needs and how I’ve grown over the years,” he said. “I will be one of the people. We’re trying to bolster our talent in the front office, we’re going to bolster our talent with coaching and we’re just going to get all around better.
“So I think the unique situation I’ve been put in over these last few years positions me to lead this and be a part of this going forward.”