CAMDEN, N.J. — When asked about Brett Brown and the report by Marc Stein of The New York Times that the Sixers’ loss to the Raptors on Sunday night might have put the head coach’s job in jeopardy, Joel Embiid could have offered a few platitudes about Brown being a nice guy who’s done the best job he could.
Embiid did not take that route Monday at exit interviews.
I was off social media. I heard a lot of these rumors and stuff. I just thought it was bulls---. He’s done a fantastic job. He’s been there through everything, and then this year I think he grew even more as a coach. It’s hard when you've got five guys that can score the ball and that can do a lot of things on the basketball court. It’s hard to put it together. At the end of the day, it comes down to the players. I don’t think he should have anything to worry about. He’s an amazing coach, better person. Obviously I’ve got a lot of love for him. If there was someone to blame, put it all on me.
Though JJ Redick said he didn’t feel “it was necessary to defend Brett to anyone,” noting that Brown’s work speaks for itself, he nevertheless praised the job Brown did with the constantly evolving Sixers’ roster.
He also offered a response to anyone who may feel Brown, despite leading the Sixers to consecutive 50-plus win seasons and agonizingly close to their first Eastern Conference Finals in 18 years, doesn’t deserve to hold his role.
“For any NBA team,” Redick said, “when you think about a coach and potentially replacing that coach, you have to consider what coaches are available.”
Redick’s implication seemed to be that there aren’t any superstar coaches on the market for the Sixers to choose from if they were to fire Brown.
Jimmy Butler reportedly “aggressively challenged” Brown about his role in the Sixers’ offense in January. Always frank, Butler isn’t the type of person who hides his true feelings. He reflected Monday on a complicated relationship with Brown, who’s talked often about how he enjoys Butler’s “free spirit” and presence as an “adult in the room.”
“Constantly growing,” Butler said. “Just had a slight [conversation] with him downstairs. I think he realizes how different a human being that I am. How I can be difficult at times, but it’s from the right place. … He’s a great, great dude. He’s always thinking about how he can make everybody great, which is hard to do when you have the roster that you have. I think he’s going to be here for a long time.”
James Ennis, on his sixth NBA team, shared the identical sentiment minutes later.
“Brett Brown’s a great coach,” Ennis said. “He’s a player’s coach — can really communicate with his players and get good knowledge, to learn from them, too. I think he’s going to be here for a long time.”
To Brown’s players, it seems the notion of his job security being a concern is ludicrous, and they’re not shy about expressing that opinion. We’ll see if those in charge of Brown’s fate feel the same way.
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.