Sixers' newfound success means draft lottery now less important

Sixers' newfound success means draft lottery now less important

It’s that time of year again.

When Sixers fans start getting excited at the sight of ping-pong balls and warming up their vocal chords for endless chants of “trust the process.”

The NBA’s draft lottery is set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Chicago. The event has become a spectacle for Sixers supporters in recent years with each occasion representing a chance to land the next blue-chip prospect to push the rebuild forward.

Until now.

Sure, fans will still be excited for the lottery as the Sixers have an 86.98 percent chance of the Lakers’ pick conveying to them at No. 10 and even a 1.1 percent chance of snagging the top selection for a third straight year (see story).

However, the lottery outcome is no longer the franchise’s main source to obtain more firepower.

“With respect to adding — I’m going to say talent, not free agent — because talent comes in many forms,” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said last week. “Talent comes in a possible trade, possible free agency. Both options loom with cap space and flexibility. If the right deal comes along, we’ll certainly pursue it. We will explore any and all options to add that talent.” 

Did you catch that? In Colangelo’s first answer during his end-of-season press conference, he mentioned different ways to add talent to the Sixers’ roster but not once did he discuss the draft.

A minor oversight? It’s possible. But it’s more likely he no longer sees that as a way to put the team over the top.

The Sixers took a major leap in 2017-18 and have now proven to be serious contenders in the Eastern Conference. How exactly are they going to get past the current dangers they face in the East and any other forces that may crop up down the line?  

The plan could involve taking another prospect and working him into the team’s blossoming young core. But that player likely isn’t going to push the Sixers into the NBA Finals, so the more realistic options involve hitting the free-agent market or using those first-rounder(s) as a potential bargaining chip in a trade.

“I don’t want to talk specifically about this year’s draft, but we do have a likelihood of picking somewhere between 10 and 11 with that Laker pick,” Colangelo said. “There’s less than a 2.0 percent chance, maybe a 1.2 percent chance that we move up to No. 1. There’s a combined, roughly, 2.5, 3.0 percent chance that we lose the pick at [Nos.] 2 or 3. But it’s very likely or probable that we select somewhere at the 10, 11 mark. And then we have the 26th pick in the draft. So we’re really looking at all facets of the draft. 

“We talk about the things that we would like to do with our roster internally. We look at some of the players that are available that could address that. And then with the 26th pick, it starts to get into do we have the roster spots to give up to select two players that will be on this team next year? We could consider doing something with a stash in terms of the second pick. Or utilize the assets to combine them to move up in a scenario or utilize in a trade to acquire a player. All kinds of things could evolve between now and draft day.” 

So bust out your Sixers jerseys and reminisce about how the team walked away on recent lottery nights with the picks that ended up being Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. Just don’t expect the same euphoria when the organization’s draft slots are announced this time around.

Sixers hire Elton Brand as general manager

Sixers hire Elton Brand as general manager

The Sixers have found their man.

The Sixers have hired Elton Brand as their general manager, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the news, Brand will be elevated from his previous role as vice president of basketball operations. Brand was also already on board as the Delaware Blue Coats’ general manager.

The Sixers conducted an exhaustive search for a new GM after Bryan Colangelo resigned in June following his highly-publicized Twitter scandal. Brett Brown filled the role until the franchise made Brand the choice.

The search included external candidates such as Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris, Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas.

The team also heavily considered in-house candidates assistant GM Ned Cohen, senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley and senior vice president of analytics and strategy Alex Rucker.

In the end, the Sixers went with a familiar face who is expected to operate in their desired collaborative method to run the front office.

“What I've learned is that GM job has got many facets and that it's a learned skill,” Sixers managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN last month. “It's certainly got a public-facing nature to it, but management and very strong relationships are important — and very few people who are not sitting GMs have all of those components. We have strengths in all those areas around our front office right now.”

Players on the Sixers’ roster seemed to think the organization made the right call.

Brand’s NBA career spanned 17 seasons that included two stints with the Sixers (2008-12, 2015-16). He garnered plenty of accolades over the years from Co-Rookie of the Year to being a two-time All-Star.

However, in recent years Brand shifted focus from the hardwood to the boardroom. After being named a player development consultant for the Sixers in 2016, the 39-year-old quickly worked his way up the ranks to become the team’s top executive.

“Really working in Chicago, working pre-draft, going to Utah, Vegas with the summer league team, being in those high-level meetings with Josh Harris, Dave Blitzer and Bryan Colangelo really piqued my interest,” Brand said in 2017 when he was named Blue Coats GM of turning his attention to a front-office role. “I like this. I can really work basketball instead of playing it. That’s how it started. 

“ … The appeal was to get the repetitions in, transactions, and management, and day-to-day operations, trades. Just calling the shots, getting an opportunity to call the shots. People were like, ‘Oh, your name can get you the opportunity to call shots.’ I don’t want a job because of my name. I want a job because of what I can bring to the table and potential. That’s why I really want to do it.”

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Brett Brown expects Sixers will have a GM by start of season

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Brett Brown expects Sixers will have a GM by start of season

Soon enough, the Sixers will have their next general manger.

Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown told reporters on Tuesday he expects the team will have a GM before the season starts. The Sixers kick off their 2018-19 campaign on Oct. 16 against the Celtics.

Brown has been serving as interim GM since Bryan Colangelo's chaotic departure on June 7, navigating the Sixers through the draft and free agency with the help of assistant GM Ned Cohen, senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversely and the rest of the front office. 

The team has reportedly interviewed internal candidates Cohen, Eversley, vice president of basketball operations Elton Brand and senior vice president of analytics and research Alex Rucker. Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas both reportedly had second interviews with the team.

Brown told reporters that he'll have a big role in choosing the next GM. While he's embraced the difficult dual responsibilities of interim GM and head coach, being able to focus on coaching his team would be beneficial heading into the season.

The Sixers begin training camp with media day on Friday. Their first preseason game is Sep. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center against Melbourne United.

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