Well, apparently the rumors were “bulls---.”
Brett Brown will return for his seventh season as the Sixers’ head coach, a team source confirmed Monday night to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the news.
Brown met with GM Elton Brand and managing partner Josh Harris on Monday night “to discuss offseason priorities, including draft and free agency,” per Wojnarowski. The trio will address the media Tuesday morning starting at 9 a.m.
Reports surfaced before Game 7 that Brown’s job may be in trouble if the Sixers were unable to reach the Finals. After losing to the Raptors in Game 7 Sunday night, the Sixers failed to make the Eastern Conference Finals, a round they haven’t reached since 2001.
Brown’s players staunchly defended their coach during exit interviews Monday (see story). If ownership had any intention of letting Brown go, perhaps the strong words of one of its franchise players changed its mind.
“I was off social media. I heard a lot of these rumors and stuff. I just thought it was bulls---,” Joel Embiid said at the team’s practice facility Monday. “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.”
After serving as an assistant for the Spurs under Gregg Popovich, Brown was originally hired by then-GM Sam Hinkie in 2013. Brown compiled a 47-199 record in his first three seasons while the team continued to pile up assets. Hinkie was forced to resign in 2016 and Bryan Colangelo took over.
After the organization had built optimism with a finally healthy Embiid and Ben Simmons coming into the fold, Colangelo signed Brown to an extension through the 2021-22 season. When Colangelo was forced to resign because of the Collargate scandal, Brown briefly held the post of president of basketball operations on an interim basis.
Brand was then hired on Sept. 18, 2018, and made two franchise-altering trades for pending free agents Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Lofty expectations were placed on the Sixers, but they again failed to make it out of the second round.
With Embiid’s constant health issues, Simmons still figuring things out at just 22 and a razor thin bench, pitting it all on Brown didn’t seem fair — not that fair always enters the equation in times like this.
Suffice it to say, Brown has been through a lot and all he's done is lead the organization to back-to-back 50-win seasons for the first time since 1986. He’s been the lone stabilizing force in an organization that’s been shrouded in turmoil. His connection with his players speaks volumes.
“My relationship with Brett Brown is he coached my dad, I've known him since I was born,” Simmons said. “Have a great relationship off the court. On the court, he's helped me get to a place in my game where I'm feeling comfortable and got a lot of confidence at the point guard position. Most coaches probably wouldn't have [made me a point guard], so he gave me an opportunity that was rare. I'm grateful for that and I try to just take the opportunity and make the most of it. I got a lot of love for Coach Brown.”
When the two franchise cornerstones have your back, you’re in pretty good shape.
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