CAMDEN, N.J. — It's been a whirlwind 48 hours for the Sixers.
After getting bounced in Game 7 in the second round on a Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater Sunday night, the team returned to their practice facility in Camden for exit interviews.
On Tuesday, managing partner Josh Harris and GM Elton Brand addressed Brett Brown's future, the health of Joel Embiid and much more.
Here are four takeaways from today's availability:
Brett Brown's future
Reports surfaced before Game 7 that Brown may have been coaching for his job. Late Monday, the team confirmed that Brown would return for his seventh season.
"I think a lot's been made about this in the press and truthfully you can't believe what you're reading or what you're hearing," Harris said. "Brett's job was never in jeopardy. We were very focused on the playoffs and yeah, we declined to get into a lot of questions that people were asking us, but I have great relationship with Brett. He's been our coach for six years. I've talked with him constantly through the playoffs, including last night in terms of planning for the future. We have been and continue to be excited that Brett is leading us."
The timing of it all was certainly odd.
It's fair to wonder why the team didn't address the rumors sooner, putting to bed any notion that Brown's job may have been in jeopardy. Harris mentioned that the team was focused on the playoffs as a reason for not addressing the situation.
When pressed if Brown had known his job was safe, Harris didn't give a definitive answer at first, just saying that he "had a lot of conversations with Brett that put us into a good place." In the middle of answering another question, Harris had a more straight answer.
"Just going back to [that question], Brett knew through the Toronto series that his job was not in jeopardy. Let's be really direct about it."
When asked about why his players felt the need to come out and defend their coach on Monday, Harris doubled down on the notion that the report was false.
"Brett knew he was not coaching for his job through the Toronto series and otherwise. You can ask him," Harris said. "I think obviously there was a lot of noise in the press, probably kicked up by our competitors, who knows? I think we made an appropriate decision not to respond to all the rumors and innuendo, all the incorrect facts that were out there.
"We always respect the opinions of our players. It's good to hear that they were on board for it. It was an emotional moment and so I'm glad they came out in support of our coach. It's great."
When asked for an evaluation of Brown, Harris gave him an "A."
Joel Embiid's health is paramount to everything the Sixers do going forward. He is their best player and his impact was made even clearer in the Toronto series — especially when he wasn't on the floor.
Whether it was the tendinitis in his left knee or illnesses that plagued him, the Sixers didn't get the best of Embiid in the postseason. Load management will be a priority for Embiid next season.
"He's one of the top players in the world so it's a unique situation where he didn't play early on in his career so when he had a chance to play and he was healthy he was like 'I'm out there,'" Brand said. "Now, he sees what other players have done, he spoke to other players, he saw how he felt in the playoffs, which is the most important time, and he doesn't want to go there [like that] again. So absolutely we're going to monitor minutes, we're going to monitor workload and he's on board for all of that."
Much has been made about Embiid's diet and the plan going forward. Brand claimed he had not heard the infamous story about his Chick-Fil-A orders, but said there is a nutrition plan in place.
"I didn't see the four chicken sandwich story," Brand said. "Four chicken sandwiches…yeah, I guess that's a lot. I haven't heard that story, but I know he's focused on his body. He's very intelligent. He eats salmon, he eats vegetables — when he's locked in, he's locked in. He knows he can do it and he knows what he has to do. An actual target weight, we'll decide that together and see where he wants to be, where needs to be, not just what's best for next season, but postseason and long term."
No matter what Ben Simmons does, until he develops a jump shot, he's going to be under scrutiny. Brand was peppered with questions about Simmons' shot and his plans to improve.
Simmons has worked with his brother on his jumper and Brand has no issue with it.
"I would never ask him not to work with his brother," Brand said. "What he wants to do personally on his time that's on his time. He's not doing that on our time. He works with our coaches during our time. I have a great relationship with his agent Rich Paul and he also has people that he wants him to work with. We're looking for the best in class for him to work with so we're putting that together."
Pending free agents
Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris were both acquired in trades and both are pending free agents.
Brand said he was pleased with what both players brought. As far as finances, Harris reiterated that ownership is not afraid to go over the luxury tax for the right players.
"That was the goal — to bring in talent, elite talent, All-Star-caliber talent," Brand said. "We tried to accumulate that with the assets that we sent out. Management, Josh and Dave [Blitzer], are committed to giving me the resources to spend if necessary to get to a championship level and win championships."
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