The first item the Sixers chose to address this offseason was not intuitive.
The Sixers hired a new head coach, Doc Rivers, before making any changes to their front office.
Still, they’ve checked off one of many boxes this offseason. NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t expect next season to start until 2021, and the head coach won’t be the only thing different about the Sixers whenever they play their next game.
Here’s an overview of everything that’s to come:
Finishing the front office "assessment"
“We’ve taken a hard look at our shortcomings and recognize that changes in the offseason are necessary to get this team back on track,” general manager Elton Brand said on Aug. 24. “As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s truly necessary.”
We’re waiting to see what exactly those changes look like.
Of note is that Rivers, according to PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck, will not have official front office duties. He’d served as the Clippers’ president of basketball operations from 2013 through 2017.
Brand communicated often with Brett Brown and one imagines that will also be the case with Rivers, even if he's not technically a front office member.
Figuring out Rivers’ staff
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday reported former Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry is a “serious possibility” to join Rivers’ staff. The 65-year-old Gentry was the Clippers’ associate head coach under Rivers for the 2013-14 season and has coached 1,105 NBA regular-season games. Very few assistants are as respected or experienced as Gentry would be.
Ime Udoka, Kevin Young, Joseph Blair and John Bryant were assistants for Brown this past season. Udoka has been linked to multiple head coaching vacancies. He was Brown’s top assistant and essentially the Sixers’ defensive coordinator in 2019-20 after spending seven seasons with Gregg Popovich and the Spurs.
The pre-draft process
Interviews with prospects have begun ahead of the draft, which is now set for Nov. 18. The Sixers hold a league-high five picks (Nos. 21, 34, 36, 49 and 58), so it would make sense to be especially thorough in evaluating this draft class.
TCU wing Desmond Bane, who noted the Sixers are one of the teams most interested in him, said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday that his interview didn’t include Brand and was led by vice president of scouting Vince Rozman.
Marc Eversley, a key pre-draft figure in years past, left his job as the Sixers’ senior VP of player personnel in April to become the Bulls’ GM.
The team also entered with five picks last year and came away with just two players, Matisse Thybulle and Marial Shayok.
Now more than ever, with the Sixers set to be a luxury tax team, one would think there’d be value in adding young, affordable players. Even if only one or two have a chance to crack the rotation immediately, there’s no harm in having promising prospects within the organization.
There’s not a date yet for free agency, and there also isn’t clarity on how revenue losses related to COVID-19 will affect the salary cap.
Before COVID-19 paused the season, Wojnarowski had reported in January that the projected 2020-21 cap was $115 million, with a luxury tax projection of $139 million. The Sixers will have limited options regardless of what the revised cap figures are.
The Sixers will want to rectify the mistakes of last offseason, but they can’t be rash in the process. Brand said he’s not looking to trade Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons and will consult the two All-Stars about team-building.
“I’m going to talk to Jo and Ben about just the game and how they see it and what’s going to help them," Brand said, "and how to complement each other and what will complement them. I’m not going to put the pressure of ‘you wanted this new coach’ or ‘you wanted that player’ on them, but just the overall philosophy, basketball. Where they feel we were weak, where they feel we were strong and ways to get better. Just have some clear and candid conversations with them, absolutely – as I feel I should.”
Which players should the Sixers be open to trading? We went through the entire roster here.