Bryan Colangelo

Brett Brown taking an ‘aggressive’ approach as interim GM for Sixers

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Brett Brown taking an ‘aggressive’ approach as interim GM for Sixers

Ever since the Sixers’ season ended with a disappointing Game 5 loss in Boston, Brett Brown has been consistent in his public remarks —he thinks the Sixers need “another high level free agent.”

But, until June 7, Brown was just speaking as head coach of the Sixers. Now, with Brown serving as interim GM as well in the aftermath of the Bryan Colangelo burner Twitter accounts scandal, his comments have heightened relevance. On the Mike Missanelli Show Friday afternoon, Brown reiterated his desire to land a star and explained his approach.

“I think we need more,” Brown said. “I feel what people should most hear is that in the event that we do not get that, we’re going to be very aggressive, and people understand the cap space that we have. In the event that we are not successful this year achieving that, we can reload and do the same thing next year.”

“We are completely exploring aggressively all options, and I think we just know we need a little bit more.”

Brown also shared his impressions of Kawhi Leonard, whom the Sixers are reportedly interested in landing through a trade. Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs (see story).

“He’s a great guy,” Brown said. “I’ve spent years with him, as you know, in San Antonio. I’m reminded of the recruiting process we went through to identify him and the sort of pain we went through to give up George Hill to move up and target him. He’s good people, he’s obviously an elite talent and I enjoyed my time with Kawhi in San Antonio.”

However, Brown was coy when asked if the Sixers would indeed make an offer for Leonard.

“There are a lot of teams that are going to be interested," he said.

Brown touched on several other topics during his interview with Missanelli, ranging from Markelle Fultz’s offseason to who will have the final say on draft night.

On Markelle Fultz possibly playing summer league
“Going through it now, as far as being definitive one way or the other, we’re not in a position to do that … Personally, I hope he plays.”

Brown added that he’s heading out to Los Angeles to visit with Fultz and discuss his offseason plans.

On the report that Colangelo overruled others in the front office with his Fultz selection 
“That is untrue. There was a collaborative decision on Markelle, and we’re still happy that decision was made … Time will tell, but I’ve got belief in Markelle Fultz.”

On whether it’s a priority to bring JJ Redick back
“I love coaching JJ Redick. I really hope I can coach him again. I think the city and certainly his teammates understand what he brings to the table. Everyone gets the benefits that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have when they play with somebody like that. I really hope I can coach him again.”

Brown admitted the Sixers don’t know yet what other teams would offer Redick and how much of a pay cut he’d be willing to take. Redick, who averaged a career-best 17.1 points per game last season, made $23 million in 2017-18. He has said he wants to be back, under the right circumstances (see story).

On who will have the final say in the draft
“I think we’re going to find out. Right now, everybody’s in unison. If something pivots out of it, I’ll sit down with [owner] Josh [Harris], I’ll sit down with [vice president of player personnel] Mark Eversley and a few of the managing partners, and if it comes on me, I assume I’ll have the decision that could be the last one. I don’t believe it’s going to get to that. To date, we’ve been on the same page.”

Not the clearest answer, although that’s the most definitive Brown has been to date in saying he’ll likely have the final say. You’d hope Brown and the Sixers will work out all the logistics and have an efficient process for selecting their picks as well as both making and assessing draft night trade offers.

More on the Sixers

7 things to know about the Sixers a week before 2018 NBA draft

7 things to know about the Sixers a week before 2018 NBA draft

We’re officially seven days out from the 2018 NBA draft.

As things heat up leading to draft night, we look at seven things you need to know regarding the Sixers before the event.

1. So many selections
The Sixers will be pretty busy on draft night. They have six total picks with two in the first round and four second-rounders.

Get up to speed on all of the Sixers’ slots and what teams they will have to jockey with in the lottery.

2. Take your pick
Well, who exactly do the Sixers have their eyes on in the draft? 

They have been rolling prospects into their training complex over the past week. With that said, one familiar face thinks he’s the “perfect fit” for the team. Meanwhile, a pair of lottery locks brought “tremendous spirit” to their workout for the for the organization.

3. The man for the job
In case you’ve been living in outer space for the past few weeks, you know by now that Brett Brown will be the man running the show come draft night after former Sixers president Bryan Colangelo resigned.

If anyone has proven they can adapt under tough circumstances and still represent the franchise in a positive light, it’s Brown.

4. Lending a helping hand
Brown will have plenty of support during the draft, mainly from Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley and vice president of basketball operations and chief of staff Ned Cohen.

But they’ll also have a new face in the building that knows a thing or two about talented players.

5. Keeping their eyes open
The Sixers will be locked in while making their selections, but there will also be plenty of outside attention on their decisions

That will come from the potential candidates to take over the front office.

6. Just an appetizer
While draft night will be big for the Sixers, it’s just setting the scene for a short time later when free agency gets underway. 

Of course, the big fish is LeBron James. Sixers players have started making their pitch and even some other Philadelphia sports stars have joined in on the recruiting act.

Although, not everyone is ready to let James take over their summer.

Still, a trade — perhaps for another one of the game’s best players — might shake everything up just the same.

7. Summer school
Once the draft and free agency dust settles, the only thing left will be for the fresh picks to take the court in Las Vegas.

The Sixers tip off their slate in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League on July 6 against the rival Celtics.

More on the Sixers:

Nobody embodies 'The Process' more than Brett Brown

Nobody embodies 'The Process' more than Brett Brown

It was only five years ago that Brett Brown was giving big minutes to Tony Wroten and Hollis Thompson. 

Just two years ago, he was coming off an embarrassing 10-win season.

Now, he’s not only the head coach of a 52-win team with a bright future, but he’s running the basketball operations during arguably the biggest offseason in franchise history.

With the Bryan Colangelo burner account saga mercifully ending, the Sixers are left with a ton of work to do. The draft is less than two weeks away and free agency looms right behind it. There’s been damage done to the team’s image both with players already in the locker room and players considering the Sixers in free agency.

Brown is the perfect man to repair that image, because nobody embodies “The Process” more than the Sixers head coach.

Brown’s own path as a player and a coach was a “process” of its own. 

Brown guided Boston University to an NCAA Tournament appearance – the school’s first since 1959 – back in 1983. He then took a circuitous path to the NBA as a coach in the NBL in Australia which eventually led him to the Spurs.

Brown spent over a decade as an assistant for Gregg Popovich. Then in 2013, Brown was handpicked by then-GM Sam Hinkie. Why did Hinkie choose Brown? Player development. That had been Brown’s post with the Spurs. He aided in developing guys like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, George Hill, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard, to name a few. 

After winning multiple championships on the sideline with the Spurs, Brown was asked to lead a tanking team. Sure, he was given millions of dollars to do so, but as a person with pride, it can’t be easy to accept a position where you know you’re going to lose … a lot. 

But that wasn’t even the worst of it. He had three different lottery picks not play in their draft year, a drama-filled logjam at center and, just when you thought the worst was over, 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz had the most bizarre injury situation possibly of all. 

He’s also dealt with the departure of two GMs under the most unceremonious of circumstances. 

And in all those situations, Brown was left out to dry. Neither Hinkie nor Colangelo nor the team’s ownership ever took bullets for Brown. Instead, it was the head coach that was left to deal with a media firing squad. To his credit, Brown never complained. He handled it all with class and aplomb. You don’t think his players noticed that? You don’t think the NBA world noticed that?

Fast forwarding to right now, you can see what he’s done with this current crop of players. T.J. McConnell and Robert Covington were castoffs and Brown turned them into legitimate NBA players. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have evolved into much different players than they were during their one-and-done seasons in college.

Ultimately, the team will hire a GM with the proper front office experience. Whether it’s someone like David Griffin, who’s battle tested and has a championship ring, or it’s Mike Zarren, an extremely bright assistant GM who’s helped Danny Ainge build a force up in Boston, Brown will not hold this job forever. Once the GM is in place and the roster is built, it will be up to Brown to guide this team to a Larry O’Brien Trophy. 

Here’s what separates Brown and makes him such an asset for the Sixers: You can’t be good at developing the talent of players if you can’t develop relationships with them. Wins and losses do matter to Brown, but above all, he’s a teacher. He builds rapport with his students. He wants to know what makes them tick and he wants them to understand what makes him tick. 

That’s why he was the perfect man for the job when Hinkie hired him in 2013.

And that’s why he’s the perfect man for the job of making players “Trust the Process” again.