ned cohen

Elton Brand's respected career as a player is what Sixers need right now in a general manager

Elton Brand's respected career as a player is what Sixers need right now in a general manager

Maybe we should have known this was coming from the Sixers.

Sure, they looked into a bevy of candidates for their vacant general manager job after Bryan Colangelo’s Twitter scandal rocked the organization.

There were the reported big-name misses such as Houston general manager Daryl Morey and former Cleveland Cavaliers exec David Griffin. There were also the other capable external candidates that included Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas.

Of course, in-house guys Ned Cohen, Marc Eversley and Alex Rucker were each given a legitimate shot at the job.

However, looking back on things, perhaps Elton Brand should have been recognized as the man for the job all along.

Not because of his front-office pedigree. Let’s be honest here, Brand was just in a uniform as recently as the 2015-16 NBA season when he played 17 games during his second stint with the Sixers. 

He followed that up by retiring (for the second time) and joining the franchise as a player development consultant. That lasted just nine months before the 39-year-old was named general manager of the Delaware Blue Coats and another year before he was tabbed as vice president of basketball operations.

While that’s an impressive rise up the ranks, it doesn’t scream out as the extensive résumé of someone prepared to take over the controls of a 52-win team on the cusp of being a serious championship contender.

But Brand has one major characteristic that is critical to the Sixers at this moment: respect. After the Colangelo mess unraveled in unprecedented fashion, the Sixers’ current players — and future ones — need someone in a position of power that understands them and that they can trust.

While the present group insisted the words of Colangelo — or his wife — from the multiple burner Twitter accounts didn’t bother them, that was not completely true. No one wants to be talked about, especially when the words come from a person who is supposed to be on your side.

“It was hurtful because of the stuff that was said in those tweets,” Joel Embiid admitted during an interview with ESPN before last month’s NBA Africa Game. “But at the end of the day, I know who I am as a person, as a player. And I know a lot of people, they're always telling me I'm great but I have a lot of stuff to work on. And actually, I appreciated everything that was said about me because if it was true — even if it wasn't — that stays in my mind. And it makes me want to get better. The stuff where they were saying I wasn't happy, that makes me want to work harder on my body. Or if they're saying that I couldn't do anything, it makes me want to work harder and get better. So, actually, I love it. I appreciated it. It was great. It was great for my game.”

What's even better for Embiid's game? Having a general manager in place that knows the game himself and holds such high regard around the league that other teams/players will at least listen to his sales pitch. That's what comes with being a veteran of 17 NBA seasons and one of the classiest individuals you will ever meet.

Now we're not saying Brand's promotion will turn the Sixers into the league's top destination for free agents or that he's going to suddenly start fleecing teams in trades. Not at all. He's going to have his work cut out for him as a novice in a cutthroat business.

The thing is, he's always been willing to put in the work. Brand's career on the court should tell you that, and now he's bringing that same determination to his new role. With plenty of help, of course.

“More generally, my focus is NBA prep and travel and working,” Brand said of his mindset in June. “We’re doing it collectively and supporting Coach (Brett) Brown and Marc Eversley and Alex and Ned with all the things we’re doing there. That’s actually my main focus. The G League has been on the back burner because of that.”

Now it’s his sole focus. That’s an entirely different kind of Philly max.

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Report: Sixers to have second interviews with general manager candidates Justin Zanik, Gersson Rosas

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Report: Sixers to have second interviews with general manager candidates Justin Zanik, Gersson Rosas

The Sixers appear to be getting serious about the search for the team’s next general manager.

The Sixers will meet with candidates Justin Zanik and Gersson Rosas for a second time, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey. Zanik and Rosas both met with the Sixers a couple weeks ago along with Warriors assistant GM Larry Harris (Harris does not have a second interview scheduled, per Pompey).

Zanik, a former player agent, is the current assistant general manager for the Utah Jazz. It’s his second stint with the team. He spent 2016-17 with the Bucks in the same role. He was considered the GM-in-waiting in Milwaukee, but the job ultimately went to Jon Horst. It wasn’t a pleasant situation, prompting a return to Utah for Zanik. 

Rosas is the right-hand man for previous Sixers’ GM target Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets. Like Zanik, Rosas has had two stints with his current organization and was the victim of an odd falling out with a different organization. After nine seasons in Houston, Rosas was named the GM of the Dallas Mavericks. Just three months into his job, Rosas resigned, not feeling comfortable with his role. Much like another former Rockets’ front office member, Rosas is forward thinking and strongly embraces the use of analytics.

The team also reportedly interviewed a few in-house candidates last week. The Sixers interviewed assistant GM Ned Cohen, senior VP of player personnel Marc Eversley, VP of basketball operations Elton Brand, and senior VP of analytics and strategy Alex Rucker.

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Report: Sixers to interview 4 internal candidates for GM position next week

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Report: Sixers to interview 4 internal candidates for GM position next week

You can add four more names to the list of reported candidates for the Sixers' general manager position.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday that the team plans to interview internal candidates Elton Brand, Ned Cohen, Marc Eversley and Alex Rucker next week.

The team is reportedly interviewing external candidates Larry Harris, Justin Zanik and Gersson Rosas this week (see story).

It's certainly not shocking that the team would interview Brand, Cohen, Eversley and Rucker after the four received promotions at the end of August. Managing partner Josh Harris has talked about how the team wants someone who will fit their "consensus-oriented" culture, which might make an internal candidate appealing.

All four executives were hired by former GM Bryan Colangelo.

Brand, the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NBA draft, joined the Sixers in Dec. 2016 as a player development consultant at the conclusion of his 17-year playing career. He took over as GM of the team's G-League affiliate (then the 87ers, now the Blue Coats) in Aug. 2017. 

After 12 years working in the NBA league office, Cohen, now the team's assistant GM, was hired by Colangelo in May 2016.

Eversley, the team's senior VP of player personnel, worked for the Wizards and Raptors prior to the Sixers. He was responsible for leading the Sixers' predraft process of evaluating and working out prospects over the last two years.

Rucker has headed the Sixers' analytics team after moving from Toronto in October 2016. 

"We have a skilled and stable staff who share the same vision under Brett," Harris told ESPN on Aug. 27. "We prefer to find someone, but we don't want to feel forced into compromising."

It would appear Cohen is the internal candidate who may be most attractive to the team, given his new assistant GM title and established connections with the league office and front office executives around the NBA.

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