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3 Reasons Brown’s 76ers Tenure Is on the Line

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown has endured constantly changing rosters. Now that he had a roster assembled to fit his vision, he is on the hot seat for the outcome of next season.

Brown Steers Through 76ers Rebuild

When the 76ers began a long journey to disassemble their 2013-14 roster, few coaches had any interest in hiring on.  After all, everyone understood the long arduous rebuild to follow. Not just one year. Nor two years. The plan to restore the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA playoffs aimed at seven years.  That conservatively translated into several head coaches along the way. No one head coach could possess all the abilities needed along the way.

Initially, that coach needed an ability to mentor and develop the onslaught of young players. Then, the coach would need to evolve into a tactician, a firm hand and voice to toughen the team into playoff capable players. Finally, the coach ultimately had to know how to defeat the toughest NBA competition in the league. Those skills seldom occur in one coach. Still, one coach appeared to possess all the traits needed.

Despite a short list, former President and general manager Sam Hinkie focused his search on San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown. Brown possessed championship bloodline, thanks to his tenure with Gregg Popovich. He also had a remarkable reputation as a solid development coach. Finally, he had the right template for a championship team: his famous “Space Pace and Pass” mantra. That was enough to land him the head coaching job for the Sixers during their rebuilding years.

Embiid and Simmons change team trajectory

When center Joel Embiid and point forward Ben Simmons made the starting five lineup, everything changed. The team no longer focused on developing players. Instead, the team began to assemble multiple lineups. Who could compliment the young core of Embiid and Simmons? Who could take on their minutes as they rested on the bench?

The team’s front office personnel leadership changed three times: President Sam Hinkie, President Bryan Colangelo, and finally General Manager Elton Brand. It is Brand’s role to construct the best roster to Brown’s specifications. Still, the one constant amidst these changes is Brett Brown. So what are these three reasons why Brett Brown’s career as the head coach hangs in the balance?

1. Brown finally has a formidable roster for an entire season

Brown never complained about injuries. But for virtually each season, a significant prospect or player has started the season injured. This season, the roster is healthy, and incredibly talented. Elton Brand has focused the roster upon defense, a strong suit for Brown. While the team remains in need of bench scoring, there is no question that defense will be the focus this season.

The team re-signed small forward Tobias Harris, obtained Josh Richardson from the Miami Heat in a trade sending Jimmy Butler their way. Finally, the team signed nemesis Al Horford. Horford performed admirably against Joel Embiid in the playoffs. Now, he is looking forward to teaming up with Embiid this season.

The Sixers will continue to shop for perimeter shooting as the team approaches the regular season. But the team is unmistakably built to defend. If that fails to deliver a deeper playoff run, Brown could be released as the team takes a new direction.

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2. Eastern Conference appears ripe for the taking

The 76ers played to within one miraculous buzzer beater shot from Kawhi Leonard of beating the eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors. Now, former Raptors star Kawhi Leonard has signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Boston Celtics failed to re-sign either Al Horford or Kyrie Irving. And even the Milwaukee Bucks seem beatable.

Conversely, these Philadelphia 76ers have a roster at full health and with a full season ahead of them. After the near miss from a year ago, the bar is raised for this team to play deeper into the post season. Is that a fair expectation?  Perhaps not. After all, the Brooklyn Nets have certainly improved from a year ago. The Indiana Pacers appear to be a contender this season as well. In fact, any expectation of a Philadelphia 76ers team running away with it this season is both naive and premature.

Still, expectations drive disappointments. Should Brown fail to deliver or exceed these expectations, you can bet fans will want a change at the helm.

3. Sixers Nation’s patience has worn thin

Throughout the rebuilding process, ownership and fans exhibited incredible patience. Yes, Sixers owner Josh Harris debunked the rumors that Brett Brown’s job was ever in peril last season.  While that press release intended to thwart speculation, it has simply laid the groundwork for more speculation this season. The conclusion remains that “his job WAS not in danger” means that it likely will be this season.

The Sixers ownership is a consortium of investors, led by managing owner Josh Harris. With a committee of owners, the diversity of personalities makes it difficult for the team to commit long term to a singular direction. It was the structure of this ownership, and its shortcomings, which pushed the panic button on former President Sam Hinkie and opened the door to hiring his replacement, Bryan Colangelo.

Conversely, Sixers’ fans had exhibited remarkable patience prior to the team winning ways. Now that the team is successful, the urge to win “NOW!” is strong and growing stronger each day. That may not be fair to Brown, but it is the cold hard truth. Talk radio in Philadelphia has already introduced the concept.  This season, Brown’s future with the team will be a common topic of discussion.

The outbursts of “Fire Brett Brown” peaked on social media during the 2018-19 season. Impatient fans ignored the unfamiliar roster and blamed Brown for every shortfall of the entire team. This year, that outcry will start whenever the team falls behind the score of each and every game.

Losing Coach Brown could easily prove to be a huge setback for the team hinged on the play of both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Both players knew Brown before the team began competing in the NBA playoffs.  I personally view Brown’s role with this roster as critical for any chance of a championship in the near future.

Ultimately, his future hinges on the outcome of this season, the reaction of the fans, and the response of team ownership.  Brett Brown is a damned good NBA coach. Throw out the record. No other coach could remain positive and upbeat through a 10-72 season up to a miraculous buzzer beater.  Perhaps that is the real reason the Philadelphia 76ers are playing for Brett Brown’s job this season.

He’s literally too good to be true.

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About Bret Stuter

An Alaskan resident with strong ties to east coast sports. While a Philadelphia fan, I appreciate professional sports at virtually any US city.

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