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After reshaping his roster with a series of moves this week, most notably landing forward Tobias Harris in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand declared Friday morning that Philadelphia's time to win is now. "We believe we are in position to contend now," Brand said, "and our moves reflect that belief."
But Brand said that while the youth of Simmons and Embiid might signal this team having a long window to let things play out slowly, the fact both of them are this good, this quick led him and the rest of Philadelphia's front office to decide the time to strike was now. "They rapidly improved over the last season, so the window is now," Brand said. "The opportunity is now. So, once I saw that, we discussed taking a shot at it now, because who knows how long that window is going to be open?"
For first-year Sixers general manager Elton Brand, it is the second significant deal of the season -- bringing Harris and Butler into the Sixers lineup. Along with Butler, Harris will be a free agent this summer and the Sixers plan to be aggressive in re-signing him to an extension, league sources said.
If Philadelphia feels the same way, it would stand to reason the 76ers would be more reticent to use either Fultz or draft picks to try to bolster that group, perhaps choosing to wait and see what happens over the next few months before committing to Butler, Embiid and Simmons as the team's long-term core. "I don't believe there is any uncertainty," Brown said. "I think, at times, you are trying to move some pieces around. If that equals uncertainty, so be it. But I think there's enough certainty to understand that we want to be as aggressive as we can. "Elton will be as aggressive as he can be in the next week to bolster our team. And I think that that is, as I've just said, that doesn't equate to, 'We don't really know what we have.' That's not it."
Falk lists Brand, Michael Jordan, John Lucas, Phil Ford, Patrick Ewing and Juwan Howard among the clients with whom he gravitated the most in more than four decades in the business. One became an owner, four have gone into coaching and now Brand is the executive. “He’s a natural for it,” Falk said. “He’s got great people skills. People like him. It wasn’t that I always thought he’d be a GM but he’s a really smart guy. He doesn’t want to do nothing, doesn’t want to be bored. … I think he’ll be really good at it, as long as they let him do the job.”
Brown was handed a dual role in the interim but had no desire in holding both roles on a permanent basis. “I don’t believe that they work. You just realize the responsibility that that role has and the dynamics that an organization needs to have in roles and responsibilities and focus areas and there is just too much on the plate to do it well. And that’s just for me. You recognize that from the get-go,” Brown said, without acknowledging recent situations for Budenholzer, Stan Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau that didn’t work out. “I don’t even reference other examples. I just know, for me. I came from Pop and R.C. and so, that’s a successful example. Although there are other examples that might not have worked, it had nothing to do either with the successful ones with Pop or even the ones that we know didn’t work recently. It had nothing to do with that.
The Philadelphia 76ers announced January 8th the hiring of Annelie Schmittel. In her new role as 76ers Vice President of Player Development, Schmittel will be responsible for creating, managing and overseeing the holistic development and implementation of programs that support the professional and personal growth of 76ers players, staff and families.
“We learned a lot from our series against the Celtics, and we felt we needed Jimmy,” Josh Harris told The Athletic. “Since last summer, we’ve felt we needed a third elite talent. You don’t get a chance to get this talent every day. Jimmy wants to win, and Joel and Ben want to win. That’s the bottom line." "When you can add a talented four-time All-Star, you got to do it and then worry about everything else afterward,” Brand told The Athletic. “We already lost to Milwaukee, we already lost to Boston, we already lost to Toronto — we needed to take a shot, take a leap. That was my thought, my vision. Me and my staff, we talked to ownership and they had our backs. You get the talent first. Talent wins. “When I talked to Nazr and Mike, they genuinely love Jimmy and say, ‘He just wants to win, EB. This is all about hoop.’ Of course, the money, whatever, it will work out when it’s time. We hope he sees a fit, and we hope we see a fit.”
Once the Wolves finally came to the conclusion that a deal had to be made, owner Glen Taylor spoke personally with Sixers owner Josh Harris to push it through, sources said. The Wolves were in a difficult position from a bargaining perspective given all of the negativity, and losing, that had enveloped the franchise. The Wolves were eyeing three offers from different teams, but made the decision on Saturday to go forward with Philly’s package, sources said.
This summer Brown oversaw basketball operations while ownership went in search of Colangelo's replacement. The Sixers had initially gone big-game hunting, and a number of veteran general managers had reached out through intermediaries to inquire about what was now the most coveted executive opening in the NBA. Discussions with Rockets GM Daryl Morey were "pretty far down the road," according to a source close to the process, but Morey elected to remain in Houston.
Several league insiders interpreted Brand's hire as a statement of control by the Sixers' ownership group, as was Brand's title of "general manager." (Colangelo served as president of basketball operations.) The thinking goes that should they have second thoughts, the owners can return to the big-game hunt and install someone at the top of the org chart above Brand.
Whenever the Bryan Colangelo/burner-accounts situation was unfolding over the summer, what was it like to be a player in the middle of that and what were your thoughts as things were surfacing? Robert Covington: It was a lot… But, I mean, you never really know the truth behind everything and you never know exactly what happened. I think you have to take everything with a grain of salt. You never know what the truth was behind it. But, as a player, you can’t allow yourself to get caught up in it too much because then it may start to affect your play and all that. We really just had to focus on what we had going on at that time. Then, during the offseason, that’s when everything played out [and Colangelo resigned]. Sometimes, you just have to move on. It’s sad that it happened to us, considering how everything was going [in the right direction]. But things happen.
Shams Charania: Sources on @theathleticnba @watchstadium: The Philadelphia 76ers are promoting exec Matt Lilly to interim GM of G League Delaware. Lilly worked under 76ers GM Elton Brand in Delaware last season.
"Brand lacks a little experience, but I really like the hire," a source familiar with the Sixers organization said. "He knows the game, works hard, gets along with people, and is a basketball guy. Those are all positives. He listens to people and heeds their advice. Can he make his own decisions and keep ownership out of decisions is a question to be determined."
Pressed on who would ultimately have final say in the organization, Josh Harris gave a rather roundabout answer that both did and did not answer the question: "Elton and Brett are partners, like in many, many great organizations in basketball, him and Brett are partners. Both of them report to me and to ownership, and we expect they'll be collaborating a lot. Ultimately, Brett is the on the court voice, and Elton's the off-the-court voice. Elton will have kind of the loudest voice off the court, and final decisionmaking authority subject to ownership...minute-to-minute coach sort of decisions will be Brett, and personnel decisions, trades, free agency will be Elton."
In fact, Harris' primary rebuttal to questions about Brand's lack of experience was to point to what he did as a player and not anything specific he'd done to date as a Sixers staffer: "Elton has 17 years experience as a player, and you can't discount that in terms of understanding how this league works and how to get to the next level. And in his two years of management experience, we've been incredibly impressed, and then during the interview process, his vision and ability to lead was evident. But also, just the broad support he had internally, across the board, and so it became a relatively easy decision for us, he rose."
Prior to this new promotion, Brand was expected to dedicate time to the big league club and be part of the parent club's ultimate decision-making process, a source told PhillyVoice in late August. The Sixers, as they did when he was brought back as a player in the dog days of "The Process", expected him to serve in some capacity as a "big brother" to their players. But the meatier part of his August promotion was gaining input on front-office decisions for the 76ers.
The Philadelphia 76ers hired Elton Brand as general manager on Tuesday, completing a meteoric rise in the franchise's front office, league sources told ESPN. Brand made a strong impression on ownership and coach Brett Brown in the interview process, beating out several more experienced candidates inside and outside the Sixers organization, sources said. Ultimately, ownership believed that he had sold them on vision, preparedness and the ability to grow into the role at a crucial time for the organization.
The Sixers had become enamored with the idea of keeping the chemistry of this front-office group together, and probed outside candidates about how they thought that dynamic would work with a new leader. The Sixers won 52 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals a year ago, returning a core that includes All-Star Joel Embiid and rookie of the year Ben Simmons. The Sixers are determined to use max salary space for a star complement to those young players next summer in free agency.
Derek Bodner: One of my major takeaways from today's luncheon with Brett Brown was he wouldn't deny whether he might have final say in partnership with the new GM. He did say the org chart would be explained when the GM is announced. Will be interesting how they describe partnership on Thurs.
Kyle Neubeck: Can confirm @Adrian Wojnarowski's report that Elton Brand has been promoted to GM of the Sixers. Side commentary: Brand had already received the biggest bump in power earlier this summer, so org. clearly really likes him. Little surprised at how quickly he has risen, though.
Andre Iguodala: Yeah EB!!!
Brian Seltzer: Brown wants to keep coaching, GM duties separate, because thinking of how to play in June dominates his world. "To think I have the bandwith to do the job I'd want to do is naive on my part."
Jon Johnson: Sixers promotions
Keith Pompey: The #Sixers interviewed former #Cavs GM David Griffin for the vacant GM job this summer, but felt he wasn’t a good fit for their front-office structure, according to an #NBA source. They want to make collaborative decisions instead of a GM who will have the final say.
The 76ers reportedly tried to hire Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and looked into pursuing Spurs general manager R.C. Buford. Why didn’t Philadelphia lure either big-name executive to replace Bryan Colangelo? Keith Pompey of The Inquirer explained on the “Yahoo Sports NBA: Chris Mannix” podcast.
Keith Pompey: "Yes, they want a name general manager. But they’re also looking for someone who doesn’t have the final say, so to speak. They want to do it all like a group decision. There’s a guy in the ownership group. His name is David Heller. He’s one of these guys from New York. When Sam Hinkie was the GM, from what you hear, is he was a guy who was basically running the meetings, and he had a heavy hand in the decision making. And at this particular time, he again has a heavy hand in the decision making. And when you look at the fact that they have Joel Embiid, they have Ben Simmons, and they have all these other guys, they feel as if the model that they have works. So why tweak it? Also, it’s one of those things where they’re heavy analytics based. Brett Brown has a say. They trust Brett Brown. So, you feel like, right now, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it."
Keith Pompey: The #Sixers have hired @J_R_Holden as an international scout, according to sources. The Pittsburgh native spent the past 4 seasons as the #Pistons director of international scouting. Holden has a plethora of ties to and knowledge of the European game.
In discussing the situation, Colangelo termed his own tenure in Philadelphia — with which he served as a special adviser — as over, before clarifying that it is “over at the end of the year.” A league source confirmed that account. While Colangelo is under contract through the end of this calendar year, and the 76ers will be honoring that contract, it won’t be renewed. It is an awkward ending to what was one of the stranger stories in recent NBA memory.
Marc Stein: The 76ers had great interest in Morey -- freshly voted as the league's Executive of the Year -- to replace the ousted Bryan Colangelo. But Morey couldn't be lured away from the Rockets, with whom he has spent the last 12 seasons.
The 76ers’ search for a president of basketball operations/general manager could drag on. “I think it’s going to take a while to find the right person,” Sixers co-managing partner Josh Harris said Monday at the NBA Summer League. “I hate to keep talking about it, but we really need to find the right person who can develop the special culture. It’s very consensus-oriented.”
The holdup in filling his job could be finding someone willing to give up total power in making decisions. The Sixers prefer someone with GM experience. And they would like to keep the front-office personnel intact. Multiple sources have said that Kiki VanDeWeghe has expressed interest in the job. VanDeWeghe is the NBA’s executive vice president for basketball operations. He has had GM stints with the Nets and the Nuggets.
Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was once mentioned as the leading candidate for the job. Spurs general manager R.C. Buford has been mentioned as a possible target, according to sources. However, the Sixers would have a tough time prying him away from San Antonio.
Marc Eversley, vice president of player personnel, is regarded as the best candidate for the GM job. Co-owner David B. Heller could continue to have a huge say regardless of who the Sixers hire. “I don’t think we need an overhaul,” Brown said of the front office. “We’re in deep on this. We have ways we do business. So somewhere out there, we’ll find the balance of those things that I said, and I’m sure that I’ll have a voice in the selection of the next general manager.”
But coach Brett Brown, the team’s interim GM, said he doesn’t think they will have to look far for a new GM. “There’s so much in place that is good here,” Brown said of the Sixers’ front office.
Brett Brown, interim 76ers general manager, apparently doesn’t believe in hitting singles. He’s all about swinging for the fences. Brown isn’t hoping to add a role player to help the team he coaches — he’s looking for a difference-maker to get the Sixers from 52 wins a year ago to a championship contender. He made that clear Thursday night during and after the NBA Draft, and again during Friday’s news conference introducing first-round picks Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet. “The whole notion of star hunting, star chasing, star development is at the forefront of everything we do,” Brown said. “I would just like to go there to admit it to all of us. The timeline is now.”
It might be more likely they end up with none of them, but Brown sees no reason to try to make a minor move at this point. “I’m here to win a championship,” Brown said Friday. “We are star hunting ... (and) you need assets to trade for a star. That unprotected pick is gold.”
The 76ers will focus on the start of free agency before turning their attention to finding a general manager. But coach Brett Brown, the team’s interim GM, said he doesn’t think they will have to look far for a new GM. “There’s so much in place that is good here,” Brown said of the Sixers’ front office.
Brown has said he doesn’t want the GM job, too, preferring to go back to focusing solely on coaching. Of the current front office executives, Marc Eversley, vice president of player personnel, is regarded as the best candidate for the GM job. Co-owner David B. Heller could continue to have a huge say regardless of who the Sixers hire.
Officially, Colangelo resigned, though sources told Yahoo Sports that Colangelo, 53, fought to keep his job the last few days as the law firm the Sixers engaged wound down its investigation. Its conclusions: Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, established and operated the accounts — which Bottini confirmed. And while it couldn’t determine if Colangelo was aware of them, there was “substantial evidence that Mr. Colangelo was the source of sensitive, non-public, club-related information contained in certain posts to the Twitter accounts,” and it believes Colangelo was “careless and in some instances reckless in failing to properly safeguard” the information, the firm said in a statement.
But even with the Sixers coming off their best regular season in almost two decades, the views expressed in the Twitter accounts that Colangelo’s wife admitted to being behind would’ve made it tough for the team to maintain its upward trajectory. Colangelo contended in his statement that, “The content she shared was filled with inaccuracies and conjecture which in no way represent my own views or opinions.” An alleged failed physical by Jahlil Okafor is one of the inaccuracies, according to multiple league sources. But whether the tweets were truths, half-truths, or falsehoods, Colangelo’s relationship with the players was irreconcilable as a result, according to multiple league sources.
David Aldridge: Sixers Coach Brett Brown, named to temporarily oversee basketball ops after Bryan Colangelo’s replacement, says he has no interest in assuming traditional GM role, citing other people already in the front office: "we have the firepower to move this forward and not miss a beat."
David Aldridge: Josh Harris doesn't give a definitive answer about Chairman of BaskOps Jerry Colangelo’s future, (under contact through the end of 2018): "we’re going to be talking about it. But that’s not today’s issue…my respect for him is certainly not colored by this unfortunate situation."
Tom Moore: Bryan Colangelo statement vs #Sixers: While I am grateful that the independent investigation conducted by the 76ers has confirmed that I had no knowledge of or involvement in the Twitter activity conducted by my wife, I vigorously dispute the allegation that my conduct was in any way reckless. At no point did I ever purposefully or directly share any sensitive, non-public, club-related information with her. Her actions were a seriously misguided effort to publicly defend and support me, and while I recognize how inappropriate these actions were, she acted independently and witho. my knowledge or consent. Further, the content she shared was filled with inaccuracies and conjecture which in no way represent my own views or opinions. While this was obviously a mistake, we are a family and we will work through this together.
Bryan Colangelo: Although I am not directly responsible for the actions, I regret this incident occurred and understand that it has become a distraction for the team. Therefore, the organization and I have mutually agreed to part ways. Over the last two years, I have worked hard to help build a foundation for what I hope will soon be many championship seasons for the 76ers. I am grateful to team owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer for the opportunity they gave me to be part of such a great organization. I am saddened to have to leave under these circumstances. Basketball has been a core part of my life since childhood. I love the game and all those who play and coach it. I want to thank the many colleagues, players and friends from around the League and elsewhere who have expressed their support and encouragement during this difficult and painful time for me and my family.
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August 9, 2022 | 6:25 pm EDT Update
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the meeting took place this past Saturday, and Kevin Durant indicated that he could stay with Brooklyn if general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash were no longer there. Understandably, peers of Marks and Nash were not happy. “I get that players have more power these days, but I think it’s a little too far if he’s out here trying to get Steve fired,” said one coach, who was quickly reminded of Magic Johnson’s fingerprints on Paul Westhead’s firing back in November of 1981 and other power plays, some of which may well have been justified.
The head of basketball ops from another club was similarly displeased. “Livid,” he said. “Livid. He and Kyrie (Irving) basically told Sean they were coming (as free agents in 2019), and Sean did pretty much everything they wanted after that. Signing DeAndre Jordan for four years? That’s something Kyrie and KD wanted. Getting James Harden? Then getting a guy who should be a perfect complement to them (Ben Simmons) when Harden wanted out? Sean did all that.”
However, when asked if he would welcome Durant to his own club should he be attainable at a fair price, the exec paused and laughed. “Well … ” he said. “OK, you got me there. But, see, that’s the part of this that will always be hard for some people to grasp. I’m talking about the fans who just see the players as employees. These guys are not interchangeable parts. You can’t just plug in someone else to do what KD does.”