Elton Brand

Eastern Notes: Sixers, Raptors, Bulls, Wizards

In a pivotal offseason for the Sixers, they are reportedly making a change to their front office structure, according to Yaron Weitzman (Twitter link). Weitzman reports that Philadelphia is in the process of interviewing candidates to serve in an executive role under general manager Elton Brand.

As things stand, Alex Rucker is the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Sixers, while Ned Cohen is serving as the team’s assistant general manager. However, reports since August have indicated the team is looking at changing its front office personnel and structure, and Rucker is reportedly not expected back in his current role.

Here’s more from across the Eastern Conference:

  • Blake Murphy and Eric Koreen of The Athletic role-played what a potential contract extension negotiation would look like for Raptors wing OG Anunoby. The 23-year-old could receive a rookie-scale extension this offseason or become a restricted free agent after the 2020/21 season. The two Athletic writers detail various contract scenarios, while also looking at how Anunoby compares to other players who received rookie extensions after their third NBA seasons.
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago discusses Kris Dunn‘s outlook and identifies Wendell Carter as the player who might benefit the most from being coached by Billy Donovan. Johnson also mentions that it is not likely the Bulls keep both Dunn and Shaquille Harrison.
  • The Wizards‘ team website explores Killian Hayes‘s potential fit with Washington. The Wizards own the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which leaves them in the position to take the best player available. This season in Germany, Hayes averaged 12.8 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG in 26.8 MPG. The 19-year-old guard is projected to be drafted in the lottery.

Doc Rivers Considered Taking Break, “Couldn’t Turn Down” Sixers Opportunity

Since beginning his NBA head coaching career in 1999 with the Magic, Doc Rivers has changed teams three times, but he has yet to take a year off, having coached for a total of 21 consecutive seasons in Orlando, Boston, and Los Angeles. Speaking to reporters today after being introduced as the Sixers‘ new head coach, Rivers admitted that he entertained the idea of a vacation after parting ways with the Clippers last week.

I was not just going to coach anybody. I was ready to take a break,” Rivers said, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). “It depended on the team that was available.”

Rivers was intrigued by the opportunity in Philadelphia, and decided to meet with the team after being contacted by general manager Elton Brand. Despite having two years left on his contract with the Clippers, Rivers ultimately wanted to take on the challenge of leading the Sixers rather than taking any time away from the game.

“For me (it) was a job that you just couldn’t turn down,” he said today, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).

Here’s more from Rivers’ introductory presser:

  • Asked today about what role he’ll play in personnel decisions, Rivers said that he and Brand will “work together,” per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That was one of the things that was so exciting about this job, to have this opportunity to work with Elton,” Rivers said. “… I think Elton and I will have a chance to form an amazing partnership together, and we’ll grow from there.”
  • Rivers said he loves the pieces on the Sixers’ roster, referring to as “loaded” and downplaying concerns about positional overlap (Twitter links via Youngmisuk and Derek Bodner of The Athletic). I don’t get lost in what position guys play,” Rivers said. “I look at how many points we score as a team. I don’t care how you score.”
  • Rivers added that the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiidclearly works when they play together,” observing that the club wins 65% of its games when those two stars are active (Twitter links via Youngmisuk and Bodner).
  • According to Rivers, three teams called his agent within five hours of him leaving the Clippers (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Although he didn’t name the other two teams, the belief is that they were the Pelicans and Rockets.

Sixers Rumors: D’Antoni, Brand, Roster, Harden

The Sixers‘ head coaching search is believed to be down to two candidates, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who says that Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue are finalists for the job. Pompey, who previously reported that D’Antoni appeared to be the frontrunner, continues to hear buzz linking the former Rockets coach to the job and suggests that he’s the preferred choice of team ownership.

According to Pompey, some league sources are wondering how much autonomy GM Elton Brand has in the 76ers’ coaching search. Although Brand has taken much of the criticism for questionable roster moves and draft picks during the last couple years, most of those were collaborative decisions, with executive VP of basketball operations Alex Rucker among those who was “heavily involved behind the scenes,” writes Pompey.

There was a belief that the Sixers were moving away from that collaborative approach, with Brand empowered to lead the coaching search and ownership set to simply approve or deny his recommendation, but Pompey’s sources suggest it’s not clear whether that has been the case so far.

Here’s more on the 76ers:

  • Brand met with Sixers ownership on Monday to discuss a new contract and is believed to be seeking a three- or four-year deal, sources tell Pompey. While there has been speculation that Philadelphia might look to hire a president of basketball operations above Brand, the latest intel from Shams Charania this week suggested that the club is only looking to fortify its front office under the GM, with Brand remaining in charge.
  • Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link) is starting to hear buzz that the 76ers are letting teams know they’d be more open to trade talks if they hire D’Antoni, since they recognize their personnel isn’t necessarily conducive to his preferred style of play.
  • John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter link) has heard that one of the reasons the Sixers are interested in D’Antoni is a feeling that he could potentially help lure Rockets star James Harden to Philadelphia. I’d imagine the club views that possibility as more of an added bonus than a key selling point for D’Antoni’s candidacy, but it’s worth noting that Harden can reach free agency as early as 2022.

D’Antoni, Donovan, Lue Believed To Be On Sixers’ Short List

The Sixers, led by general manager Elton Brand, have met with a handful of top candidates for their head coaching job and are expected to bring a short list of candidates to the Philadelphia area within the next 10 days for a second round of interviews, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, Mike D’Antoni, Billy Donovan, and Tyronn Lue are expected to be on the 76ers’ short list and are “strongly vying” for the position.

The Sixers have been linked to several other potential candidates – including Dave Joerger, Darvin Ham, and Mike Brown – as they seek a replacement for Brett Brown. However, Lue was considered an early frontrunner for the position and D’Antoni and Donovan emerged as viable alternatives after they parted ways with their respective teams. It seems increasingly likely that Philadelphia’s next head coach will come from that trio.

Meanwhile, although a recent report suggested that the Sixers may be considering hiring a president of basketball operations to lead their front office, Charania says the organization remains committed to adding talent under Brand to “further strengthen the front office.” Brand, who is leading the head coaching search, continues to be the head of basketball operations in Philadelphia, according to Charania, who adds that the GM is well-respected by agents and executives around the NBA.

Brand: Sixers “Not Looking To Trade” Embiid Or Simmons

Confirming multiple reports that have surfaced since the team was eliminated from the postseason on Sunday, Sixers general manager Elton Brand said today that there are no plans to shake up the roster by moving either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons this offseason.

I’m not looking to trade Ben or Joel,” Brand said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). “I’m looking to complement them better.”

While the 76ers have faced questions about how to maximize the Embiid/Simmons duo on the offensive end of the court, the team sounds committed to giving its next head coach a chance to solve that puzzle. As Brand suggests, finding the right complementary pieces to share the floor with the two All-Stars will be part of the equation too.

In his comments to reporters today, Brand also spoke in general terms about changes that might be coming to Philadelphia’s front office. Following the departure of former head of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo in 2018, the Sixers’ front office took a collaborative approach to decision-making, but Brand said on Tuesday that “we feel the collaboration days didn’t work” (Twitter link via Bontemps).

Brand, who is expected to retain decision-making control in the front office, added that he’ll be leading the coaching search and will present his choice to ownership. He also addressed what sort of executives the club may be looking to add to its basketball operations department, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.

“We’re strong in the strategic and analytic standpoint,” Brand said. “Get some more basketball minds in here. But all options are open.”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Some of the executives and coaches who spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about the Sixers believe that trading either Embiid or Simmons might be the right move for the franchise. One Eastern Conference GM said he’d trade Embiid because it’s easier to build a roster around Simmons, but multiple executives suggested that Simmons’ shooting woes would make him the more logical trade candidate. Of the respondents who made the case for keeping both players, most argued that it would be difficult to get fair value for either one in a trade, Scotto writes.
  • Noting that managing the Sixers’ stars will be the primary challenge facing the team’s new head coach, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic weighs the pros and cons of Tyronn Lue, Jay Wright, Ime Udoka, and Dave Joerger, four candidates who have been linked to the position so far.
  • The timing of the Knicks‘ head coaching search allowed them to secure Tom Thibodeau before other teams got a chance to pursue him, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from a source that the Sixers held some appeal to Thibodeau (Twitter link).

Sixers Fire Head Coach Brett Brown

The Sixers have parted ways with head coach Brett Brown, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The move, which has been confirmed in a press release by the club, had been anticipated in the wake of Philadelphia’s quick, disappointing postseason exit.

According to Wojnarowski, Brown’s ouster is expected to be the first of multiple changes within the organization. The 76ers’ senior leadership will likely explore an upheaval of the front office structure, sources tell ESPN. Amidst those looming changes, general manager Elton Brand is expected to continue overseeing basketball operations, Woj notes.

Brown, 59, was hired as the Sixers’ head coach in 2013 by former head of basketball operations Sam Hinkie. His teams over the next four seasons posted a dismal 75-253 record (.229), but the franchise was focused on gathering assets during those years rather than on-court results. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons establishing themselves as stars, Philadelphia compiled a 146-91 mark (.616) during Brown’s last three seasons.

Brown kept his job even as Hinkie was replaced in the front office by Bryan Colangelo, who was in turn replaced by Brand. However, the team’s underwhelming results in the postseason in recent years and Brown’s inability to fully unlock the potential of the Embiid/Simmons pairing led to the end of his tenure in Philadelphia.

“I have a tremendous level of respect for Brett both personally and professionally and appreciate all he’s done for the 76ers organization and the City of Philadelphia,” Brand said today in a statement. “He did many positive things during his time here, developing young talent and helping position our team for three straight postseason appearances. Unfortunately, we fell well short of our goals this year and I believe it is best to go in a new direction.”

Brown reportedly had his ups and downs in 2018/19 with former Sixers swingman Jimmy Butler. During the ’19/20 season, Al Horford expressed frustration about not having a defined role communicated to him, and some people in the locker room have questioned Brown’s handling of rookie Matisse Thybulle, as we relayed earlier today. Josh Richardson also expressed on Sunday that “more accountability” is necessary within the organization going forward.

There was a sense within the Sixers that, after seven seasons, they had gone as far as they could with Brown, according to Wojnarowski, who reports that the head coach expected to be let go unless the team made a deep playoff run.

For what it’s worth, Brown said after Sunday’s loss that he felt as if he never got to show his full potential as a coach, due in large part to frequent injuries over the years. Both Embiid and Simmons have battled health issues in recent years.

There’s still a “strong desire” to keep those two All-Stars together, according to Woj, who says the Sixers intend to let a new coaching staff attempt to maximize Embiid’s and Simmons’ potential before considering the idea of a trade.

Brown still had two years remaining on his contract with the 76ers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Considered Unlikely To Retain Brett Brown

Following a quick playoff exit, the Sixers are widely expected to part ways with head coach Brett Brown, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Brown, who has two years remaining on his contract, has no “internal momentum” to return for another season; Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote that the anticipation within coaching circles is that the Sixers will part with Brown in the coming days; and Shams Charania of The Athletic cited multiple sources with knowledge of the situation in reporting that the 76ers are expected to make a coaching change.

Sources tell Haynes that Brown “never grabbed full command” of the locker room during his time as the Sixers’ head coach. As Haynes details, Al Horford expressed frustration earlier this season about not having a defined role communicated to him, and some people in the locker room have questioned Brown’s handling of rookie Matisse Thybulle, who has seen his minutes fluctuate drastically at times. Josh Richardson also expressed on Sunday that “more accountability” is necessary going forward, per Sacha Pisani of Sporting News.

“I don’t think there was much accountability this season and I think that was part of our problem,” Richardson said. “… (When) guys are not doing their job on or off the court, there’s got to be some kind of consequence — not consequence, but we’ve got to be able to talk to each other and listen. And not (just) listen to say something back, but actually hear (each other). It’s a hard lesson to learn for some people, but in order for us to make this playoff run that I think we all want, I know we all want, it’s got to start.”

Until the Sixers officially make a decision on Brown, it’s probably too early to identify frontrunners for the job. But Charania hears from sources that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Kings coach Dave Joerger, and Villanova coach Jay Wright are among the names to watch.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • There’s an expectation that the 76ers remain committed to the Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons duo and plan to let the next head coach figure out how to maximize the two stars, according to Shams Charania. Within his preview of Philadelphia’s offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) explains why he thinks it makes sense for the team to keep both Embiid and Simmons.
  • While Brown figures to be dismissed, he’s not the reason the Sixers have come up short in recent postseasons, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, who assigns more of the blame to the team’s front office. Charania suggests that no front office shake-up is imminent though, writing that GM Elton Brand has maintained a healthy relationship with team ownership.
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN passes along some of Brown’s post-game comments from Sunday, while Brian Windhorst of ESPN does the same for Embiid. As Bontemps details, Brown told reporters that he feels as if he never got a chance to show his full potential as a coach due to the injuries that plagued the Sixers over the years.
  • According to Chris Haynes, the 76ers were prepared to offer Jimmy Butler a maximum-salary contract in the summer of 2019 if he agreed not to take any recruiting visits. However, Butler – who was “lukewarm” on the idea of re-signing with Philadelphia – didn’t agree to that condition. Haynes adds that Brown didn’t love how “outspoken” Butler was with his coaching tactics.

Atlantic Notes: Ujiri, Brand, Knicks, Thybulle

After being sued by Oracle Arena security guard Alan Strickland, who claimed he was assaulted at the end of Game 6 of the NBA Finals last June, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has claimed in his legal response that he only shoved Strickland in the chest after being shoved by the security guard multiple times while attempting to get to the court.

Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic has the full story and the details on Ujiri’s response to Strickland’s lawsuit, in which he claimed that the Raptors’ executive “attacked” him and “hit him in the face and chest with both fists.” As Kaplan details, Ujiri also disputed Strickland’s claim that he wasn’t showing the proper credentials when he attempted to reach the court to celebrate his team’s title.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Rumors that the Knicks have interest in Elton Brand are a win-win for the Sixers‘ general manager, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. As Pompey writes, if New York’s interest is legit and Philadelphia pushes to retain its GM, the situation could even result in a raise and/or a contract extension for Brand.
  • In a Q&A with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle discussed his workout regimen during the hiatus, his newfound TikTok stardom, and how he has tried to keep things in perspective as his rookie season has been derailed by COVID-19. “I think we have people who are more essential than basketball players who aren’t able to work right now, and I think at the end of the day getting that stuff is more important than a basketball season,” Thybulle said. “At this point, this is real life. This is not about entertaining. This is not about what’s on TV. It’s about making sure you’re healthy and making sure your family is healthy, and I think that takes precedence over anything else.”
  • In case you missed it, we took a closer look at the Celtics‘ 2020/21 cap situation on Monday in the second installment of our Salary Cap Preview series. The Nets will be up next.

Knicks May Target Elton Brand As GM

7:33pm: The Sixers are happy with Brand’s performance as GM and have no plans to let him go, a team source tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). The source points to Brand’s strong relationships with players, agents and other executives.

6:19pm: Sixers general manager Elton Brand may be a candidate for the same position with the Knicks, a league source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

New president of basketball operations Leon Rose is reportedly very interested in Brand, who remains under contract with Philadelphia. Rose wants to see if Brand would be fired if the Sixers have a disappointing performance in the playoffs, per Bondy.

Rose, who is from the Philadelphia area, formerly served as the agent for Joel Embiid and had a close working relationship with Brand in that capacity.

Scott Perry is the Knicks’ current GM, but his future with the organization is shaky. Perry and the team both have opt-outs for his contract after the season.

Sources tell Bondy that Rose also has interest in hiring Cavaliers capologist Brock Aller for a spot in the front office. Rose reportedly received permission from the Cavs to interview Aller before league went on hiatus.

Sixers Reverse Course On Reducing Employees’ Salaries

Sixers ownership has reversed course on a plan to reduce certain employees’ salaries, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Full-time 76ers employees who earn at least $50K annually were informed on Monday that their salaries would be temporarily reduced by up to 20% as the NBA remains on hiatus, as Marc Stein of The New York Times details. Those employees were told that the new measures would apply to pay checks from April 15 through June 30, with health benefits and 401(k) plans unaffected, says Stein.

Sixers majority owner Josh Harris, whose Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment also owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, confirmed those plans in a statement today, but indicated they won’t be moving forward.

“Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation. As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season,” Harris said. “After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries.”

The measures, which have now been nixed, wouldn’t have affected any players. They also wouldn’t have applied to employees on contracts, including members of the coaching staff or certain front office executives, Stein notes. Only “at-will” employees would have been required to accept the salary reductions, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

However, according to Stein, some additional members of the organization had been asked to participate in the rollbacks as well — Sixers GM Elton Brand was among those who had agreed to take a temporary pay cut. Wojnarowski tweets that coaches and executives whose salaries couldn’t be unilaterally cut were initially given until Thursday to agree to a salary reduction of 20%. Per Woj, many were reluctant to give back that money, particularly since their employment situations beyond this summer are uncertain.

As Wojnarowski tweets, other team owners were keeping an eye on the situation in Philadelphia. Those owners were weighing their own desire to save money against the potential PR backlash that such a move would generate. Presumably, based on the negative PR the 76ers faced and the quick reversal that followed, no other teams will immediately enact similar plans.

Sixers part-owner Michael Rubin actually contributed to that PR backlash that helped push the club to change its plans — Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) reports that Rubin wasn’t believed to be part of the decision to reduce employees’ salaries and was said to be “upset” and “outraged” by it.

Meanwhile, before the 76ers’ change of heart, star center Joel Embiid announced that he’s pledging $500K to COVID-19 medical relief efforts in the community and that he was committed to helping Sixers employees who would suffer financial hardship in light of the team’s salary reductions (Twitter link via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN). With the Sixers no longer planning to reduce employees’ salary, Embiid’s financial commitment beyond that $500K for coronavirus purposes no longer appears necessary.