Elton Brand

Elton Brand Doesn’t Intend To Pursue Hornets’ Job

Sixers general manager Elton Brand had been referred to as one of the early frontrunners to take over the Hornets‘ front office in the wake of Mitch Kupchak‘s reassignment, but he doesn’t intend to pursue that position in Charlotte, a league source tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

According to Pompey, Brand – who is the second in command in Philadelphia’s front office under president Daryl Morey – signed a long-term extension with the 76ers around the holidays and is committed to the team for the foreseeable future.

Brand has been with the Sixers’ front office since 2016, when he was named a player development consultant after his 16-year playing career ended. He was promoted to general manager of Philadelphia’s G League affiliate a year later, then became GM of the NBA club in 2018. Brand headed up the 76ers’ basketball operations department for two years before Morey was hired by the team in 2020.

Even with Brand reportedly removing his name from consideration, the Hornets should have no shortage of targets as they consider replacements for Kupchak.

Veteran executives like Mike Gansey, Trent Redden, Milt Newton, Jeff Peterson, Frank Zanin, Travis Schlenk, Marc Eversley, and Wes Wilcox have all been named as candidates Charlotte might consider, while Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon was identified – along with Brand – as a potential frontrunner.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Langdon, Brand, Heat, Capela, Okongwu

With Mitch Kupchak shifting to an advisory role, the Hornets are seeking a lead executive with previous experience, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Sixers GM Elton Brand are considered the early frontrunners to replace Kupchak, Boone adds.

Charlotte is likely to hire both a president of basketball operations and a GM, according to Boone, who also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates for the lead executive job.

Bulls GM Marc Eversley is another name under consideration, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have won four of their last six games, following a seven-game losing streak. A team meeting in late January helped to turn their fortunes, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Numerous players spoke up, as well as coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Heat swingman Duncan Robinson said of the team’s improved play. “If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time in the NBA, it’s that a big part of playing well is not necessarily about Xs and Os, but putting your own whatever sort of things you’re going through aside and just giving into the team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”
  • The Hawks’ top two centers are banged up heading into the All-Star break, according to a team press release. Clint Capela is showing progress in his rehab from a left adductor strain but he’ll be listed as out for Wednesday’s game at Charlotte. He’s expected to return to practice following the All-Star break. Onyeka Okongwu left Monday’s game against Chicago late in the fourth quarter with a left big toe injury. Okongwu underwent an MRI on Tuesday and has been diagnosed with a left big toe sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.
  • In case you missed it, there’s an update on Miles Bridges‘ latest legal situation.

Mitch Kupchak Moving Into Advisory Role With Hornets

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak will leave his post to become an organizational advisor to the franchise, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The search for a replacement will begin immediately, and new owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin are expected to hire someone before the end of the regular season, Wojnarowski adds. Sources tell ESPN that Kupchak will continue his current duties until his successor is named.

Wojnarowski hears that several current general managers will be among the targets of the search, including the Sixers’ Elton Brand, the Pelicans’ Trajan Langdon, the Cavaliers’ Mike Gansey and the Clippers’ Trent Redden. Sources tell Woj that some assistant GMs will be considered too, such as the Nets’ Jeff Peterson, the Wizards’ Travis Schlenk and the Kings’ Wes Wilcox, all of whom worked for the Hawks when Schnall was a minority owner in Atlanta.

Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates.

Schnall and Plotkin began plotting a new course after purchasing a majority interest in the Hornets in August, Wojnarowski states. They are focused on rebuilding around a young roster as the team parted with veterans such as Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington in recent trades. Plans are also in the works for a $275MM arena renovation and a $60MM practice facility.

Kupchak will leave behind a mixed record during his time with the Hornets, Boone observes. He was able to fix the cap situation and make the team competitive after taking over as general manager in 2018, but his signature move — the signing of Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract in 2020 despite a history of injuries — didn’t pay off as Kupchak had hoped. Hayward was traded this week to Oklahoma City for a modest return.

Drafting LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller may leave the Hornets with a brighter future, but Boone notes that Kupchak had his share of draft misses, including in 2021 when Charlotte selected James Bouknight, Kai Jones and Scottie Lewis, who are no longer with the team.

Sixers Notes: New Additions, Oubre, Trade Targets, Harden

The four players the Sixers acquired in their James Harden trade with the Clippers – Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, and Kenyon Martin Jr. – arrived at the team’s facility on Wednesday but are unlikely to play on Thursday vs. Toronto, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Saturday’s home game against Phoenix is a more realistic target for those newcomers, Mizell adds.

Meanwhile, even though Harden hadn’t played yet this season for the 76ers, the deal removes a starter from the team’s lineup — since arriving in Philadelphia in 2022, P.J. Tucker had started all 89 regular season and playoff games he’d played for the club.

Forward Kelly Oubre will start in Tucker’s place for now, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters on Wednesday, but that may not be a permanent change. As Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports explains (via Twitter), Nurse has said he likes the spark Oubre has provided off the bench, so he may want to return Oubre to that role once Morris, Batum, Covington, and Martin are up to speed, with one of those ex-Clippers moving into the starting five.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype and Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscriber link) each identified some players the Sixers may target on the trade market using their newly acquired draft assets, weighing the likelihood of those players becoming available this season and evaluating whether Philadelphia has the pieces to land them. A pair of Bulls (Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan) and Raptors (Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby) show up on both lists, which also feature a few other names.
  • The draft assets the Sixers are receiving and their ability to move on from the Harden saga have been frequently cited in the last 36 hours as the most important aspects of Philadelphia’s trade with the Clippers. But the deal will also improve the 76ers’ depth, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who notes that Tucker’s role had declined, Filip Petrusev wasn’t ready for rotation minutes as a rookie, and Harden – of course – had yet to actually suit up for a game this season.
  • When Harden showed up for the Sixers’ team flight last Wednesday after the team asked him to stay behind in Philadelphia and he wasn’t permitted to board the plane, it “inflamed the situation” on both sides and represented the “final straw” in the club’s efforts to reincorporate him, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Trade discussions with the Clippers resumed a couple days later and picked up steam after that, per Shelburne.
  • Shelburne’s story on Harden’s final days is chock full of interesting tidbits, including the fact that Harden communicated directly with head coach Nick Nurse, general manager Elton Brand, and owner Josh Harris after making his trade request, but would only communicate with president Daryl Morey through agent Michael Silverman.
  • Shelburne also hears from sources that Harden’s camp became convinced ahead of free agency in June that if he declined his option, Morey and the 76ers only intended to offer him a two-year deal with a second-year team option. The team, wary of gun-jumping after being penalized for it in 2022, insisted it would make a strong offer once free agency opened, but Harden “didn’t buy it,” Shelburne writes.

Clippers Still Won’t Include Terance Mann In James Harden Trade

The Clippers‘ refusal to part with Terance Mann continues to be the main obstacle to a potential trade involving Sixers guard James Harden, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Two people involved in the negotiations tell Amick that the teams talked again on Monday, with Philadelphia offering to give up Harden in exchange for Mann, an unprotected first-round pick, a first-round pick swap and other players to match Harden’s salary. However, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank refused to make Mann available, which has been the team’s position since trade talks began.

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said Frank was being “unserious,” according to Amick’s sources, and sarcastically suggested the Clippers should offer Paul George if they’re so determined to hold onto their lesser assets. Frank quickly dismissed the idea of parting with George.

Amick notes that the exchange leaves negotiations at the same impasse where they began when Harden made his trade demand in late June. The Sixers don’t have any traction on a deal with L.A. or anyone else as the start of the season looms next week.

Harden showed his displeasure with the situation by skipping Wednesday’s practice and has been away from the team since Sunday. A report earlier today said management plans to give him a chance to explain his absence before imposing any fines, which would start at $2,500 for a missed practice and could reach $389K for each missed game.

Harden is communicating with the Sixers through general manager Elton Brand, according to Amick. Harden remains angry at Morey over the way his contract was handled, and it’s not clear what his intentions are regarding the October 26 season opener.

The Sixers believe Harden’s anger should be directed at the Clippers, Amick adds. The position of Philadelphia’s front office is that Harden could have the trade he wants if L.A. would include Mann, and the Sixers would be left with enough assets to pursue a high-level player who could replace Harden and keep the team in title contention.

Sources tell Amick that Philadelphia already has trades lined up that would fetch a first-round pick in exchange for Mann. That pick would be used as part of a package to acquire another star later in the season. The Sixers see that as an equitable outcome considering the otherwise limited return they would be getting in exchange for Harden, according to Amick.

However, Harden believes L.A. has already made a reasonable offer and Morey is “moving the goalposts,” Amick adds. The Clippers have offered two first-round picks, but Morey isn’t satisfied with their quality because they have protections and could eventually turn into second-rounders if they don’t convey by a certain date.

Harden’s absence is the latest step in his desire to create an uncomfortable situation for the Sixers until he’s traded, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN stated in an appearance on NBA Today (video link).

“Somebody close to him told me this is only the beginning of what he plans to do here,” Shelburne said.

Ben Simmons Takes Physical, Meets With Sixers’ Brass

After returning to Philadelphia on Monday, Sixers star Ben Simmons took his required physical and met with the team’s brass on Tuesday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That meeting included president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, who says sources described it only as “brief.”

Both Pompey and Shelburne indicate that Simmons won’t be cleared to participate in any team-related activities until at least Friday, due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. As Brian Windhorst observed during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (video link) on Wednesday, that timeline suggests Simmons may not yet be fully vaccinated, since the league requires fully vaccinated players to register just one negative PCR test in order to interact with other players. Players who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated require at least four negative tests upon reporting to the team, according to ESPN.

We don’t know yet whether Simmons actually intends to return to the court and play for the 76ers following his holdout, but for what it’s worth, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says the 25-year-old’s physical showed no signs that he isn’t healthy. Simmons will be able to begin conducting individual workouts with the assistance of Sixers coaches on Wednesday, Fischer notes.

As we wait to see what the next steps are for the Sixers and Simmons, there’s no indication that the team is anywhere close to making a trade. Both Fischer and Sam Amick of The Athletic have heard that Philadelphia continues to hold out hope that a star like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal will become dissatisfied with his situation and ask for a trade, but that remains a long shot unless the Trail Blazers or Wizards get off to a really disastrous start this season.

According to Amick, Simmons’ camp hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a trade to the Nets, but sources with knowledge of the situation tell The Athletic that the Sixers have exhibited zero interest in pursuing a deal involving Kyrie Irving.

Fischer names the Cavaliers, Pistons, Rockets, Pacers, Timberwolves, Blazers, Kings, Spurs, and Raptors as the nine teams that have remained at least somewhat engaged with Philadelphia, and adds that a “mystery” 10th club has also had “substantive” discussions with the Sixers as of late. Not even Klutch Sports is certain of the identity of that 10th team, per Fischer, who cautions that the mystery suitor still hasn’t come close to meeting Morey’s asking price.

Here’s more on Simmons:

  • Sources tell Fischer that the Sixers have informed potential trade partners whose offers would be heavy on draft picks that their best bet would be a three-team structure in which Philadelphia lands at least one impact player, since Morey and his front office are interested in win-now pieces rather than future assets.
  • Although the Timberwolves still have interest in Simmons following their front office shake-up, new head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta isn’t believed to be pursuing the three-time All-Star as aggressively as Gersson Rosas did, according to Fischer.
  • The Kings remain unwilling to discuss either De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton in a potential Simmons deal, while the Sixers appear unmoved by the idea of acquiring Dejounte Murray and/or Lonnie Walker from the Spurs, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer adds that there’s a belief the Pistons would entertain trading Jerami Grant in a deal for Simmons.
  • Improving the relationship between Simmons and head coach Doc Rivers is believed to be a priority for the Sixers if Simmons is going to stick around for a little while, according to Fischer, who says the two men never seemed to build a strong rapport last season. Sources tell Bleacher Report that during an offseason meeting at agent Rich Paul‘s home, when the Sixers confirmed they intended to fine Simmons for not complying with the terms of his deal, Rivers shouted, “It’s in your f–king contract” to report to training camp and play for the team.

Wolves Part Ways With President Of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas

The Timberwolves are parting ways with president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, sources tell Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the news, issuing the following statement:

“Today, the Minnesota Timberwolves parted ways with President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of.”

Rosas had only run the Timberwolves’ basketball operations department for two years, having been hired by the franchise in May of 2019 after a lengthy stint in the Rockets’ front office. He overhauled the roster after taking the reins — Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie are the only two holdover players from the previous regime.

While he has certainly been active, Rosas hasn’t necessarily taken the Timberwolves any closer to legitimate contention in the last two years. His major moves – including trading up for Jarrett Culver in the 2019 draft and sending Andrew Wiggins and a first-round pick to Golden State for D’Angelo Russell – have been a mixed bag, at best. The club had a record of just 42-94 (.309) during Rosas’ tenure and isn’t viewed by professional oddsmakers as a probable playoff team for 2021/22.

Despite some questionable personnel decisions, the timing of Rosas’ dismissal is still surprising. Typically, a team replacing its head of basketball operations will do so at the end of the season, before the draft and free agency take place. The Wolves are making a change less than a week before training camp begins, after Rosas completed many of the team’s offseason roster moves – including trading for Patrick Beverley and re-signing Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin – in the last few weeks.

A tweet from star big man Karl-Anthony Towns likely summed up what many Wolves fans are feeling. Towns’ message simply reads, “Wtf…”

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Wolves are in the midst of an ownership change, with Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore buying the franchise from longtime owner Glen Taylor. New ownership groups often prefer to make their own front office hires rather than sticking with the incumbent executives.

However, Rodriguez and Lore don’t have majority control of the organization yet, having agreed to a succession plan that won’t see them fully take over until 2023. They’ll have a voice in major decisions over the next two years, but the statement announcing Rosas’ dismissal today was attributed to Taylor.

We should get more details soon on why the Wolves would make such a major change now and what their plan is to replace Rosas. For the time being, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggests (via Twitter) that Sixers GM Elton Brand is a name worth watching, since Rodriguez and Lore are believed to be high on Brand.

Speaking of Philadelphia, we’ll also be keeping a close eye on how this move affects Minnesota’s rumored pursuit in Ben Simmons. The Wolves have been viewed for much of the offseason as one of the teams most interested in Simmons — it’s unclear how Rosas’ departure may impact the club’s level of interest in the 76ers star.

Sixers Officially Hire Daryl Morey As President Of Basketball Operations

The Sixers have made it official, announcing today in a press release that they’ve hired Daryl Morey as their new president of basketball operations. Within the release, the club also confirmed that general manager Elton Brand has signed a multiyear contract extension.

“Daryl Morey is one of the very best front-office executives in the NBA and I’m thrilled to welcome him to Philadelphia as the 76ers President of Basketball Operations,” Sixers owner Josh Harris said in a statement. “Talent like Daryl rarely becomes available so we moved quickly and aggressively to bring him here. He has an extraordinary track record of success in this league as an innovator, visionary and leader, and I believe he significantly improves our chances of delivering a championship caliber team to our fans.

“This offseason, we made it our mission to make this organization better and stronger. By hiring a tremendous front-office leader in Daryl and championship coach in Doc (Rivers), as well as extending Elton, we’re proud of what we’ve assembled. I’m excited for their leadership and look forward to continuing to build a team this city and our fans can be proud of.”

[RELATED: Sixers Hire Doc Rivers As Head Coach]

Reports first indicated last Wednesday that the Sixers and Morey were in advanced talks on a five-year deal that would make him the team’s president of basketball operations. David Aldridge of The Athletic said at the time that the team envisions Morey and Brand as a “1-2 punch” in the front office, though their titles suggest that Morey will be the one with the final say on basketball decisions.

Morey spent 14 years with the Rockets before parting ways with the franchise in October. In Houston, he developed a reputation as a outside-the-box thinker who was creative in navigating the salary cap and building his roster. The veteran executive, who was known for constantly pursuing star players, helped to revolutionize the Rockets as a small-ball team that relied heavily on shooting three-pointers.

At the time of his departure from Houston, reports indicated that Morey may take some time off before seeking a new NBA job, but the Sixers’ aggressive pursuit convinced him to accept a new position almost immediately. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta had predicted that Morey would eventually join an East Coast franchise, but likely didn’t think it would happen so soon.

For the 76ers, it’s the culmination of their long-standing interest in Morey. Philadelphia received permission to talk to the Rockets’ GM two years ago and reportedly made an offer, but he elected to remain in Houston at that time. Now, Morey will be tasked with making the adjustments necessary to turn a roster headed by All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons into a legit championship contender.

The Sixers have indicated both publicly and privately that it has no plans to trade Embiid or Simmons anytime soon, despite the fact that the fit between the two stars has been awkward at times. However, oversized long-term contracts for Tobias Harris and Al Horford will make it a challenge for the club to reshape its roster around its two franchise players.

Morey said in a statement within today’s Sixers press release that he’s looking forward to trying to win a title in Philadelphia.

“I am humbled by the challenge and will work tirelessly to win the hearts of Philadelphia’s legendary fans,” Morey said. “The opportunity to work again with Doc Rivers, Elton Brand, and a stacked roster that is ready to win made this a can’t miss opportunity.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Elton Brand Gets Extension From Sixers

General manager Elton Brand has signed a multiyear contract extension with the Sixerstweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania adds that a five-year deal with Daryl Morey has been finalized, and he will be introduced as the team’s new president of basketball operations on Monday at a news conference.

Brand has been with the Sixers’ front office since 2016, becoming a player development consultant after his 16-year playing career ended. He was named general manager of their G League affiliate a year later and was promoted to his current position in 2018.

Brand may have agreed to the extension before news broke that Morey was joining the organization. A source told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this week that Brand has three years remaining on his contract, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst cited that as a new development (hat tip to RealGM).

“There’s a report out of Philly today, from Keith Pompey, that Elton Brand has three years left on his contract,” Windhorst said Wednesday. “Well, a month ago he had one year left on his contract, so I think there was a possibility Elton Brand got a contract extension that they didn’t announce.”

The organization reportedly views Morey and Brand as a “1-2 punch” as a management team, though Morey will rank higher in the front office hierarchy. Both execs are accustomed to being in charge of personnel decisions, as Morey served as the general manager in Houston for 14 years before leaving the Rockets last month.

Sixers Notes: Front Office, Morey, Hughes, Burke

Now that Daryl Morey is finalizing a five-year deal to lead the Sixers‘ front office as their new president of basketball operations, The Athletic is unpacking what that hire could mean for Philadelphia with several pieces.

John Hollinger of The Athletic praises the Morey hire as being the right move. Though Morey and current GM Elton Brand have been touted as both being in charge of front office decision-making, Hollinger speculates that Morey would not have accepted the gig had he not been guaranteed the last word.

After former Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Sam Hinkie rebuilt Philadelphia from the ground up, Hinkie’s old boss now gets his crack at the team’s talented tandem of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, as Rich Hofmann and Derek Bodner of The Athletic write. Embiid was a Hinkie lottery pick, while Simmons was drafted months after Hinkie’s resignation.

There’s more out of the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer provides further details on the Sixers’ front office shakeup (Twitter link). Brand has three years remaining on his contract and will stick with the team, along with assistant GM Ned Cohen. Current executive VP of basketball operations Alex Rucker will remain with the Sixers as Morey joins the team, after which the Sixers are expected to relieve him of his duties.
  • In other Sixers personnel news, head coach Doc Rivers will keep player-development assistant coach Eric Hughes on his bench, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.
  • New Sixers assistant Dan Burke, who has worked for the Pacers for 23 seasons, was not intending to depart Indiana this summer, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Agness notes that Burke is known for his defensive coaching acumen.