Brett Brown came to Philadelphia seven years ago as Sam Hinkie’s hand-picked coach to lead “The Process.” While Brown did help develop a culture in those early years, he also didn’t connect with some key players, his game plans often left players scratching their heads, and he did not command the locker room.
That culminated Sunday in the 76ers being swept out of the playoffs by Boston.
Monday, Brett Brown was fired as head coach of the 76ers, the team announced. This had been expected, especially after Game 4 when Josh Richardson said, “I don’t think there was much accountability this season and that was part of the problem.”
“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,” 76ers GM Elton Brand said. “He did many positive things during his time here, developing young talent and helping position our team for three straight postseason appearances”
“I want to thank Brett for not only what he did as our Head Coach, but for the impactful community work he and his family did across the Greater Philadelphia Area over the last seven years,” said Josh Harris, 76ers lead owner, in a statement. “He is a high-character coach and leader and we’re fortunate to have had him here. This is a difficult decision, but one we believe is necessary. I wish Brett and his family well.”
Harris also said the changes might not stop with just the coaching staff, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. It shouldn’t. While Brown may not have put the puzzle pieces together well, he was given an ill-fitting roster by Brand and the front office. Last summer, Brand bet big on old-school size and defense, while the rest of the league was adding more ball handlers and shooting. The result was evident against Boston, a team built for the modern NBA.
Philadephia is not going to trade its All-Stars Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid (at least not in the short term), but the roster around them needs to be much different (and making those changes will not be easy considering the massive contracts given to Tobias Harris and Al Horford last summer).
Several coaches mentioned as early candidates to replace Brown:
• Tyronn Lue. The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach who won a ring there is currently the lead assistant on Doc Rivers’ staff in Los Angeles. He is the biggest name coach available (Jason Kidd has the name but not the coaching resume) and has interest from Brooklyn and New Orleans as well.
• Ime Udoka. A hot name in coaching circles, he is considered by some to be the frontrunner for the Bulls job (New Orleans also is a possibility). He is the 76ers current lead assistant, which gives him familiarity with Brand and ownership, but if the organization wants a clean break he is out.
• Jay Wright. The Villanova head coach is a legend in Philly and more than one NBA team has tried to lure him out of the college ranks. The questions are: Does he want to leave a comfortable college job? If he does he will have his pick of NBA gigs, does he want the Sixers job?
• Dave Joerger. The former Grizzlies and Kings coach is a respected tactician on the court who has had success everywhere he has coached. He also has rubbed multiple front offices the wrong way.