“We Feel that the Collaboration Days Didn’t Work Too Well” – Takeaways from Elton Brand’s Season-Ending Press Conference

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Elton Brand spoke to the media for a good 30 minutes on Tuesday morning, his season-ending press conference after a disappointing campaign that resulted in a first round sweep and Brett Brown’s firing.

The biggest takeaway was that it seems Brand is now the main guy in charge, and that the days of sharing GM duties with other basketball operations members are well in the past. That’s good news for the portion of Sixers fans who feel like the remaining members of Bryan Colangelo’s regime should see their roles marginalized moving forward.

Brand wouldn’t share anything concrete on that front, other than to say he wouldn’t scapegoat Executive VP of Basketball Ops Alex Rucker while conducting a thorough review of the department. He did suggest, however, that the days of collaborating with Rucker and Assistant GM Ned Cohen (among others) are over, as he himself is taking on a more elevated and singular role moving forward.

This quote stood out the most from the availability, when Brand was asked about how much power he’d have during the coaching search, and if CEO Scott O’Neil would be involved:

“To be clear and frank, we feel that the collaboration days didn’t work too well. So I will be leading this search. I’ll make the recommendation to Josh (Harris) of course. We’re getting better and I’ve grown as a leader and general manager. I was put into the fire and had so many tough decisions to be a part of, but now I’m looking forward to putting my stamp on this thing and taking full accountability for what comes next.”

Brand said business operations would not be involved in the coaching search, and isn’t really involved with the basketball side in general.

He was also asked about his GM acumen and his ability to lead the team:

“I’d say it grew. I was a rookie thrust into a position to lead a team with championship aspirations, that the fanbase sacrificed and struggled for for some years. My understanding of the game grew, how to manage and how to lead. I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot, but now I do know a lot more. I’ve been through every situation there is. I’m looking forward to leading this offseason and getting us back on the right path.”

Twice Brand mentioned getting more “basketball minds” in the front office, which seems to be a suggestion that there needs to be more of a reliance on non-data, a more linear approach. Or, perhaps he’s just saying that they feel good about that area and don’t need to address it.

This was his answer when asked straight up about his own performance and the “scope of the reorganization” –

“As I’ve been taking a deep dive on where we failed, what went wrong, and how we get better. I felt like we need to strengthen our organization from top to bottom, and that starts with the front office. Balancing our strengths with analytics and strategy with more basketball minds and whatever happens. My goal is making sure we’re in position to truly contend. Not just lip service, to truly contend. Whatever role I have to take, whatever’s going to happen, is going to be with the focus of getting this team over the hump. I’m not sure exactly what changes are going to be made, but I’m assessing it and looking at it and I’ll make the right recommendations to have this team in a position to win.”

Here’s what else Elton said, in bullets format:

  • He’s looking for a coach who can maximize the talent here. Being “heavy handed” might be the case, as the Sixers try to fix this “accountability” issue you’ve been hearing about.
  • He thinks Ben Simmons had a great season and pointed out his defensive performance this year.
  • Tobias Harris he thinks had a good regular season but we all know he had a poor playoff series.
  • He is not looking to trade Simmons and/or Joel Embiid. “I see them here for a long, long time.” 
  • Brand says Embiid is growing as a player and person and that there were behind the scenes things people didn’t see. He thinks Bruce Bowen doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He also wasn’t a fan of him speaking about a private meeting on ESPN.
  • They’ll be prepared for the cap situation next season, which is a little unclear from a league perspective right now.
  • Josh Richardson had an exit interview in which he said he respects Brett Brown. “He didn’t want it to be that sort of slight that got as much attention as it did.”
  • When asked if the multi-year Process was a failure, Brand said yes.
  • No conversations with ownership about a new title, like ‘President of Basketball Operations.’
  • There’s no timeline for the hiring of a new coach.
  • Brand says it would help to have the coach in place before the draft, he doesn’t want to rush the decision and get it wrong.

Have a great day.

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