The Sixers are expected to be one of, if not the worst team in the NBA next season, and a quick look up and down the roster tells us that’s not exactly a stretch.
The veterans that remain aren’t guys you can count on for consistent output at either end of the floor, and the rest are rookies or other young players that are continuing to develop. Put together, it’s one of the least talented collection of players the league has seen in recent seasons.
New Sixers head coach Brett Brown was introduced to the media on Wednesday, and he knows all of this as well as anyone. That’s why there was no way he was going to leave the comfort of a tenured position with the San Antonio Spurs — one of the league’s best-run franchises — to take on a project of this magnitude without a guarantee he’d have enough time to turn things around.
“I was not going to take the job without the four years [guaranteed],” Brown said about his contract. “And I am extremely grateful to the owners where they took a step back, and I think it’s a tremendous reflection of what they truly think, too. It’s going to take time. They really do have a tolerance. There is a patience. And as much as it was security for myself, I felt like they made a statement to the marketplace that they’re for real. They really do see this being a long haul-type of position. But it was vital to my decision and I’m thrilled that they allowed me to have that duration.”
Low expectations are understandable in Philadelphia, especially in this first season under Brown. But the challenges ahead are monumental, and whether or not he makes it the full four years has as much to do with the performance of the front office as it does with how he manages during his first couple of years as an NBA head coach.
It’s extremely difficult to build a winning culture and one of “doing things the right way” almost completely from scratch, especially when the losses are piling up and the young players are feeling frustrated at the lack of tangible results.
It’s tough to keep the locker room engaged in those situations, and that will be Brown’s biggest challenge as he undertakes this project — getting his team’s consistent buy-in to what he’s teaching, while keeping the players focused on the bigger picture.