As part of our 51 Questions NBA season preview series, we tackled the question “Which coach is likely the first to get fired?”
Philadelphia’s Brett Brown’s name was at the top of the list (Dan Feldman and Dan Carbaugh picked him, where I mentioned him as a likely choice). He checks key boxes for a coach on the hot seat: The team will continue to lose a lot of games this season, and the current GM didn’t hire him.
Brown, however, doesn’t feel that heat.
“All my conversations with our owners and Jerry Colangelo and Bryan Colangelo, we’re all on the same page trying to do the same thing,” Brown told NBC Sports in an interview on Wednesday. “My contract was extended last year, where I have now three years left on my contract.
“I’m proud to coach this team, and I feel very strong and confident with the relationships, and the direction that I’m being given by the people that pay me. And I feel so aligned with Jerry and Bryan and what we’re trying to achieve. There is a vision we have in place.”
Brown did get that contract extension from ownership just before the Colangelos were handed power and Sam Hinkie pushed out the door — and if ownership likes something it stays. The extension gave Brown a sense of security, and it’s one he has earned — Brown has not been perfect as coach, but with the rosters he’s been given the last three seasons no coach was going to produce wins. Talent wins out in the NBA and what talent the Sixers have has either been injured or is just raw and needs to develop. A lot.
Has the shift in power to the Colangelos changed what Brown is doing things with the team? Do the goals change?
“They really haven’t,” Brown said. “I feel the partnership I have with our owners — with David Blitzer and Josh Harris — has been very transparent and clean from day one. We’ve sat and talked a lot about the direction we want to grow our program. You know, in many ways I feel like the steward of their business, the gatekeeper of our culture, how do we see the world? What are we trying to achieve?
“I think Bryan Colangelo has come in and has been tremendously helpful to me with many different things. We spitball ideas. We talk all the time about what’s the next step. But the basic core beliefs of what we’re trying to do with the growth of the program, how we want to get things done, and how we want to grow this at a very responsible rate, and what the end game needs to be, those core values have not changed.
“It’s a challenge no doubt, and the city of Philadelphia deserves a lot of credit, they have allowed us to move at the pace we are moving, and trying to form something that can be annually successful.”
This season should see more wins in Philly — rookies Joel Embiid and Dario Saric add to the talent pool (as does Ben Simmons whenever he returns from a foot injury), plus some stabilizing veterans were added to the roster. But don’t confuse this with a lot of wins, the Sixers are still going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, one loaded with draft picks next June. It’s still a process of trying to establish a culture and develop young talent, then see how all the pieces fit together. That takes time (plus guys being healthy, something that hasn’t happened through the preseason).
Brown expects to be there for all of it, and beyond as this team starts to turn the corner in future years.
(Note, you can hear all of Brown’s thoughts on his job security, plus building a team culture, Embiid, Saric, and more in a PBT Podcast to drop later on Thursday.)