Joel Embiid

76ers general manager Elton Brand
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Report: Knicks interested in hiring 76ers’ Elton Brand as GM

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The 76ers’ eventful offseason has fallen flat so far.

Al Horford (four years, $109 million with $97 million guaranteed) has generally underwhelmed and especially struggled to fit with franchise player Joel Embiid. At 33, Horford faces even more issues as he ages.

Though Tobias Harris has been fine, it’s hard to feel good about his five-year, $180 million deal. That contract makes it difficult to build a quality bench, even if ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax. Every team has spending limits, and Philadelphia has tied significant capital to a merely solid forward.

Josh Richardson isn’t shooting as well as he did while looking like a burgeoning star with the Heat. It’s also hard not to notice Jimmy Butler thriving in Miami.

The cumulative results are also concerning. Creating enough spacing around Embiid and Simmons was always challenging. This group isn’t coming close to answering that call. That has produced some strain throughout the season.

Will 76ers general manager Elton Brand take the fall for Philadelphia’s problems?

If so, he could have a fallback job under new Knicks president Leon Rose.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

According to a league source, Elton Brand has been targeted by Rose as a candidate for Knicks GM. Brand, 41, is currently the Sixers GM and is under contract next season, complicating any designs of bringing him to New York. The source said Rose wanted to see if Brand was dismissed after the playoffs.

It’s nearly impossible to see Brand going to New York unless the 76ers fire him. Though the titles in each franchise would be the same, they’re very different roles. He holds the top position in Philadelphia’s front office. With the Knicks, Brand would work under Rose.

Would the 76ers fire Brand? Maybe. It could depend how they do in the playoffs, and this team still has a championship upside this season.

Even with an early-round loss, Philadelphia seems more likely to fire coach Brett Brown than make a larger change. But it’s not as if Brand – who held minimal front-office experience when hired in 2018 – has done much to instill confidence. There’s not a great affirmative case for keeping him.

The Knicks have Scott Perry as general manager, but he’s a holdover from the Steve Mills regime. After all the handwringing about Steve Stoute saying the Knicks will hire a new coach while they still had Mike Miller as interim coach, this more reflects reality. Professional sports are a cutthroat business. It’s perfectly fine for the Knicks to seek a new general manager while still having someone in that position running out the clock.

Could that be Brand? He’s smart and connects well with people. His long playing career provides invaluable experience. He’d fit well as No. 2 in an NBA front office.

But, right now, he has an even better job.

76ers repeal pay cuts that outraged many, reportedly including minority owner

Migos and 76ers owners Michael Rubin and Josh Harris
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The 76ers – owned by billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitzer – planned to cut employee salaries with the NBA on hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.

That went over predictably poorly.

Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

So Harris and Blitzer aren’t saving any money AND must deal with unfavorable public perception? If you feel sorry for them, please limit your sympathy to 80% of your capacity.

This serves as a valuable trial balloon for other NBA teams. They all just got preemptively shamed into maintaining staffing… without first getting scapegoated like Harris and Blitzer.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Joel Embiidwho pledged to cover lost wages – gets to play hero. So does 76ers minority owner Michael Rubin.

Shams Charania of Stadium:

Though they made themselves into the villains of this story, Harris and Blitzer deserve credit for reversing course. They didn’t have to do that. Not everyone would’ve. That at least deserves mention.

Report: 76ers coaches apprehensive about agreeing to reduced salaries

76ers coach Brett Brown
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76ers coach Brett Brown has been on the hot seat for a while.

Could there soon be an inflection point in Philadelphia?

The 76ers – owned by billionaire Josh Harris – are cutting the salaries of at-will employees. (Joel Embiid is pledging to cover some of those employees’ losses.) Contracted employees, including coaches, have greater protection. But ownership is still asking contracted employees to take a pay cut.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I don’t understand the deadline.

If a contracted employee decides on Friday or next week or any other time to forgo salary, would Harris really say “too late”? Of course not.

Is there an implied threat with this deadline? Is the insinuation that contracted employees who don’t agree to a pay cut won’t be retained beyond their current deals?

The 76ers created a self-imposed deadline, but similar issues will eventually arise around the league. Coaching contracts generally end June 30. The NBA season will likely continue far later.

Through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, owners and players are bound to find a shared solution for problems like that.

For owners and coaches, it’ll be more of a case-by-case basis.

Joel Embiid donating $500K to coronavirus relief, money to 76ers employees

76ers star Joel Embiid
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The 76ers are cutting the salaries of some employees amid the NBA’s coronavirus-caused stoppage.

Joel Embiid is stepping up on both fronts.

Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COVID-19 medical relief efforts, a league source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The All-Star center will also help Sixers employees who will suffer financially because of salary reductions while the NBA season is suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

This is laudable.

It also intensifies backlash toward 76ers owner Josh Harris.

Embiid – on a max contract paying more than $147 million – is rich. But that’s a fraction of the $3.9 billion Harris is reportedly worth.

Yet, Embiid is stepping up to help Harris’ employees?

I wonder how the players’ union feels about this. On one hand, Embiid is doing what he wants and – deservedly – looking good in the process. On the other hand, this effectively amounts to a giveback of collectively bargained compensation to ownership. Again, these are Harris’ employees, not Embiid’s.

Tobias Harris posting on Instagram like the season never stopped

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Last night, Tobias Harris took to Instagram to congratulate 76ers teammate Matisse Thybulle on his career night, leading Philadelphia to a win against Atlanta.

If that’s news to you, then you haven’t been following Harris on IG. He has continued posting as if the NBA was never suspended.

It started with a post praising Joel Embiid for his play in a road win at Charlotte

Next was a post of him showing up to (or leaving?) a game and showing off his style.

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The fit hit different after a W 😎🥶😤

A post shared by Tobias Harris (@tobiasharris) on

Next up, it was Thybulle and the win against the Hawks.

It’s good to see the Sixers playing so well after struggling since the All-Star break. They are at Minnesota Monday night, where I imagine another of Harris’ teammates will have a game worth being singled out for.