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The Brooklyn Probe: Chris Sheridan, the Sixers, and the Elbow heard ‘round the world

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Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Two Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

By now, you’ve likely already read/heard about the New York Daily News column by Chris Sheridan, in which he brings to light rumors of turmoil within the Sixers’ organization.

First, let’s list the two major themes within Sheridan’s column:

  1. Brett Brown is very much on the hot seat. Sheridan claims that if the Sixers don’t make it out of the first round, Brown won’t even be allowed on the team bus. Then he claims that if the Sixers don’t make it out of the second round, he’ll be allowed on the team bus, but won’t be conducting exit interviews (apparently whether Brown is able to board a vehicle that holds 50+ people is crucial to this column). Then, according to Sheridan, if the Sixers lose in the Eastern Conference finals, maybe Brown will be allowed to finish his contract extension. Brown’s job is in such jeopardy because he has lost the locker room.
  2. Ben Simmons is uncoachable and because of this, Elton Brand encouraged ownership to trade Simmons. It also accuses Ben Simmons of missing a game against the Orlando Magic because he was out partying with Kendall Jenner the night before, though Sheridan has since retracted Jenner’s role in the partying. (Sheridan must have been itching to throw a Jenner in this story.)

The blame for that one falls on Sean Marks, who could have traded Kenneth Faried for a legit backup center such as Enes Kanter back when he had the chance. Instead, Faried was waived and has been doing big things for the Houston Rockets.

This particular excerpt from Sheridan’s column is completely out of the blue — totally random, really not relevant to the general message being conveyed in the article. Not only that, it makes zero basketball sense to suggest Enes Kanter is the key to stopping Joel Embiid. It’s fishy, is what I’m saying — almost like the covering of a trail — and it leads me to a juicy conspiracy theory. Again, full disclosure for those in the back: what I’m about to propose is a conspiracy theory.

Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily tweeted the following Wednesday evening:

Nets didn’t like the video of Embiid and Simmons laughing about the elbow to Jarrett Allen. Sign of disrespect.

This series has only just begun. -@APOOCH

(For anyone unfamiliar with Anthony, he’s a terrific reporter who is plugged into the Nets.)

Anyway, I think it’s fair to say the Nets were pretty upset about the whole situation.

How upset?

That’s Sheridan claiming on Wednesday afternoon that on Tuesday, he was made aware of the Sixers turmoil he mentioned in his column — the day following the press conference in which Simmons and Embiid began laughing in response to a question about the elbow that landed on Jarrett Allen’s jaw.

Do I think everything in Sheridan’s article is fabricated? No, I don’t think he made all of it up from scratch, I’m not that naive. I do think it’s possible that many of the story lines mentioned are very exaggerated, and intentionally so (but not necessarily by Sheridan). I mean, would anybody be shocked to hear that a first round exit would be bad for Brett Brown? Would anybody be shocked to hear that the Sixers locker room hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows during a year full of roster turnover? Would anybody be at all surprised if Elton Brand kicked the tires on AD and New Orleans responded along the lines of “The package has to start with Ben Simmons”?

I don’t believe the front office is eager to fire Brett Brown. I don’t believe that the Sixers’ locker room atmosphere has not improved over the course of the season and that players aren’t able to put aside their differences to focus on the playoffs. And I don’t believe Elton Brand went to ownership begging to trade Ben Simmons but rather did his due diligence on the trade market and reported as much to ownership, and that in an attempt to drum up demand for Anthony Davis, the Pelicans were happy to allow trade rumors to spread like wild fire around all 29 other front offices.

I believe the Sixers have had some internal issues at various points throughout the season, but I also believe they’ve weathered that storm and that winning cures a lot.

What I also believe is that it is possible a representative of a New York-based team, in response what they felt was totally inappropriate and completely disrespectful, fed damaging information to a New York-based reporter without regard for the level of truthfulness of that information and that that reporter may not have cared to corroborate that information with the Sixers.