Ever since Sam Hinkie left the Philadelphia 76ers, the front office has made one misstep after another, taking the Sixers from a team filled with assets and flexibility to one locked into two of the NBA’s worst contracts. In just the last year, the Sixers went from taking the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors to the buzzer of Game 7 to getting swept in the first round by their biggest rival (albeit without their All-Star forward). My colleague Harrison Grimm recently wrote in-depth on how this disgrace of an organization self-imploded over the past five years.
The front office has decided to take no accountability for their failings and instead assign blame to others through leaks to the media. On the morning of Game 4, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that multiple sources say Brett Brown is to blame for letting Jimmy Butler leave for the Miami Heat. Nothing says “dysfunctional” like leaks against a head coach just before a must-win game.
“According to multiple sources, Brown had a hand in breaking that team up because he didn’t want to deal with Jimmy Butler, who was the team’s closer and who’s never afraid to speak his mind.” https://t.co/TXjzUQY2VB— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) August 23, 2020
It’s unfathomable how anyone could think they’re defending themselves by saying they chose a coach who would (probably) be fired one season later over a top-15 player in the league. It appears the leakers applied the same vigorous logic to this media stunt that they used when they assembled a starting lineup of a small forward, two power forwards, and two centers and assumed said coach could somehow make that work.
Setting your coach up as the public relations scapegoat before the season is even over is right on par for Sixers management. Our very own Dave Early dug up a 2018 article from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, in which O’Connor’s sources blame the freshly-fired Bryan Colangelo for the decision to draft Markelle Fultz over Jayson Tatum. This leak appeared to be an attempt by other members of the front office to save their jobs, but it clearly wasn’t done with any consideration for Fultz, who was still on the team.
This new leak from @PompeyOnSixers that it was maybe Brett Brown who had a hand in the decision to let Butler walk feels like deja vu from the last time this Colangelo-assembled front office was trying 2 keep their jobs following Burnergate doesn't it?— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) August 23, 2020
From @KevinOConnorNBA 2018 pic.twitter.com/oQfv15m1ev
Speaking of Fultz, he has made more 3s in these playoffs than Tobias Harris and Al Horford combined. Not great for a team that needs shooting and guards around their All-Star power forward and center but instead decided to spend $289 million on another power forward and center!
Markelle Fultz has hit more threes (3) in the playoffs than Tobias Harris and Al Horford combined (2). pic.twitter.com/Vd5J5KFP4g— StatMuse (@statmuse) August 23, 2020
Elton Brand has the title of general manager, but it’s hard to tell who is actually calling the shots. It’s pretty clear owner Joshua Harris, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Alex Rucker, and Assistant General Manager Ned Cohen are highly involved as well. The blame lies with everyone involved, but no one appears interested in stepping up and taking responsibility for the disastrous downturn the Sixers have taken. Instead, we’ve gotten leaks that throw the head coach under the bus one last time on the way out. This lack of accountability is why the Sixers need wholesale changes across the organization. It’s also why such changes probably won’t happen anytime soon.