It’s been over three weeks since Elton Brand said he was leading a review of the Philadelphia 76ers organization from top to bottom. During his August 25 press conference, Brand acknowledged that the collaborative front office approach wasn’t effective and that changes would be necessary. We’ve heard about several head coach candidates (from Mike D’Antoni to Tyronn Lue) as the Sixers’ search continues, and that executive vice president of basketball operations Alex Rucker isn’t expected to return, but that’s been it for the last few weeks.
Now, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported more details of what the Sixers are considering. One notable takeaway is that “the Sixers are inquiring about the possibility of hiring a president of basketball operations.”
Pompey also mentioned a few possible candidates:
“One source said that Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations/general manager Neil Olshey might have some interest in the Sixers, but that’s only if he has total power, as the president and general manager.”
According to Pompey, the Sixers have interest in some even more ambitious targets as well:
A source also believes the Sixers will attempt to inquire about Houston GM [Daryl] Morey and Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard. The source, however, believes it’s unlikely that they would be interested.
Morey and Pritchard not being interested would hardly be surprising. For one, it’s hard to see Morey being a serious option. Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said on Tuesday that Morey’s job is safe, and Morey only signed a five-year contract extension in March 2019.
Pompey also mentioned that former Atlanta Hawks president of basketball operations and GM Danny Ferry may be a possible candidate, but the Sixers are “shooting that down” as a real option. It’s worth reading Pompey’s full report for all the details.
In last month’s press conference, Brand said that he now feels more experienced than he did when he first became the Sixers’ GM and is better equipped for the role (although it’s hard to make any argument that that’s actually the case). However, Brand is clearly staying in place and has more responsibility for the time being, even if he becomes more of a public face for the team moving forward and has less say in decisions.
The best way the Sixers can hope to truly improve is by hiring someone to take control of their basketball operations, who actually has significant experience and a proven, successful track record. This can’t be said about anyone left in the Sixers’ front office right now.
This should also mean that a new president of basketball operations could lead decision-making and make their own hires. As the example of Neil Olshey reiterates, it’s unlikely that notable candidates are going to be interested in simply slotting into the Sixers’ existing front office — one that has made so many errors in recent years, while suffering from too many voices and an uncertain power structure — without having control.
“As I’ve been taking a deep dive in where we failed, what went wrong, and how we can get better, I felt like we need to strengthen our organization from top to bottom, and that starts with the front office,” Brand said during his press conference. “Balancing our strengths and analytics and basketball strategy with more basketball minds, and whatever happens. My goal, with whatever happens going forward, is making sure we are in position to truly contend.”
“I’ve taken a hard look at our shortcomings and recognized hard changes in the offseason are necessary to get this team back on track. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s truly necessary.”
Change is essential. Before they hire a new head coach and the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency get even closer, the Sixers need to improve the team’s decision-making, establish how they want to move forward, and find some stability in their front office.
I won’t go into any more depth here, as earlier this week I wrote a piece going into why the Sixers need to start making changes now (and why Sachin Gupta could be a good candidate to help improve the team’s basketball operations). We’ll have to wait and see how serious Brand and ownership are about making this happen.