Yes Man or Best Man: Elton Brand Named Sixers General Manager
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that, after a long, strikingly odd general manager search, the Philadelphia 76ers found their guy in former Sixer Elton Brand. The search featured names like Daryl Morey, R.C. Buford, Gersson Rosas as well as internal candidates like Brand.
Brand recently served his sole year of front office experience as the General Manager for the Philadelphia Blue Coats, the Sixers G-League affiliate team. Just two years ago, Brand was competing alongside his teammates as a member of the Sixers. It was the power forward’s swan song for his career, serving as a veteran presence for a young, tanking team. The move from player to an executive position for a franchise in such a short time in and of itself is unprecedented but Sixers fans and followers have other reasons to be skeptical of the new hire.
Bryan Colangelo was removed as GM after Burner-Gate, an incident where twitter accounts leaking private team information and insulting current players were linked to Colangelo and his family. The Sixers found themselves in a difficult position in an offseason of great magnitude but were able to navigate somewhat effectively with no general manager in place after missing out on star free agents.
The franchise preached collaboration and adherence to a group decision making approach. This seemed to affect their search as they had no qualms about keeping the front office group in place that Colangelo had assembled and even stressed the importance of it.
Fans skepticism is rooted in what appears to be a lazy and possibly strangle held search for the top executive position. With such strict criteria in place, the Sixers turned what was one of the most attractive general manager opening in sports history into a hyper-specified search for someone who fit their vision instead of the vision of another that they could believe in. Rosas and Zanick were interviewed for the position but it’s hard to imagine the appeal of a front office job predicated on a limited scope of autonomy juxtaposed by the influence of the prior regime.
The likelihood of an internal hire was always strong but that doesn’t diminish the notions that the Sixers left options unexplored. Their leanings toward “don’t screw this up” versus “make bold moves for bold results” has plagued the team since Sam Hinkie was ousted as general manager. Brand strays from that in some regard as a largely unproven front office figure but the bigger picture adds some pause to that line of thinking.
It is not all doom and gloom, though; in fact, far from it. Brand is an unknown commodity and with that comes a clean slate and a reputation waiting to be made. Brand is well respected in players’ circles and has appeared as an intelligent and affable person dating back to his playing days. The Sixers have two young super stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons coming off a season that saw 52 wins and advancement to the second round of the playoffs.
With max cap space, a growing team and avenues for trades, Brand should see ample possibility to mold the team in his vision. The nagging inclination, though, is if his vision is unique to him or simply a reflection of the regime in place, something you wonder if the team was too set on all along. Yes Man or the Best man; only time will tell.