Brett Brown recognizes the uncertainty of his job future with the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s no secret. The Philadelphia 76ers are a disappointment, at least when viewed through the prism of preseason expectations. Many claimed the Sixers as title favorites after a strange but fruitful summer, one which yielded big-name additions in Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Flash forward to March, when the season was suspended, and the Sixers were sixth in the East.
The primary scapegoat for Philadelphia’s problems has been Brett Brown, who started the season on a hotter seat than most contending coaches. Given the Sixers’ inability to contend at the highest level, it’s easy to wonder about Brown’s future beyond 2019-20.
Brown seems keenly aware of the uncertainty around his future. He knew expectations were high to begin the season, and he knows the six-seed is viewed as a relative disappointment. If the Sixers flame out in the eventual 2020 playoffs, it’s difficult to imagine Brown finishing his contract.
In a recent interview over Zoom, Brown had this to say about his job security and the fog surrounding his future.
“You’re human, you think about it all the time. I wouldn’t say you think about it to the point where it weights you down. But I get it. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I feel this strongly, as it sits, in my sort of coaching world, this thing is so, for me, incomplete.”
There’s no much to unpack here. Good on Brown for keeping his head straight in a difficult time. It’s not easy to sit at home, try to remotely keep up with an 16 players and a front office, and ponder the future of your career.
The most interesting aspect of Brown’s quote is his use of the word “incomplete” to describe his career and, more specifically, the Sixers’ current situation. He views the Sixers and his career as a work in progress — as if there is something more to be achieved.
Obviously, there is. And he later expressed confidence in the Sixers’ ability to compete for a championship. All season, Brown has remarked that Philadelphia is “built for the playoffs,” and a strong home record could Indicate such readiness. The Sixers are historically elite at home, so there’s clearly some capacity for dominance. It’s about learning to make things happen away from Wells Fargo Center, and in Brown’s eyes, the Sixers still have room to improve on that front.
My tendency is to agree with Brown’s cautious optimism. The Sixers are probably better than the sixth seed, even with a poorly constructed roster and health concerns looming over Ben Simmons. The talent is too thorough to deny.
How anyone can look at the Sixers’ problems — and the last three seasons as a whole — and place the blame on Brown is beyond me. The blame should be geared more toward Elton Brand, Bryan Colangelo, and the Sixers’ front office. Not the man asked to start a fire with a stick of wood and a bucket of water.
Brown led a young and experienced Sixers team on a 16-game win streak and to the second round in the first season of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons’ partnership. The next season, after two roster upheavals mid-season, the Sixers came within a bounce of beating the eventual champs. This season, the fit has disintegrated to unforgivable lows, largely due to poor free agency decisions.
Alas, Brown’s future is, right or wrong, in question. And he’s aware. We can only wait and see how the season progresses from here, if it does progress at all.