Brett Brown Faces an Uncertain Future In Philadelphia
Pardon Brett Brown if Bryan Colangelo's recent endorsements don't prevent him from looking over his shoulder.
While publicly pleasing, the younger Colangelo's comments regarding Brown's job status sound similar to the lip service paid to Sam Hinkie by Jerry Colangelo before the latter marginalized the former to the point of resignation.
At this point in time, it’s tough to take any statement from the Sixers front office at face value.
For his part, Brown has done just about all that could be asked of him by the organization that hired him to be the head coach of their revolutionary rebuild three years ago. He has shown an unwavering enthusiasm and dedication to the job, while simultaneously taking all of the organization's myriad of [sometimes questionable] moves in stride - despite consistently being put in the uncomfortable position of being asked to explain those moves publicly.
It hasn’t been easy, and Brown didn’t always agree with the moves made by Hinkie, but he fully embraced the rationale behind "the process", and in turn has emphasized player development- to the benefit of Nerlens Noel, Jerami Grant, and a handful of other promising young players. With a genuine passion for the improvement of his players, Brown has demonstrated an uncanny ability to find and focus on a speck of positive from within a mound of negatives, which is a great trait to have when spearheading such a young and inexperienced group.
Although he understood, and supported Hinkie's plan to set the Sixers up for sustainable success, Brown is nonetheless excited about the team's apparent new direction, and the potential of an influx of true talent correlated to the Colangelo coronation.
“It’s exciting,” Brown said recently of the team’s future. “You’d be lying if you didn’t step back as the head coach of the program, and say this is pretty damn exciting.”
After three years of what he described as “pain and losing “it’s hard to blame Brown for feeling some excitement about the potential of imminent improvement. However, it remains to be seen if Brown will truly get that opportunity to oversee the Sixers as they climb back to contention.
Since accepting a role with the Sixers last December, Jerry Colangelo has already once swapped out an underling for another individual with more experience and a Colangelo connection. Why wouldn’t he do it again? Brown was Hinkie’s hire, and his recent contract extension was Hinkie’s doing – there were reports that Jerry wasn’t happy about said extension either.
Brown has excellent coaching qualities, and he projects to be a solid coach in the league, but he is untested when it comes to well, winning. With a mandate to improve from ownership, it’s feasible that Colangelo would opt for a head man with more hardened NBA experience.
Mike D’Antonio, *conveniently* already on the Sixers bench, comes to mind. A recent report from CBS suggests that the Sixers may indeed bump Brown in favor of D’Antoni:
“If D'Antoni, the Sixers' associate head coach, gets offers elsewhere -- besides Brooklyn, he could be a fit in Washington or Phoenix -- then Colangelo may be tempted to let Brown go and bump D'Antoni up to head coach in order to keep him, sources say.”
Brown has done yeomen’s work in his three seasons with the Sixers, and most around the organization agree that he deserves at least an opportunity to lead a Sixers team with legitimate talent and contention intentions. However, the fact that he is not a Colangelo guy cannot be over-emphasized.
On the heels of Hinkie’s divisive departure, potential public backlash against the new administration may be a factor in the fact that Brown is even still currently the Sixers Coach.
If Bryan Colangelo wants to [eventually] move on from the losing associated with the Hinkie regime, or if he just wants to insert his own hand-picked leader, removing Brown becomes justifiable, and at that point any opportunity – such as a slow start to the season next year – could be utilized as rationalization.
The Sixers as an organization have put Brett Brown in plenty of difficult situations over the past three years, and that doesn’t seem to be changing with the new regime. In addition to the added pressure and scrutiny that comes from increased expectations, Brown now also has to wonder if he has the full support of management, and if the mustached fellow that he shares the bench with – who happens to have a positive past relationship with the new GM – is just waiting in line to take his job.
At this point, uncertainty seems to be the only certainty surrounding the Sixers near future, Brett Brown included.