BRETT BROWN can only smile when the obvious question is posed to him: "Who would re-up for this?"
Brown did just that Friday as general manager Sam Hinkie announced that the team had extended Brown's contract. A source said the extension is for two seasons, meaning Brown is now signed through the 2018-19 season.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
When Hinkie hired the San Antonio assistant coach in August 2013, it was a hiring like no other. Wins weren't expected - some might even say frowned upon - and bringing in a new style of play was only going to get wasted because of the roster turnaround anyway. Brown insisted on, and got, a four-year guaranteed deal and has probably undergone the most painful coaching duty in sports history in his 187-game run.
He has now been rewarded for withstanding all the turmoil.
"For whatever reason, I feel personally connected to the city," Brown said Friday after the extension was announced. "I love the city of Philadelphia. It's real, it's blue-collar, it wears its heart on its sleeve. It's difficult at times with what we are going through. I like raising my family here. I want my 11 year-old son being on the streets of Philadelphia playing playground basketball and my kids going through the Lower Merion School District. I like living in the city of Philadelphia.
"I see daylight with (Dario) Saric and Joel Embiid and seeing the group that we have and the draft picks that Sam has identified in Richaun Holmes and Jerami (Grant) and Robert Covington. Those guys are good players. When you look at the players that ultimately we have to grow and build our players, we need to do a good job with that. When I look at all the assets, all those things add up, truly, I'm excited to see this through."
It has been a busy few weeks for the front office, as it's had to deal with off-the-court scuffles involving rookie Jahlil Okafor, the hiring of longtime NBA executive Jerry Colangelo and now the extension for Brown. Perhaps that's a good distraction as the team treads through another season of unprecedented losing.
The eternally optimistic Brown has been challenged this season like no other. Embiid, the 2014 first-rounder who is the cornerstone of the rebuild, is sidelined again because of foot surgery. Saric is still contractually bound to play in Turkey. Brown was given no real NBA point guard to start the season, as the foreseen starter at that spot, Kendall Marshall, returned only Friday from ACL surgery. Brown also was given the task of trying how to figure out a way to have two centers, Okafor and Nerlens Noel, play cohesively.
"Brett has been a fantastic partner," Hinkie said. "I was very confident when we hired him that he would be a great partner for us, that he would be great in teaching our players, that he would be great in relationships with our players. I undershot it, by a whole lot. He's been fantastic. He's an everyday learner, which is really important for us, and he's had resiliency, which has impressed most of you and he's impressed me. As we charge down this path and try to put ourselves in position to really do something, he's been unwavering in his commitment, and he's had an everyday positivity, which has been infectious."
At the end of last season, Brown said, rather emphatically, that he was done coaching "gypsies" and that the winning needed to start this season. That, of course, was before Embiid had to go back on the operating table and many of those other factors were laid on his plate. He sees light, however, and winning, in the not too distant future.
"I'd be incredibly disappointed if we didn't. That has to start happening," he said. "It's part of my excitement to accept this extension. I see great things that can happen, and we have to find ways to get young guys older and get young guys better. I think we'll end up going into a whole new world with free agents at some point soon and with the draft picks and some of our players. Trying to understand how Dario fits into all of this and Joel's health, those are things that are yet to be determined, but when you ask me if, in three years, will the program be winning, yes . . .
"I get confidence when I speak freely with Sam. I'm excited to have Jerry Colangelo come in. We talked freely with (owners) Josh (Harris) and David (Blitzer) about what we have to do. Obviously, we are at a low point right now, and so it reveals things that we have to do better and things we have to pay attention to a little bit more on court and the design of the team. All of those conversations, when you really talk openly and transparently and everyting is collaborative, it gives you hope."
During his time here, so far, hope is probably the only thing that has kept Brown sane.