LOS ANGELES - The questions about Brett Brown's future still come up periodically when the 76ers are on the road.
Saturday morning was a prime example. A reporter here wondered if the coach was in jeopardy of losing his job. A person standing nearby chuckled.
That's because the Sixers can't let the coach with the most losses in team history go. Despite his 70-241 career mark as of Saturday, Brown has shown that he deserves the chance tocontinue to coach this team.
You would be hard-pressed to name a coach on any level that had to deal with the obstacles Brown still deals with in this, his fourth season.
Some within the coaching fraternity are amazed that his team took a 23-42 record into Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
"I think he should be coach of the year," Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd said last week after a lopsided victory over the Sixers. "I think he is doing a great job."
Brown is a long shot to win the Red Auerbach Trophy, voted on by writers and broadcasters. Doc Rivers, in 2000 with the Orlando Magic, was the last coach to win the award with a winning percentage worse than .573.
But Brown has significantly improved the Sixers from 10 wins last season, doing so despite mounting injuries.
First overall pick Ben Simmons will have missed the entire season with a Jones fracture to his right foot. Jerryd Bayless was able to play in only three games before season-ending surgery to his left wrist. And Joel Embiid played his final game of the season Jan. 27 because of a torn meniscus/bone bruise in his left knee.
"You talk about all the players that are out with injuries," Kidd said, "but every day, he is upbeat, he's teaching, he's coaching, and he's trying to put his team in a position to win."
That hasn't happened as frequently as it did in January, when the Sixers went 10-5. The Sixers have won only two of their first nine games since Nerlens Noel and Ersan Ilyasova were dealt away before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
Yet they showed a lot of grit and stayed competitive to the end with the Portland Trail Blazers (Thursday) and Los Angeles Clippers (Saturday).
"I am a big fan of Coach Brown," Kidd said. "I think he is doing an excellent job, and once he gets all the pieces, it is going to be exciting here in Philly."
Brown gave us a glimpse of that in January. His Sixers had the city abuzz and were the talk of the NBA. Back then, they had thrilling victories over the Clippers and Toronto Raptors, two teams headed to the playoffs. They packed the Wells Fargo Center and Brown was saluted for his coaching.
Then Embiid was lost for the season, and the Sixers made trades. As a result, the Sixers are again in the running for a top lottery pick while losses pile up. They are having a tough time making defensive stops and closing out games. That's why the Los Angeles reporter wondered about Brown's job security.
But Brown isn't missing wide-open shots, turning the ball over, and blowing assignments.
We've seen what he was able to do in January with a healthy Embiid, with Noel and Ilyasova still on the squad. And if there was ever any doubt before, that month showed that he's capable of leading the Sixers.