Brett Brown will return next season as the coach of the 76ers, managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN on Monday night.
Harris, Brown, and general manager Elton Brand met Monday to discuss offseason priorities, including the draft and free agency, according to the ESPN report. Brown and Brand were scheduled to face the media Tuesday.
The news should be welcomed by the players, who expressed their support for Brown after their exit interviews with the coach Monday at the team’s practice facility in Camden.
It was thought that Brown would have to reach the Eastern Conference Finals to keep his job. The Toronto Raptors defeated the Sixers, 92-90, in Game 7 of the semifinals Sunday night in Toronto. Kawhi Leonard’s 21-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer that bounced four times on the rim before dropping through the net ended the Sixers’ playoff hopes.
Jimmy Butler talked about Brown’s having a huge heart, being a “great dude,” and working incredibly hard.
“So you have to respect that about him,” Butler said. “He always thinks about how to make everybody great, which is hard to do when you have the roster that we have had.
"I think he’s going to be here for a long time.”
Given an opportunity to endorse Brown, Harris had been noncommittal before a 111-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on April 13 in Game 1 of the opening round of the playoffs.
Harris had stated that it would be a problem if the Sixers didn’t do well in the postseason. So he was asked to clarify that statement, and if Brown would be his coach next season no matter what happened in the playoffs.
“What I meant by it is that all of us — Brett, Elton, me, a lot of us, the players on the team,” Harris said of his comments. “We have high expectations. So that is what I meant.
“Look, we have a lot of confidence in Brett and are glad that he is leading us in the playoffs and we are focused on that.”
Brown has led the Sixers to two consecutive 51-plus-win regular seasons and conference-semifinals appearances. His 178-314 regular-season record through six seasons is misleading because the team was tanking his first four seasons. The Sixers finished 52-30 in his fifth season and 51-31 this season.
He has been criticized, however, for some of his late-game coaching. A lot of the criticism died down after his adjustments against the Raptors.
“I would say this in general. For any NBA team, when you think about a coach, and potentially replacing that coach, you have to consider what coaches are available,” JJ Redick said. “You know what I mean? That’s just in general.
“I don’t feel it necessary to defend Brett to anyone. I think his work speaks for itself.”
Ben Simmons is grateful for what Brown has done for him.
Brown, a family friend, coached Simmons’ father, David, in Australia. He also converted the former LSU power forward into an NBA point guard. That’s something, Ben Simmons knows, that most coaches would not have done.
“I got a lot of love for Coach Brown,” Simmons said.
So does T.J. McConnell, who joined the Sixers as an undrafted rookie free agent in September 2015. He thanks Brown for providing him an opportunity to play in the NBA. He also thinks criticism of the coach is unfair.
“The way he’s able to manage this team, there aren’t many people that can do it,” McConnell said. "He does it at a very high level.
“To lose like we did yesterday, that’s not coaching. You get a bad bounce like that, you have to have talent. But you have to have luck as well.”
Tobias Harris also views Brown as a great coach, one who did everything to help this group come together after multiple in-season trades.
Joel Embiid said he thinks the coach has done a fantastic job.
“Then this year, I think he grew even more as a coach,” the center said.
Brown had to get his starting lineup of Butler, Redick, Embiid, Simmons, and Harris to coexist.
“We all learned it’s hard when you got five guys that can basically score the ball and do a lot of things on the basketball court,” Embiid said. “It’s hard to put it all together.
“I don’t think he should have anything to worry about.”
He described Brown as an amazing coach, an even better person, and someone for whom he has a lot of love.
“If there was someone to blame [for not reaching the conference finals],” Embiid said, “put it all on me.”