This is the 35th edition of the weekly 76ers mailbag. Each week, Inquirer.com followers may submit questions to be answered.
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Question: Daryl Morey undid two of last season’s three major moves and presumably would have moved Tobias Harris if he could have. Given that Elton Brand presumably was the architect of last year’s squad, and given that Morey has taken over, why is Brand still with the team? — @GorelickRich
Answer: .What’s good, Rich? I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday. I’m about to answer your question in a second. But I know you said presumably in regards to trying to move Tobias Harris. I don’t think that was case. Harris had his best season while playing for coach Doc Rivers as a Los Angeles Clipper. So it won’t make a lot of sense to trade him away from the guy who knows how to get the most out of him. The expectation is that, under Rivers, Harris can become the third star the Sixers need.
Now, in regard to Brand, I understand your question. I really do. However, we have to be real. Brand was given credit for the positives that happened. He was also the one blamed when something negative happened. However, a lot of people forget that Brand was promoted in September 2018 partly because they wanted a general manager willing to work in collaborative decision-making instead of having the final say. Sources said that the Sixers wanted their GM to be someone who will be a public face and win over the fans. That fit Brand, who was regarded as one of the best locker room guys in the NBA. He’s also someone the players could relate to.
Brand received a lot of criticism for the team’s shortcoming and poor front-office decisions. However, Alex Rucker, the Sixers former executive vice president of basketball operations, had been heavily involved in the decision-making, according to sources. He was let go on Nov. 1.
While Brand was the one publicly ridiculed for the bad moves, folks behind the scene would tell you that Rucker’s influence doomed the franchise. Ownership was also heavily involved in the decision-making. Brand was basically the one taking the hit and putting out the fires, so to speak.
But a lot of people were unaware of that. So it’s easy to wonder why he’s still present or why he received an extension without knowing the inside information.
However, he can become an asset to the Sixers while learning from one of the most high profile executives in professional sports. As a former player, he can also bring a player’s perspective to their decision-making.
Heck, Morey is known for delegating responsibilities to his staff members. Morey is already talking about how he and Brand have been working together since being hired weeks ago.
That’s part of the reason why he’s still with the Sixers.
Q: Do you think the draft-night trades have motivated Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? — @Dave_holloway
A: What’s up, Dave? How is Seattle treating you? I’m going to answer your question with a question: Does a dog bark? Sorry, man. I mean no disrespect. I’m just trying to have fun on Black Friday.
But, yes, they have to be excited. Think about it. They didn’t have any glaring spacing issues during the end of the 2017-18 season when the Sixers surrounded them with shooters. Nor was there any talk about them not being able to co-exist.
Back then, Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and career-high 8.2 assists en route to being named the rookie of year. The point guard also compiled 12 of his 28 career-regular-season triple-doubles that season.
Meanwhile, Embiid averaged 22.9 points and 11.0 rebounds en route to making his first of three consecutive All-Star teams. It also marked the first of two straight second-team All-NBA selections. .
The two were able to move freely and not each into each other’s way. I expect much of the same this season. I look for Simmons to rack up a bunch of triple-doubles, and for Embiid to take advantage of the added spaces. Yes, this motivates to the two cornerstones.
Q: Why did Isaiah Joe fall so low? — @MVPhilly_
A: Philly ... Philly ... Philly. What’s up, Philly? How have you been, man? I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist with your handle being MVPhilly. I’m wishing you a great weekend. Joe always had a second-round grade. I also know that they were several team’s concerned about his medical history.
He missed six games because of arthroscopic right knee surgery and was limited in five more before the surgery.