KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Elton Brand acknowledged what most in the NBA have come to know: The Process was a failure.
“As of now, yes, it’s failing,” the 76ers general manager said. “It didn’t produce the results that we expected. It’s a results-based business. We are trying to right those wrongs, and make sure we do better.
“Currently, yes, we failed.”
Brand said the Sixers are going to get better and do everything to position themselves to win.
The Process began during the 2013-14 season, and started with three seasons of tanking to position the team to draft franchise-altering players and tradable assets. While they drafted eventual All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers, for the most part, made several head-scratching draft moves and questionable trades.
Yet, this was supposed to be the season when the “The Process” delivered at least a deep postseason run.
Instead, their high-price pieces didn’t fit together on the court. That led to a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, after which the Sixers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs.
The disappointing season led to Brett Brown — the only coach of The Process in its seven seasons — being fired on Monday.
“I felt it was time for a new voice,” Brand said.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue appears to be the Sixers’ leading candidate. Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Villanova coach Jay Wright and Golden State Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown could be other candidates.
The organization is looking for a veteran coach to push Embiid and Simmons. Brand wouldn’t give a timetable for hiring Brown’s replacement, saying he’s not in a rush due to this being a “pivotal point in the organization.”
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have yet to finalize the dates for the NBA draft, the free-agency period, and the start of the 2020-21 season.
Brand said it would help to have the next coaching staff involved for the draft and free-agency process, though.
“I could understand what their philosophies are,” he said, “what kind of players, where they want to go. But I just can’t rush the decision.”
Lue is a hot candidate, who was also receiving interest from the Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Chicago Bulls.
In addition to finding a coach, the Sixers are also evaluating their front-office structure and personnel.
It relied too heavily on analytics during The Process and needs more basketball minds in the front office to balance things out.
Multiple league sources don’t expect executive vice president of basketball operations, Alex Rucker, to be back with the team next season. Brand was asked about Rucker’s future on Tuesday.
“I’m doing a thorough assessment of our front office,” he said. “I don’t want to pinpoint Alex as a scapegoat or anything like that. Our group has to get stronger, we know that.
“So I’m taking time to assess where we are and how we get better. We failed, and we’re not happy about it, actually pissed about it.”
Time will tell the fate of Rucker and the other members of the Sixers’ analytics-driven front office.
But how much power will Brand have moving forward?
The Sixers hired him in September 2018, just two years after the end of his 17-year playing career, partly because he was willing to work in collaborative decision-making instead of having the final say. The team wanted their general manager to be someone who would be a public face and win over the fans. That fit the well-respected Brand, who was regarded as one of the best locker room guys in the NBA. He was also someone players could relate to.
“To be frank, we feel like the collaboration days didn’t work too well,” Brand said.
As a result, Brand said he’ll be leading the coaching search and make the recommendations to Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer.
He added that he’s grown as a leader and a general manager. Brand spoke of being a part of making tough decisions.
“But now, I’m looking forward to putting my stamp on this thing,” he said, “and take full accountability for whatever happens next.”
Accountability is a major issue that needs to improve within the organization.
A prime example came when Brown said earlier this season he wanted Simmons to take at least one three-pointer a game. Simmons responded by taking just one three-pointer in the next 27 games.
“There’s a balance you have to strike,” Brown responded after being asked if there need to be repercussions to players not doing what they’re asked to do.
“The players have to be educated and they have to know why you’re asking to do this, and that they buy in,” he added. “If they don’t, that’s exactly what happens. But the repercussions, I don’t know how many coaches would take one of their star players out because they didn’t listen to them on one or two plays.”