We don’t know for sure whether Elton Brand is a candidate for the New York Knicks’ general manager gig.
But it certainly is good for the 76ers GM to get his name out there, especially with the uncertainty surrounding his organization. The situation could even lead to Brand getting a raise and a contract extension.
The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that Leon Rose, the new Knicks president of basketball operations, is targeting Brand as a candidate for the job in New York. The problem is that Brand will be under contract with the Sixers past this season, and he would have to get permission to interview for another job.
Rose is reportedly waiting to see if the Sixers release him after this season. However, a team source said the Sixers are happy with Brand’s work since he took over as GM in 2018. The source cited the 41-year-old’s leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.
Sixers coach Brett Brown is on the hot seat because his team has underachieved this season. There has been speculation that ownership could make some changes in the front office.
But it seems like the Sixers aren’t interested in letting Brand go, based on what the team source said.
So why the Knicks?
Brand is far from a logical candidate for a struggling Knicks organization with a novice president. Rose, a Cherry Hill native, was a successful sports agent for 25 years before taking over the Knicks on March 2.
One of his former clients is Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid. Rose is respected in the league. However, there’s no evidence he knows how to run an NBA organization.
His best bet would be hire a general manager with a wealth of experience at the position and a high profile needed to attract free agents and deal with the New York media. That’s, of course, if the Knicks don’t retain Scott Perry.
If the Knicks do part ways their current GM, they’ll need someone who will be the mouthpiece of the organization. The hire would also have to be someone Rose can rely heavily on when it comes to running a team. The general manager would help build a scouting department and introduce Rose to the inner workings of the NBA.
Brand may one day grow into that type of front office executive. He’s not there yet. How could he be? Brand is a little over three seasons removed from concluding a 17-year playing career. He went from playing for Brown to being Brown’s peer to being his boss in 23 months upon being promoted to GM on Sept. 18, 2018.
Brand is basically learning on the job.
His only experience as a GM came from his one season (2017-18) in charge of the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ NBA G League affiliate. But experience wasn’t a prerequisite for that gig. The Sixers just wanted to hire someone to fit in with the people already in the front office.
They also wanted someone willing to work in collaborative decision-making instead of having the final say — and the team’s ownership group is known for being heavily involved in that area. Brand has put more of his imprint of the franchise this season.
However, as the GM, Brand is the public face of the organization. He’s also the one being criticized for the Sixers’ poor roster construction and the fact that Al Horford received a four-year, $97 million contract last summer. Horford, 33, hasn’t been a good fit while playing alongside All-Stars Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Yet Brand is reportedly a GM candidate for the Knicks. That’s great for him, especially during this break in the NBA season, which has been suspended indefinitely since March 11 because of the coronavirus.
Without major NBA news, the report became a huge story Wednesday night around the league. And this break in action would be a good time for Brand’s representation to talk to the Sixers about a possible extension, or about picking up the final year of his contract if it’s not guaranteed. It’s not uncommon for a rookie GM to get the first two years of his contract guaranteed while the third year is a team option.
What if that’s the case? What if his agent tried to negotiate an extension or a third year? What if the Sixers, in turn, said they aren’t talking about that now?