The Philadephia 76ers pixie-dust protected journey in the NBA bubble has ended after the team was easily swept away into the underbelly of the “Pirates of The Carbinian” ride by the Boston Celtics. The latest 76ers playoff failure should not have surprised anyone as the 2020 retooled version of “the process” clearly lacked the team chemistry needed to make any kind of “trust the process” legit playoff run. Sure on paper, the 76ers looked like contenders, but the players never seemed to buy into what head coach Brett Brown was selling which ultimately led the 76ers to dramatically underachieve throughout the season.
On Monday Brett Brown was fired after miraculously spending 7 years on the hot seat of one of the most interesting sports experiments of all-time. Brown who unfortunately found himself attempting to coach a team that had been designed to lose in what was famously referred to as “the process” during his first 3 years with the team.
Rumors spread across the internet like a PG&E induced California wildfire that Brown probably received a bonus for keeping the 76ers near the bottom of the NBA tank as the Sixers won 19, 18, and 10 games during his first 3 seasons as head coach of the 76ers.
Inside The Process
“The process” worked like this – first strive to become the worst team in the NBA for a considerable period of time, then secure high draft picks, draft top-tier NBA talent, and turn the additional draft capital collected into trade-bait. In Brown’s first four seasons, the 76ers went 75-253; the last three seasons, 146-91.
Clearly a portion of the process plan worked as the team drafted Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. However, during Browns 7 years with the 76ers, the team had two front-office regime changes and made major mistakes on “draft day.” Remember the 76ers are famous for picking Markelle Fultz over Jayson Tatum.
Then there was the horrific misstep of trading Robert Covington and Dario Saric to rent Jimmy Butler for a season. Not signing Jimmy Butler to a long-term deal sent the message to the rest of the league that the process was officially over.
The MIGHTY Line
Look even some 76ers fans feel sorry for Brown who suffered big-time during the early years of “the process.” And yes, the regime changes, bad draft picks and questionable high dollars signings like giving Tobias Harris a five-year, $180 million deal to make just two 3-pointers in the Celtics sweep of the 76ers totally backfired.
As for Brett Brown, he is liked by just about everyone he encounters, but as two of now formers players said:
“He’s a good guy,” Josh Richardson told the media after the Sixers fourth and final loss to the Celtics on Sunday. “He’s a good man. He means well. I just think going forward, he’s gotta have some more accountability. … We’ve just gotta start from scratch.” Embiid said “gonna be a great friend no matter what. … Great guy. He’s an even better person than a coach.”
The reality is Brown had a great run as head coach of the 76ers, sure he never was able to take the team to a brink of a championship, but when you look at what he was asked to endure during the first 4 years of his tenure with the 76ers, you come away with nothing but respect for the guy.
Yes, the decision to bring back Brown for the 2020 season was definitely a mistake, but so was handing Al Horford $109 million dollars to not deliver all year long. Look, I’m sure there are still a few “trust the process” disciples rolling around in the front office of the 76ers who probably would tell you that the plan was always to get swept in the bubble, fire Brown, and go hunting for new players in the middle of the upcoming NBA draft.
Strategically “the process” kind of worked out, that is if your end goal is simply getting beat-up in the first couple rounds of the playoffs on a consistent basis.