After the dust settled from the weird Bryan Colangelo social media scandal there Elton Brand stood as the new General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. Brand had no front office experience and was brought into the organization as a player/consultant. Now he would be entrusted to run an organization post-Sam Heinke's “The Process “.
He inherited two of the games youngest stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. After losing to the Celtics last season in the second round of the playoffs and with LeBron leaving the east the 76ers believed their time is now to make the NBA finals.At the early part of the season, the Sixers would at times struggle. Their record had them in the middle of the pack. Their offense didn't look sharp and their elite level defense from the previous season had taken several steps back. Milwaukee was off to a fast start and playing well, The Celtics were loaded with talent, and the Raptors added Kawhi Leonard it was obvious the Sixers needed a change.
The first year GM was and to step up and make a trade for All-NBA performer, the multi All-Star Jimmy Butler. The Sixers would give up Dario Saric and Robert Covington to young players that had been drafted and in Covington’s case endured the process to acquire Butler. The Sixers was now adding one of the best two-way players in the game to play alongside Embiid and Simmons. This makes for a potentially potent big three going forward.
The Sixers have a record of 20-12 since Butler joined the team. There has been issues and concerns with the team's chemistry and how Butler was being used in the offense. There were several reports of Butler calling out coach Brown in a media session and there was speculation on whether there was a problem between Butler and Embiid. With all of that being said the Sixers are currently fifth in the eastern conference. They are coming off a loss at home to the Toronto Raptors 119-107. The score is not reflective of the game as the Raptors were dominant for most of the game. They were able to hold off a fourth-quarter run by the 76ers to get the win.
With the trade deadline on Thursday Brand must have been working Diligently behind the scenes to pull off a deal that would improve the Sixers. Brand had to be in the tunnel, watching the game like most GMs do around the league and must have realized the Sixers do not have enough to compete with the upper echelon teams in the east.
At 1:17 am eastern time ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the ”Woj Bomb” on Twitter and reported that the Sixers had Acquired Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers. The full trade consisted of the Sixers sending Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, and a handful of draft picks to the Clippers for Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott. Brand was able to pull off another great trade this season. The trade is a success on multiple levels. Harris is on an expiring contract and will be a free agent this summer. He is currently having a career year averaging 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, he is shooting 49% from the field and 43% from 3. He will turn 27 this summer and if Butler leaves to sign in New York or LA Harris is a great insurance policy.
Wojnarowski is also reporting that 76ers are budgeting to potentially be able to sign all four stars. They also get a very serviceable backup center in Marjanovic, and a pick and pop four in Mike Scott. Some people think they gave up to much to require an expiring contract in Tobias Harris, but as stated earlier the 76ers are in win-now mode. In the era of player empowerment, it is important that a general manager shows their star players that they are committed to winning and building a team that can contend for a championship. As a former player and judging by his moves in his first year on the job Brand seems to understand this fully. Ben Simmons is still on his rookie deal, and Brand is going to have to show Simmons and his agent Rich Paul how committed the Sixers are long term.
In year one of the job, If I had to grade Elton Brand I would give him an A. Through the two major trades he has now been able to put together a starting lineup that can legitimately contend for a championship this season. While leaving the organization flexible and in a good place heading into free agency this summer. Some people questioned if Brand was ready and capable to be the General Manager of the Sixers. He has proven he is up to the challenge and deserves all the praise from Sixer fans for building a team that could win the east and represents the conference in the finals. Elton Brand has proven he is the right Brand for the Philadelphia 76ers.