For many coaches in the NBA, winning 37 games over the course of two seasons would mean a one-way ticket to the unemployment line. In a sport where winning means everything and winning now means even more, patience comes in short supply and results are king.
But Brett Brown isn’t you usual NBA head coach.
Brown is going into the third year of a four-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, a deal that has placed him in charge of running a team in the beginning stages of a massive rebuilding project. He has seen his roster shuffled almost daily, key players traded away at the NBA trade deadline and only the loosest of timetables from GM Sam Hinkie as to when he will get behind the Sixers becoming competitive and getting Brown the players he needs to return to the postseason.
It’s a rebuild that is expected to go on a bit longer than expected with the trade of Michael Carter Williams last season and the loss of Joel Embiid for a second straight year due to foot surgery this past summer.
Add to that a roster that has been a revolving door of so-so talent and you can see why victories have been pretty hard to come by for a coach who became used to winning when he was with the San Antonio Spurs.
To put it another way, when training camp opened for the Sixers, only five players remain from the group that opened training camp a year ago: Hollis Thompson, Tony Wroten, Jerami Grant, JaKarr Sampson and Nerlens Noel.
So as Brown heads into his third year as head coach, the obvious question becomes if he will have his contract extended past the 2016-17 season. Brown was recently asked about this very subject at the Sixers annual preseason luncheon and he very matter of factly said he didn’t want to discuss it.
“I just don’t want to talk about it. I really don’t. I enjoy talking to everybody here, it’s just I’ve said what I had to say and am just really excited to coach the group. I’d be disappointed in myself if I comment many sentences beyond what I’ve just done as it relates to my contract.”
While Brown may not want to talk about it, it is blindingly obvious to anyone who has watched this team over the last two seasons that he deserves an extension, possibly more than any other coach in the NBA.
First, Brown has been nothing but the consummate professional while in Philadelphia. He has always towed the company line and pretty much publicly agreed with every move Sam Hinkie has made thus far in the Great Rebuild. Only once, when MCW was traded, did he seem a upset and disappointed, but even then he still maintained his belief in the plan. It’s something many coaches would have had a very hard time doing and Brown should be commended for it.
Second, the fact Brown was able to get 37 wins out of a roster made up of D-Leaguers and basketball wannabes is, quite frankly, amazing. Given the lack of talent he had on the roster and just how many players have come and gone the last two seasons, to get 37 wins is miraculous.
And the bulk of the credit for that should go to Brown. He has a unique ability to make players perform better than they are capable of, of making them really believe they can do anything. Maybe it’s because he is so good at developing talent, maybe is because his players just like him and want to play well for him. Regardless, Brett Brown can bring out the best in almost any basketball player.
Except Kwame Brown. He was a lost cause.
Which brings us to the biggest reason Brown should have his contract extended:
Brown deserves a chance to be able to win.
The last thing any Sixers fan should want to see is just as the roster start to show a glimmer of potential and talent, which could happen this very season, is to watch as the rug is pulled out from under Brown and he is sent on his way.
That would show not only a tremendous amount of disrespect to the team and the fans, but to Brett Brown himself.
Brown has been given every opportunity to lose with the Philadelphia 76ers. He should be given a chance to experience what it’s like to win with the Sixers also.
He deserves a chance to work with some real NBA talent and to build a roster that won’t change every time the trade deadline arrives. He deserves a chance to see what could happen if he was able to coach Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric on the court together in Sixers uniforms. He deserves an opportunity to take the team to the postseason and enjoy the rewards of that with the fans here in Philadelphia.
There is no question that the Sixers should give Brett Brown an extension for as long as he is willing to stay here, regardless of how the 2015-16 season goes.
The sooner Hinkie can make that happen, the better.