As a reminder, this Philadunkia question and answer series is “loosely based” on ESPN.com’s highly successful, NBA related series of posts titled “5on5″. Our version of this genre of posts will ask 4 Philadunkia scribes to answer 4 topical, hot button questions about our Philadelphia 76ers.
Now you’re probably asking, “Why not simply stick with the “5on5″ format that ESPN.com uses?”
Well as any great hoops coach will tell you — playing 4on4 is the best way to truly learn the game of basketball.
After the jump four key questions that are currently facing our 76ers and some answers from four Philadunkia scribes. This week, Philadunkia’s Jeff McMenamin, Michael Kaskey-Blomain, Carey Smith and Jake Fischer discuss the questions which surround the teams 4-year deal with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown to become head coach of the 7-6.
1) Why did Brett Brown accept the offer to become the Sixers next head coach? What’s in it for him besides the money and resume booster?
Jeff McMenamin: I think the risk is equally as great for both parties involved when it comes to Brown accepting the head coaching job with the Sixers. I say this because that’s how good of a coach Brown is in my opinion and how patient he’s going to have to be with this team over the next few seasons. The Sixers’ main goal next season is to lose as many games as possible. Couldn’t the Sixers have waited until next summer to offer Brown a contract to secure as many losses as possible with Michael Curry at the helm instead? Now the Sixers could risk winning 4-5 more games then they should’ve simply due to the fact that Brown is a better coach. Brown took the offer because it advances his coaching career in a very low-pressure situation and high-market city, but if I’m Brown I would’ve waited to see how the J-Kidd Nets or David Joerger Grizzlies teams start the season before accepting a job with the lowly Sixers. A coach of his caliber should be with a contender and the Sixers are years away from contending where they currently stand.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: While Brett Brown has it made in San Antonio, he would’ve had to be very against the Sixers’ current situation to pass up a head coaching opportunity, especially with no other opportunities currently out there. Guys want a head coaching job. He accepted the position to gain head coaching experience first and foremost. Contenders don’t usually just hire a guy with no head coaching experience, so he has to start somewhere. While the team is set to struggle this season, there is upside for the franchise in the near-future, and if Brown presided over the Sixers’ return to relevancy it would be great for both sides.
Carey Smith: To me it’s a no-brainer move for Brown. Yes 2013-14 (and possibly 2014-15) will be long, long seasons, but there’s nowhere to go but up after the tanking is complete. He’ll be handed a young, coachable roster that is only going to get better and contains no locker room cancers. He’ll also be working for an up-and-coming GM who has a plan. There are no expectations for a minimum of two years, so he’ll have a “free pass” on wins and losses as he gains valuable experience. If he fails miserably, Hinkie takes the blame not Brown and Brown is paid to go away. So in the end, he gets a big promotion and a nice pay increase and has no real expectations for his first two years on the job. Who wouldn’t take that?
Jake Fischer: With all do respect, this question is a little ridiculous. There are only 30 NBA head coaching jobs in the entire world. Taking this job isn’t just for the money and a resume booster. It’s a chance to be in charge and lead one of the top basketball organizations on the planet. It’s an opportunity to cement his place in basketball history. With the Sixers, Hinkie clearly wants a guy for the long-term or he would’ve given Curry a promotion a while ago. This job comes with security, trust, great ownership (who are obviously willing to spend money #NJDEVILS) and a wiz of a GM. Phrasing that question like that makes it seem like the Sixers’ head coaching position is that of a lame duck. I disagree completely.
2) Give five reasons why you think Brown is or isn’t the best candidate in your mind to be head coach.
Jeff McMenamin: This is tough for me to answer, simply because I just don’t think that now is the right time for his hire. As I said before, I believe Michael Curry is the best coach for this team next season. He has a great relationship with the players on the roster, he paid his dues as coach Collins’ assistant the past couple seasons, he’s seen over the past few months the strengths and weakness’s of the youth as an interim coach and he has one year left on his contract. Brown is clearly the best candidate for the long-term, but I would’ve waited until next summer to settle a deal. It’s not like Brown could’ve signed anywhere else before the season starts.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: At this point Brown appears to be the best available candidate. His basketball background and knowledge of the game will be a great asset to a team. He also has experience in player development, which will be very important for the Sixers’ immediate future as they fill the roster with young picks and players. No one with solid head coaching experience was eager enough to take the opportunity the Sixers were giving, so the position provides an opportunity for both sides to grow and develop. He appears to be one of the most experienced assistants around.
Carey Smith: I have no idea if Brown is the best candidate for this Sixers head coaching gig. I didn’t meet/interview all of the guys Hinkie and Co. allegedly did over the last three months and I don’t know Brown that well, so it’s hard for me to judge right now. What I do know is that everything I have read on Brown has been very positive. Additionally, every NBA contact I have spoken with has a great deal of respect for Brown and his resume. So I am going to have to trust Hinkie and the other NBA executives who allegedly know more than I do about the NBA and say that he is the best candidate for the job.
Jake Fischer: 1) Player Development- Brown has spent almost a decade as the leader of player development for San Antonio, a team that has won three championships in that time period. 2) Resume- Speaking of the Spurs, Brown has been on the bench in Texas learning from arguably one of the greatest coaches in NBA history (Gregg Popovich) for years. 3) Age- Unlike many of the assistant coaches the Sixers interviewed, Brown isn’t in his late 30s or early 40s. He’s 52 and can command the respect from players in the locker room. He also has years and years of experience. 4) Coaching Experience- Speaking of experience, Brown will be a rookie head coach in the NBA, but he spent years as a head coach in the Australian NBL and served as as the Aussie National Team head coach from 2009-2012. 5) Last Name- The last guy to roam the sidelines in Philly with the name Brown did a pretty good job…
3) Do you think Michael Curry will stay with the team as an assistant or do you think Brown should bring in his own staff?
Jeff McMenamin: I’d like to see Curry stay with the team as an assistant, but I think his ego might force him to step down and look for work elsewhere. Unlike Brown who was an assistant on the sidelines of a winning franchise for so many years, Curry would have to stick around as an assistant for a very bad rebuilding franchise. Curry’s looking for a head coaching job again, it’s not going to happen in Philly. He’s a great defensive-minded coach who’s popular with players, but I just don’t see him sticking around much longer.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: Although I would like to see Curry stay on the sidelines, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the two go their separate ways with Brown’s hiring. Brown will likely be given a few seasons with which to turn the team around, and he will likely want to bring in his own staff. Curry’s contract is up after this season, so even if he does remain on the sideline this season due to lack of other opportunities, I wouldn’t expect him to stick around long-term.
Carey Smith: I don’t think Curry will stay with this franchise, but I really hope he does. Curry is a great defensive mind and has a unique ability to teach defensive strategy. The Sixers will need to be a very solid defensive team if they plan to even keep games respectably close in 2013-14. Curry also appears to be very popular with the players that remain on this roster and that could be a benefit to Brown’s new experience as a head coach.
Jake Fischer: There is no way Michael Curry remains in Philadelphia now that Brown is coach. In Orlando, following the team’s finale victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Curry said “Uh, I haven’t looked that far yet,” with a negative connotation when asked if he would remain on the staff as an assistant if not hired as the head coach. He’s not going to be with the Sixers next season.
4) What do you see as Brown’s biggest challenge as coach?
Jeff McMenamin: Brown’s biggest challenge will be developing the youth. I love the fact that Brown did this very well in San Antonio. Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel are huge projects at the moment and they’ll need extreme growth to be effective on the NBA-level. As we all know, the team is expected to have a couple more high draft picks to help with the rebuilding process. How these players collectively develop together will make or break how the Sixers compete in the future. Bottom line, they’ll either hit the jackpot on these players or be stuck in mediocrity once again for the foreseeable future.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: Brown appears to be ready to be a head coach in the NBA. He gained much experience as head coach of the Australian Men’s team from 2009-2012, and has learned the NBA game under one of the best in Gregg Popovich. His biggest challenge may be simply transitioning from an assistant position to a head coach and accepting all the additional responsibilities and challenges that come with it. Brown appears well-versed on both ends of the ball. His biggest immediate challenge would likely be developing the young talent, which he already has experience with, and accepting the struggles that are bound to come with his first couple seasons.
Carey Smith: Keeping this team motivated and playing together in an obvious “tank” season will be Brown’s biggest challenge off the court in 2013-14. As the L’s mount — and they will quickly — the tendency will be guys adopting a “get mine” attitude. Brown will need to squash any signs of that mindset and keep them focused on a “us against the world mentality”. On the court his biggest challenge will be figuring out what type of offense he is going to run. As it stands now, this team has no three point shooters, no low post threat, lacks an NBA-caliber 2-guard, and has an inexperienced starting point guard (Assuming MCW gets that job). Those facts will make it tough to score the ball in the half-court or on the break.
Jake Fischer: Brown’s biggest challenge will be staying patient throughout an undoubtedly bumpy ’13-14 season. He’ll need to keep his focus on the team’s very bright future.
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