The Philadelphia 76ers made the obvious decision to fire head coach Brett Brown following their first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Brown did a tremendous job with the “process” in Philadelphia, turning an expansion-level roster into a contender. Unfortunately, it became clear during a down 2019-20 season that he would not be the man to lead this organization moving forward.
While moving on from Brown changes the dynamics on the bench, there’s a lot more that needs to be done by general manager Elton Brand to retool this team on the fly. It’s in this that I look at five bold moves that could fix the Sixers.
Hire Becky Hammon to replace Brett Brown
We focused on potential candidates to take over for Brown after he was fired following Philadelphia’s first-round playoff exit. Of course, Hammon was on that list. She’s been a top candidate around NBA circles for some time now. Hiring her as the first woman head coach in Association history would not only light a fire under the organization, it makes the most sense.
There’s a reason Hammon has been valued as Gregg Poppovich’s top assistant in San Antonio with Tim Duncan. She knows the Spurs’ system and helps run it to perfection. Sure Brown was in San Antonio ahead of getting the job in Philadelphia, but these are two vastly different situations. She just makes too much sense.
Trade Ben Simmons to the Warriors for Andrew Wiggins, first-round picks
We’re not 100% sure if Philadelphia general manager Elton Brand is working under the same philosophy as the team’s now-former head coach. Brett Brown had major issues with Simmons’ inability to expand his offensive game. On the court, it did lead to some major issues from the perimeter and forced Philly to go with iso-heavy ball. That’s not necessarily a recipe for success in today’s NBA.
In no way would Wiggins (33% career three-point shooter) fix this. He’s also not going to be the central part in any trade involving someone of Simmons’ ilk. With that said, Wiggins is still only 25 years old and can stretch the court more than Simmons. A deal like this would also net Philadelphia two extremely valuable first-round picks — the second overall selection in 2020 and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ unprotected 2021 first-round pick. That could help rebuild the roster behind Embiid.
Sell off Tobias Harris’ contract
If Philadelphia were to acquire Wiggins, it would create a log jam at small forward. Just over a calendar year after signing Harris to a five-year, $180 million contract, the veteran wing could potentially be on his way out of the City of Brotherly Love. The contract itself was always questionable despite Harris’ previous success.
Philadelphia could potentially look to move this contract while bringing back a couple bad deals in the process. At the very least, it would help create depth. Purely hypothetical, but trading Harris to a contender out west like the Dallas Mavericks could work. Under this scenario, Philly adds depth in the form of Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell and Delon Wright. The salaries would match, too. The assumption here is that the Sixers would also net a pick or two.
Make Matisse Thybulle starting shooting guard
Philadelphia’s next head coach will likely have to choose between Thybulle and fellow youngster Shake Milton as it relates to the team’s long-term solution at the two-guard. Milton might provide more from a scoring standpoint, but this 2019 first-round pick is seen as a legit defender.
That could alter the landscape of Philadelphia’s thought process. Regardless, an in-house candidate to start at the two makes the most sense for all involved parties.
Trade first-round pick, Shake Milton and Al Horford’s contract for proven point guard
This is where the Brett Brown firing did not sit well with some. Elton Brand seemingly found himself a fall guy after it was reported during the spring that the Sixers would not commit to Brown following the 2019-20 season. That came months after the general manager inked Horford to a four-year, $109 million free-agent contract.
It was an unmitigated disaster for both sides. Brand might now have to right the ship by yielding one of the two first-round picks he acquired in the hypothetical Ben Simmons trade to rid Philadelphia of Horford’s contract. In the process, Brand adds a legitimate point guard to round out the starting five. Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook could make sense here.