Some 76ers fans owe Elton Brand big apology over early free agency approach

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After seeing how things turned out so far for the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency, it’s safe to say some fans owe Elton Brand a big apology.

Heading into the start of free agency Sunday night, all eyes were on Elton Brand to see what kind of moves the Philadelphia 76ers general manager would make to put the team in better position to compete moving forward.

More than ever, the pressure is building up for the Sixers in regards to being a top contender in the Eastern Conference after suffering another elimination in the semifinals for a second year in a row this past spring.

One can only imagine how different the rest of the postseason would have played out if that insane shot by Kawhi Leonard didn’t bounce around a bunch of times in Game 7 before dropping for the game winner, but living in the past changes nothing.

Instead, the best approach that Philadelphia can take is use what took place last season as a learning experience to build off from, although that’s always easier said than done.

While there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Sixers leading up to the draft, the start of free agency is where the team was expected to make their big moves with the hopes of bringing certain key players back, mainly Jimmy Butler.

But Butler wasn’t the only player Sixers fans were focused on seeing since guys like Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick were free agents as well, meaning the team could very well have lost three of their previous five starters.

Within minutes after the official start of free agency, anxiety started to pile up in the City of Brotherly Love after Redick signed a two-year, $26.5 million with the New Orleans Pelicans to leave Philadelphia without one of their top shooters.

And if that wasn’t already frustrating enough, there were reports surrounding Butler, and how he would kick off free agency by meeting with the Miami Heat, leaving plenty of fans feeling all sorts of pressure towards Brand.

In fact, all was quiet during the first official hour of free agency, and for the basketball fans that tend to be pretty active on social media, the amount of blame being thrown Brand’s way was insane to see play out.

Why didn’t Brand make more of an effort to re-sign Redick? How come the Sixers didn’t offer Butler a max contract right away?

These were just a few examples of some thoughts running through the minds of Sixers fans during that first hour of action in free agency since no one could seem to wrap their heads around the reasons behind the team’s lack of action.

As everyone now knows, Philadelphia’s Sunday evening would end up getting pretty wild after the team finally got in on the free agency action by signing Harris to a hefty five-year, $180 million to return to the Sixers.

Shortly after this key move, it was announced Mike Scott would be returning to the team as well on a favorable two-year deal to provide Philadelphia with a key member off the bench.

However, the Butler situation is what most Sixers fans were focused on since there was the fear of Philadelphia losing out on a player who came up big when the team needed him the most in the playoff series against Toronto.

Not to mention, with all of the rumors surrounding a potential sign-and-trade deal with either the Heat or Houston Rockets, the last thing Sixers fans wanted to see is Philadelphia get robbed in a deal by receiving a player in return who wouldn’t be helpful.

After a couple of hours consisting of numerous moves across the league, the big news finally came out that Butler would in fact be sent to Miami in a trade with Philadelphia getting Josh Richardson in return.

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And if that deal didn’t seem exciting enough for Sixers fans, literally within minutes after the Butler news came out, it was announced that Al Horford would be coming on board as well on a four-year, $109 million deal.

All of a sudden, Philadelphia went from being a team that seemed like they would be taking a step back from a contender perspective for starting off free agency on a slow note to potentially having the best starting five in the Eastern Conference.

Harris teaming up with the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was one thing, but to add an underrated young player in Richardson on top of a consistent big-man defender in Horford has the potential to take the Sixers to new levels next season.

So after all of the bashing and ripping on Brand that took place early on Sunday night, Sixers fans gave nothing but praise towards the Sixers general manager for the moves pulled off by night’s end.

Unfortunately, the fan base is going to continue being split over how they feel about Butler being gone, but deep down, Philadelphia as a team seems like they are going to be much better off with this new starting lineup.

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But at least when it comes to the effort made by Brand during this year’s free agency period, it’s safe to say that Sixers fans feel a lot more confident about their general manager.

Clearly, Brand had a plan all along, making the early criticism from Sunday laughable to look back on since the early frustration would end up being worth it in the long run.