If the Philadelphia 76ers don’t play another game this season, what does it mean for beleaguered head coach Brett Brown?
I’d like to begin, much like I did for my Flyers article that examined why the possible loss of the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be disappointing for them, by saying that I appreciate the full gravity of the situation that has led us here. If the Philadelphia 76ers don’t get to participate in the playoffs this season because the NBA extends its current postponement to an outright cancellation, then so be it. There are more important things in life, as disappointing as it would be for fans.
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But eventually, we’ll get back to playing basketball, and the Sixers will be faced with a big question when it comes to head coach Brett Brown. Namely, if the NBA season ends right here and now, how could the 76ers possibly dismiss him?
Brown has taken a beating all year, and I even hypothesized his undoing back in January. Even just a few days ago, Jimmy Butler had no mercy for him while appearing on JJ Redick’s podcast. With the Sixers looking more and more like they’re headed for elimination in the first or second round of the playoffs this season, all of the writing seemed to be on the wall that Brett Brown’s seventh season at the helm for the Sixers would be his last.
But now what?
If Brown doesn’t even get a chance to coach in the playoffs this year, Sixers management has no ground to stand on when it comes to firing him. They’ve done it to themselves. By sticking by Brown even as this promising season started to go south, they’ve cast their lot with him. Granted, no guarantees have been given, but they were obviously letting this season fully play out before making a decision going forward. Letting him go at some point after a possible cancellation of the NBA season would be a full admission that they were wrong and didn’t know what they were doing when they gave him their support this season.
Seriously, how could you tell us with a straight face that he’s still the right man for the job, only to change course without seeing what he can actually get out of this team? Whether out of ego or actual belief in Brett Brown, GM Elton Brand and bumbling Sixers ownership have no choice here. If the NBA packs it in and doesn’t resume play until next season, Brett Brown absolutely still has to be the head coach.
It might seem apparent to even the casual fan that Brown has taken the Sixers as far as he can and that he clearly has no control when it comes to the players on this team. But the Sixers tell us that he’s their man, warts and all. And they’ll open themselves up to huge criticism by dismissing Brown if the 2020 playoffs never happen.
Still, I wouldn’t put it past the Sixers to fire Brown and then feed us some lines about “the time off giving us a chance for introspection”; that’s just how this team rolls. But if they want to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel confident that frauds aren’t staring back at them, Brett Brown needs to be the head coach of your 2020-21 Philadelphia 76ers if this year’s playoffs don’t happen.