CAMDEN, N.J. -- The Philadelphia 76ers formally introduced Elton Brand on Thursday as their new general manager, the culmination of a months-long process to identify and install a new senior basketball executive.
Sitting alongside Brand at the dais, Philadelphia controlling owner Joshua Harris cited his new general manager's work ethic, intelligence and lengthy career in the NBA.
"He represents everything we aspire to be as an organization," Harris said. "It's a players' league, and Elton is universally respected. He has a remarkable understanding of the game, knows how players feel and react, knows what's important to them. He's the perfect general manager for today's NBA, where relationships throughout the NBA ecosystem, creating a desirable free-agent destination and driving a team-centric culture are paramount."
The Sixers enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017-18, improving from 28 wins the previous season to 52 and advancing to the conference semifinals. Their starting unit was 21.4 points per 100 possessions better than the opposition, the best in the NBA by a substantial margin among high-usage lineups. Joel Embiid earned his first All-Star selection, while Ben Simmons won the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.
In his opening statement, Brand said 76ers ownership has made clear that winning a title represents the threshold of success in Philadelphia.
"I understand what the expectations are on the court, driving us to that championship," Brand said. "The 76ers are on the cusp of something special, and the next 12 months are really important. So I think that's why I was the leading candidate, to bring stability to our organization and this group I know very well."
Sources with knowledge of the Sixers' thinking say that tapping an existing member of the management team was among the major factors in Brand's selection. The organization has devoted considerable resources in recent years to building systems and infrastructure. An in-house candidate like Brand, who is familiar with those processes, appealed to ownership and Brown.
Pressed to delineate the hierarchy in basketball operations, Harris and Brand were careful in specifying who among the Sixers' brain trust would have ultimate authority in personnel decisions, be it Brand, Brown or ownership.
"Elton and Brett are partners, like in many, many great organizations in basketball," Harris said. "Both of them report to me and to ownership. We expect they'll be collaborating a lot. Ultimately, Brett is the on-the-court voice, and Elton is the off-the-court voice. Elton will have, you know, kind of the loudest voice off the court and balance decision-making authority subject to ownership."
"Final say: Coach is going to have a voice in it. We're going to discuss it. I'm going to make my final recommendation to ownership, just like any other team does," Brand said.
The 76ers performed a protracted executive search following the departure of Bryan Colangelo in June as Philadelphia's president of basketball operations. An investigation revealed that Colangelo's wife had operated several anonymous Twitter accounts that sparred with Sixers fans over the social media platform, revealed sensitive front-office information and disparaged members of the team. Head coach Brown presided over basketball operations during the interim period, which coincided with the NBA draft and the summer free-agency season.
Over the summer, the Sixers inquired about the availability of several senior basketball executives around the league and ultimately considered a number of internal and external candidates. On Thursday, Harris said that the team identified 10 candidates prior to settling on Brand. Those under consideration for the job included Golden State assistant general manager Larry Harris, Houston executive vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, Utah assistant general manager Justin Zanik, as well as Sixers assistant general manager Ned Cohen and vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley.
Brand, a two-time NBA All-Star, averaged 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 1,058 games over 17 seasons in the league. The Sixers lured him away from the Los Angeles Clippers in 2008 with a five-year contract in excess of $80 million. He most recently served as the team's vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Delaware Blue Coats, the franchise's G-League affiliate. Although Brand had the shortest track record in management among the field, Harris countered that Brand's two years of management generated the kind of internal support that made his selection an "easy decision." Brand's longtime agent, David Falk, pointed out that many of the league's achievers assumed their respective positions without extensive experience.
"Steve Kerr never coached a game in his life, won the NBA title," Falk said. "Doc Rivers. Some of the best talent in the league didn't have experience. Sometimes we put too much emphasis on experience and continue to hire the same people over and over again who have failed in other places. So I respect the ownership group in taking a leap of faith with someone they've watched in the trenches for the last couple of years."