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May 13, 2019

Brett Brown returning as Sixers' coach is first step toward stability

Sixers NBA

Sixers head coach Brett Brown will return to coach the team for the 2019-20 season, a team official confirmed to PhillyVoice on Monday night. After much speculation about the direction the franchise would go this summer, they opted to run it back with their longtime leader.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to report the news on Monday evening.

The decision to retain Brown came following a day of impassioned Brown defenses at Philadelphia's exit interviews, where Joel Embiid spoke out loudly and proudly in favor of his coach.

"I heard about all these rumors and stuff and I just thought it was bulls***," Embiid said during exit interviews. "He's done a fantastic job. He's been there through everything and this year I think he grew even more as a coach. He learned, we all learned."

"It's hard when you've got five guys that can score the ball and do a lot of things on the basketball court, it's hard to put it together. At the end of the day, it comes down to the players. I don't think he should have anything to worry about. He's an amazing coach, a better person, and obviously, I've got a lot of love for him. If there was someone to blame, put it all on me."

This is the first domino of the offseason to fall for Philadelphia. There will be debate about whether this was the right call for the Sixers — I made my feelings on this subject quite clear over the weekend — but the timing of the move should not be up for any debate. The Sixers looked at the rumors surrounding Brown and cleared the air quickly and decisively, allowing their group to move forward into the offseason.

As it turns out, there is a lot for the Sixers to accomplish this summer. They have to make rulings on which players they want to bring back, work on their pitches to retain said players, go through draft evaluations, prioritize outside free agents, the to-do list is significant. With an incumbent coach, the Sixers go into this summer without the need to get a new man up to speed on how they do business, and they avoid having to account for the wishes and preferences of a new voice in the room.

Stability is something the Sixers have had very little of over the last few years, between Bryan Colangelo's burner account scandal and the upheaval via trade they went through this season. It is not the path of reactionaries, but sometimes cooler heads are needed in your darkest hours. Look no further than the Portland Trailblazers, who were told all last summer they should blow it up after a humiliating first-round defeat, only to advance to the Western Conference Finals with largely the same group this year.

The focus in Philly now turns to the team's big free agents, who were among the players that supported Brown in their exit interviews Monday.

"I think he has a huge heart," Jimmy Butler said on Monday. "He’s a great, great dude and he works incredibly hard. You’ve gotta respect that about him. He’s always thinking of how he can make everybody great, which is hard to do when you have a roster like we have/had, but I think he’s going to be here for a long time."

Brown is not the guy many want to see in the head coach chair, but as the playoffs unfolded, Brown rose to the occasion as the Sixers needed him. The Sixers went into their second-round series as heavy underdogs, and with a combination of Brown's adjustments and star power, they pushed Toronto as long and hard as they could.

And in spite of the roster turnover, the Sixers managed to do one thing many wouldn't have expected — they stayed together. Relationships grew between dominant personalities, they shared the ball right up until the very end, and they began to morph into the defensively stout team many believed they could be with this roster.

There may be changes to come in Philadelphia, but one major question has been answered, quickly and correctly.

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