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December 11, 2015

Brett Brown's extension gives him a chance to finish what he started

Sixers NBA
121115_Brown-Hinkie_AP Matt Slocum/AP

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown, left, and general manager Sam Hinkie.

It's not often that you see a head coach who's won just 38 of his 187 games offered an extension.

However, that's exactly what happened Friday, as the Philadelphia 76ers and head coach Brett Brown agreed to a two-year contract extension that will keep the former San Antonio Spurs assistant with the team through the 2018-19 season.

Brown, who failed to win 20 games in each of first two season and is 1-21 so far this year, is in the third year of his initial four-year deal which was signed back in 2013, when The Process™ was just in it's infancy. 

And because of that, his 38-149 record is hardly a reflection of his abilities as a coach or leader.

If anything, the fact that he's remained so poised and -- in the midst of mounting losses -- been able to keep his team from completely falling apart is a testament to the job he's done.

As the team continues to turn general manager Sam Hinkie's assets into living, breathing players, Brown not only gains some job security; he gets a chance to see this thing through to the end. And according to the 54-year-old coach, that time is coming.

"I believe that we will [be a winning team in three years]," Brown said during a press conference prior to the Sixers game against the Detroit Pistons. "It's part of my excitement to accept this extension."

In addition to the multitude of draft picks the Sixers will have this summer, they're also anxiously awaiting the return of Joel Embiid from injury and the addition of Dario Saric from Europe. And the prospect of that has to be music to the Brown's ears, as the start of his NBA coaching career included much more loss -- Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Michael Carter-Williams, to name a few -- than gain.

He's been coaching with the deck stacked against him. And his bosses were wise enough to realize he deserved a chance at coaching a roster that is capable of competing.

“Brett has been everything we anticipated – and more – both as a basketball coach and a partner in building this program,” Hinkie said in a team statement. “His tireless work ethic, his daily desire to consistently improve, and his resiliency line up with our core values as an organization. It was not difficult to come to the decision to formally say we want to work with Brett Brown even longer.”

Rumors of a potential extension have been out there for a while, and on Monday -- after the team introduced Jerry Colangelo to the newly-created position of Chairman of Basketball Operations -- co-managing owner Josh Harris and Brown both confirmed that the two sides were deep into negotiations.

On Friday, team president and Hinkie confirmed that discussions had been ongoing for a few weeks, and added that he first began entertaining the idea of extending Brown over the summer. He also wanted to make sure we knew that he continued public praise of his coach wasn't just lip service.

"I hope [this extension] sends a message that we mean what we say," Hinkie told the media gathered at The Wells Fargo Center prior to the game. "And that our ownership means what it says about building something really special for the city of Philadelphia."

Not only is this deal an endorsement of Brown, but it's also an expression of the organization's continued faith in The Process™ -- despite the addition of a Hall of Fame name in Colangelo.

"It's obviously been a rough start to our season," Hinkie continued. "We've been on this path for a while now, and we haven't blinked. And I don't see that happening; I really don't. I don't see us wavering from what really matters, what matters most to each of us."

The one thing Hinkie repeatedly pointed to was Brown's resiliency. And given the hand that he's been dealt, it isn't hard to see why that's been one of his defining characteristics so far in his career.

"Why would I want to have this job?" Brown wondered aloud. "[When I was first hired], I sat here with Sam and excepted a four-year commitment to try to do something extraordinarily difficult. I think as time has unfolded, you appreciate just how hard it is, but also how exciting it is. To have lived and breathed what we've all been through ... to have experienced that time frame and see the growth we've made, take the hits we've taken, how could I not want to see this through. 

"We have started something extremely difficult, but it's going to end up extremely special."

That's not a given -- there's still a long way to go -- but at least Brown now has a realistic chance of still being here if/when that time comes.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin