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June 04, 2019

Sixers part ways with leaders of medical department, will begin search for new top doctor

The Sixers have parted ways with Dr. Daniel Medina, formerly their Vice President of Athlete Care, and Dr. David Martin, previously their Director of Performance Research and Development, a team representative confirmed to PhillyVoice on Tuesday.

"We thank Danny and David for their contributions to our athlete care program and wish them well in their future endeavors," a representative told PhillyVoice. "We're parting on good terms and we have a lot of respect for those two gentlemen."

The Sixers will begin a search for a new head of athlete care this summer, with the internal goal being to hire someone to run the department prior to the beginning of next season. 

Medina, as some of you may remember, came to the Sixers with a decent amount of fanfare after previously serving as the Deputy Director of Sports Science and Medical for FC Barcelona. He was the Team Physician for Barcelona for seven years prior to taking that executive role, and Medina represented one of the big hires made by Bryan Colangelo.

Martin, on the other hand, was hired by former GM Sam Hinkie, and it is not immediately clear if his position is one that will be filled/replaced before next season, if at all. The team's focus in the immediate term is to hire someone to lead their athlete care program, with decisions on corresponding positions taking a backseat to that process. Martin reported to Medina under the team's previous structure, though the team could not speak on the future of Martin's position with certainty.

As Elton Brand and Co. alluded to during exit interviews in May, the Sixers underwent a process of evaluating the various pieces of the organization to see where they could upgrade the franchise and bring it to a championship level. While the focus at the time was what that meant for the head coach, it should come as little surprise that the Sixers want to take a closer look at their medical department, which has been the subject of scrutiny for some time now.

It is hard not to connect the dots here between the health of Joel Embiid, which was a constant question mark for the final few months of the season, and the shift in medical personnel moving forward. But a team source who spoke with PhillyVoice said this decision was not driven by the health or satisfaction of any particular player, and noted the Sixers have dealt with a variety of unique challenges in the health department over the last couple of seasons.

A source said the Sixers are looking for someone to handle the health of the entire roster in "a progressive way." This tracks with the team's public comments about looking for ways to find more downtime for Embiid in-season, which Embiid himself said he was open to during exit interviews.

"He sees what other players have done, he's spoken to other players. You saw how he felt in the playoffs, which is the most important time, and he doesn't want to go there again," Elton Brand told reporters in mid-May. "We're going to monitor minutes, we're going to monitor workload, and he's on board for all of that."

As the team heads into draft and free agency this summer — both of which will necessitate medical consulting — they will lean on Dr. Christopher Dodson and Dr. Barry Kenneally to lead them through that process, a team spokesman confirmed to PhillyVoice. Dodson and Kenneally are both connected to the Sixers through the Rothman Institute. 

Dodson is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in injuries related to the shoulder, elbow, and knee, and he serves as an assistant team physician for the Eagles and Flyers, as well as a consultant for the L.A. Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Kenneally is a nonsurgical sports medicine physician.

This is the first offseason Elton Brand will have at the helm of the team, and as we've seen with the franchise-altering trades he was willing to make over the course of this season, he is not afraid to take a big step to shake things up. We will see where this process leads the Sixers, but it will give a department with a spotty history a much-needed shake up. 

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