Sixers face critical offseason questions after playoff exit | News Coverage from USA

Sixers face critical offseason questions after playoff exit

TORONTO — The Process is dead. Long live the process

Asked where The Process is at this stage of his career, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid —  dejected from losing to Toronto 92-90 in Game 7 on Sunday — said, “I don’t give a damn about The Process.”

Quite the admission from Embiid, who came to embody the Sixers’ divisive rebuild set forth by former general manager Sam Hinkie.

Regardless whether Embiid uttered his comment in the disappointment of defeat or if that’s how he really feels, the Sixers have reached a critical moment in this era.

Where do they go from here? Who is on the team at the start of the 2019-20 season?

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General manager Elton Brand has proven himself in his first season in the job following the Bryan Colangelo Twitter disgrace that resulted in Colangelo losing his job.

Brand acquired Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris in trades during the season and the work gets more difficult, but Philadelphia has answered its first big question with the team deciding to bring back coach Brett Brown.

Rumors had percolated for some time that Brown was in jeopardy, and The New York Times reported before Game 7 that it would be difficult for Brown to save his job if the Sixers didn’t advance to the conference finals.

Ownership had been on record saying the Sixers have the talent to beat anyone in the East, and Brand told reporters in April the goal was to get deeper in the playoffs than last season, which was a second-round exit, the same as this season. But basing Brown’s future on an incredible buzzer-beater by Kawhi Leonard in a Game 7 seemed short-sighted.

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Brown had his playoff starting five — Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick — for 10 regular-season games. He had to coach three iterations of 2018-19 Sixers: the team he had at a training camp, the team he had after the Sixers traded for Butler in November and the team he had when the Sixers acquired Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in February.

With the coach position resolved, Brand and the Sixers can focus on the roster. Butler likely will become a free agent and Harris will be a free agent. Do those two want to come back, and at what price and length of contract? Giving up what they did in trades to get those two indicates the Sixers are willing to spend to keep both.

A third starter, Redick, is also a free agent along with Mike Scott, Amir Johnson, Greg Monroe and Boban Marjanovic.

Because Philadelphia has several young players on team friendly contracts, the Sixers have money to spend in free agency.

In the draft, the Sixers have one first-round pick and three second-round picks. While the draft is important, it’s far less so compared to the coaching situation and free agency.

It’s one of the more intriguing offseason story lines: How do  the Sixers take the next step of their development? How do they become a championship contender?

It’s a process, that’s for sure, and it’s in Elton Brand’s hands.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

 

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