But heightened expectations, injury issues and a demoralizing run in the NBA’s Disney World bubble combined to make Brown’s future untenable. Philadelphia entered this season projected to be a top contender in the East following an expensive summer that included long-term deals for Al Horford and Tobias Harris.
Lineup fit problems and injuries to Simmons contributed to the 76ers’ disappointing 43-30 record and set up a disheartening first-round series against the Boston Celtics. Without Simmons, the 76ers had no answers for the Celtics’ wings, leaving Embiid outmatched and frustrated.
Brown faced speculation about his job status throughout his stay in the bubble, and the 76ers wasted no time moving Monday after they were eliminated Sunday. ESPN first reported Brown’s firing.
“[Brown] did many positive things during his time here, developing young talent and helping position our team for three straight postseason appearances,” 76ers General Manager Elton Brand said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we fell well short of our goals this year and I believe it is best to go in a new direction. This will be an important offseason for us as we look to get back on track toward our goal of competing for an NBA championship.”
The firing was widely expected, with Brown telling reporters Sunday that injuries prevented him from doing his best work this year and acknowledging that the season did not meet expectations.
“The job of a coach is to take the team you have and maximize it,” Brown said. “I did not do that.”
Brown, known as a gregarious and optimistic leader, departs after seven seasons with a 221-344 record (.391) that reflects the first four years of his tenure, which were spent developing younger players and angling for draft lottery positioning. Brown’s 76ers won two playoff series and fell just short of a third when Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard eliminated them last year with a Game 7 buzzer-beater.
“In 2013, I was employed to lead one of the most dramatic rebuilds in professional sports history,” Brown said in a statement. “In the past seven years, our players and coaches have evolved and grown, and I have deep appreciation for the 102 players I have coached.”
Possible candidates to replace Brown include Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka. Brown’s replacement will inherit a roster that is heavy on size and experience and light on shooting and versatility.
Read more on the NBA: