CAMDEN – It was an admission that explained a decision.
“I’m bad at retirement,” Elton Brand chuckled Tuesday morning, when he was formally introduced by the 76ers as the next general manager of the Delaware 87ers, the organization’s NBA G League affiliate.
This time a year ago, Brand, now 38, was readying for his 18th NBA training camp, which he spent with the Sixers. A few days before the regular season, though, he chose to step away from the game.
Having logged nearly 1,050 career appearances, Brand enjoyed a successful stint in the league, posting lifetime averages of 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds. Now, as he begins the next phase of his professional journey, he knows he’ll be entering a relatively unfamiliar arena.
“It’s a different type of energy,” Brand said of front office work. He started getting his feet wet in his new gig last week. “I’m discussing players and trades and just the business side of it. I was exhausted [Monday]. I’m looking forward to growing in that aspect.”
Brand’s initial introduction to the Sixers’ basketball operations department came last winter, on the heels of being hiring as a player development consultant. His personnel itch grew stronger in the spring, as he was given more of a voice in the Sixers’ pre-draft preparations.
The two-time All-Star was part of the team’s combine contingent in Chicago. He monitored pre-draft workouts, had spots at the table for high-level meetings with ownership, and sat courtside with top brass during summer league.
Brand liked the environment, and his belief that he might be able to “really work basketball” intensified.
After Brandon Williams, the GM for the first four years of the Sevens’ existence, left to take an assistant GM job with the Sacramento Kings, the Sixers approached Brand about filling the vacancy. The former big man then consulted with friends, mentors, and his family. He was intrigued.
“The appeal was to get the repetitions in transactions, management, day-to-day operations, trades, getting an opportunity to call the shots,” said Brand, who picked the brains of his college coach Mike Krzyzewski, long-time agent David Falk, and Bryan and Jerry Colangelo while considering whether to pursue the Sevens position.
“People were like, ‘Your name can get you the opportunity to call shots,” Brand said before adding, “I don’t want a job because of my name. I want a job because of what I can bring to the table, and potential.”
Hear Brand Discuss His New Role With Sevens on The BroadCast:
In Brand’s mind, the Sixers organization was the ideal place to further expand his exposure to the personnel world. He’s familiar with the place, and the people.
Tuesday, Brand indicated his goal is to keep four to five NBA-caliber players in uniform for the Sevens as often as possible (the NBA this season is allowing teams to use two of their 17 roster spots on two-way players, and the Washington Wizards, without a G League affiliate of their own, loan players to the Sevens). He also mentioned Delaware’s offensive and defensive sets will mirror the schemes the Sixers run.
As for his long-term ambitions, Brand doesn’t sound like he’s looking too much farther past the many pieces of paper spread across his new desk, located just off one of the practice courts at the Sixers’ training complex.
“I’m taking it step-by-step,” said Brand. “I feel like these skills could translate to business, charity, whatever I want to [do.]”
In addition to having an office in Camden, Brand will also be working out of Sevens’ headquarters in Newark. He admitted he’ll miss being around the Sixers players on a regular basis, but sees plenty of promise ahead for Brett Brown’s group.
“I definitely feel the hype is justified,” said Brand, who admitted he’ll miss being around guys like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and rest of the team. “Definitely have to temper your expectations, but eventually, I’m sure it will click.”
Brand should be a steady presence around the Sixers during training camp and the pre season, a period during which he and his staff will be keeping tabs on candidates for openings on the Sevens.