“The hype is justified.”
That’s what Elton Brand had to say one day after being named the general manager of the Delaware 87ers.
But the NBA veteran wasn’t talking about the G-League affiliate now under his care. He was talking about the 76ers.
Brand, who was with Sixers center Joel Embiid in South Africa over the summer as part of Basketball Without Borders and the NBA Africa Game 2017, had plenty of good things to say about the work Embiid has been putting in this offseason.
“He was working his butt off,” Brand said Tuesday. “I worked him out there. … It was him, Dirk Nowitzki, and C.J. McCollum, and he was going shot-for-shot and winning spots against these guys, and it was amazing to see.”
Brand also said that the 76ers’ recent voluntary workouts and practices have been buzzing and that the high-energy team is hungry and ready to take the next step.
That’s good news for Brand in his new role. With a young roster and two-way contracts between G-League and NBA clubs, Brand has stepped into a unique situation. The two-way contracts, which allow players to spend up to 45 days with the NBA team, means strategizing is more important than ever for those in front-office positions around the G-League.
Brand, who jokingly said he isn’t good at retirement and added he will miss spending large amounts of time with Sixers players, said he is ready to step into a more involved role on the business side of basketball, no matter how unfamiliar the territory.
“It’s a totally different mind-set and a totally different type of energy,” said Brand, whose 17-year NBA career ended with the 2015-16 season. “Discussing players and trades and just the business side of it, I was exhausted yesterday. Basketball is one thing, but this was a different kind of tired. But I’m looking forward to growing in that aspect.”
He added that even though the title was only recently announced, he has been keeping busy and slowly transitioning with GM duties.
“I kind of started already, unofficially,” Brand said. “I’ve been looking at players for the two-ways and for the affiliate, and it’s been about a week unofficially.”
Though Brand warns that expectations must be tempered for the Sixers heading into the season — especially with a difficult schedule early on — he is also placing his own expectations on the young players with whom he’ll be working.
“It’s going to be high-level talent out there,” he said.
Brand, who will have a front-row seat at training camp, says he fully expects many of the young Sixers players to spend time with the Sevens this season.