By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The day was July 9th, 2008. The Sixers were coming off a first round playoff exit at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. The team had its eyes set on acquiring a marquee free agent name. That name was Elton Brand and his contract was known as “The Philly Max.”
Then General Manager Ed Stefanki and Brand agreed to a five year deal with the Sixers for $79.795 million. He left a Clippers team for a Sixers team that was seeking an opportunity to ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference. It was the last time the team had significant cap space and they opted to spend it on Brand who was coming off a season in which he played just eight games, sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury.
The Sixers had hoped to land Atlanta restricted free agent Josh Smith, but a deal fell through. The Sixers landed Brand because he felt like Philadelphia was the perfect fit despite a $90 million offer from the Golden State Warriors. Power forward was the natural hole on the Sixers who boasted a core of Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young and Samuel Dalembert.
The Sixers took a swipe at going from an emerging franchise, to being an Eastern Conference Contender. The Sixers saw a window, and went for it.
We all know how Brand’s Philly tenure played out. There was no real lack of hustle from Brand. Injuries and age just caught up to him and he never quite lived up to “The Philly Max,” contract that he signed that was suppose to make the Sixers a contender.
Brand was released via the NBA’s amnesty provision in 2012, the same summer the team acquired Andrew Bynum. Fast forward six years. The Sixers have gone from being a fringe playoff team that saw visions of grandeur that more than likely weren’t really there, to being a team that prides itself on building from within and using an analytics based approach to build a team.
The brain trusts were quite different in these situations. Stefanski and Ed Snider were running the show when Brand was brought to town and it was the first big splash of the Joshua Harris, Adam Aron duo that brought in Bynum. However, it appears Sam Hinkie may have brushed up on his recent Sixers history.
They say those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. That apt saying—and Hinkie, of course—might very well explain the organization’s current slow and steady approach to becoming contenders.
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