PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers finally got their man.
Brett Brown, a South Portland native, accepted the team’s head coaching offer Monday, according to several league sources. Brown, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant, will receive a four-year, guaranteed contract.
The sources asked to remain anonymous because the hire had not been officially announced. The Sixers are expected to introduce Brown in a news conference in the coming days.
Brown, 52, will replace Doug Collins, who resigned April 18, and will become the team’s eighth coach since Larry Brown stepped down after the 2002-03 season.
“I think it’s good for the organization,” Sixers swingman Evan Turner said of Brown’s hiring. “I really don’t know much about him but I think he will be good for young guys and the future.”
That’s what the Sixers are banking on.
They finished a disappointing 34-48 last season and several players have moved on.
Some of the more notable departures are point guard Jrue Holiday (Memphis) via a trade, and swingman Dorrell Wright (Portland), swingman Nick Young (Los Angeles Lakers) and center Andrew Bynum (Cleveland) in free agency. Bynum, who has chronically injured knees, never played for the Sixers after being acquired in a four-team trade last August.
Brown must rebuild with a team that will have two rookies, center Nerlens Noel and point guard Michael Carter-Williams, as the faces of the franchise.
But as a renowned skill-development coach, he’s been coveted by the Sixers for some time.
Brown, while playing for his father, Bob Brown, a legendary Maine high school coach, was the point guard as undefeated South Portland won the Class A championship in 1979.
He went on to play for Boston University under Rick Pitino, leading the Terriers to the NCAA tournament in 1983 for the first time since 1959.
Brown held an unofficial post with the Spurs during their NBA championship season in 1998-99. He rejoined Coach Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio staff in July 2002 as an assistant coach/director of player development. Brown moved to the bench as an assistant coach before the 2006-07 season.
As the Spurs’ player development coach, he was credited with refining and improving specific aspects of players’ games during individual workouts. Brown worked with Hedo Turkoglu on 3-point shooting, Bruce Bowen on his pull-up jumper, and Rasho Nesterovic on his defensive spacing and rebounding.
Brown also had a hand in the development of point guard Tony Parker, whose scoring average went from 9.2 to 15.5 points per game in the first season he worked with him.
Popovich once said Brown was brilliant at working out players, no matter what the focus was.
Brown also coached for 14 seasons, nine as a head coach, in the Australia National Basketball League. He coached the Aussies’ national team to a seventh-place finish in the 2012 London Olympics.
He was in line to replace the departed Mike Budenholzer as San Antonio’s lead assistant before accepting the coaching job with Philadelphia. Budenholzer was hired as Atlanta’s head coach in May.
Among the candidates for the Sixers job were assistant Michael Curry, a holdover from Collins’ staff; Boston assistant Jay Larranaga; Atlanta assistant Kenny Atkinson; and Chicago assistant Adrian Griffin.
Curry is under contract for another season with the Sixers along with assistant coaches Aaron McKie and Jeff Capel.