Brown Crosses Important Item Off To-Do List

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

Between the draft on June 20th, and the impending start of free agency, there was an important order of business the 76ers crossed off their summer to-do list:

Hire two new assistant coaches to replace Billy Lange and Monty Williams, who within the past two months were tapped to become head coaches for Saint Joseph's University and the Phoenix Suns, respectively. 

This past week, General Manager Elton Brand announced that Ime Udoka and Joseph Blair will fill these vacancies. Once the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs in May, Brand and Brett Brown wasted little time vetting candidates. 

"Without getting into the granular pieces of what those qualities need to look like, I know completely sort of the areas they will be responsible for," Brown said following the playoffs. "I set my NBA staff up like an NFL program. It's very compartmentalized in regards to special teams, and pieces of our offense and defense. There are people responsible for big man coaches and perimeter people and so on. It's very NFL-ish, and it works for me to better organize."

Both Udoka and Blair boast exceptional credentials. Each is a former player who has gone on to experience tremendous success as a coach. 

Udoka was a small forward for the New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Sacramento Kings before retiring in 2012. Prior to landing with the Sixers, he had been a Spurs assistant ever since, winning a championship in 2014. 

Blair, who logged a 13-year career overseas as a power forward and center, is fresh off a title run of his own. He spent 2018-19 as head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, leading the Houston Rockets' affiliate to this year's G League crown.  

"There are skills, there are ways people sort of see the world that will factor into who we hire," Brown said in May. 

Udoka and Blair met the Sixers' criteria. They'll round out a contingent of assistants that also consists of Kevin Young, John Bryant, and Todd Wright.

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