The Philadelphia 76ers owe coach Doug Collins a lot for making them a playoff team again. Therefore, Sixers fans like myself owe him a bit of leeway too, even if he plays a part in a couple of baffling moves. One of them came on July 13, as the Sixers signed one of the biggest NBA draft busts in history to reunite with Collins, who first failed to make him a star.
In 2001, Collins coached the Washington Wizards as they selected Kwame Brown with the No. 1 draft pick. Yet Brown became a notorious bust after four years with Washington, as Collins couldn't make then-owner Michael Jordan's debatable choice pay off. A decade and six more teams later, Brown is now joining the Sixers to get some semblance of a career back, after signing a two-year deal with Philadelphia on July 13.
Brown's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told Yahoo Sports that since Collins was "like a father figure" in Washington, it made his client "eager' to play for him in Philadelphia. Of course, despite Collins' support and help for Brown from 2001 to 2003, it didn't help him live up to the hype as a No. 1 pick out of high school. The floodgates only opened from there with six more clubs, as his last tenure with the Golden State Warriors ended with chest muscle surgery after nine games.
Still, the Sixers are trusting Brown to be a viable bench option for the next two years - signing him on the same day that Elton Brand was picked up by the Dallas Mavericks. Brand was a letdown in Philadelphia for four years, yet Sixers fans didn't expect someone who's been a letdown for 10 years to take his place.
But expectations in free agency have been somewhat diminished in Philadelphia, as the Sixers have made a bunch of small moves instead of one big one. They may be waiting until 2013 to try that, which has turned 2012 into more of a transition and development season. The Sixers need to hope that their young stars develop into bigger leaders, but will need role players like Brown to give them support if necessary.
With his track record, there shouldn't be too many high hopes, although Collins seems to still have enough faith in him anyway. He couldn't develop Brown into a No. 1 star in Washington, but can he make him a real contributor in Philadelphia? At this point, contributors seem to be all that the Sixers are looking for, so they might as well get the best ones they can - yet Brown has a ways to go to prove he is among them.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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