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76ers seek distance from weird summer

Brooklyn Nets

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 16: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers goes up for the dunk against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center on March 16, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets were 1-3 last season against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are looking to move past a strange offseason that included a GM change.

In a true 21st century saga, the Philadelphia 76ers — long-time divisional rivals of the Brooklyn Nets — parted ways with general manager Bryan Colangelo on June 7 after a strange affair involving Colangelo, his wife and burner accounts on Twitter that aired dirty Philadelphia laundry.

It wasn’t technically a firing — Colangelo was allowed to resign in a failed attempt for him to save some of his actively-on-fire reputation — but it left the 76ers without a GM throughout most of the offseason.

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Head coach Brett Brown assumed the interim GM duties for until vice president of basketball operations Elton Brand, a former 76ers player, was elevated to the GM post on Sept. 18.

Part of Brand’s former duties had been to serve as GM of the organization’s G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats (renamed after playing as the Delaware 87ers for five seasons).

Brand. 39, is only a couple of years removed from his playing days, having retired in 2016.

The 76ers sought to add big-name free agents, particularly targeting LeBron James, but fell short in that quest with James ultimately choosing to take his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Instead, the 76ers picked up Wilson Chandler from the Denver Nuggets and Mike Muscala from the Atlanta Hawks in trades.

They did retain free agents J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson and Demetrius Jackson, but their bench took a hit when late-season additions Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks) and Marco Belinelli (San Antonio Spurs) decided to return to teams with which they had previously played.

Still, few wept for the 76ers’ plight.

Armed with young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and young talents Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz, the infamous Process came to fruition in 2017-18 as Philadelphia won 52 games (including its final 16 in a row) and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

The 52 victories were a welcome balm for 76ers fans, who endured a 75-253 stretch from 2013-14 through 2016-17.

Philadelphia dominated the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs before being dispatched by the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals.

In that loss, Boston may have created a blueprint on how to slow the 76ers down (more on that in a bit).

Ultimately, any improvement the 76ers create this season will be organic rather than store-bought, which fits the philosophy of how the club reinvented itself in the first place.

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