Philadelphia 76ers confirm Brett Brown will return as head coach: He's still 'our leader going forward'

We can officially put those rumors to rest -- Brett Brown will return to the Philadelphia 76ers next season.

Despite rumblings that Brown was on the hot seat following the Sixers' 92-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of their semifinal series on Sunday, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris confirmed that Brown will return for his seventh season as Philadelphia's coach. 

"Brett is our leader going forward and he's our coach for the past years," Harris said. "There was a ton of speculation about this. We were really focused on the playoffs. Once the playoffs ended, it made sense to put it all to rest and move on." 

As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski documents in hist story, the Sixers still owe Brown $15 million more on a contract extension that he signed in 2015 and the organization was determined to end speculation regarding a potential firing involving the 58-year-old coach.

"The Sixers owe Brown nearly $15 million on a contract extension set to start next season, and management was determined to end speculation about his future and begin work on an offseason that includes decisions on retaining two prominent free agents, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris."

Philadelphia finished the 2018-19 season with its second straight playoff berth but was eliminated for the second straight season in the second round. Brown came under attack following the game because of the Sixers' lack of offensive execution late in the fourth quarter, when they scored just a total of five points during the last 5:47 of the game.

While it's clear the Sixers did have problems late in their Game 7 loss, this is also an extremely young team built around second-year man Ben Simmons and third-year center Joel Embiid. Furthermore, the team made in-season additions with the acquisitions of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris.

In other words, the Sixers haven't had a full training camp or season with their four-man core. With Harris and Butler being free agents this year -- Butler has a player option for 2019-20 -- the priority will now be to re-sign those two and have better late-game execution during the playoffs with a full season of playing on the Sixers under their belts.

Embiid made sure to defend Brown following the team's elimination in Game 7.

"I don't think he should have anything to worry about," Embiid said. "He's an amazing coach, a better person, and obviously I've got a lot of love for him. If there is someone to blame, put it all on me."

While Brown will be back for the 2019-20 season, his goal will now be to get Philadelphia over the hump -- which probably means Brown has to advance the Sixers to either the Eastern Conference finals or the NBA Finals next season in order for him to return for an eighth season as coach.

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