He is a smart man. He knew it wouldn’t come together right away. He knew he’d need more time. He asked for it and he got it. It wasn’t enough.

Two years ago, Brett Brown had a choice to make. It was a difficult decision then, and it still is even with the benefit of hindsight. Brown was a valued lieutenant in one of the best-run basketball battalions in the NBA. The Spurs have been good for a long while. Greg Popovich’s crew won 50 games again this year for the 16th straight season. Brown was there for a good chunk of that success, and he could have stayed around for more of it.

When Mike Budenholzer, then another assistant for the Spurs, left San Antonio for Atlanta in the offseason of 2013, Brown considered sticking around. He would have ascended to the right hand of Pop. That’s a good seat to sit in if you like to win a lot of games and have your pick of whichever sweet job comes open next.

Then the Sixers called. That wasn’t exactly a sweet job at the time. New general manager Sam Hinkie had already started swinging his wrecking ball at the roster. Before he hired a head coach, Hinkie traded the team’s then-23-year-old All-Star point guard. That must have made for an interesting pitch to prospective coaching candidates. Do you want to coach this team? Because we are dismantling this team.

The accounting on all fronts suggests that Hinkie was upfront with Brown about the rebuild being protracted and difficult. Brown understood. The Sixers offered him a three-year deal. That’s pretty standard for a first-time head coach. Brown, well aware of the task ahead, asked for four. The Sixers gave it to him. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough.