Brett Brown

Atlantic Notes: Walton, Nored, Raptors

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri says the progress of the franchise shouldn’t be judged by how the team performs during the 2015/16 postseason, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca relays. “[Winning a round] would be nice, but it’s not the end of the world, I guess that would be the way to put it,” Ujiri said. “It would be really cool for us. The players deserve it, the coach deserves it. Look at what they’ve put in the past two or three years, you root for them. … It would be great for us, but with the progress we’re seeing I just don’t think it’s the end of the world.

The GM also lauded the benefits of the team’s new D-League affiliate and state-of-the-art practice facility, Grange adds. “Those practice facilities are built once every 20 or 30 years,” Ujiri said. “What we’ve done now, we’re just starting. That facility is for the next 20 years. We have a D-League team 20 minutes away, right there in our backyard. … We are so lucky to have that. To me that’s a bright future for our organization. I know it comes down to wins and losses, that’s what everybody sees, but there’s a bigger picture.

Here’s the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have named Ronald Nored as head coach of the team’s new NBA D-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, the team announced. Nored played under Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler and later served as a Celtics assistant coach under Stevens. The D-League team begins play next season. “We are excited to welcome Ronald as head coach of the Long Island Nets,” said GM Sean Marks. “Ronald is a bright young mind in our game whose experience under Brad Stevens as both a player and a coach, as well as his ability to connect with today’s players, have prepared him for this role.  His commitment to player development, along with his enthusiasm and passion for the game, are aligned with the vision we have for both the Brooklyn and Long Island Nets.
  • If the Knicks want to interview Warriors assistant Luke Walton during the NBA playoffs, Golden State won’t stand in the way, Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. The Warriors’ official policy is that an assistant can interview for a head-coaching position “as long as it does not interfere with the team’s preparation during the playoffs,’’ Berman adds. New Orleans interviewed Alvin Gentry during Golden State’s playoff run last year.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is glad the team’s dismal 2015/16 campaign is over and said his relationships with the players are what kept him going throughout the season, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It was a season of distraction,” Brown said. “I concede that. You would not be telling the truth that every moment of your … day was dedicated to where it should have been, coaching basketball. There are many times that you do get pulled to the left or the right.

Ime Udoka Leading Candidate For Nets Job?

10:59am: Sources tell NetsDaily they believe Udoka is the leading candidate. It appears the team is poised to formally cut ties with Tony Brown and his assistant coaches as well as several long-time staffers as Marks plans to hire as many as 10 new staff members, NetsDaily also hears (All Twitter links).

8:25am: Brett Brown, who reportedly isn’t assured of keeping his job with the Sixers, along with Luke Walton, Mark Jackson, Vinny Del Negro and Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney are also in the mix for the Nets job, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The prospect of Brown having the interim tag removed and staying in the head coaching job is no more than a long shot, Lewis adds. Lewis also suggests the Nets still have Mike Conley atop their list of free agent targets.

4:01pm: Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson has been mentioned as a possibility for the Nets’ coaching vacancy, and he and Marks share the same agent, Mazzeo tweets.

3:00pm: The increasing belief in coaching circles is that neither Tom Thibodeau nor David Blatt will be a candidate for the job, but the search is only just beginning, writes Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com.

12:47pm: The Nets have interest in NBA coaching veteran Jeff Van Gundy and Spurs assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka for their head coaching job, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Tony Brown is Brooklyn’s head coach on an interim basis, though it’s unclear whether he’ll have a legitimate shot to remain in the position for next season.

Van Gundy’s name frequently comes up in connection to NBA coaching jobs even though he hasn’t coached an NBA team since the 2006/07 season, his last with the Rockets. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News speculated shortly before the team hired GM Sean Marks in February that Messina would become a candidate if the team indeed brought aboard Marks, who was then serving as a Spurs executive. Marks’ tie to the Spurs also explains the interest in Udoka, who was key to the recruitment of former teammate LaMarcus Aldridge this past summer. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has often talked about attracting stars to Brooklyn, and the team has no shortage of cap flexibility for the summer ahead.

Many New York fans still have fond memories of Van Gundy from his time as coach of the crosstown Knicks from 1996-2001, and he’s maintained a high profile as a broadcaster for ABC and ESPN. He reportedly interviewed for the Pelicans head coaching vacancy last year.

Messina has worked for Prokhorov before, when Prokhorov was the owner of CSKA Moscow and Messina was leading the team to two Euroleague championships as head coach. The Spurs hired Messina as an assistant two years ago, and he also served as a coaching consultant for the Lakers in 2011/12, but much of his reputation comes from overseas, where he was one of the most successful coaches in Euroleague history. The Thunder reportedly made him a candidate for their head coaching job a year ago.

Udoka is a veteran of eight NBA seasons as a player, and his last playing contract was with the Nets, who signed him in the 2011 preseason and cut him before opening night. The Spurs hired him as an assistant coach the following summer.

Brett Brown Not Assured Of Keeping Sixers Job?

New Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo threw his support behind coach Brett Brown this morning in response to rumors that Brown’s job isn’t secure. A source told Tom Moore of Calkins Media that only a 50% chance exists that Brown will be the coach of the team to start the season, with only a 20% chance that he finishes the 2016/17 campaign, but Colangelo made comments indicating otherwise on The Comcast Network’s “Breakfast on Broad” show this morning (video link), as Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine relays.

“I told the ownership Brett Brown is the coach of this basketball team going forward. I left no question [to that],” Colangelo said. “Brett Brown deserves the opportunity. He toed the company line for the last three years, he’s done everything this organization needs him to do, he’s been in the community, coaching clinics, coaching kids. He’s a lifer. He’s a basketball guy. I think Brett Brown is going to be a big driver in what we do.”

Brown signed an extension that carries through the 2018/19 season the same week in December the Sixers hired Jerry Colangelo, Bryan’s father, and it didn’t sit well with Jerry Colangelo that the deal with Brown was already in place, the source told Moore. The same source expects that top assistant coach Mike D’Antoni will ultimately succeed Brown.

Sources speculated to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that Bryan Colangelo might fire Brown and promote D’Antoni into the head coaching job in an effort to keep D’Antoni from leaving for head coaching jobs elsewhere. D’Antoni is reportedly a candidate for the Suns and Wizards vacancies, and Berger relays speculation that he’ll be up for the Nets job, too. Meanwhile, Brown is indeed in the mix for the Brooklyn vacancy, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post reported.

The Sixers added D’Antoni to the coaching staff a week after Brown signed his extension. Bryan Colangelo, in his television appearance, spoke highly of D’Antoni and acknowledged the possibility that the assistant will leave, as Bodner relays.

“I think Mike D’Antoni might even go away to another job opportunity,” Colangelo said. “There’s speculation on certain jobs in the league and I think Mike’s a perfect candidate for a couple of them, but I hope he’s here because I really think he’s a good basketball coach that can add a lot to what Brett is doing. Mike D’Antoni’s a great basketball mind. He’s really offensive-oriented, and I think Brett is more defensive-oriented. I think it’s a great combination and there’s good chemistry, from what I’ve seen so far.”

Eastern Rumors: Bulls, Celtics, Pistons, Sixers

Bulls GM Gar Forman wouldn’t rule out the idea of trading Jimmy Butler when asked Wednesday night, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Both Forman and Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson made it clear no one on the roster is truly off-limits for a trade, Johnson writes, and changes are coming to coach Fred Hoiberg‘s coaching staff, sources tell Johnson. Still, Hoiberg will be sticking around, Paxson confirmed, according to Johnson, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement backing Forman and Paxson. Paxson confirmed the Bulls would like to re-sign Joakim Noah, Johnson also notes.

See more from Chicago amid news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics refused to give up Jae Crowder in trade talks with the Bulls before the deadline, scuttling any realistic possibility of a trade, league sources tell Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago. Jimmy Butler‘s name reportedly was the center of those discussions, though Goodwill hears they spoke with teams about Derrick Rose and confirms earlier reports that they had Pau Gasol trade talks, too.
  • The Bulls were on board with a trade that would have involved Pau Gasol, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich going out and Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore coming in from the Kings, but Sacramento withdrew from those talks when the Sixers, who were to be included as a third team, insisted the Kings relinquish a second-round pick, Goodwill hears. Sacramento was also reluctant to give into the Bulls’ desire to reduce the top-10 protection on the 2016 first-rounder the Kings owe them, according to Goodwill.
  • The Cavaliers made it a priority to sign a perimeter defender like Dahntay Jones as insurance for Iman Shumpert instead of a point guard to offset the injury to Mo Williams because they envision LeBron James running the point in a pinch, accoriding to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The Cavs inked Jones earlier today as Williams reportedly headed to New York for further examination on his sore left knee.
  • Coach Brett Brown said the replacement of GM Sam Hinkie with new president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo won’t result in a change to the team’s playing style, and he called for the front office to focus on strong defenders and veteran big men as they seek offseason upgrades, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown also spoke highly of Elton Brand, Pompey notes. Brand is heading back into free agency and isn’t sure he’ll keep playing.

Reactions To Sixers Hiring Bryan Colangelo

The Sixers earlier Sunday introduced Bryan Colangelo as president of basketball operations during a press conference. Here are some highlights, news and reactions:

  • Colangelo said Sixers coach Brett Brown “deserves an opportunity to coach this basketball team and see this process through,” but also added, “there will be a lot of movement in management and maybe with the coaches, too,” Jake Fischer of SI Now relays (Twitter links).
  • Interestingly, Jerry Colangelo wasn’t involved in the hiring of Bryan Colangelo, at least according to Sixers owner Josh Harris, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweetsJerry Colangelo is no longer the chairman of basketball operations but will remain as a special adviser to the team, the Sixers announced.
  • Harris also noted he was surprised that former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie penned a 13-page resignation letter, Pompey tweets.
  • The Sixers began having discussions with Bryan Colangelo at the beginning of the year, tweets CSN Philly’s Jessica Camerato, who also noted the Sixers’ newest addition referred to the franchise’s last three years as a success and “measured rebuilding process.”
  • With potentially four first round picks in June, Bryan Colangelo has no shortage of assets this summer to work with, Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News writes. Bryan Colangelo said the Sixers will be shifting their focus toward winning, Cooney adds.

Latest Fallout From Sam Hinkie Resignation

Sam Hinkie had been considering his future with the Sixers organization over the past few weeks and decided that he wasn’t comfortable with the team’s plan for his future, which in turn led to him resigning on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical relays. The now former GM emailed his letter of resignation to the team’s ownership group as well as executive Jerry Colangelo, with the intention of releasing a joint announcement today, Wojnarowski writes. But the letter was leaked to the media within two hours, which eliminated Hinkie’s opportunity to inform his staff directly of his intent. It isn’t known who leaked the 13 page manifesto, but according to Wojnarowski’s sources, Hinkie suspects that it was Colangelo who made his resignation public. Hinkie was reportedly mortified that his letter was leaked, as he never intended it for public dissemination, Wojnarowski adds.

Here’s more regarding Hinkie and the Sixers:

  • Colangelo wanted to turn Hinkie into a glorified director of analytics, or run him out of the organization completely, a plan that wasn’t well-received by the entire ownership group, many of whom remain loyal to Hinkie, Wojnarowski notes in the same piece. Some of the owners believe that Hinkie’s rebuilding plan would begin to bear fruit this offseason and wanted to give him more time to see it through, the Vertical scribe relays.
  • The Sixers had suggested to Hinkie prior to the 2015/16 season that he hire someone who would handle the media and build relationships around the league with agents, players and GMs, a request that Hinkie wasn’t responsive or amenable to, John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com writes.
  • In his resignation letter, Hinkie insinuated that many within the organization cared more about making a profit than building a winning franchise, chiefly CEO Scott O’Neil, Gonzalez suggests in the same piece. “With Scott O’Neil running our business operations, you are in good hands,” Hinkie said in his letter. “I can assure you that when your team is eventually able to compete deep into May, Scott will ably and efficiently separate the good people of the Delaware Valley from their wallets on your behalf. Worry not.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown was disappointed that Hinkie stepped down but noted that the plan to bring in more front office personnel had been in place for some time, Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly relays in a series of tweets. The coach also added that the team’s rebuilding plan is still intact, Camerato notes. “We committed to the path that we said we were going to be on three years ago. We’re committed to that,” said Brown.
  • Brown said that Hinkie hadn’t committed to the front office’s new collaborative process and believed a departure by the executive was a distinct possibility, though he didn’t expect things to come to a head so rapidly, tweets Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine.

Fallout From Sixers Front Office Change

The resignation of Sixers GM Sam Hinkie on Wednesday night brought an end to one of the most controversial front office tenures the NBA has ever seen. Philadelphia went 47-195 in Hinkie’s time, its winning percentage decreasing in each of his three seasons. Now, it appears the task of rebuilding the Sixers will fall to Bryan Colangelo, whom the team is reportedly poised to hire as its new GM, and his father, Jerry Colangelo, the team’s chairman of basketball operations. See the fallout from Philly:

  • Hinkie’s resignation shocked Sixers higher-ups, a league source told Pompey. Hinkie was with the team and other members of the organization for three hours, posed for the team picture and met with managing owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer for 90 minutes before dropping his bombshell of a resignation letter, Pompey relays. Members of the Sixers brass were keen on Hinkie’s knowledge of analytics and ability to manage the salary cap but found him lacking in other skills necessary for the GM job, so they met with him at times over the past three or four months about reducing his role and mitigating his shortcomings, according to Pompey. Those conversations heated up over the past two weeks, Pompey adds.

8:58am updates:

  • Coach Brett Brown was a Hinkie hire, but his job is safe, a league source told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). The Sixers extended Brown’s contract through the 2018/19 season shortly after Jerry Colangelo’s hiring in December.
  • The Sixers were planning to announce after the season that Hinkie would be in charge of analytics and that they were bringing someone else into the front office, a league source told Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link). Sources told Pompey that the team asked Hinkie to take a lesser role to accommodate the hiring of Bryan Colangelo. Ownership thought Hinkie would accept this sort of arrangement, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
  • Tension built between Hinkie and ownership in the months after the team hired Jerry Colangelo, league sources told John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com. The owners wanted the Colangelos to take the lead role in dealing with players and agents in free agency, but Hinkie thought he “had it covered,” Gonzalez hears.
  • Hinkie stepped down without notifying his employees, who learned of his resignation via social media, several sources told Pompey for the same piece. Staff who worked under Hinkie were often frustrated about his lack of communication, Wojnarowski tweets. Hinkie was reluctant to trust anyone outside a small circle of confidants and employees he hired, team sources told David Aldridge of NBA.com.

Thunder Rumors: Durant, Donovan, Foye, Kanter

Heading into free agency, Kevin Durant is asked about a lot of NBA destinations, but he offered a simple answer of “It’s home” when he got that question about Oklahoma City, relays Royce Young of ESPN.com. Whether or not that offers a clue of Durant’s free agency intentions, it’s clear he has developed an affection for the city where he has spent the last eight years of his NBA career. “I’ve always felt that this place meant so much to me,” Durant said. “It has a special place in my heart and my family’s heart as well.”

There’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • Billy Donovan has adjusted to the challenge of handling two superstars in his first NBA coaching job, writes Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Donovan had spent 21 years at the college level, and 19 at the University of Florida, before replacing Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City last summer. Donovan has the Thunder, who missed the playoffs in an injury-filled season a year ago, firmly in third place in the West with a 48-22 record. “I just think that there is sort of a down-to-earth part of him that allows him to come in and be excellent at inheriting a hell of a team,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Donovan. “That’s a hard job in different ways you look at it. Because it is so veteran and they have been used to success. I thought Scotty did a hell of a job with them, too. It’s not an easy job.”
  • Randy Foye, who was acquired from the Nuggets at the trade deadline, has helped rejuvenate the bench in Oklahoma City, according to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Foye is a streaky shooter, but he has helped by limiting turnovers and playing strong defense on the perimeter. Strong bench play has also come from center Enes Kanter, whom the Thunder kept last summer by matching a five-year, $70MM offer from Portland.
  • Still recovering from hip surgery, assistant coach Maurice Cheeks is expected to return to the Thunder bench for home games beginning this week, Slater tweets. Donovan hopes Cheeks can take on full-time duty by the start of next month.
  • The Thunder have assigned forward Mitch McGary to Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League. He has played 22 games with the Blue this season, averaging 15 points and 9.1 rebounds.

Atlantic Notes: Early, Rondo, Embiid, Scola

The Knicks activated small forward Cleanthony Early today for the first time since he was shot in the right knee during a December 30th robbery, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Early told police he was robbed and shot when four to six men stopped a taxi he was riding in. The Knicks assigned Early to the D-League two weeks ago to help him prepare for his NBA return.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Kings point guard and impending free agent Rajon Rondo said former Knicks coach Derek Fisher “might have blacked out a couple of times” when he questioned Rondo’s ability to run the triangle offense, Begley relays. Rondo made some comments questioning the triangle earlier this season, and many interpreted them as a sign that he wouldn’t consider New York in free agency. But Rondo sounded different before Sacramento’s game tonight at Madison Square Garden. “I’m not saying I couldn’t master [the triangle]. I think I can put my mind to it, break down a lot of film if that was the case to be,” Rondo said. “I don’t play in the triangle. I can only speak on what I do know and that’s under George Karl’s system. We’re pretty good offensively. We don’t want to talk about the defense.”
  • The Sixers sent Joel Embiid back to the Aspetar medical facility in Qatar because they were happy with the results of his first visit, according to Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly. Coach Brett Brown said the first trip to Aspetar provided positive results for Embiid in the areas of body weight, sleep, body mass assessment and healing. “Maybe more important than anything, Joel bought in, in a large way, and the results were starting to show,” Brown said. “We test drove it, we liked what we saw a lot, led by a group of us that assessed it and Joel’s reaction to it.”
  • Veteran power forward Luis Scola, who signed with the Raptors in free agency over the offseason, has become a valuable contributor in Toronto, writes Holly MacKenzie of NBA.com. Scola raised some eyebrows around the league with a 17-point first quarter against the Celtics this week. “This is a team that we have a bunch of pieces and they all have their role,” Scola said.

Sixers Rumors: Okafor, Noel, Draft, Brown

The pairing of big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor earned a C grade from Sixers coach Brett Brown, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Okafor had a troubled rookie season off the court despite being the team’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game. He was suspended for two games in December after being part of two street fights in Boston and was cited for driving more than 100 mph in Philadelphia. Okafor’s season ended prematurely with a meniscus tear in his right knee. Questions have lingered about how well he and Noel fit together, with rumors that the Sixers were gauging interest in Okafor at the trade deadline. “With sometimes the excitement of [an] A, no doubt,” Brown said in explaining his C grade. “Sometimes the disappointment of [an] F. It’s not anybody’s fault. We all have talked about it and I believe everybody here understands how difficult [it is] taking two [centers] that are 20 and letting them figure out NBA transition defense and matchups and the punishments.”

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers shouldn’t feel any pressure to take a point guard early in the draft, contends Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine. Sitting on top of our reverse standings, Philadelphia expects to have a prime selection with its own choice and will receive the Lakers’ pick if it falls outside the top three. Bodner isn’t convinced that prospects such as Kris Dunn of Providence or Jamal Murray of Kentucky are the answer in the range of the Lakers’ pick. The Sixers are likely to get the Thunder’s and Heat’s picks as well, which is where they could nab someone like French prospect Timothe Luwawu.
  • Brown deserves more time to try to build a winner, argues Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The columnist will likely get his wish, as Brown signed a two-year extension in December despite a poor won-loss record. He recently summed up his coaching situation. “There is just no margin of error for us. None,” said Brown. “If you missed a switch, you lose. If you miss a box out, you could lose. If you miss two box outs and two switches, you lose by eight. There’s just no margin for error. We just don’t have the roster to absorb multiple errors.”
  • Having a parcel of draft picks is no guarantee of success, Cooney warns in a separate story. He also notes that most players have to become veterans before they’re ready to win big.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: