Brett Brown

Ford On Sixers, Lakers, J. Brown, Celtics

The NBA world may still be recovering this morning from an incredible Game 7 in Oakland on Sunday night, but that recovery will have to happen fast — we’re only three days away from the 2016 NBA draft. As we quickly transition into the 2016 offseason, let’s round up a few of the highlights from Chad Ford’s latest mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider link), which features a handful of interesting draft tidbits…

  • The Sixers have had “vigorous internal debates” about the No. 1 pick, with Brandon Ingram and Kris Dunn – who would both be good fits on the roster – receiving consideration. But, as Ford writes, the team keeps coming back to the fact that Ben Simmons is the best prospect in the draft in terms of “sheer talent and upside.” Ford adds that head coach Brett Brown believes he could find a way to use Simmons as a point guard of sorts.
  • Although there has been some talk of the Lakers eyeing Marquese Chriss and Jaylen Brown at No. 2, Ford believes those prospects would only be in play for L.A. if the club acquired another lottery pick. Either Simmons or (more likely) Ingram figures to be the pick for the Lakers.
  • The Celtics have come up empty so far in their trade talks involving the No. 3 selection. That doesn’t mean Boston will definitely keep the pick, but the team doesn’t have a deal it likes for the time being. If they keep the pick, the Celtics may be leaning toward Brown, who had a “terrific” workout in Boston, says Ford.
  • The four players strongly in the mix for the Timberwolves at No. 5 are Brown, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, and Dragan Bender, according to Ford.
  • While the Kings are “praying” that Buddy Hield falls to No. 8, Ford says Domantas Sabonis could be a dark horse candidate for that spot, since Sacramento is very high on him.
  • We heard last week that Malachi Richardson may have received a promise from the Grizzlies at No. 17, and Ford’s mock draft does send Richardson to Memphis. However, the ESPN.com scribe notes that the Grizzlies are also very fond of Croatian big man Ivica Zubac, who could be in play for that slot.

Sixers Rumors: Okafor, Ingram, Papagiannis, Saric

Sixers center Jahlil Okafor says he has recovered from the knee surgery that ended his season and he hopes to get back on the court soon, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Okafor’s rookie campaign came to an end March 22nd when he underwent a procedure to fix the meniscus in his right knee. On a Duke University podcast Friday, the former Blue Devil said he was hoping doctors would approve him for basketball activity over the weekend. “I’m getting anxious,” Okafor told Duke assistant coach Jon Scheyer. “I got in trouble a week and a half ago for going out there and shooting. The biggest problem is my knee feels really good. So I want to go out there and shoot.” Okafor has been the subject of recent trade rumors, along with fellow Sixers big man Nerlens Noel.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia as draft day draws closer:

  • Team officials hosted Duke’s Brandon Ingram today in advance of his workout for the team Monday, tweets radio analyst Alaa Abdelnaby. Joel Embiid and two assistant coaches joined Ingram and head coach Brett Brown for dinner, tweets Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers. The Sixers are expected to take either Ingram or LSU’s Ben Simmons with the first pick in the June 23rd draft.
  • Sixers representatives attended a workout today by Greek center Georgios Papagiannis, Pompey writes in a separate piece. The 7’2″, 276-pound Papagiannis is projected as a possible late first-round choice. Philadelphia owns Miami’s pick at No. 24 and Oklahoma City’s at No. 26. Foreign players must decide by Monday whether or not to remain in the draft.
  • Economics may persuade Dario Saric to wait another year before coming to Philadelphia, Pompey speculates in another story. The Sixers have owned the rights to the Croatian star since making a draft-day deal with Orlando in 2014. If Saric joins the Sixers this summer, he will be subject to a rookie contract, but if he waits until 2017, he could negotiate a salary up to $6MM annually. “The timing of him coming to the NBA is still in question,” said president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who met with Saric and his agent this week in Turkey. “I believe there’s a desire on both sides to make it happen sooner rather than later.  But at the same time, the contract scenario, economics, etc. all plays a part in that decision making. We’ll know soon enough whether it’s going to happen for this particular season.”

Atlantic Rumors: Hornacek, Brown, Hinkie, Embiid

Running the triangle may not be a job requirement for Jeff Hornacek if he becomes the next coach of the Knicks, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Hornacek’s teams in Phoenix were at their best when he was using a two point guard approach and playing at a fast pace. During an appearance tonight on Sirius XM Radio, former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said team president Phil Jackson is willing to be flexible with his favorite offense. “The things I’ve heard is that he’s not going to be required to run the triangle,” Van Gundy said. “Which is smart from the standpoint that he’s never taught it before. So you don’t want to come in trying what you’ve never played in or taught. I’m interested in that. But I think it’s an inspired choice.” Bondy notes that Jackson has been a fan of Hornacek for some time, as he tried to acquire him as a player for the Bulls in 1994.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers coach Brett Brown told Chris Mannix of The Vertical that he expects to see former GM Sam Hinkie back in the NBA soon. Appearing on The Chris Mannix Show podcast, Brown credited Hinkie with helping to build a bright future in Philadelphia. Brown said Joel Embiid is “doing great” both from an attitude and a physical perspective, and the Sixers are optimistic that he can play next season, although no decision has been made about summer league.
  • GM Bryan Colangelo turned down the Sixers when they first asked him about taking the job, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. He didn’t change his mind until six weeks later, when team owners explained the different direction they were hoping to take.
  • If getting the No. 3 pick in the draft gives the Celtics an opportunity to trade for Sixers center Jahlil Okafor, they should jump at the chance, contends Gary Tanguay of CSNNE. Tanguay commented on a rumor that Philadelphia would be willing to give up Okafor in exchange for the pick so it can take Providence point guard Kris Dunn. The writer thinks Okafor would improve dramatically in Boston because the Celtics have a better coach in Brad Stevens and players who would do a better job of getting him the ball in the low post.

Atlantic Notes: Dunn, Trimble, Wiltjer, Hart

Coach Brett Brown has promised Providence sophomore point guard Kris Dunn a chance to play right away if the Sixers draft him, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Dunn met with Sixers officials Wednesday and both he and the team appeared to come away impressed. “They made me feel like they really wanted me there,” he said. “We all were very engaged. We talked about a lot of things. I appreciate them having me.” Philadelphia notched the NBA’s worst record this season and has a 26.9% chance at landing the top overall pick. That will probably be LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram, but the Sixers will also get the Lakers’ pick if it falls outside the top three, which is where they might take Dunn.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers are interviewing a lot of guards, including Maryland sophomore point guard Melo Trimble, Pompey tweets.
  • Gonzaga senior power forward Kyle Wiltjer will work out for the Sixers later this month, Pompey tweets.
  • Villanova junior shooting guard Josh Hart plans a workout with the Sixers, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com. Hart is undecided on whether to stay in the draft or return to school. Philadelphia will also work out freshman small forward Dedric Lawson of Memphis on Monday (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics have met with several top prospects, including Ingram, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Other projected top-10 players that Boston has interviewed include Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, Kentucky’s Jamal Murray and California’s Jaylen Brown. The team has also scheduled an interview with Utah center Jakob Poeltl. According to Himmelsbach, the Celtics have either met with or are planning interviews with Oakland’s Kay Felder, Maryland’s Diamond Stone, Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin, New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam, Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis, China’s Zhou Qi, Syracuse’s Malachi Richardson, UNLV’s Patrick McCaw, Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku, Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones, Mississippi State’s Malik Newman, North Carolina State’s Cat Barber, Kansas’ Cheick Diallo, Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes and high school prospect Thon Maker.
  • Seton Hall sophomore point guard Isaiah Whitehead, who has met with the Sixers, Celtics, Knicks and Nets among others, will “100%” leave college if a team offers him a first-round guarantee, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv“You can’t give up opportunities like that,” Whitehead said. “I mean, when they tell you it’s time to go, you just gotta go.”
  • Assistant GM Allan Houston conducted the Knicks‘ meeting with Whitehead as team president Phil Jackson apparently skipped the draft combine, Zagoria writes in a separate piece.
  • Diallo is scheduled to meet with the Knicks, Celtics and Raptors on Friday, Zagoria tweets.

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.

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