Brett Brown

And-Ones: Celtics, Sixers, Bender, Free Agency

The unprotected first-rounder that the Nets owe the Celtics for this year’s draft is available for the right price, Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday in an appearance on the “Dale & Holley with Thornton” show on WEEI radio. That price is high, Ainge cautioned. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News wrote earlier this week that the pick was “definitely not available,” but while that might not technically be true, it sounds like that’s effectively the case for all but the most enticing offers.

“It would have to be, certainly, a very good player. And also it probably wouldn’t be someone in their 30s,” Ainge said to the radio hosts. “That would have to be a good young player, because again, even if we had a 5% or a 10% or a 15% chance at one of the top picks in the draft, that’€™s worth keeping.”

The Nets pick is No. 3 in the lottery order for now, as our Reverse Standings show, so if that position holds, it would give the Celtics a 17.8% chance at the No. 1 pick and about 50-50 odds of picking somewhere in the top three. See more from around the NBA:

  • Brett Brown understands the Sixers front office has the task of improving the team for the future, and the roster he has isn’t exactly a coach’s dream, but he would prefer that Philadelphia stands pat at the trade deadline, as he told Tom Moore of Calkins Media“All coaches beg for consistency,” Brown said. “You feel like your teaching message, your purpose, your points of emphasis have a chance to resonate and be delivered and improved upon better with time.” 
  • Versatility and an underrated toughness are some of the qualities that make Dragan Bender easily the top overseas prospect for the 2016 draft, but as the draft’s youngest prospect, his frame isn’t close to being ready to handle the NBA, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Still, he’ll almost certainly enter the draft this year, Givony hears, and his vast potential has him No. 3 in Givony’s prospect rankings.
  • The ability to match competing bids in the summer, an understanding of the player’s contract demands from the extension window, and low rookie scale salaries are reasons why soon-to-be restricted free agents are intriguing trade candidates, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller posits, offering a few names as particularly interesting cases.

Sixers Notes: Marshall, Smith, Embiid, Brown

Nobody in Kendall Marshall‘s camp thought he would be ready for opening night, as Sixers GM Sam Hinkie predicted he would be, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, speaking in his latest “The Vertical” podcast (audio link, scroll to six-minute mark). Another team that considered signing Marshall this past summer told the point guard that it didn’t envision him returning to play from his torn ACL before January 1st, so Wojnarowski expressed surprise when Sixers coach and podcast guest Brett Brown said he, like Hinkie, thought Marshall would be ready for the start of the regular season. Marshall made his season debut December 11th after signing a four-year, $8MM contract that represents Philly’s largest free agent contract since Hinkie joined the team. See more on the Sixers from Brown’s conversation with Wojnarowski:

  • Brown believes the arrival via trade of point guard Ish Smith, who’s taken the starting job from Marshall, is directly related to the relative success the club has had since, adding that the unsettled point guard situation prior to that made it tougher to fuse Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel into an effective on-court duo. “I think it caught everybody off-guard to have to figure out that position with some of the young guys and sort of journeymen that we did,” Brown said to Wojnarowski (scroll to five-minute mark). “I think it no doubt hurt us.”
  • Hinkie and Brown were in agreement that it was worth it to draft an already-injured Joel Embiid at No. 3 overall in 2014, Brown told Wojnarowski in remarks that made it clear the coach hasn’t lost faith in the center’s potential. “I feel there is something uniquely special in him,” Brown said (scroll to 55-minute mark). “… I look at him, and I see his size, and I see how he carries himself, and I see [an] amazing competitor in all of it. So we get excited for Joel Embiid, no doubt.”
  • The coach admitted to Wojnarowski that the team’s rebuilding project has persisted longer than he imagined when he first took the job in 2013 (scroll to 12-minute mark) and explained how he ended negotiations with the Sixers for a brief time at that point when the team was hesitant to give him a four-year deal (scroll to 49-minute mark). Brown signed an extension in December that tacks two additional years onto the contract.

Atlantic Notes: Brand, Smith, Love, Wroten

It wasn’t initially clear whether the Sixers wanted Elton Brand as a player or for a non-playing role with the organization instead, but coach Brett Brown likes having the 17th-year veteran in uniform, as John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com relays. Brand became just the second Sixers player older than 27 when Philadelphia signed him Monday.

“Because you wouldn’t believe what goes on at halftime when a coaching staff is in another room,” Brown said, explaining the value of having a veteran presence on the playing roster. “And you wouldn’t believe what goes on on the bench when you’re down 20. And you wouldn’t believe what goes on in a player’s mind when it’s a two-point game with a minute and a half left and ‘Do they know their assignments?’”

See more on the Sixers amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • Brown said earlier in the season that he felt it necessary to bear the responsibility that would normally go to veteran players, and just as Brand takes that burden off the Sixers coach, the acquisition of Ish Smith makes Brown’s job easier, too. Fellow CSNPhilly.com scribe Jessica Camerato has the details. “It allows me to coach less, which is good. I mean it,” Brown said. “There’s nothing worse than sitting on the sideline feeling like you’ve got to run the whole game, calling the play every single [time] — that’s not how I see the game. So when you’re playing with that pace, as long as you feel like you’ve got the right people on the floor and the spacing is the way that you want, then you let the game flow. I feel like he brings that to me, for me.”
  • The Celtics thought Kevin Love was legitimately interested in their organization, coach Brad Stevens, and the city of Boston before he chose to re-sign with the Cavs this past summer, Celtics team sources told MassLive’s Jay King. Isaiah Thomas, appearing on “The Vertical” podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (audio link via Twitter), said that he tried to recruit Love to the Celtics, “but I think he already had his mind made up,” Thomas said of his former AAU teammate.
  • The Knicks reportedly have interest in Tony Wroten, but the former Sixers combo guard is unlikely to wind up in New York, and he’s looking for someplace where he feels he has a better opportunity to stay for the long term, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Hinkie, Colangelo, D’Antoni

Jahlil Okafor‘s camp didn’t want him to end up with the Sixers before Philly drafted him in June, sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. GM Sam Hinkie wasn’t allowed to interview Kristaps Porzingis at his predraft workout in Las Vegas, Pompey also hears. An agent told the Inquirer scribe in October that he wouldn’t want his maximum-salary clientele signing in Philadelphia and would advise mid-tier clients to play for the Sixers only if the team offered to overpay them. It all points to Hinkie’s difficult dealing with agents, though the GM says to Pompey that new executive Jerry Colangelo is changing that.

“Yeah, he’s helped there, too,” Hinkie said. “I think he’s had lot of good advice and I had lots of questions there about ways in which we could do things better. And he’s helped on that front already.”

See more from Philly:

  • Colangelo implied that he doesn’t have as much power with the Sixers as some might assume, saying that this experience is different from his time with the Suns “because in the past, the buck always stopped with me,” notes Arizona Republic columnist Paula Boivin. Of course, Colangelo was in charge of the Suns as an owner, and he’s merely advising Sixers owner Josh Harris, so the comment isn’t necessarily about his role in Philly’s basketball operations.
  • Mike D’Antoni said he’s “happy as heck” to be back in coaching as the lead assistant for the Sixers, and referred to head coach Brett Brown as the top draw for him to come to Philly, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
  • Nerlens Noel explained some of the reasons why he’s such a fan of Sixers trade acquisition Ish Smith, who also played with the team at the end of last season. Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com has the details. “I think it’s his experience,” Noel said. “Him being as athletic as he is at the point guard position, and being able to create. Just a willing passer. He makes things a lot easier for the people around him. He makes them better.”

Sixers Notes: Smith, Noel, Wroten

The Sixers acquired Ish Smith earlier in the week and the team plans on making him the starting point guard for the immediate future, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Smith started Saturday’s contest against the Suns, putting up 14 points and five assists in a rare win for Philadelphia.

Here’s more from the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Coach Brett Brown believes adding Smith is about more than basketball on the court, Derek Bodner of the Philadelphia magazine passes along (Twitter link). “What people here don’t know is the companionship and the mateship, and the trust that he has with Nerlens [Noel],” Brown said.
  • The Sixers are hoping that adding Smith will be a spark for Noel, Pompey writes in a separate piece. Noel is averaging 10.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while sporting a player efficiency rating of 12.0 this season.
  • Brown had some kind words for Tony Wroten, who was released on Wednesday, Pompey passes along via Twitter links“It was disappointing to part ways with Tony,” Brown said. “He had been around me all my days there…It is part of sport. I hope he looks back knowing coaches gave everything we could and for the most part I think he did too. We wish him well.”

Sixers Notes: D’Antoni, Porzingis, Saric

Sixers coach Brett Brown is excited about the team’s addition of Mike D’Antoni as associate head coach, saying of D’Antoni, “He’s a hell of a resource and a hell of a coach. I think we’re all going to benefit,Ian Begley of ESPN.com relays. Brown noted that he had wanted to add an experienced coach to his staff for some time, and the suggestion about hiring D’Antoni came from newly hired team executive Jerry Colangelo, Begley writes. “We started sharing names, and he mentioned the name Mike D’Antoni. I said, ‘Do you think he would do it? That’s a hell of a name,‘” Brown said. “Less than 24 hours later, he came and said, ‘Mike is yours.’ And so the speed of it caught me way off guard.

Brown also mentioned that the team spent several days recruiting D’Antoni, and the former head coach was asked why he would want to join a rebuilding team like Philadelphia, to which D’Antoni responded, “I’m bored, I miss the game,” Begley adds.

Here’s more from Philly:

  • Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis has observed the early season difficulties Sixers center Jahlil Okafor has endured and feels fortunate that Philadelphia chose the Duke big man, allowing New York to swoop in and select him at No. 4 overall, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “That would be tough,’’ Porzingis said of playing for a losing squad like the Sixers. “That’s basketball sometimes. Losing like that is very tough. I’ve been on a losing team last season, the first part of the season. It’s really tough. The negativity is always there. It’s not a good feeling. You mentally grow as you go through those tough times.’’
  • Porzingis appreciates the fact that the Knicks surrounded him with veteran leaders, a perk that Okafor doesn’t currently possess in Philadelphia, Berman adds. “I’m in a really good situation,’’ Porzingis said. “Having veterans around me to help me out on and off the court. He’s in a tough situation. I’m sure he’ll find a way to make his team win and get better as a player and how to be smarter off the court.’’ The Sixers are working toward correcting this deficiency, and are reportedly considering signing Elton Brand or Shane Battier.
  • Draft-and-stash prospect Dario Saric, in an interview with SlamNRoll.com, re-iterated his intention to join the Sixers next season. “I’m always in touch with the people of Philadelphia, I always talk with GM Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown,” Saric said. “We talk about a lot of things that have to do with me and the 76ers. Before I was drafted, I promised to Efes that I will come here for two years and of course I promised to Philadelphia that after [this] period of time, I will go to them. It is a certain procedure that I feel I have to pass through.

Atlantic Notes: D’Antoni, Thomas, Knicks

Sixers head coach Brett Brown said the franchise reaching out to Mike D’Antoni is unrelated to last week’s hiring of Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. What’s more, Brown said the team has been thinking about adding a veteran coach “for a while,” Pompey relays. Of course, and as Pompey points out, Colangelo and D’Antoni have a history together. Colangelo is the former Suns owner and D’Antoni went 253-156 in five seasons as the Suns coach. The Sixers confirmed reports that they are talking to D’Antoni about joining the team as an associate head coach, Pompey notes.
“This is a good thing,” Brown said in regards to D’Antoni, per Pompey. “That name is a good thing. How could that not be a good thing?”
Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
  • The Celtics have been a different team since the arrival of Isaiah Thomas in last February’s trade deadline and the point guard is emerging as a possible all-star this season, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com writes. Boston owns a .627 winning percentage in his Thomas’ first 51 games in Boston, according to Forsberg. After making only one start last season with the Celtics, Thomas has started 21 times this year and is averaging 20.8 points per game.
  • In order to turn their season around, the Knicks need more out of Carmelo Anthony despite the star coming off surgery, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines. Bondy compares Anthony to Rajon Rondo of the Kings because they are both polarizing figures, and writes that Anthony needs to have the kind of season that Rondo is experiencing before Kristaps Porzingis becomes the clear face of the franchise.
  • Kendall Marshall, who played in his first game of the season Friday night, should provide the Sixers stability at the point guard position with his ability to take care of the ball and 3-point shooting, Derek Bodner of Phillymag.com details.

Sixers, Brett Brown Agree To Extension

Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images

Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images

4:12pm: The Sixers sent out a press release officially announcing the extension. “Brett has been everything we anticipated – and more – both as a basketball coach and a partner in building this program,” GM Sam Hinkie said. “His tireless work ethic, his daily desire to consistently improve, and his resiliency line up with our core values as an organization. It was not difficult to come to the decision to formally say we want to work with Brett Brown even longer.

3:02pm: The Sixers and coach Brett Brown have reached an agreement on a two-year extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Brown’s existing pact was to expire after next season, but the extension will allow the contract to carry through the 2018/19 season, according to Wojnarowski. The Yahoo scribe reported earlier this week, in the immediate wake of the team’s hiring of Jerry Colangelo to the front office, that an extension was “very likely” for Brown, and both the coach and owner Josh Harris confirmed shortly thereafter that they were deep into negotiations about the matter. The Sixers began their push for a deal well before Colangelo joined the team, league sources told Wojnarowski. The Sixers have called a 4:00pm Central time press conference, and they’re expected to formally announce the deal then, Wojnarowski writes.

Brown, a first-time NBA head coach, has gone just 38-149 since taking the job before the 2013/14 season, but he’s had barren rosters to work with, the result of GM Sam Hinkie‘s drastic rebuilding plan. He’s admitted that the losing gets to him sometimes and has occasionally offered subtle criticism of the front office, such as when he said recently that he wished he had more veterans on the team. He’s otherwise shown a relentlessly positive demeanor and even tempered his remark about veterans by saying that he accepts the responsibility that normally falls to experienced players.

Speculation arose that Brown was more frustrated behind the scenes than he expressed publicly. Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote this week that Brown was furious amid recent off-court trouble for Jahlil Okafor, with Hayes suggesting the team’s handling of the matter might have driven the coach to his breaking point. Brown said in September that he intended to serve out the remainder of his contract and had no plans to quit.

The coach was worried about his job security early last season, but Hinkie dispelled those fears and the coach’s willingness to forge ahead despite trying circumstances won him respect in the Sixers organization, as TNT’s David Aldridge recently reported. Harris and Hinkie professed their admiration for Brown as training camp began this season.

Brown is the third coach to come to terms on an extension since the start of the season, joining Rick Carlisle of the Mavericks and Steve Clifford of the Hornets. Carlisle is the only one among the three who has a winning record for his team.

Does Brown deserve the extension? Leave a comment to tell us.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Brown, Joseph

Sixers coach Brett Brown has already developed a solid relationship with new team executive Jerry Colangelo, who was officially hired on Monday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. When asked how often he communicates with Colangelo, Brown responded, “All the time. I think for me to be able to call upon somebody like him and say, what do you think of that, is a priceless sounding board for me. I love it. I respect his history. When answers come out you immediately respect the history of which that opinion was formed. It’s amazing.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is frustrated by the team’s struggles this season and isn’t hiding his displeasure, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com notes. “Losing is frustrating,” Anthony said. “I don’t want this to be an ongoing situation or an ongoing feeling where we have to come into the locker room and explain why we’re losing basketball games.” Anthony is also upset with New York’s pace of play, and wants the team to increase its tempo, a team source tells Begley. “He [Anthony] felt like they were stuck in the half court too much,” the source told the ESPN scribe.
  • The Raptors are hoping to imitate the long-term success of the Spurs as an organization, which is one reason why Toronto signed Cory Joseph this past offseason, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “You can’t go through a program like that, I don’t care what program you are with in college or the pros, if you’re from a successful program some of those habits come away with you,” said coach Dwane Casey of Joseph. “That’s why bringing a guy in like that from a winning program, that’s won a championship, knows what it takes to win. Those qualities have rubbed off on him.
  • The Celtics have once again assigned power forward Jordan Mickey to their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Mickey’s sixth trek to Maine this season, as our tracker shows.

More Reaction To Sixers Hiring Of Jerry Colangelo

Owners around the league pressured the NBA to put the brakes on Philadelphia’s aggressive rebuilding plan, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported and as we passed along Monday night, and that indeed played a role in the hiring of Jerry Colangelo, Windhorst writes. The owners were upset with the Sixers, a large market team with a storied history, as many of the games that featured Philadelphia as the visitor have been among the most lightly attended all season, sources told Windhorst. People who know Colangelo, who joined the Sixers to find a new challenge after his plans for a new Team USA practice facility fell through, believe he’ll have major influence on the Sixers going forward, despite owner Josh Harris’ remark that radical changes to the team’s process aren’t to be expected. Colangelo is notorious for negotiating favorable deals for himself, so he probably didn’t come cheaply, an executive said to Windhorst. See more on the aftermath of Philly’s decision to install Colangelo as a special adviser to the owner and chairman of basketball operations:

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