Brett Brown

Atlantic Notes: Larkin, Sullinger, Brown

Shane Larkin spoke of his displeasure with the triangle offense this summer after leaving the Knicks to sign with the Nets, and he feels the results so far this season, in which he’s scored more points in fewer minutes per game than he did last year, prove his point, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post chronicles.

“Yeah, it’s a much better fit for me in a lot of ways,” Larkin said. “You can see my numbers have been better. I’m just playing better overall, because I’m more comfortable in a pick-and-roll system or an up-and-down system, doing different things rather than coming down and setting in the triangle.’’

Still, Brooklyn’s reserves have been one of the NBA’s least effective bench units statistically, Lewis points out. Sunday’s win over the Celtics, which also saw a strong contribution from fellow former Knick Andrea Bargnani, was an exception, as Lewis details. See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The best is yet to come for soon-to-be restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told Chris Forsberg of in a Q&A. Ainge criticized the fitness level that offseason trade acquisition David Lee had at the start of camp but praised Lee’s work since then, and the exec cited his team’s depth for its strong defensive play thus far, as Forsberg relays. Ainge also referred to coach Brad Stevens as “a keeper.” Jared has played really well,” Ainge said to Forsberg. “I know what he’s capable of doing. I think Jared is still so young. I think that his best basketball is still ahead of him. But I do see a lot of great progress from Jared.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown wishes he sometimes had more of a veteran presence on the team, but he accepts much of the responsibility that would usually fall to experienced players for himself, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Carl Landry is the only Sixer with more than three years of service. “It’s on me,” said Brown, a former Spurs assistant. “I’m privileged to have seen five NBA [Finals] and won four of them. … I like sharing stories like that with my players.”
  • The radical rebuilding plan the Sixers have undertaken comes with no guarantees and requires plenty of patience, but the team has largely controlled what it can as it’s stockpiled the assets necessary to pounce on a superstar when the opportunity arises, argues Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine. Still, it’s possible the team erred when it selected Jahlil Okafor instead of Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 3 overall pick, as Bodner examines.

Eastern Notes: Fournier, Embiid, Brown, Nene

Evan Fournier turned down a four-year, $32MM extension offer from the Magic before this month’s November 2nd rookie scale extension deadline, league sources told Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Orlando and the Bouna Ndiaye client reportedly never came close to a deal, and Fournier is poised for restricted free agency this summer.

“To be honest, I did not even expect to be extended,” Fournier said. “I had no pressure about that. If there was something good, I will take it. If not, I can wait until the summer. I don’t have to worry about it and make the wrong decision. I have confidence in myself and the season that I’ll have. The contract will take care of itself. You can’t go on the court and think about a deal. You must be focused and you must have the right mindset.”

Fournier doesn’t have his sights set on becoming a No. 1 option for a team, but he’s motivated to put his days as an afterthought behind him, as Charania examines. See more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Joel Embiid appears to be carrying himself with more maturity and seriousness than before, knowing he must commit to his rehabilitation, a source tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for The Sixers had reportedly been concerned about his conditioning, among other worries about the former No. 3 overall pick, but he’s been keeping himself in shape, Aldridge writes. It’s a dose of positive news for the 0-14 Sixers, who remain committed to their loss-laden rebuilding plan, as Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors wrote as he examined the team’s moves from the past several months.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown wondered if his job was in jeopardy a year ago amid an 0-17 start for the team, but GM Sam Hinkie assured him then that he’s a major part of the plan, and the coach has earned respect within the organization for his persistence, Aldridge writes in the same piece.
  • Nene has been a starter for most of his career and has expressed disdain for playing center in the past, but so far, he’s accepted his role as backup center on the Wizards, and his team-leading 18 points Sunday helped show his value, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Nene is set for free agency at season’s end.

Atlantic Notes: Cousins, Sullinger, Brown, Harper

The price that the Kings have asked of other teams seeking to trade for DeMarcus Cousins has dissuaded the Celtics from so much as inquiring thus far, multiple sources tell Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who suggests that Cousins’ maturity has made the Celtics wary, given the high cost. A Western Conference GM confirmed to Bulpett that the Kings sought Julius Randle and No. 2 pick from the Lakers prior to this year’s draft, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported at the time that Sacramento asked for Jordan Clarkson and other draft assets from the Lakers, too. The Kings also wanted to attach Carl Landry, since traded to the Sixers, to any Cousins deal, Wojnarowski wrote. See more on Boston talks — or lack thereof — amid our look at the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said over the offseason that the team was engaged in extension talks with Jared Sullinger, later saying he would continue that discussion. Agent David Falk, speaking to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald last week, painted a different picture. “We didn’t spend one second discussing an extension for him,” Falk said. “Danny wasn’t in a position to give the max, so there was really nothing to talk about. I’ve never done a contract extension for a rookie who didn’t make the max since 1996. You have to understand I’m not a rookie in this league. The GMs all know.” Falk doesn’t necessarily see Sullinger as a max player and simply doesn’t believe in agreeing to terms for a young player before he’s had a chance to hit the market, Bulpett explains. He’s nonetheless optimistic about Sullinger’s prospects, especially given the relative dearth of quality 2016 free agents beyond the top few names.
  • Gregg Popovich wouldn’t want to coach this Sixers roster but says Brett Brown, his former Spurs assistant, is fully engaged, as Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News relays. Brown, in third year of a four-year contract, is, “the most positive person that I know,” Popovich said. “I honestly don’t know who else could be in Philadelphia doing what he’s doing,” Popovich added. “I couldn’t do it. I’d last a month. Two years ago, I mean. A month. Not in the third year.”
  • Nets preseason cut Justin Harper is joining the D-League affiliate of the Lakers, the minor league team announced. The power forward was the 32nd overall pick in 2011.

Atlantic Notes: Robinson, McConnell, Sullinger

Thomas Robinson had offers for longer deals this summer, but he chose to take a two-year deal for the minimum salary with the Nets that allows him to opt out at season’s end because he’s confident he’ll be a more sought-after commodity at that point, as he explains to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Robinson indicates his ideal outcome would involve him turning down his player option.
“It was tough to gamble on myself and turn down a longer contract, but the way I look it, I really have this year to prove myself,” Robinson said to Kennedy. “I have no doubt that once next summer comes, I’ll be back on my way and I’ll have made the right choice.”
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  • Sixers rookie T.J. McConnell‘s 12 assists Monday against the Cavs were more than he had in any college game, notes Brian Seltzer of, who chronicles the surprising impact of the point guard who made the team out of camp on a deal with only a $100K partial guarantee.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is high on McConnell in spite of his desire for another point guard, as Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays, which has reportedly led the team to strike a deal with Phil Pressey“We’ve unearthed something in T.J., that’s just a real pusher point guard, a pass-first point guard,” Brown added. “So I feel like what this team needs to protect ourselves as much as anything is another point guard.”
  • Jared Sullinger made statements indicating that he felt counted out after the Celtics failed to sign him to an extension before Monday’s deadline, but the former 21st overall pick isn’t disappointed, as A. Sherrod Blakely of clarifies. “It’s part of the business,” Sullinger said. “My main objective is to focus on this basketball team, and try to make us better. That’s just the main focus going into this year. It’s not about extensions.”

Atlantic Notes: Isiah, King, Sixers, Raptors

Knicks owner James Dolan doesn’t hide his affection for Isiah Thomas, but he can’t envision a scenario in which he ever hires him for the Knicks again, telling Bryant Gumbel of HBO’s Real Sports that he doesn’t think fans in New York would give him a fair chance, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays (Twitter link). Thomas, to whom Gumbel also spoke, ruled out coaching the Knicks again, but didn’t say he wouldn’t seek a front office position with the team, Bondy notes. See more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov complimented the job performance of GM Billy King in an interview with NetsDaily, but he wouldn’t address the matter of whether he’ll give King an extension. King is in the final year of his deal and conflicting reports emerged in May about whether he and the team were close to an extension.
  • Brett Brown has said the Sixers plan to keep only three point guards for opening night, but with top options Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall injured and T.J. McConnell closing in on a regular season spot, Brown suggests the team could keep more because of their ability to slide to shooting guard, observes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “You know you look at [Scottie] Wilbekin … and say he’s a two-guard,” Brown said. “He can shoot, and that’s true. I can look at Isaiah [Canaan] and say he’s not always a point guard. Let him go be, pick him, Lou Williams. He’s a barrel-chested scorer.”
  • The Raptors had mixed results with two point guards on the floor at the same time last season, but with Cory Joseph having replaced Williams and Greivis Vasquez, coach Dwane Casey is more optimistic about such lineups, as Josh Lewenberg of examines. “The problem last year going small wasn’t Kyle [Lowry], it was the other small guys with him,” Casey said. “Now we have speed and quickness with Kyle, we have toughness with Kyle defensively so you don’t get burned as much defensively when you do go small.”

Sixers Rumors: McConnell, Roster, Embiid, Stauskas

Undrafted rookie T.J. McConnell is making a strong bid for a roster spot, according to Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is one of six point guards on the roster, but with Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall both injured, an opportunity exists for McConnell, who had 10 points and 10 assists Friday in his first preseason start. Sixers coach Brett Brown says the rookie has a “very, very acute” self-awareness and understanding of the game. “He’s a point guard,” Brown said. “I’ve said it all along that point guards are born. He thinks and acts and does things like a point guard.”

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Brown said keeping just three point guards on the roster will be “tricky” if Wroten and Marshall aren’t available at the start of the season, tweets Tom Moore of Calkins Media. The coach adds that, “We’re not going to cut down [the roster] until the death knock” because there have been so many injuries (Twitter link). “This whole thing is fluid and changes on a dime,” said Brown, who wants to take a longer look at his younger players (Twitter link).
  • Brown is taking issue with things that were said about Joel Embiid in a recent article, writes Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Brown was especially upset about the allegation that Sixers majority owner Josh Harris ordered the coach and GM Sam Hinkie to tell Embiid not to go to Las Vegas for the team’s summer camp, and when neither one did, Embiid showed up. “When you read about what’s now been written, there are several portions that are wildly inaccurate,” Brown said. “That [directives from Harris] being one of them. I have no idea what that means or why it was said. It’s just one of those things that we move on from. We’re pretty much treating it as noise and we will move on from it.”
  • Nik Stauskas hasn’t played yet in the preseason, but is hoping to be ready before opening night, Cooney writes in the same piece. Acquired in a July trade with the Kings, Stauskas has been recovering from a stress reaction in his right tibia. “I felt great today and really got in a good sweat at the morning shootaround,” he said Saturday. “I’m really not feeling any pain and my legs feel really strong. I should be ready soon.”

Latest On Sixers, Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid put off foot surgery this summer to party and play basketball in Las Vegas this summer, and the Sixers have been frustrated with his attitude and insubordination, sources detailed to Brian Geltzeiler of’s The Cauldron. Sixers majority owner Josh Harris didn’t want Embiid to accompany the Sixers to the Las Vegas Summer League in July, preferring that Embiid undergo the surgery doctors prescribed for his slow-healing right foot, and Harris instructed GM Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown to ensure he didn’t attend. Neither kept the former No. 3 overall pick from traveling to Las Vegas, multiple sources tell Geltzeiler. Embiid didn’t appear in games, but he shot jumpers and dunked on the side and refused to wear a medically prescribed walking boot, Geltzeiler hears. Surgery didn’t take place until August.

Hinkie has expressed a desire for Embiid to be more focused in his rehab, but he said around the time of Embiid’s surgery that the center had adhered to the recovery plan laid out for him. Embiid’s diet and conditioning have nonetheless worried the Sixers, multiple sources tell Geltzeiler, who also hears that Embiid physically threatened a Sixers strength coach last season.

Sixers majority owner Josh Harris remains firmly in Hinkie’s corner in spite of the issues regarding Embiid and other concerns around the team, but sources suggested to Geltzeiler that others within the ownership structure are losing patience. Last season’s Michael Carter-Williams trade riled and surprised Brown, multiple league sources tell Geltzeiler, though Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported in the spring that while Brown didn’t fully support the move, the tension between him and Hinkie was minimal.

Geltzeiler’s sources also say Scott O’Neil, who sits atop the team’s business operations as its CEO, was angry and caught off guard by the trade, as he’d planned to market around Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. However, Sixers spokesperson Michael Preston denied any discord surrounding the move, calling it “unsubstantiated rumor” and “a gross mischaracterization of the events” in an email response to Geltzeiler’s inquiry. O’Neil said in a recent interview with Jake Fischer of SI Now that the team’s business department has come to terms with the trade and is excited about the club’s assets for the long term, which include a future first-round pick from the Lakers that came in that same Carter-Williams deal (Twitter link).

Dario Saric, another of Philadelphia’s prospects for the future, remains under contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, and his father is pushing the Sixers away, a source tells Geltzeiler. Saric has denied that his father is exerting undue influence. Saric and the Sixers both reportedly wanted him to join Philadelphia in time for this season, but the first escape clause in his deal isn’t until next summer.

Atlantic Notes: Sloan, Fisher, Sixers

Donald Sloan knew at this point last season that his salary was guaranteed, and he went on to put up career-best numbers across for the Pacers, but now he is one of seven on the 20-man Nets roster without a full guarantee. He’s nonetheless confident, and Nets coach Lionel Hollins is high on the point guard’s ability, too, observes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.

“I thought Donald Sloan’s athleticism, size and quickness could help us,” Hollins said. “We’re looking for a third guard, and he was a guy that was out there that showed a little bit of tenacity and toughness, as well as athleticism and quickness.”

Bontemps suggests that Sloan, who has a partial guarantee of $50K, is fighting for the third point guard job, and ostensibly a regular season roster spot, with rookie Ryan Boatright, who has a $75K partial guarantee. See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It was a plane issue that kept Knicks coach Derek Fisher from making it back to New York from Los Angeles for Monday’s practice, not his alleged scrap with Matt Barnes, Fisher contended Thursday, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Fisher added that he’s spoken with his boss, team president Phil Jackson, about what happened. The coach drew criticism for his absence from work.
  • Nerlens Noel and new addition Jahlil Okafor experienced some growing pains Thursday as they failed to mesh as well as they had two nights before, and Sixers coach Brett Brown admitted, “We’re going to have this conversation for a while, growing these two guys,” observes Tom Moore of Calkins Media.
  • Brown expects Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten to miss at least the next month as they continue to recover from their injuries, Moore notes in the same piece, further jumbling the point guard picture for the Sixers, who have six point guards on their preseason roster.

Sixers Notes: Hinkie, Embiid, Brown, Landry

Sixers owner Josh Harris admits that it’s difficult to watch his team lose, but he insists that he doesn’t want to sacrifice the franchise’s long-term rebuilding plan, notes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Harris is still supportive of GM Sam Hinkie, pointing to the work he’s done via trade, and he doesn’t question the team’s decision to draft Joel Embiid third overall last year despite the fact that he’s likely to miss a second season in a row because of his ailing right foot, as Tom Moore of Calkins Media observes (All Twitter links).

‘When we drafted Joel, it was a good risk to take. I was really disappointed [about the news of his second foot surgery],” Harris said. “When you talk to the doctors, they’re quite optimistic. You have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

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  • Harris and Hinkie didn’t talk about an extension for coach Brett Brown, whose contract expires at the end of the 2016/17 season, but they made it clear they’re fond of him. “I give Brett an A for the job he’s done. He’s an incredible player development person,” Harris said, according to Moore (Twitter links). “I hope and expect Brett to be around the team for a long, long time.” Hinkie believes Brown has also excelled in ways that aren’t readily apparent, as Pompey relays“I’m proud to see all of you like Brett Brown as much as I like Brett Brown,” Hinkie said to reporters, including Moore, as he pointed to stories about the idea of an extension“It’s been a real pleasure — and I suspect it’ll continue to be a real pleasure — to work with him. He and I have a great relationship. He’s been a fantastic partner.”
  • Carl Landry is still about five or six weeks away from a return following June 2nd surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist, but Hinkie indicated that the team intends for him to stick around despite his status as a veteran who’s making a relatively sizable amount of money, as Pompey details. His $6.5MM salary is the highest on the team. “We talked a lot about this situation and how it’s different the way people might perceive it [as nothing more than a salary dump], and the importance of his voice and how that might matter,” Hinkie said. “That doesn’t take away from his game. I think he will be able to play fine.”
  • Nik Stauskas, whom the Sixers acquired along with Landry via trade this summer, regrets approaching his rookie year last season with trepidation, as he tells Pompey for a separate piece. “Coming into last year, I had no clue what to expect,” Stauskas said. “I was a little bit nervous, maybe a little bit scared. Coming into the NBA for me was almost a different ball game. Looking back on it, that was probably one of the biggest mistakes I made. It’s still just basketball. It just happens to be with different players in a different league.”
  • Undrafted rookie Christian Wood has just a $50K guarantee on his deal with the Sixers, but he’s looked impressive so far, Pompey opines. Brown has praise for the power forward, and particularly for the development of his three-point shot.

Sixers Notes: Leonard, Brown, Okafor, Stauskas

The Sixers “sniffed around” the idea of an offer sheet for Kawhi Leonard earlier this summer, sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who adds that the team was simply performing its due diligence. The same is true of the Sixers and Jimmy Butler, Lowe hears. Butler had reportedly been scheduled to meet with Philadelphia but put those plans aside while he considered an offer from the Bulls, with whom he eventually re-signed. Leonard re-signed with the Spurs. The primary focus of Lowe’s piece is on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, whom the Sixers are apparently looking into adding. See more from Philly:

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