Brett Brown

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Brown, Johnson

Sixers coach Brett Brown expects Joel Embiid to be ready to play in the preseason, as he tells Zach Lowe of ESPN.com on his podcast (h/t to Rob Tornoe of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “Physically, mentally, recent medical scans, everything is pointing in the right direction. We’re just very excited,” Brown said. Embiid has yet to play in a game since being drafted with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Brown feels the Sixers are in a good place as a franchise right now, as he discusses on that same podcast. “There’s a real feel good mentality right now in our city. I think everybody’s starting to get excited,” Brown said. “Obviously, this is just one more phase, one more wave on how we build our program. But we have such fantastic young, talented pieces to try to put that puzzle together. Everybody’s excited here in Philadelphia.”
  • Amir Johnson has established himself as a good defender and if he reaches his ceiling on the defensive end, he could end up making an All-NBA defensive team, A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast Sportsnet argues. Johnson, who signed a two-year, $24MM deal with the Celtics last summer, will be a free agent after the 2016/17 season.

Atlantic Notes: Lin, Foye, Brown, O’Brien

Jeremy Lin is trying to justify the Nets‘ $36MM investment by becoming a better shooter this offseason, relays Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com. Lin, who accepted a three-year deal to leave Charlotte for Brooklyn, has altered his shooting style and is hoping for better results. Mazzeo notes that Lin’s percentage as a jump-shooter over the past four seasons is just 34.8%. “I’ve changed my form, brought my release lower and made the motion smoother in hopes of making it more consistent, creating a quicker release and using less energy so on nights when I’m tired I can still shoot it well,” Lin said. “I’ve also been working on my floaters and change of pace game because as I get older, I will rely less and less on my athleticism.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Randy Foye stands out as a veteran on a very young Nets team, writes Cory Wright of NBA.com. Foye, who signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with Brooklyn last month, has played 683 games in his 10-year NBA career. That’s about 200 more than the combined total of new teammates Anthony Bennett, Bojan Bogdanovic, Justin Hamilton, Joe Harris, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sean Kilpatrick and Chris McCullough. Foye is aware of his new role as a veteran leader. “When I first came into the league, Kevin Garnett was my vet,” Foye said. “He was on me, but everything he told me, he practiced what he preached. He got on the floor, dove on the floor and a lot of the things that he did he led by example.”
  • Sixers head coach Brett Brown was happy to add a man who once held that position to his staff, according to Brian Seltzer of NBA.com. Jim O’Brien, who was Philadelphia’s coach for one season in 2004/05, rejoined the team after former associate head coach Mike D’Antoni left to become head coach of the Rockets. “His experiences in the NBA are documented,” Brown said of O’Brien. “I just felt like, for me, with his Philadelphia background, his NBA experiences, and the fact that I felt comfortable with him, I felt like he would be a veteran sounding board, and good for my other young assistants.”

Eastern Notes: Udrih, J.R. Smith, Sixers, Butler

Beno Udrih has no assurances of playing time despite re-signing with the Heat, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Udrih gives the club a natural point guard behind starter Goran Dragic, but combo guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson will also see action at that position, Jackson continues. Udrih signed a one-year guaranteed deal at the veteran’s minimum of $1.4MM. Udrih had a standing offer from the Heat for more than a month, sources told Jackson, and turned down some other options because of his comfort level with the organization.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Free agent J.R. Smith doesn’t appear to be close to signing a contract, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs’ shooting guard is deferring all questions about his free agency to agent Rich Paul. Smith is expected to rejoin Cleveland and is believed to be seeking a multi-year deal worth approximately $15MM per season, Fedor continues. There’s been little interest from other teams because of Smith’s past antics, Fedor adds.
  • The Sixers will play three nationally televised games, and coach Brett Brown believes that’s a sign of progress, Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com reports. Philadelphia hasn’t had a game broadcast nationally since the 2012/13 season. “It’s really I think a statement to the way the public views our young, exciting team,” Brown said in a podcast on the team’s website.
  • Caron Butler would be interested in signing with the Knicks, tweets Anthony Donahue of SNY. During an appearance on Donahue’s “33rd and 7th” podcast, Butler said he likes the moves that New York made during the offseason. Butler, 36, spent last season with the Kings and appeared in just 17 games.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

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.”

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