Philadelphia 76ers

Atlantic Notes: Shaw, Howard, Mbah a Moute

Brian Shaw is reportedly a candidate for the Knicks head coaching position, and despite not having run the triangle offense during his tenure in Denver, Shaw said he could coach any system, Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “I was 12 years involved in it as a player and coach,’’ Shaw told Berman. “The funny thing about it is everybody makes a big deal about the triangle. Almost every team in the league runs different aspects. They’re not dedicated solely to the triangle. It’s something that will always be ingrained in me — the fundamentals of that offense. In Denver, I didn’t run the triangle. I could adapt to any style the personnel dictates.’’

The former Nuggets coach also hopes he isn’t solely judged by his performance in Denver, which was marred by injuries and player unrest, Berman adds. “It was a situation I don’t really feel I was able to succeed in,’’ Shaw said. “I don’t think anyone placed in that situation could’ve succeeded. I hope I’m not judged on the year-and-a-half I was there more so than the 27 years prior to that I’ve been involved in the NBA.’

Here’s more regarding the teams of the Atlantic Division:

  • Despite the reports that the Celtics are targeting Rockets center Dwight Howard, team executive Danny Ainge is reluctant to part with assets for a short-term rental, a description Howard would potentially fit, since he can opt out of his deal this summer, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes. While Boston is looking to make a significant trade prior to Thursday’s deadline, it won’t get itself caught up in a bidding war for players, and the franchise is willing to stand pat, Himmelsbach adds. “This team is not in it for the short term,” a league source told Himmelsbach regarding the Celtics. Boston has also been linked to Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, both of whom are under contract beyond this season.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute believed he would be back with the Sixers this season, but the team went in a different direction instead, leading the combo forward to sign with the Clippers after his deal with the Kings fell through. For his part, Mbah a Moute is pleased with how things turned out and he has found his niche in Los Angeles, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “It’s a life lesson, you know,” Mbah a Moute said. “It’s always something good when everything bad happens. You never know. When you go through it, it’s kind of tough. It’s always something that better comes out of it.

And-Ones: Colangelo, Tavares, Durant

Sixers executive Jerry Colangelo indicated that the franchise may take a page out of the Warriors‘ organizational playbook and add more voices to their front office, Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com relays. [Golden State] proves the point,” Colangelo told reporters today. “If you have the right mix of people you can have a collaborative effort because people respect one another, and usually that comes from people who have had experience, who’ve been around the track. You add all of that to the mix and it could work.

I think that any time you have an opportunity to enhance your organization, and you bring people in to accomplish that, you consider it. Big time. You really do,” Colangelo continued. “And I think in our case we have a very bright young guy in [GM] Sam Hinkie, who holds the title of president and GM, and in his space he’s really strong. One could build a case for saying you’d like to have more people added who have experience in other aspects of those jobs. That’s the kind of conversation that’s going on.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Thunder haven’t given any consideration to trading small forward Kevin Durant, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, prior to next week’s deadline despite the uncertainty that revolves around his future, Marc J. Spears of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports relays. “I never thought about that at all,” Durant said about being dealt by OKC. “I don’t know, man. I don’t want to be moved. I want to finish this thing out with my team. I think we got a really good thing going right now, so I haven’t really thought about it. We never talk about that stuff, me, [GM] Sam Presti, our assistant GM [Troy Weaver]. It’s always about how I can be better for my teammates and with my leadership skills.
  • Jeff Ayres‘ second 10-day deal with the Clippers expired Thursday night, so he became a free agent. Teams are only permitted to ink any single player to a total of two 10-day pacts per season, and if Los Angeles wishes to retain Ayres, it would have to sign him for the remainder of the season. The Clippers’ roster count now stands at 14 players.
  • The Hawks have recalled center Edy Tavares from the Spurs‘ D-League affiliate where he had been sent as part of the flexible assignment rule, Atlanta announced via press release. Tavares has averaged 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 21.1 minutes during his seven D-League assignments this season.

And-Ones: Isaac, Cordinier, Free Agents

High school phenom Jonathan Isaac, who is ranked among the top 10 prospects in the nation, intends to explore the idea of declaring for the 2016 NBA draft directly from prep school, Pete Thamel of SI.com writes. Isaac told Thamel that he could look to take advantage of a new rule that allows prospects to enter the NBA draft and return to college if they aren’t satisfied with their projected draft position., Thamel adds. The new rule allows Isaac to participate in the NBA draft combine, hold an NBA workout and pull out of the draft without compromising his amateur standing at Florida State where he’s signed to play next season, the SI scribe notes.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • French shooting guard prospect Isaia Cordinier appears to be a strong candidate to be a first round pick if he enters this year’s NBA Draft, opines Jonathan Givony of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. The 19-year-old is likely to declare for the draft, though he will retain the right to withdraw his name if he doesn’t feel good about his prospects, Givony adds. The flexibility of his situation will certainly help his stock because an NBA team can opt to pick Cordinier and “stash” him in Europe for another year or two, which could be a major selling point for a franchise that has multiple draft picks and limited roster spots to utilize for 2016/17, the Vertical scribe concludes. Cordinier is currently projected as the No. 25 overall pick this June, according to DraftExpress.
  • The rookies whose performances have been the most pleasantly surprising this season for their respective teams are the PacersMyles Turner, Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell, ESPN.com’s Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton opine in their look at the league’s first-year players (Insider subscription required).
  • The free agent class for the summer of 2017 will be loaded with superstar point guards, including Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry, Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders notes in his free agent primer.
  • Florida State freshman shooting guard Malik Beasley has worked his way onto NBA teams’ radars and is currently projected to be a mid to late first-rounder if he enters this year’s NBA Draft, Mike Schmitz of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports writes in his look at the prospect. Despite his strong play this season, Beasley is still likely a year away from being able to contribute in the NBA as a rotation player, though his potential will probably influence an NBA club to take a gamble on him this June, Schmitz concludes.

Atlantic Notes: Rondo, Ainge, Brand

Celtics executive Danny Ainge is expected to be active leading up to this year’s trade deadline and would be willing to deal away significant assets, but only if it would land a “special player,” A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com relays. “It depends on the player and it depends on his age and it depends on the probability of us re-signing him,” Ainge said during an appearance on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” show. “But most of the time I would say no, I would not give up [significant assets]. If you’re risking very little, it might be worth the risk. But I would never risk a lot for a small chance unless that player’s one of the top four or five players in the game.” Boston owns the Nets’ first-rounder in this year’s NBA draft, a pick that is likely to be in the top five. The team has reportedly been involved in recent trade talks with the Rockets regarding Dwight Howard and with the Nuggets about Danilo Gallinari.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks are going to attempt to upgrade their point guard position this offseason, but Kings playmaker Rajon Rondo likely won’t be the solution, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes. At issue for Rondo is New York’s triangle offense, which isn’t a point guard dominated system, Begley notes. When asked if the Knicks were a possibility for him in the future, Rondo, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, said, “The triangle’s not really a good look for me, I don’t think.
  • Elton Brand wound up with the Sixers because of his value as a leader, something that Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer says the veteran excels at being, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He is going to bring [leadership to the 76ers] in multitudes of hundreds or thousands,” Budenholzer said. “He’s one of the most incredible leaders I’ve ever been around. And as a person. To have person like that in your locker room every day, in your practice every day, on your bench every day, I think it’s huge value. It was a move that made sense for both of them. For the organization, it’s a really smart move. For Elton, to decide he wanted to get back and help the Sixers organization and help these young players and give back speaks a lot to his character and what kind of guy he is.

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, Hinkie, Raptors

When asked what the Sixers need to move ahead in their rebuilding process, GM Sam Hinkie said Philadelphia needs to find talented players capable of leading the team deep into the playoffs, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “That’s critical,” Hinkie said. “We have several on the roster. We’ll need more. There’s not any one position or any one type of player. We’ll need talented players to take us to the next level.” Philadelphia will look to the upcoming draft in its pursuit of impact players, though Hinkie was coy on whom the franchise was targeting come June and would only say they want “gifted” players, Pompey adds. “Gifted ones that are wildly competitive, that want to be great in their craft, that have been blessed with real gifts, size and length and the like,” Hinkie said. “Turn on a late West Coast game and watch who’s lighting the league on fire now. You’ll see examples of it.

Asked if the team would focus on the backcourt after going big the past two drafts despite the small-ball trend in the NBA, Hinkie told the Inquirer scribe, “I don’t think the league is going any one particular way, where you have to have this or that. You can look at our team and say we need more of this, and that makes sense too. We’re still after how do we put the building blocks in place.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • On a Celtics team that is laden with guards, rookie Terry Rozier has only appeared in 18 contests this season, but he is refusing to allow that to diminish his enthusiasm to be in the league, Spencer Davies of AmicoHoops.net relays. “It’ll all work out,” Rozier told Davies. “I don’t really worry about the naysayers or the things that are going on right now, because I know at the end of the day — I know I’m working. I know it’ll happen for me.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is familiar with the Raptors organization, with his father, Brendan Malone, having been the team’s first head coach in 1995/96. The younger Malone is impressed with how far the Toronto basketball culture has grown over the years, Chris O’Leary of The Toronto Star writes. “They’ve come a long way in so many areas,” Malone said. “I can remember my father as the first coach in Raptors history trying to educate the fans but also the media. A lot of the guys that covered the Raptors at the time really weren’t [knowledgeable] so he would have sessions after practice with the media talking just about the game of basketball.

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.

Latest On Blake Griffin

The Sixers and Nuggets have talked to the Clippers about Blake Griffin, league sources tell Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio and Amico Hoops (Twitter link), confirming an earlier dispatch from Mitch Lawrence of Forbes, who first reported the involvement of the Nuggets. However, the Clippers have no active interest in trading him in spite of offers that several teams have made, a source told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

It doesn’t seem as though the Nuggets have assets that align with what the Clippers would want for Griffin, observes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (All Twitter links), even though Lawrence indicates that the Clippers were the ones who began the dialogue. The Sixers, like the Nuggets, will have as many as four first-round picks this year, but they have less to offer on their existing roster, as their league-worst 7-42 record would indicate.

The Nuggets have reservations about their ability to re-sign Griffin, whose contract runs through 2017/18 and includes an opt-out for the summer of 2017, Lawrence writes. Danilo Gallinari would be available for the right return, according to Lawrence, but it appears the price for Gallinari is high, as the Celtics have reportedly been unable to pry him from Denver. Outside of Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets are “open for business,” as Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports said in a recent radio appearance, and Lawrence confirms the team would be willing to trade Kenneth Faried.

The Clippers plan a concerted effort to look for Griffin trades in the offseason if they disappoint in the playoffs this spring, as fellow Vertical scribe Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today, but coach/executive Doc Rivers isn’t eager to trade the star power forward before the deadline, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote recently. Philadelphia chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo said this week that the Sixers aren’t actively looking for a deadline trade while not ruling out the possibility of making one. A pursuit of Griffin that takes place in the offseason would fall in line with reported efforts the team made to sign Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard under GM Sam Hinkie this past summer, though it’s unclear just how the Sixers will function now that Colangelo is around.

The broken shooting hand Griffin suffered, reportedly from hitting friend and Clippers assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, will keep him from playing for several weeks, perhaps until late March, as the Clippers apparently believe. The incident has prompted an NBA investigation that’s likely to result in discipline for Griffin, commissioner Adam Silver told Sam Amick of USA Today.

Eastern Notes: Van Gundy, Kidd, Smith

Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy vehemently shot down a report that stated Detroit was engaged in trade talks with the Nets regarding a potential Brandon Jennings for Thaddeus Young swap, Van Gundy told members of the media, including Hoops Rumors. “I got my email from [GM] Jeff [Bower] with all the discussions that have gone on and there was no mention of Brooklyn and no mention of Brandon,” Van Gundy said. “But the way you guys make [things] up at this time of year, it’s always interesting to me to find out stuff that you guys know we’re talking about that we don’t know we’re talking about. I find it interesting and amusing. 99.9% of the stuff that’s out there will never happen, mostly because 98% of it is just made up.

Here’s more news and rumors regarding the East:

  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd places much of the blame for his team’s struggles this season on Milwaukee’s youthful roster, Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. When asked about the difference between this season’s Bucks squad and 2014/15’s version, Kidd said, “One had age with it and being in the right spot. The longer you’re in this league, you understand what positioning and being in the right spot means. When you say it in those terms, younger players don’t quite understand that, of being at the elbow to get out, and not being out to get in. It takes time and that’s what we’re going through right now.
  • Despite the strong early returns from the acquisition of Ish Smith, Sixers team executive Jerry Colangelo is non-committal about Smith being the long-term answer at the one spot, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “Where he was picked [an undrafted free agent], because he’s bounced around quite a bit, and it’s a great story that finally maybe he’s landed somewhere where he could do a lot more than fit that description or that role,” Colangelo said. “And I think you always have to keep your options open on everything. I would say this. A month ago, we really had a big need. That need is a lot less today because of what he’s shown he’s capable of doing.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Hernangomez, Powell, Canaan

There are a number of obstacles to navigate if the Knicks wish to sign 2015 draft-and-stash pick Guillermo Hernangomez for next season, Marc Berman of The New York Post notes. The big man intends to play for the Spanish national team and Olympic training camp occurs in July, which would prevent Hernangomez from participating in NBA summer league play, Berman writes. The Spanish league season runs until late June, which means the New York coaching staff won’t have much time to evaluate Hernangomez before needing to make a decision regarding his future, the Post scribe adds. “There’s a lot of variables that have to evolve,’’ Hernangomez’s agent, Andy Miller, said. “They [the Knicks] have to get through free agency and the draft and he has a long season. My perspective is I’d like to get him being here to train and develop sooner than later. It’s my job to balance it as an intermediary between the parties. Will the Knicks want him only if he plays summer league? There’s a lot of factors that can’t be answered now. It will get hectic.’

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • A rash of injuries have Raptors rookie Norman Powell seeing meaningful minutes for the team and the swingman is beginning to show promise now that he is getting settled in his new role, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star relays. “He’s getting more comfortable,” teammate DeMar DeRozan said of Powell. “Mainly [it’s] just trying to make everything easier on him so he doesn’t have to think so much. He’s got a good feel on the defensive and on the offensive end we just have to keep it simple for him.
  • Isaiah Canaan is finding his niche as shooting guard for the Sixers after breaking into the league as a point guard, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “People may say I’m an undersized shooting guard,” Canaan said. “I just say I’m blessed with the ability to shoot the basket, and I can just run the point when they need me to.” Canaan, who can become a restricted free agent at season’s end if Philadelphia extends a qualifying offer, noted that he would love to re-sign with the team, Pompey adds.
  • Elton Brand has yet to see any game action for the Sixers since being signed on January 4th, but he understands his role is to be a mentor to the team’s younger players and embraces it, Pompey writes in a separate piece. “With me, I’m not trying to take anything away from the development of these young guys, getting these young guys looks,” said Brand. “I don’t mind. Whenever you need me, I’m ready.”

Atlantic Notes: Bargnani, Afflalo, Williams

All four Nets who have player options for next season are planning to opt out, as NetsDaily hears (Twitter links). None of them have particularly lucrative options, with Wayne Ellington‘s nearly $1.568MM topping the list, followed by Shane Larkin at $1.5MM, with Andrea Bargnani and Thomas Robinson at minimum salaries of close to $1.552MM and almost $1.051MM, respectively. Their agents believe the inflated salary cap will yield a market too fertile to pass up, NetsDaily adds. Brooklyn has about $45MM in guaranteed salary on the books for next season against a projected $89MM salary cap, so the opt-outs would allow the team to retain flexibility. Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks consider Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams core players, while Robin Lopez and Lance Thomas are also part of the team’s “inner circle,” writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Afflalo and Williams have player options for next season, worth $8MM and $4.598MM, respectively, that the team is hoping they’ll pick up, while Thomas is on a one-year contract. Lopez is in the first season of a four-year deal.
  • The Sixers have given executive Brandon Williams more latitude on player development, agent relations, recruiting and other areas as part of a promotion to a new chief of staff position, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Williams, who had been GM of the team’s D-League affiliate while serving as an assistant GM of sorts to GM Sam Hinkie, will retain his D-League duties and continue to report to Hinkie, as Wojnarowski details. The team has yet to make an official announcement.
  • P.J. Tucker might help the Raptors as a stopgap option at small forward, but Markieff Morris isn’t the long-term solution the club’s needs at power forward, opines Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the Raptors are interested in both Suns players.

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