Brett Brown

Atlantic Notes: B. Brown, Butler, Anunoby, Nets

After telling ESPN on Monday night that head coach Brett Brown would be retained by the Sixers for the 2019/20 season, managing partner Josh Harris insisted today that Brown was never on the hot seat and knew during the series vs. Toronto that his job wasn’t in jeopardy (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of Philly.com).

“Lots (has) been made about this in the press, and truthfully, you can’t believe what you’re hearing,” Harris said of the Brown rumors, per Jon Johnson of WIP (Twitter link).

While the Sixers ultimately decided to stick with Brown, it’s odd that Harris should act as if the decision was never in doubt, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. In a tweet, Bodner points out that the team had a number of opportunities to squash speculation about Brown’s job security in recent weeks and months, and never did so.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Although he was quiet at times and saw his stats dip during the regular season after joining the Sixers, Jimmy Butler showed in the playoffs why he’ll still be one of the top free agents on the market this summer. As Marc Narducci of Philly.com relays, Butler believes the offers he gets this July will reflect that. “Technically I think, knock on wood, I will get a max contract anywhere I choose to go,” Butler said on Monday. “So if you are talking a four-year, five-year, that is more than enough money anyway. I think I still have more than enough money now from my first deal.”
  • Raptors forward OG Anunoby is starting to get more active, but it’ll still be another week before he can get up close to full speed, head coach Nick Nurse said today (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic). In other words, Anunoby – who is recovering from an appendectomy – sounds unlikely to play a real role in the Eastern Finals unless he’s able to get back near the end of the series.
  • Draft-and-stash prospect Isaia Cordinier expects to play for the Nets in this year’s Summer League and hopes to join the team at some point, as he tells French site BeBasket (link via NetsDaily).
  • Illinois State wing Milik Yarbrough was among the prospects who worked out for the Nets last week, tweets Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

Brett Brown Will Remain Sixers’ Head Coach

Brett Brown will return as the Sixers’ head coach next season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Philadelphia’s managing partner Josh Harris informed Wojnarowski of the decision.

Harris, Brown and GM Elton Brand met on Monday to discuss offseason priorities, including the draft and free agency, Wojnarowski adds.

Brown, 58, has been the head coach in Philadelphia since the 2013/14 season. He guided the Sixers to 52 and 51 regular-season wins during the past two seasons, but the team has been eliminated in the conference semifinals both years. Philadephia took Toronto to the limit but fell in Game 7 Sunday on Kawhi Leonard‘s last-second field goal.

Prior to the series finale, a report indicated that Brown would likely lose his job unless the Sixers reached the NBA Finals.

If the Sixers had parted ways with Brown they would have paid him not to coach. He was handed a three-year extension last May by former president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo.

Several Philadelphia’s players, including J.J. RedickJimmy Butler and Joel Embiid, expressed support for Brown after the heart-wrenching loss on Sunday and that may have helped his cause.

However, the Sixers’ roster could look much different next season with three starters — Butler, Redick and Tobias Harris — becoming free agents.

Sixers Notes: Brown, Butler, Harris, Redick

Prior to Sunday’s Game Seven, a report indicated that Brett Brown could be in danger of losing his job if he couldn’t lead his Sixers past the Raptors (and perhaps the Bucks too). Now that the 76ers have been eliminated, we’re still waiting for official word on where Brown stands, but many of his players would like to see him back on the sidelines next season, as Keith Pompey of Philly.com writes.

“I would say this in general. For any NBA team, when you think about a coach, and potentially replacing that coach, you have to consider what coaches are available,” J.J. Redick said. “You know what I mean? That’s just in general. I don’t feel it necessary to defend Brett to anyone. I think his work speaks for itself.”

Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid also offered up praise for Brown, with Butler stating, “I think he’s going to be here for a long time.” Embiid called rumors about Brown’s hot seat “bulls—,” adding, “I don’t think he should have anything to worry about.”

The unity displayed by many of the Sixers’ key players on Brown may reflect a deeper sense of family and culture that has developed in Philadelphia this year, as Jake Fischer of SI.com tweets. According to Fischer, multiple people close to the team have credited Embiid and Ben Simmons for helping cultivate that culture by embracing one another as franchise partners.

As we wait to learn Brown’s fate, let’s round up several more items on the Sixers:

  • Embiid would like to see both of Philadelphia’s top free agents – Butler and Tobias Harris – return next season, calling them “great guys on and off the court,” tweets Pompey. Here’s what Butler said about his upcoming free agency, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter link): “I haven’t thought about (free agency) too much…You always want to be able to win. I think that’s key for sure. You’re looking at coaches. You’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes in to it.”
  • They won’t be paid like Butler and Harris, but Redick and Mike Scott both expressed interest in returning to the Sixers as free agents too (Twitter links via Pompey and Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice). Redick said he’d like to finish his career in Philadelphia, while Scott said he has spoken to both GM Elton Brand and head coach Brett Brown, telling them he’d like to play under Brown next season.
  • In an Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Bobby Marks previews the Sixers’ offseason, writing that failing to re-sign at least one of Butler or Harris would be a “disaster” for the franchise. In his own look at the Sixers’ summer, Sean Deveney of Sporting News suggests Harris is more likely to return than Butler, but he expects the team to do all it can to bring back both forwards.
  • The safe bet heading into the offseason is that the Sixers bring back a relatively similar roster and count on increased familiarity with one another to lead to continued improvement. However, as Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports writes, some executives around the NBA wouldn’t be shocked to see wholesale changes in Philadelphia this summer.

Sixers Notes: Butler, Simmons, Brown, Embiid

Jimmy Butler proved he’s worth a max offer this summer with his performance against the Raptors in Game 6, contends Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Butler contributed 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists as the Sixers forced a seventh game. He also provided the type of leadership the franchise was counting on when it traded for him in November.

“In the first half, the authority and the skill package and his will — put whatever words you want,” coach Brett Brown said. “You could sense the serious side. He got it as much as anybody. He led us. His performance mirrored his attitude.”

It could cost the Sixers up to approximately $190MM over five years to keep Butler once he opts out of his current contract. It won’t be an easy decision in a summer when Tobias Harris will also want a max deal and fellow starter J.J. Redick will be a free agent, but it may be a commitment that Philadelphia has to make.

There’s more Sixers news to pass along:

  • Ben Simmons seemed like a different player in Game 6 with a 21/8/6 line after being limited to 10 or fewer points in the previous four games. Zach Lowe of ESPN examines whether the Sixers can ever win big with Simmons on their roster, concluding that he may have to settle for a role similar to Draymond Green on offense until he can develop a jump shot.
  • Brown’s fate shouldn’t depend on having to win tonight’s Game 7, writes Derek Bodner of the Athletic. A report surfaced yesterday that Brown will likely be fired if the Sixers can’t advance past the second round, and they may have to reach the NBA Finals for him to save his job. Bodner states that determining Brown’s future based on one game would be a poor decision from managing partner Josh Harris, who has long valued process over results.
  • Joel Embiid is on the brink of a suspension after picking up his third flagrant foul of the playoffs late in Thursday’s game, notes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The league office decided not to rescind the flagrant 1, which was called when Embiid struck Marc Gasol in the face while they were battling for a rebound. “It’s annoying, it’s stupid,” Embiid said after the game. “I feel like the one in Brooklyn should be rescinded and tonight, it’s just basketball. I didn’t mean to do it. I just happened to hit him in the face I guess and didn’t mean to do it.”

Brett Brown’s Job In Jeopardy?

Brett Brown may be coaching to keep his job as the Sixers face the Raptors in Game 7 tomorrow, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. Stein states that Brown “has little chance of surviving a second-round exit” and likely needs to reach the NBA Finals to avoid being fired.

Philadephia took two big roster gambles this season, trading for Jimmy Butler in November and Tobias Harris in February. Both will be free agents this summer, along with J.J. Redick, and it appears the front office won’t forgive Brown if the team doesn’t win big right away.

Brown’s first sign of trouble came just before the opening-round series against the Nets when managing partner Josh Harris sidestepped an opportunity to give him a vote of confidence. Harris responded to a question on the topic by saying the entire organization has “high expectations.”

A coaching change would be a costly move for the Sixers, who gave Brown a three-year extension last May. However, that decision was made by former president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who left the team a week later after an incident involving Twitter burner accounts.

Brown, 58, has been the head coach in Philadelphia since the 2013/14 season, surviving a lot of lean years during “The Process” as the team lost big to accumulate assets. He has led the Sixers to 52 and 51 wins the past two seasons, along with a second-round playoff loss last year.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Brown, Williams, Harding

The playoffs opened with three upsets, but nobody had a worse day than the Sixers, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. Philadelphia’s problems go beyond the final score, as nearly every fear about the team heading into the postseason came true. Joel Embiid‘s sore knee, Ben Simmons‘ limited shooting range, the lack of a bench, defensive concerns and chemistry issues were all on display as fans booed loudly in a loss to the Nets.

Some observers believe the Sixers compiled the most talented starting unit in the league by trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, but those five players only took the court together 10 times in the regular season. And with Butler, Harris and J.J. Redick all headed for free agency, the team could easily break apart if the postseason doesn’t go well.

An even greater concern might be Embiid’s physical condition. Bothered by tendinitis in his left knee that limited him to eight games after the All-Star break, Embiid wasn’t sure if he could play until 15 minutes before Saturday’s contest began. He lumbered up and down the court for much of the afternoon, settled for outside jumpers and was frequently targeted by the Nets on defense.

“I tell him all the time, it’s about him being healthy,” Butler said. “Yeah, he can help us but at the same time, he can hurt us if he gets worse. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely want Jo out there. But we want him healthy.”

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Managing partner Josh Harris passed on a chance to give coach Brett Brown a vote of confidence before yesterday’s opener, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris has commented before that it could be “problematic” if the team doesn’t make a long playoff run. “What I meant by it is that all of us – Brett, [general manager] Elton [Brand], me, a lot of us, the players on the team. We have high expectations. So that is what I meant,” Harris said when asked about Brown’s future.
  • The Sixers won’t stand in the way of any assistant who gets a head coaching opportunity, Brand told Pompey in the same story. They granted permission yesterday for Monty Williams to interview for the open job with the Lakers, where he and Tyronn Lue appear to be the top candidates. “We respect that, the chance to have more responsibility and be a head coach,” Brand said. “For anyone on our staff to have a deeper role, we will honor that. We don’t want dysfunction, we don’t want distractions, but it is what it is.”
  • Lindsey Harding was promoted this week to player development coach, the team announced on its website. She joined the organization prior to this season as a pro personnel scout.

Sixers Take Disciplinary Action Over Cell Phone Incident

6:35pm: The Sixers have fined Johnson for using his cell phone on the sidelines, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. “I apologize for having my phone on the bench in today’s game,” Johnson said in a statement tweeted by the team. “I take full responsibility and will accept the consequences of my actions. I also apologize to my teammates, the 76ers organization and the fans for the distraction this has caused.”

5:10pm: Today’s playoff loss to the Nets was punctuated by an embarrassing incident late in the game in which Sixers players Amir Johnson and Joel Embiid were caught looking at Johnson’s cell phone while on the bench. Coach Brett Brown criticized both players for their actions and promised the situation would be handled, tweets Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

“It’s completely unacceptable and we will deal with it internally, very soon,” Brown said in his post-game press conference. “It’s not something we are and certainly don’t condone.”

Using a cell phone from the bench violates the NBA’s Operations Manual, points out ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Both players are facing substantial fines and possible suspensions. Johnson was inactive today, while Embiid, who has been bothered by knee pain, decided to play shortly before the game began.

Embiid explained that they were using the phone to get an update on the health of Johnson’s daughter (Twitter link). “I looked down because he said his daughter was extremely sick and he was checking on his daughter,” he told reporters.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Embiid, Kurucs, Ntilikina

Higher expectations may put Sixers coach Brett Brown’s job in jeopardy if the team suffers an early playoff exit, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown has amassed a 168-308 record in his six years on Philadelphia’s bench, but much of that came as the franchise was trying to rebuild through the draft. With a pair of stars in place in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and two more acquired in trade in Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, the pressure to win right away has become intense.

Brown refused to comment on the situation after Friday’s loss, which was the Sixers’ third in their last four games. However, the mini-slump is understandable, given the 76ers’ tough schedule and the absence of their top two centers, Embiid, who has tendinitis in his left knee, and Boban Marjanovic, who’s dealing with a right knee bone bruise and a mild sprain.

Still, Brown has to be feeling the heat, especially in light of a recent quote from co-managing partner Josh Harris, who indicated a first-round loss wouldn’t be acceptable. “We’re going to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Harris told ESPN. “We have enough talent on our roster that if we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can beat any team in the East.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After missing eight games, Embiid is expected to return for this afternoon’s showdown with the Pacers, according to an ESPN report. Embiid, who hasn’t played since the All-Star break, approached the team about taking a few games off to make sure he’s rested and healthy for the playoffs.
  • Rodions Kurucs may have solved the Nets‘ search for a stretch four, suggests Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The rookie has started the past three games, helping Brooklyn to wins in all of them. He posted 16 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s victory at Atlanta. “I don’t know what neighborhood he grew up in in Latvia, but that’s a tough neighborhood. That’s a tough dude,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He might not look the part, looks like a good-looking choirboy; but him and [John] Collins were going at it the whole game, and he doesn’t back down from anybody. That’s Rodi from Day 1: No fear.”
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina was re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff yesterday, but it still isn’t clear when he might return from a groin injury, relays Peter Botte of The New York Post. Ntilikina, who has missed 18 straight games, said he hopes to receive clearance “to do more” this week.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Hayward, Harris, Leonard

The Celtics have been slumping but Kevin Durant believes they’ll be dangerous when the playoffs arrive, as the Warriors star told a group of reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Durant, whose team faces Boston on Tuesday, believes the Celtics are “still getting used to each other” but they’ll be a tough out in the postseason. “They’re right up there at the top,” Durant said. “They’ve been losing a couple games, but they’ve got the top talent, some of the top talent on that team, so they’ll be fine once the playoffs start.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Gordon Hayward‘s agent promises that his client will return to All-Star form next season. Mark Bartelstein made the comments in a WEEI interview that were relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss. “My guess is he doesn’t get his game all the way back where we’re accustomed to seeing it until next year,” Bartelstein said of the Celtics forward. “He’s going to need a summer to get back in the gym and get back in the laboratory and the weight room and build on everything he did last year. But there’s not a doubt in my mind. He’ll be an All-Star in this league many, many times over.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is a big Tobias Harris fan and hopes the team re-signs him, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Brown praises Harris not only for his play on the court but his off-court persona. “I hope he’s a Philadelphia 76er for a long time,” Brown said. Harris, who will enter unrestricted free agency this summer, has enjoyed the ride with his new team since being dealt by the Clippers. “I like it here,” he said. “It’s been a good start that we’ve been able to have, a good group of guys, and the team has a lot of potential.”
  • The Raptors’ load management strategy with star Kawhi Leonard shows disrespect to the team’s fans, Damien Cox of the Toronto Star argues. Leonard has sat out 18 games this season, including an overtime loss in Detroit on Sunday in which many Raptors fans crossed the border to see the game. While the ultimate goal is to have a healthy Leonard for the playoffs, he’s making a huge salary and fans buy full-price tickets to watch him play. To simply shrug off his participation in regular-season basketball is a snub to fans, Cox contends.

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Raptors, Ntilikina

The Sixers may look to put the ball in Jimmy Butler‘s hands more often after his recent return from injury, Brian Seltzer of the team’s official site writes. Previously, head coach Brett Brown had used the All-Star swingman off the ball.

I liked what I saw,” said Brown following the Sixers’ Tuesday night victory, a game in which Butler had a plus-26 rating. “We didn’t really run complicated offense. It was quite simple and spaced, and I thought he did a really good job with that.

The Sixers, of course, have done just fine with Butler in his traditional swingman role – they’re 33-18 after all – but with the playoffs approaching and this roster intent on making a deep run, Brown believes that exploring additional offensive options will serve them well.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Through the first 51 games of the 2018/19 season, the Raptors have used 14 different starting lineups, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. After all that tinkering, head coach Nick Nurse is eager to carve out a rotation that he can stick with. “It would be really nice to figure out exactly who is going to be in there. How we’re going to do it. Who is going to play where, minutes, all that kind of stuff,” Nurse said.
  • The Celtics, whom Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald believes have the best to offer in an Anthony Davis trade, should come out ahead regardless of what happens in New Orleans this week. He argues that Boston will either be first in line to trade for him in the summer or be able to watch another team decimate its core to acquire him ahead of the trade deadline. The C’s, it’s worth noting, are unable to deal for Davis this season as the CBA’s Rose Rule forbids it.
  • A groin strain will sideline Frank Ntilikina at a time when the Knicks could have finally gotten a chance to take a good, long look at him, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Incumbent starter Emmanuel Mudiay also happens to be out two to three weeks with his own injury.