Brett Brown

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Simon, Brown, Draft

The Bulls are entering an offseason of change, as the franchise is looking to revamp its basketball operations department. The Athletic’s John Hollinger hears that Miami’s VP of basketball operations Adam Simon is a leading candidate for the team’s top front office job (confirming an earlier report) and adds that the chatter about Indiana’s Chad Buchanan was rather loud before the Pacers‘ GM took himself out of the running. Denver’s Arturas Karnisovas and Toronto’s Bobby Webster have also been linked to the Bulls’ opening.

Hollinger wonders if Chicago will also search for a new head coach during the NBA’s hiatus. Jim Boylen‘s future with the club is uncertain and the Bulls won’t be the only team looking for a new head coach this offseason.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Many insiders believe that Sixers coach Brett Brown is on the hot seat, though it’s unlikely that the team makes a move while the league is on hiatus, Hollinger adds in the same piece. Firing Brown and having the Sixers proceed to the playoffs with a new coach wouldn’t be an ideal scenario.
  • The Cavaliers don’t have enough intel on their top young talent to rule out selecting a player at any position in the 2020 draft, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. both appear to be long-term building blocks, yet neither is certain to be an All-Star, so the Cavs should select the best available player regardless of position with their top pick.
  • Keith Langlois of NBA.com examines Khyri Thomas‘ progress since the Pistons‘ drafted him with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Injuries have stunted Thomas’ growth and while the franchise doesn’t have major talent on the wing, he’ll need to show more if he’s going to stay with Detroit beyond his current contract, which is non-guaranteed for next season.

Atlantic Notes: Butler-Brown, Theis, Knicks, Celtics

Current Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler, formerly a clutch swingman on the star-studded, title-contending 2018/19 Sixers, acknowledged that his relationship with coach Brett Brown was not particularly great, as he told his former Philadelphia teammate J.J. Redick on The J.J. Redick Podcast With Tommy Alter.

On the podcast, Butler described an uncomfortably tense and silent film-watching session with Redick, Butler, and Sixers All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. “And I told you this as we walked out, ‘J.J., why would we ever go in there again?,'” Butler said on the podcast. “‘Nothing’s getting accomplished. Nobody’s saying nothing to anybody.'”

Butler also discussed having spoken up about the offense in a subsequent film-watching session in Portland that became a hot topic in the national media. Butler suggested the conversation was blown out of proportion by outside observers, a point his former Sixers teammate agreed with. “I don’t know why it got reported the way it did,” Redick said.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Daniel Theis, the Celtics‘ starting center replacement for the departed Al Horford, was having a comparable season to his predecessor before play was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to The Stats Corner of NBC Sports Boston. Theis’ production per 36 minutes has actually been better than Horford’s during 2018/19. Their scoring numbers are similar, while Theis is pulling down more rebounds and blocks and shooting at a higher field goal percentage. The 27-year-old German signed a two-year, $10MM contract with Boston during the summer of 2019. The 33-year-old Horford, meanwhile, inked a four-year, $97MM contract ($109MM if he hits all incentives) with the Sixers this summer.
  • As the Knicks continue to overhaul their front office, Cavaliers salary cap expert Brock Aller has emerged as a potential addition to new team president Leon Rose‘s staff, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. After spending a decade as the personal assistant to team owner Dan Gilbert, Aller graduated to a position as senior director of basketball operations in 2017.
  • The Celtics team, staff, and attendant beat reporters experienced a tense journey on the road as the coronavirus spread beyond tenable levels, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe in his first-person account of what transpired.

Atlantic Notes: Burks, Wright, Knicks, Simmons

Sixers head coach Brett Brown explained his plan for Alec Burks, who made his first real impact for Philadelphia on Thursday night against the Nets.

“I’m looking at him is sort of instant offense type off the bench he can be given the ball can be put in pick-and-rolls,” Brown said (via Heavy.com). “I like him more probably in the middle of the floor with the pick and roll than the sideline with the pick-and-roll I think that he can be a primary ball carrier for a while.”

Burks, who came to the Sixers along with Glenn Robinson III at the trade deadline, has spent 44 minutes on the court so far in his Sixers’ career.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright simply isn’t interested in the Knicks‘ coaching job, as Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays (Twitter link).I haven’t talked to the Knicks, I’m not going to the Knicks. It’s crazy,” Wright said.
  • Ben Simmons is probable for the Sixers‘ matchup with Milwaukee on Saturday night, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Simmons missed Thursday’s contest against Brooklyn with back tightness.
  • Zach Braziller of the New York Post details how interim coach Mike Miller is handling the situation with the Knicks. “If we help these guys and we continue to grow and get better, then we’ve done our job,” Miller said. “All I’m concerned about is bringing value to it and helping these guys. As simple as it sounds, I did that for six years as a D-League [and] G-League coach and I felt good at the end of every season. That’s the direction that I take.”

And-Ones: Giannis, Motiejunas, Nogueira, Bosh

Following a wild 2019 offseason, the NBA has been in a period of relative stability for the last several months. However, there are a number of tipping points on tap for the 2020 postseason and offseason that could re-inject some chaos into the basketball landscape, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

According to Bontemps, people around the league will be keeping an especially close eye on teams like the Rockets and Sixers, who will be looking to make deep playoff runs after falling short of their goals in recent years. If those two teams are eliminated early in the postseason, it’s possible major changes could be made, with Mike D’Antoni and Brett Brown potentially on the way out and roster shakeups around the corner.

League insiders will also be curious to see whether the Warriors look to use their 2020 lottery pick as the centerpiece in a trade for another impact player, Bontemps writes. Most notably, all eyes will be on Milwaukee as Giannis Antetokounmpo decides whether to sign a super-max extension with the Bucks. For what it’s worth, Bontemps says every executive he spoke to expects Antetokounmpo to remain in Milwaukee.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donatas Motiejunas said he has drawn interest from some NBA and EuroLeague teams, per Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). However, Motiejunas remains under contract with the Shanghai Sharks during the Chinese Basketball Association’s coronovirus-related hiatus and isn’t looking to get out of that deal.
  • Lucas Nogueira, a former first-round pick who spent four seasons in the NBA with the Raptors, has signed with Muharraq Club in Bahrain, according to the team (Instagram link; hat tip to Sportando). The 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Nogueira appeared in 141 games for Toronto between 2014-18.
  • Chris Bosh took to Instagram to express his disappointment after not being included in 2020’s list of finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, B. Brown, Sixers, Kyrie

Celtics guard Kemba Walker, who was teammates with Marvin Williams for five seasons in Charlotte, said he spent several weeks trying to convince the veteran forward to join him in Boston when he was eventually bought out by the Hornets, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. After Williams joined the rival Bucks instead, Walker called up his longtime teammate to congratulate him on his new deal.

He said that he wished he could have gotten to Boston with me, but I’m just happy for him,” the Celtics’ All-Star point guard said, per Himmelsbach. “That’s my guy, man. That’s one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever been around. That’s my vet. I was upset that we didn’t get the chance to get him, but I’m happy for him. He deserves it. He’s been in the league for a very long time. He works hard. He deserves to be on a winning team.”

The Celtics figure to keep a close eye on the buyout market in the coming weeks, though they’ll have to waive a player from their 15-man roster if they want to bring anyone in.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Following last week’s trade deadline, Sixers general manager Elton Brand said he believes in Brett Brown‘s ability to lead the team. However, as Malika Andrews of ESPN writes, the 76ers’ GM stopped short of guaranteeing Brown would keep his job for the rest of the 2019/20 season. “I’m not going to play what-ifs,” Brand said. For what it’s worth, the team was mired in a four-game losing streak at the time of Brand’s comments and is 2-0 since then.
  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer explores what sort of roles newly-acquired bench pieces Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III will play for the Sixers, suggesting that Robinson may end up with a more defined role.
  • Kyrie Irving‘s right knee sprain will sideline him through the All-Star break, according to Malika Andrew (Twitter link), who says the Nets have ruled out the star point guard for Wednesday’s game vs. Toronto.

Latest On Joel Embiid, Sixers

Things have felt a little off in Philadelphia this season. Widely considered a top-two team in the Eastern Conference entering the season, the fifth-seeded Sixers have fallen short of those expectations so far and have struggled to smoothly incorporate major offseason signee Al Horford.

Franchise center Joel Embiid hasn’t been immune to the ups and downs of the 76ers’ season, having spoken last week about wanting to “get back to the fun Joel.” On Sunday, when Philadelphia hosted the Bulls, Embiid heard some boos from fans during pre-game intros and later appeared to shush the home crowd and say “Shut the f–k up” after hitting a dagger three in the fourth quarter (video link via Michael Lee of The Athletic).

Embiid, who claimed after the game that his comment was aimed at himself and not Philadelphia fans, said he didn’t care how it looked, adding that he wants to get back to being a “good a–hole.” On Monday, he posted an Instagram photo of that shushing moment, accompanied by the caption, You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Not content to leave it at that, Embiid later exchanged comments with Heat swingman Jimmy Butler, who replied to his former teammate’s Instagram post with the message, “I know a place where villains are welcome,” an apparent reference to Miami. Embiid’s response? “Damn right my brother.” (hat tip to Bleacher Report).

It’s premature to read too much into Embiid’s on-court actions on Sunday and his social media posts after the game. Considering the way the 76ers’ season has played out, the big man was probably just letting out some frustration and then engaging in some light trolling. He published a tweet later on Monday night reasserting his commitment to Philadelphia.

Still, given the ongoing drama, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on. When the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring, head coach Brett Brown‘s job security seemed tenuous, and if the team doesn’t advance even further in this year’s postseason, changes of some kind are probably coming.

A head coaching change and/or secondary roster moves are much more likely than anything drastic involving Embiid or Ben Simmons, but teams around the NBA are monitoring the situation. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his podcast this week (hat tip to RealGM) that rival executives have started to openly wonder whether the Sixers would consider moving Embiid. As Windhorst acknowledged, that’s an extremely unlikely scenario, but it’s notable that execs don’t believe it’s an impossibility.

“My point is people are talking about that,” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “I don’t think they would do that without making an adjustment to the head coach. It’s such a radical thing. But the fact that we’re in mid-February and the people who work in the league, who have to prepare in advance, are mulling over Joel Embiid potentially coming to market, whether that’s true or not… I mean, (Sixers owner) Josh Harris can come on this podcast and deny it if he wants, but the fact people are talking about it, is not good. It’s a symptom of where they are.”

Sixers Have Interest In Robert Covington, Other Players

The Sixers are parsing the trade market for reinforcements who can shoot the ball. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Philadelphia has expressed interest in several role players, including Malik Beasley, Glenn Robinson III, Davis Bertans, E’Twaun Moore, and Andre Iguodala. O’Connor adds that the team has also inquired on Robert Covington, whom the team dealt away in the Jimmy Butler deal last season.

Most of those names, including Covington, are truly available. The price for Minnesota’s wing is expected to be high and with Philadelphia void of shiny assets, GM Elton Brand will have to get creative if he is going to bring back Sam Hinkie’s former gem.

Zhaire Smith is the young prospect the team is most willing to part with. Rivals teams have more interest in Matisse Thybulle, though Philadelphia is reluctant to deal the No. 20 overall pick. The franchise owns all of its own draft picks starting in the 2021 draft, so the Sixers could attempt to sweeten any deal with a future asset.

Other names on that list could be more obtainable than RoCo. It’ll be tough to pry Bertans from Washington, as the team can envision him as a long-term piece, but Iguodala, Moore, and Robinson are in obvious selling situations. Denver won’t be a seller at the trade deadline, but with a deep rotation and Beasley’s impending restricted free agency, the franchise is smartly assessing the market for the shooting guard.

Here’s more on Philadelphia.

  • O’Connor contends that the Sixers should consider making a bigger move for Chris Paul, swapping either Tobias Harris or Al Horford and additional salary for the 34-year-old point guard. However, the scribe hears that Harris and Horford, each of whom signed long-term deals this offseason, aren’t any more tradeable than CP3.
  • Trading Simmons doesn’t appear likely, in part because it would mean “putting all your superstar eggs in the Embiid basket,” and the big man has had a shaky injury history. O’ Connor wonders if Simmons would be the one the team decides to build around if forced to choose between the two.
  • Big changes will likely come with an early exit in the playoffs, though many around the game believe it would be Brett Brown who takes the fall in that scenario. There were rumblings that former team president Bryan Colangelo was planning to fire Brown and replace him with Villanova coach Jay Wright, but that was before Twittergate. Still, O’Connor hears from multiple sources that Brown didn’t have the best relationship with the locker room last season.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Young, Drummond, Theis

Sixers point guard Ben Simmons has stopped taking 3-pointers and coach Brett Brown considers it a personal failure, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps relays. Brown wants Simmons to take at least one long range shot per game but Simmons hasn’t attempted any in the past month.

“Evidently I have failed and it’s something that we’re all mindful of, and this is one of these things that is never going to go away,” Brown said of Simmons, who agreed to a five-year, $170MM extension with the Sixers over the summer. “The attention this has received is remarkable. But I guess i helped fuel it, and I own it, and I’ve got to help him find this, and most importantly, he has to find himself.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bulls haven’t given any indication they plan to move power forward Thaddeus Young but his contributions have been limited by a lack of playing time, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. Young signed a partially-guaranteed three-year, $43.6MM contract with the Bulls over the summer. He’s averaging nine fewer minutes with Chicago than he did last season with Indiana and he’s shooting a career-low 39.5% from the field, in part because he’s taking more 3-pointers.
  • Getting traded would be the best thing for Pistons center Andre Drummond, Ben Golliver of the Washington Post argues. Detroit is spinning its wheels and its long-term prospects are not promising, since the Pistons are lacking in young talent and don’t have a long-term solution at point guard, Golliver continues. The Pistons have been unwilling to give Drummond a generous extension, so there’s no reason for him to look back if he’s dealt, Golliver adds. Drummond’s name popped up in trade rumors last week.
  • Big man Daniel Theis has become an invaluable member of the Celtics rotation with key plays he’s made late in games, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston notes. Theis is essentially playing for his contract since his $5MM salary for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed.

Brett Brown Finalizing Deal To Coach Australian National Team

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in the process of finalizing a deal that would once again make him the head coach of Australia’s national team, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Brown, who has been the Sixers’ coach since the 2013/14 season, previously served as an assistant for the Australian national team from 1995-2003, then took over as the program’s head coach in 2009. He remained in that role through 2012, leading Australia to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the ’12 Olympics in London — the team was eliminated by the United States.

Before he became an assistant for the Spurs in 2002, Brown coached multiple teams in Australia and New Zealand, spending time in Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland.

Since taking over as the 76ers’ head coach, Brown has amassed a 186-319 (.368) record, though most of those losses were accumulated during the “Process” years as the franchise went through a long rebuild. Since the start of the 2017/18 season, Brown has a 111-66 (.627) regular season record, plus a 12-10 mark in the playoffs.

Brown will be assuming control of an Australian club that has already claimed its spot in the 2020 Olympics as a result of its 2019 World Cup success. Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, and former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut are among the notable players expected to represent Australia in Tokyo next summer.

It will be interesting to see whether Brown’s hiring will influence Ben Simmons‘ Olympic decision. Simmons, who plays for Brown in Philadelphia, opted against joining Australia for the World Cup but could still suit up for the squad in Tokyo.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Thybulle, Thabeet, Irving

Brett Brown knows what the bottom of the Eastern Conference looks like; now he wants to see the top. The Sixers coach declared his lofty goal during a luncheon speech today, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I want to get the No. 1 seed,” Brown told the gathering.

It’s a drastic turnaround for a coach who suffered through the worst of “The Process” and won just 10 games during the 2015/16 season. The Sixers are coming off back-to-back 50-win years and are still stinging from their playoff elimination by the eventual champion Raptors on a Kawhi Leonard shot that bounced on the rim several times before falling in.

Philadelphia enters this season as a co-favorite with the Bucks in the East. The team lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick in free agency, but re-signed Tobias Harris and added Al Horford and Josh Richardson.

“We have had back-to-back 50-win teams, we have a 25-year-old All-Star [Joel Embiid] and a 23-year-old All-Star [Ben Simmons],” Brown told Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We have the best team I have had this year. We have the deepest bench, we have veterans, we have men, we got pieces. [General manager] Elton Brand has done a hell of a job.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Matisse Thybulle has been medically cleared to practice when camp opens, Pompey tweets. The rookie guard rolled his ankle earlier this week, but the injury turned out to be minor. The Sixers traded up in this year’s draft to get Thybulle with the 20th pick.
  • The Knicks have an opening on their roster heading into camp, but they won’t use it to sign Hasheem Thabeet, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thabeet worked out for New York and spent time with the team in August and September. The vacancy occurred because Kris Wilkes, who was expected to sign a two-way contract, is still battling an illness that will prevent him from attending camp.
  • Kyrie Irving is day to day after suffering a left side facial fracture, the Nets tweeted. The injury happened during a workout Tuesday.