Bryan Colangelo

Nets Notes: Culture, Marks, Tanking, Noel

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the culture Sean Marks has created in Brooklyn since he was hired as the Nets’ general manager.

As Lowe details, the Nets were leaning toward hiring Bryan Colangelo as their GM over Marks back in February 2016, but team chairman Dmitry Razumov heard from several respected execs who praised Marks during that All-Star weekend, and had a long talk with Spurs GM R.C. Buford that helped convince the franchise Marks was the man for the job.

Since joining the Nets, Marks has attempted to turn the club into one players want to be a part of, creating a “serious but welcoming” atmosphere, as well as a sense of closeness and community within the organization. The club has also prioritized sports science treatment, keeping its players on minutes restrictions and having them fill out daily questionnaires about sleep, soreness, and diet. “I could play another five years doing what they do,” said Randy Foye, who spent 2016/17 with the Nets.

Lowe’s entire piece on the Nets is worth the read, particularly for more of those tidbits on the work that Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have done to overhaul the team’s culture. Here are a few of the highlights from the story:

  • Razumov says team ownership is “ready to be patient” and would be fine with a 25-win season in 2017/18 if the Nets’ young players continue to develop and take positive steps forward.
  • The Nets will finally control their first-round pick again in 2019, and there has been talk within the franchise of tanking in 2018/19 in order to create an opportunity to draft a blue-chip prospect. Although Atkinson acknowledges that there’s  “faction” of people within the organization who believe that’s the way to go, it’s not the plan right now. “I don’t think it is in the cards to tank,” Marks said, per Lowe. “The goal is to compete and win games.”
  • The Nets hope their young core – which remains a work in progress – will help the team recruit veteran free agents, like the Sixers were able to do this summer. “We hope free agents say, ‘We want to play with those young bucks,'” Marks said.
  • The Sixers and Nets had brief trade discussions involving Nerlens Noel last season, but Brooklyn had no interest in giving up much for a player the team could pursue in free agency, sources tell Lowe. Noel currently remains a restricted free agent, though the Nets no longer have the cap room necessary to pursue him.
  • Despite recent rumors about Mikhail Prokhorov considering selling a controlling interest in the Nets, he continues to market only a minority stake in the team, according to Razumov.
  • According to Lowe, the NBA has talked about the possibility of banning the ability to swap picks in between drafts in which a team owes its picks to another team. That possibility hasn’t been discussed at length yet, but such a rule would have prevented the Nets from including a 2017 pick-swap in their deal with the Celtics when Boston was already receiving Brooklyn’s 2016 and 2018 first-rounders.

Sixers Notes: Korkmaz, Colangelo, Leaf, Draft

Don’t count on seeing Furkan Korkmaz in a Sixers uniform next season, writes Derek Bodnar on his website. The 26th pick in last year’s draft, Korkmaz spent this season playing in Turkey and has a $2MM buyout to leave Anadolu Efes. He would probably spend most of next season in the D-League if he does join the Sixers, which may not be better for his development than another year overseas, plus it would take one year off his rookie contract and push him closer to free agency. The buyout is also an issue because it exceeds the $675K that the Sixers are permitted to pay, along with Korkmaz’s rookie contract of about $1.2MM. Unless Anadolu Efes is willing to renegotiate, Bodner believes Sixers fans will have to wait at least another year for Korkmaz.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • The draft will present Bryan Colangelo with his most difficult decision since becoming the team’s president of basketball operations, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers hold the third selection, and there’s no obvious choice if Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are the first two players taken. Duke’s Jayson Tatum would provide much-needed scoring, while Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox would be a valuable point guard in case the team changes its mind about having Ben Simmons run the offense. Josh Jackson of Kansas and Malik Monk of Kentucky are also considered possibilities. Colangelo said he prefers athletic players with the versatility to handle multiple positions. “If it’s the vision of where we want to take this basketball team, again, talent versus fit is something that we clearly always look at,” he said. “But we’re a young team, the stage where we are. You can’t necessarily choose one or the other. Right now, what we’re looking at is a situation that again the group of players that are available to us at No. 3 is probably going to be able to address both with the same decision.”
  • Georgetown guard L.J. Peak, who recently worked out for the Sixers, was a high school teammate of Jahlil Okafor, notes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. They spent a year together at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, and Peak would like to team up again. He is considered a late second-round pick at best, and Philadelphia holds choices No. 36, 39, 46 and 50.
  • The Sixers aren’t likely to keep all of their second-rounders, Camerato writes in a separate piece. They already have eight players under contract for next season and will be looking for draft-and-stash opportunities if they can’t unload some of the picks.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Horford, Celtics, 76ers

Celtics GM Danny Ainge was impressed by Markelle Fultz after the point guard spent two days in Boston, reports Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Boston owns the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft and is strongly considering using the pick on Fultz.

“It went well. I had dinner with him last night. He had a physical yesterday and he had a workout this morning with Brad [Stevens]. Everything went well. He’s very talented,” Ainge told Himmelsbach by phone Tuesday.

But that is not all going on in the Atlantic division:

  • Fresh off the first season of his sizable contract with the CelticsAl Horford opens up about the high expectations and immense pressures he faces in an article from Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Horford explains how he copes: “My biggest thing, and I learned this at an early stage in my career, was to not read any of that information or see anything, good or bad…One day people love you, the next they hate you, it’s really up and down, and my focus was making sure the team kept getting better as a group, and not worry about anything outside. One thing that helped me was not paying attention to a lot of things.”
  • 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is not speeding up the team’s rebuild and instead appears to be patiently and strategically building a contender a la Sam Hinkie‘s “The Process,” writes Bob Cooney of Philly.com.
  • The 76ers will hold a pre-draft workout on Wednesday, reports Keith Pompey of Philly.com (link via Twitter). The scheduled participants are Jordan Bell (Oregon), Thomas Bryant (Indiana), Tyler Dorsey (Oregon), Elie Okobo (Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez), L.J. Peak (Georgetown), and Steve Vasturia (Notre Dame).

Lonzo Ball Considering Sixers Workout

Lonzo Ball is mulling a workout with the Sixers, sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. Ball, who has been linked to the Lakers at No. 2, declined to work out for the Celtics, the team with the top selection in the draft.

Ball’s agent and Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo are expected to sit down and have a conversation about the team. Once that happens, Ball will make a final decision.

Sources tell Haynes that Ball’s camp has concerns over how the team will use Ben Simmons with the worry being that the 2016 No. 1 overall selection will be placed in a ball-dominant role next season. The UCLA product is arguably better served to play a ball-dominant role, so pairing him with Simmons may not be best for his individual game.

The Sixers have confidence that the Simmons-Ball pairing can work, Haynes adds. Ball is expected to be off the board by time Philadelphia picks at No.3, but it appears the Sixers are interested in the point guard should the Lakers shock the world and go in another direction.

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Fox, Redick

Team president Bryan Colangelo is adamant that the franchise is well ahead of where it was this time last year, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer passes along.

“With those healthy bodies [Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Jerryd Bayless] and some new talent coming in via draft, via trades, via free agency, we’re excited about what the future holds,” Colangelo said.

While optimism fills Philadelphia’s front office, the executive isn’t ready to declare his squad a 2018 playoff team just yet. “We talk about improvement, measured steps, taking the right path. We’re not going to jump ahead of ourselves,” Colangelo said. “We have a lot of decisions to make before we get there.”

Here’s more from Philadelphia

  • The team likes De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr. as options for the No. 3 overall pick, sources tell Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). The Sixers own that selection as a result of pick swap obtained in Sam Hinkie’s 2015 trade with the Kings.
  • The Sixers should attempt to sign J.J. Redick this offseason, Comcast Sportsnet’s Jessica Camerato contends. Camerato believes Philadelphia has scoring issues and Redick is the right guy to boost the backcourt.
  • Sergio Rodriguez will be a free agent this summer and the Sixers will face competition from NBA clubs as well as teams abroad. E. Carchia of Sportando relays that CSKA Moscow may pursue the point guard if their star Milos Teodosic leaves for the NBA.
  • Dario Saric should be untouchable in trade talks, Pompey opines (audio link) while noting that he doesn’t come with the injury concerns that plague the Sixers‘ other young talent. Pompey believes the team should prioritize developing the power forward and sign someone like Danilo Gallinari to mentor him.

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, Thomas, Colangelo

It’s evident that Jonas Valanciunas is happy coming off the bench for the Raptors so long as he’s still a core component of the team’s rotation, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. Prior to Toronto’s series-clinching victory over the Bucks Thursday, the 24-year-old discussed his new role.

I’m good. I don’t feel bad if I don’t start,” the Raptors big man said. “I’m playing the same minutes, doing good things on the court, that’s all I need to do, right? I’ve just got to do my job. As long as we’re winning — I’ve been saying that a long time — as long as we’re winning I’m OK.

Even though he came off the bench for Game 6, the Raptors appeared to make an effort to get the pivot involved early. Though he wasn’t featured as heavily toward the end of the contest, he was on the court serving as a potent post threat through to the final buzzer.

It’s unclear if Valanciunas will slide back into the Raptors lineup against the Cavaliers. He had started Games 1 and 2 against Milwaukee but moved to the bench when Dwane Casey employed a smaller lineup featuring Norman Powell.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets rested their players in the final game of the regular season, despite the fact that they were long eliminated from the postseason, had zero incentive to tank and were matched up against a Bulls team that needed a win to sneak into the playoffs. Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily recently wrote about the controversy the decision has stirred up.
  • Does Isaiah Thomas deserve a max contract? A panelist of NBA writers at CSN New England discussed the topic in a recently published video segment and were torn as to whether or not the Celtics could justifiably pay up.
  • Less than two weeks since the conclusion of the 2016/17 campaign, Sixers president Bryan Colangelo is already in Europe scouting players. Per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Colangelo has recently watched Milos Teodosic and Philly draft pick Furkan Korkmaz.

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Simmons, George, Covington

Bryan Colangelo has become the least trusted GM in Philadelphia, charges Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Hayes blasts Colangelo for being evasive about releasing injury details regarding Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and others, and more recently for refusing to say whether Ben Simmons will play in the Summer League. The writer contends that Simmons needs the work to help with his transition to point guard and criticizes Colangelo for not being more open about the team’s plans.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • A long string of injuries and the February trades of Noel and Ersan Ilyasova made Colangelo’s first full season in charge look like another Sam Hinkie season, writes Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ford adds that the team wasn’t able to address several important questions for the future of the franchise, such as whether Simmons can handle the point guard role, if he and Embiid are an effective combination and if Jerryd Bayless can be counted on as a starter.
  • Pacers forward Paul George might be worth a gamble if the Sixers want to make a splash this summer, Ford writes in a separate column. George has a player option for 2018/19, which means he will be effectively entering the final year of his contract next season. With rumors that he is interested in joining his hometown Lakers, Indiana may be tempted to move him in a trade instead of losing him with nothing in return. The Sixers have young talent to offer, and may have two high picks, depending on the results of next month’s lottery. “At the three, Robert Covington kind of has that position locked up with not a lot of depth at the position currently,” Colangelo recently told reporters. “But we’ve got some interesting draft prospects in the top 10 that happen to address that situation and that need.”
  • Covington underwent minor arthroscopic surgery this week to fix a meniscus tear in his right knee, the Sixers announced on their website. Covington will rehab the knee in Philadelphia and is expected to be ready for full basketball activities this summer.

Eastern Notes: Stephenson, Sixers, Pistons

Coach Nate McMillan admits that Lance Stephenson can sometimes become a distraction on the court, as Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star passes along.

“I don’t want to take his passion from the game,” McMillan said of Stephenson. “We always have to control ourselves, that’s including myself on the sidelines. Sometimes that can become a distraction. We talk about that all the time. You can’t be drunk on emotions out there. We got to be able to get back, get to the next play. That’s for me, too.”

The combo guard knows he needs to control his emotions, adding that he doesn’t want to give the opposition anything they can use as an advantage.

“Sometimes I tend to get out of control,” Stephenson said. “I was getting frustrated with Kevin Love scoring on me. But that’s the passion I have for the game. I need to stop showing it. If somebody’s scoring on you and you show frustration, they’re going to keep going to it. I felt like I showed that. That’s what Paul [George] was talking about. Don’t show them no weakness.”

Clifton envisions McMillan shortening his bench for Game 3, which could mean more time for Stephenson in the Pacers‘ first home playoff game of 2017.

Here’s more from

  • GM Bryan Colangelo said the Sixers will address the power forward position this offseason, as Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News relays. “I think the stretch-four position is something, backing up Dario [Saric] or starting in front of Dario, whichever it is if we can find someone that’s better. We’ve got to probably address that four position,” Colangelo said.
  • The Sixers need to sign Ersan Ilyasova in free agency, Cooney contends in the same piece. The scribe pegs the power forward’s market value at $10-12MM per year, which he considers a reasonable rate for a player who fits in well next to Joel Embiid in the frontcourt.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News examines five players the Pistons could take if they stay at No. 12. The team has a 2.5% chance at climbing into the top-3, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors notes.

Hoops Links: Lowry, Embiid, Antetokounmpo, Porzingis, Nicholson

On Sundays, we link to some of the very best work from around the basketball blogosphere. Do you have a link to a great basketball blog post – either your own or someone else’s – that you want to see featured on Hoops Rumors? Send it to us at HoopsLinks@gmail.com. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Sixers Notes: Simmons, Trade Talks, Colangelo

Although head coach Brett Brown indicated earlier this week that Ben Simmons‘ recovery is progressing at a deliberately slow and careful pace, the Sixers still expect to get their No. 1 pick on the court at some point this season.

“Our plan is to still see him on the court, playing games,” Brown told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday. “We just don’t know when. … I fully expect him to play this season. He thinks that, and he’s motivated to play.”

Of course, as Goodman notes, even though Simmons and Brown are on board with the 20-year-old making his NBA debut this season, that decision will ultimately be made by Sixers management. Despite some promising stretches this season, the Sixers aren’t currently close to a playoff spot, with a 21-35 record placing them 13th in the East. As such, it makes sense for the franchise to be careful with Simmons and Joel Embiid in the season’s final two months.

Let’s round up a few more Sixers notes…

  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) has been told that the Sixers remain active in trade talks on “almost anyone not named Embiid or Simmons.”
  • Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo hasn’t looked all that good lately, having been evasive about the nature of Embiid’s knee injury and then not completing a Jahlil Okafor deal as the team held him out of the lineup for two games due to swirling trade rumors. In separate pieces, John Smallwood of The Philadelphia Daily News and John Gonzalez of The Ringer examine Colangelo’s recent performance.
  • January was the Sixers’ best month in three years, but February has been dominated by off-court headlines so far, and Philadelphia fans deserve better, writes Mike Kern of The Philadelphia Daily News.
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