Matisse Thybulle

Sixers Considered Unlikely To Retain Brett Brown

Following a quick playoff exit, the Sixers are widely expected to part ways with head coach Brett Brown, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Brown, who has two years remaining on his contract, has no “internal momentum” to return for another season; Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote that the anticipation within coaching circles is that the Sixers will part with Brown in the coming days; and Shams Charania of The Athletic cited multiple sources with knowledge of the situation in reporting that the 76ers are expected to make a coaching change.

Sources tell Haynes that Brown “never grabbed full command” of the locker room during his time as the Sixers’ head coach. As Haynes details, Al Horford expressed frustration earlier this season about not having a defined role communicated to him, and some people in the locker room have questioned Brown’s handling of rookie Matisse Thybulle, who has seen his minutes fluctuate drastically at times. Josh Richardson also expressed on Sunday that “more accountability” is necessary going forward, per Sacha Pisani of Sporting News.

“I don’t think there was much accountability this season and I think that was part of our problem,” Richardson said. “… (When) guys are not doing their job on or off the court, there’s got to be some kind of consequence — not consequence, but we’ve got to be able to talk to each other and listen. And not (just) listen to say something back, but actually hear (each other). It’s a hard lesson to learn for some people, but in order for us to make this playoff run that I think we all want, I know we all want, it’s got to start.”

Until the Sixers officially make a decision on Brown, it’s probably too early to identify frontrunners for the job. But Charania hears from sources that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, former Kings coach Dave Joerger, and Villanova coach Jay Wright are among the names to watch.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • There’s an expectation that the 76ers remain committed to the Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons duo and plan to let the next head coach figure out how to maximize the two stars, according to Shams Charania. Within his preview of Philadelphia’s offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) explains why he thinks it makes sense for the team to keep both Embiid and Simmons.
  • While Brown figures to be dismissed, he’s not the reason the Sixers have come up short in recent postseasons, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, who assigns more of the blame to the team’s front office. Charania suggests that no front office shake-up is imminent though, writing that GM Elton Brand has maintained a healthy relationship with team ownership.
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN passes along some of Brown’s post-game comments from Sunday, while Brian Windhorst of ESPN does the same for Embiid. As Bontemps details, Brown told reporters that he feels as if he never got a chance to show his full potential as a coach due to the injuries that plagued the Sixers over the years.
  • According to Chris Haynes, the 76ers were prepared to offer Jimmy Butler a maximum-salary contract in the summer of 2019 if he agreed not to take any recruiting visits. However, Butler – who was “lukewarm” on the idea of re-signing with Philadelphia – didn’t agree to that condition. Haynes adds that Brown didn’t love how “outspoken” Butler was with his coaching tactics.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Crawford, Thomas, Thybulle

The Sixers are testing a new starting lineup of Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid during the NBA’s resumed season in Orlando, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes in his latest mailbag.

The adjusted lineup includes playing Simmons at power forward, adding another floor-spacer in Milton to complement the group. Simmons is still expected to be heavily featured on the ball, with veteran Al Horford coming off the bench in the frontcourt.

Philadelphia holds the sixth-best record in the East at 39-26, disappointing onlookers who pegged the club as an elite defensive team with an original starting five of Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford and Embiid.

The Sixers now hope to use Simmons in a point forward role with added shooting, though the team must compete with clubs such as Milwaukee (53-12), Toronto (46-18), Boston (43-21) and Miami (41-24) in a crowded Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Jamal Crawford has a unique opportunity to impress with the Nets during the NBA’s restart, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. Brooklyn signed Crawford to a substitute contract earlier this month, with the team missing the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Taurean Prince and Nicolas Claxton in Orlando.
  • Along with Crawford, forward Lance Thomas is also excited for his new chance with the Nets, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. Thomas, 32, signed his contract last week and practiced with the team on Saturday. “It was great to get out of quarantine,” Thomas said. “Sitting in the room for about six-to-seven days, I was itching to get back on the court. I reacclimated with the guys and I was excited for the opportunity.”
  • Sixers forward Matisse Thybulle continues to make a strong impression on the team as it gears up for the resumed season, Lauren Rosen of NBA.com writes. “Matisse has been incredibly disruptive defensively,” head coach Brett Brown said. “You just feel like his presence keeps people on their toes. He’s just been so elite.” Thybulle, 23, is averaging 4.7 points, 1.4 steals and 19.5 minutes in his rookie season. He was the No. 20 pick of the 2019 NBA draft after spending four seasons at the University of Washington.

Sixers Notes: Horford, Milton, Robinson, Thybulle

The Sixers may arrive in Orlando with more lineup questions than any other contender. The most significant involves what to do with Al Horford, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The veteran big man was pulled from the starting lineup Feburary 11, but was reinserted three games later after Ben Simmons suffered a back injury.

Horford looked good in eight straight starts before the hiatus, but may be headed back to the bench now that Simmons is fully recovered. Horford seemed like a valuable addition when he left the Celtics for the Sixers last summer. But he hasn’t found a way to be effective playing alongside center Joel Embiid, particularly when Simmons is on the floor at the same time, which results in spacing issues.

“I just want us to be playing well and to be playing at a high level,” Horford said. “I’m going to continue to work and be an assistance to a team any way I can. I do know for us to be successful I have to play with different lineups. I have to play with Joel sometimes. I have to play with different people. It really doesn’t matter.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Coach Brett Brown wants to use Simmons in more of an off-the-ball role, which could mean additional playing time for Shake Milton, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Milton averaged 17.8 points and 4.1 assists in the last nine games before the break and moved into the starting lineup after Simmons’ injury.  However, Brown is wary about expecting too much from the 23-year-old in the postseason. “I always get nervous about relying on young guys for the NBA playoffs. Shake is no different,” Brown said. “… But I’m going into this excited. I think some of the performances that he had on a consistent basis (earlier in the season) can’t be that far out of reach where maybe he can produce a large portion of that again.”
  • In the same piece, Bodner examines which role players the team can count on when the season resumes. He suggests Glenn Robinson III, who was acquired from the Warriors at the trade deadline, may move up in the rotation.
  • Rookie Matisse Thybulle has embraced Brown’s message for players to keep their conditioning at a B level and raise it to an A in Orlando, writes Lauren Rosen of NBA.com“In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten back into really good shape,” Thybulle said. “I think it’s going to be easier to build on after this. Like Coach said, being at a B, I feel like I’m definitely there, and once we start playing, it’s going to fall into place.”

Atlantic Notes: Ujiri, Brand, Knicks, Thybulle

After being sued by Oracle Arena security guard Alan Strickland, who claimed he was assaulted at the end of Game 6 of the NBA Finals last June, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has claimed in his legal response that he only shoved Strickland in the chest after being shoved by the security guard multiple times while attempting to get to the court.

Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic has the full story and the details on Ujiri’s response to Strickland’s lawsuit, in which he claimed that the Raptors’ executive “attacked” him and “hit him in the face and chest with both fists.” As Kaplan details, Ujiri also disputed Strickland’s claim that he wasn’t showing the proper credentials when he attempted to reach the court to celebrate his team’s title.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Rumors that the Knicks have interest in Elton Brand are a win-win for the Sixers‘ general manager, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. As Pompey writes, if New York’s interest is legit and Philadelphia pushes to retain its GM, the situation could even result in a raise and/or a contract extension for Brand.
  • In a Q&A with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle discussed his workout regimen during the hiatus, his newfound TikTok stardom, and how he has tried to keep things in perspective as his rookie season has been derailed by COVID-19. “I think we have people who are more essential than basketball players who aren’t able to work right now, and I think at the end of the day getting that stuff is more important than a basketball season,” Thybulle said. “At this point, this is real life. This is not about entertaining. This is not about what’s on TV. It’s about making sure you’re healthy and making sure your family is healthy, and I think that takes precedence over anything else.”
  • In case you missed it, we took a closer look at the Celtics‘ 2020/21 cap situation on Monday in the second installment of our Salary Cap Preview series. The Nets will be up next.

Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Knicks, Thybulle, Tatum

Kemba Walker will return to action on Tuesday night for the Celtics as they host the Nets, head coach Brad Stevens confirmed today (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Walker, who has missed Boston’s five games since the All-Star break due to a nagging knee injury, will play approximately 20-25 minutes, according to Stevens.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • New Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose made a good first impression in his initial meeting with players on Monday, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rose also met with Mike Miller and his coaching staff, and while the new head of basketball ops could end up replacing many of those coaches in the spring, Miller wasn’t fazed by the situation. “I don’t need any assurances from anyone as we go through this,” he said. “I trust the process, I trust what we’re doing. I’m perfectly fine working the way we’re doing day to day.”
  • Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle has expressed interest in representing Australia in the 2020 Olympics, per The Australian Associated Press (link via ESPN). Thybulle, who said his Australian passport is up to date, will make a decision after the season. If he does suit up for the Boomers, he could be playing alongside 76ers teammate Ben Simmons for head coach Brett Brown.
  • Within an article on Jayson Tatum‘s ascension to stardom, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer revisits the Celtics‘ decision to move down from No. 1 to No. 3 in the 2017 draft. According to O’Connor, before zeroing in on Tatum, Boston was exploring acquiring extra assets in a trade down from No. 1 in the hopes of flipping them for Paul George, who was ultimately sent to Oklahoma City instead.

International Notes: Thybulle, Liggins, Patterson, Smith

Ben Simmons, who spoke in November about wanting to play for Australia in the 2020 Olympics under Sixers head coach Brett Brown, is looking to bring one of his NBA teammates with him. As Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports Australia details, Simmons said over the weekend that he’s confident rookie swingman Matisse Thybulle will play for the Boomers this summer in Tokyo.

Thybulle, the Sixers’ first-round pick last June, is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. He has yet to make a decision regarding his international status, but playing for Australia would create a much clearer path to being a part of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I can’t say I’ve put too much thought into which one I’d like to go to, which (opportunity) I’d like to take,” the Sixers rookie said last week, per Uluc. “But I think this season is going to be a good opportunity to showcase myself and figure out what opportunities I have at the end of the season.”

Here are a few more notes from around the basketball world:

  • NBA journeyman DeAndre Liggins, who suited up for seven different teams over the course of five NBA seasons, is joining Panionios B.C. in Greece, according to an Instagram post from agent Vassilis Kouros (hat tip to Sportando). Liggins last appeared in the Association in 2017/18, when he appeared in 58 total games for Milwaukee and New Orleans.
  • Veteran swingman Lamar Patterson, who appeared in 40 NBA games for Atlanta between 2015-17, is continuing his professional career in Puerto Rico with Piratas de Quebradillas, the team announced on Sunday (hat tip to Sportando). This will be Patterson’s second stint with a Puerto Rican club.
  • Russ Smith, a second-round pick out of Louisville in 2014, will also play in Puerto Rico, having signed with Los Cariduros de Fajardo (hat tip to Sportando). The 28-year-old guard appeared in 27 NBA games from 2014-16 for New Orleans and Memphis.

Lowe’s Latest: Redick, Bertans, Collins, Drummond, OKC, More

A number of players who have been mentioned as trade candidates this season may not be moved – or may not be available at all – at Thursday’s deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an article jam-packed with trade-related rumors and speculation.

For instance, teams who have called the Pelicans asking about J.J. Redick have been “shooed away,” sources tell Lowe. The Wizards have taken a similar approach to clubs inquiring on Davis Bertans, though Lowe notes that could change if Washington is offered something concrete that moves the needle more than a future first-round pick.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last week, teams have been monitoring John Collins in case the Hawks think about trading him, but there’s no indication Atlanta has interest in moving Collins “on any of the general terms being bandied about,” Lowe writes.

The Pistons‘ talks involving Andre Drummond aren’t entirely dormant, but it’s “far from a sure thing” that he’ll be moved, according to Lowe, who suggests that even if Detroit does make a deal, the return will likely be less than the team envisioned.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have been mentioned all season long as a potential seller, given their offseason moves and their veteran trade candidates. But the safest bet is that they stand pat with guys like Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams, per Lowe.

As Lowe points out, the Thunder could still have leverage to make deals after the season, when Schroder and Adams will be entering contract years and Gallinari will be a prime sign-and-trade candidate. The Heat are among the teams to inquire on Gallinari this season, sources tell Lowe.

As noted above, Lowe’s latest ESPN piece is filled with many more trade rumors and notes. Here are several of the highlights:

  • Lowe confirms a previous report that the Nuggets and Heat are among the teams to express interest in Jrue Holiday. Lowe also names the Raptors as a club that would be an ideal fit for the Pelicans guard, but he has a hard time envisioning a deal involving any of those teams unless they’re willing to part with young players like Michael Porter Jr., Tyler Herro, or OG Anunoby, which seems unlikely.
  • The Pacers could probably net a first-round pick for backup guard Aaron Holiday, but haven’t shown any real interest in moving him, says Lowe.
  • The chatter about the Trail Blazers making a major win-now move has died down, sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, the Lakers have explored the Kyle Kuzma market and are eyeing several ball-handlers, including Kings swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has also received interest from the Hornets.
  • The Sixers don’t intend to include Matisse Thybulle in any deal and seem most likely to “tinker” around the edges of their roster, per Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies have asked for a first-round pick from teams inquiring on Jae Crowder, according to Lowe. However, he’d “bet heavily” against any potential trade partner meeting that price.
  • Lowe provides updates on both Morris brothers, suggesting that the Knicks “seem hell-bent” on keeping and re-signing Marcus Morris, and citing sources who say the Pistons could probably get a second-round pick for Markieff Morris.
  • A lot of teams have asked the Bucks about Sterling Brown, while Pistons youngsters Christian Wood and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have also generated interest, according to Lowe, who thinks that Detroit is more likely to engage in talks on Wood than Mykhailiuk. Lowe also hears that a few clubs have “poked around” on Kings big man Harry Giles, and identifies Denzel Valentine (Bulls), Jakob Poeltl (Spurs), Marvin Williams (Hornets), and Malik Monk (Hornets) as other under-the-radar trade candidates to watch.

Wolves Have Sought Two First-Rounders For Covington

The Timberwolves have set a high asking price for swingman Robert Covington, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who reports (via Twitter) that Minnesota has sought two first-round picks in any deal for Covington.

Covington, 29, has averaged 12.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG on .437/.347/.798 shooting in 47 games (29.4 MPG) for Minnesota this season. While those are fairly modest numbers, he’s viewed as an intriguing trade target for contenders due to his ability to slot in on virtually any roster as an above-average three-and-D wing. His team-friendly contract, which runs through 2021/22 and is worth just over $12MM annually, is also a plus.

Still, two first-rounders is a significant ask, and this isn’t the first time in recent days that a report has indicated the Wolves are aiming high in talks for Covington. Anthony Slater of The Athletic suggested the team was seeking Matisse Thybulle and a first-rounder from the Sixers, which Slater referred to as a “hang-up worthy offer.”

According to Stein, the 76ers and Rockets are “at the front of the line” for Covington. Houston has its own 2020 first-round pick available to include in a trade offer and is said to be shopping center Clint Capela as well. It’s not clear if Capela would appeal to the Wolves, but a three-team trade is a possibility to reroute another valuable asset to Minnesota.

As for Philadelphia, the club is extremely unlikely to move Thybulle and has traded away its own 2020 first-round pick, which could complicate trade discussions with Minnesota. But the Sixers do have a handful of interesting draft assets, including the Thunder’s top-20 protected 2020 first-round pick, multiple second-round selections (such as Atlanta’s and New York’s ’20 second-rounders), and their own first-rounders starting in 2022.

Unless the Rockets move Capela, neither Philadelphia nor Houston has an ideal mid-level salary-matching piece for a Covington trade, but both teams would have paths to get there with multiple lower-salary players. We’ll see if the Wolves are willing to hang onto Covington if their lofty asking price isn’t met or if the team lowers its expectations later this week.

Sixers Notes: Trade Targets, Horford, Thybulle, Smith

The Sixers are unhappy with the exclusion of rookie defensive standout Matisse Thybulle from the 2020 All-Star Game’s Rising Stars rookie-sophomore game, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I feel like he’s… having a real impact on a winning team,” big man Al Horford said of the 6’5″ wing from the University of Washington. “I’m disappointed about that.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown had similar sentiments: “Just look at the numbers. I think that he should have been in the game.”

Thybulle, the No. 20 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, ranks 13th in the league in steals at 1.56 a night, a category in which he also leads all rookies.

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers are in search of an offensive reserve upgrade. Their bench production as of January 31 was 29.0 PPG and 5.7 APG, third-worst in the league. Three realistic targets that have been floated are Pistons guard Derrick Rose, former Sixer and current Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, and Wizards stretch four Davis Bertans. Unfortunately, the current asking price for these targets is a too-steep request of the impressive and cost-effective Thybulle and a future first-round pick, sources tell The Athletic’s Anthony Slater.
  • Horford continues to adjust to his awkward fit on his new team next to current All-Star center Joel Embiid, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 33-year-old former All-Star big man was signed to a four-year, $109MM contract ($97MM guaranteed) this summer thanks to his offensive versatility and defensive moxie. Horford, generally a center at his last stop with the Celtics, has been featured far more at power forward for the Sixers. 32% of his minutes have been played at the position this season, as opposed to just 9% during 2018/19 with Boston. He has also been relegated to a spot-up shooting role more frequently than in years prior.
  • With the trade deadline around the corner, little-used second-year Sixers shooting guard Zhaire Smith could be an intriguing trade target for other teams, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. But would the Sixers be giving up on Smith too soon if they moved him in a trade for veteran help? The 2018 first-rounder has played just 10 games in his two seasons with Philadelphia.

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.