Ned Cohen

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Nets, Celtics, Sixers

On Wednesday, the Nets officially introduced Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as their new head coach. The 46-year-old, who has no prior coaching experience, will try to get Brooklyn to the NBA Finals with a healthy roster next season.

The Nets’ new head coach spoke about his lack of experience and the criticism he’s received at his introductory press conference. “Well, I did skip the line, frankly,” Nash said (h/t Tim Bontemps of ESPN). “But at the same time, I think leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique. So while I haven’t necessarily learned some of the skills that I’ll definitely seek to understand and learn as far as the technical aspects of coaching, I was never far from that.”

It will be interesting to see how the 46-year-old Nash leads a Nets team that features Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving next season at the Barclays Center.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Jacque Vaughn, who was the Nets’ interim coach after the team fired Kenny Atkinson in March, will be staying with the organization as Nash’s lead assistant. Despite missing many notable players down in the bubble, Vaughn had the Nets playing hard in the seeding games and playoffs. That effort did not go unnoticed by Nash, who is excited to work with Vaughn. “I think Jacque’s qualities speak for themselves,” Nash said (h/t Nets Daily). “He is an incredibly high character individual, extremely hard-working, prepared, and he is an all-around top human being so to have people like that to work with every day is incredible.”
  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has returned to the bubble in Orlando and is in quarantine until Friday, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Hayward suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the playoffs last month against the Sixers. While the veteran forward’s return timeline is unclear and his quarantine period isn’t over, he’s allowed to leave his room once per day for exercise and rehab, according to Washburn.
  • Before the Sixers hire a new head coach, they need to address their front office issues, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. As previously reported, multiple league sources do not expect Alex Rucker, who is the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, to return next season. Pompey adds that Rucker played a role behind-the-scenes in decision-making as the team leaned heavily on analytics. In addition to Rucker, assistant general manager Ned Cohen and VP of strategy Sergi Oliva were reportedly also involved in decision-making. There has been nothing as of yet on the futures of Cohen and Oliva.

Zanik, Rosas Receive Second Interviews For Sixers’ Post

Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik and Rockets VP Gersson Rosas have earned second interviews for the Sixers’ GM opening, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Philadelphia’s ownership group dined with Zanik on Sunday and will do the same with Rosas on Monday. The ownership group will also hold second interviews with internal candidates on Thursday and Friday, Pompey adds in another tweet. The news was confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant GM and director of player personnel Larry Harris was also recently interviewed for the vacancy, though there’s no indication if he’ll receive another interview.

Some of the internal candidates for the job who were reportedly interviewed this month include former Sixers player Elton Brand, Marc Eversley, Ned Cohen and Alex Rucker.

The organization has been operating without a GM since Bryan Colangelo departed in June amid charges of releasing sensitive information on Twitter.

The Sixers initially targeted big-name NBA GMs and presidents like Rockets GM Daryl Morey, but have since cast a wider net, focusing more on executives who would view the Philadelphia job as a promotion rather than a lateral move.

Sixers Add Four Names To GM Search

The Sixers are expanding the list of candidates for their vacant GM job and will interview four more prospects next week, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Former Sixers player Elton Brand is joined on the list by fellow team executives Marc Eversley, Ned Cohen and Alex Rucker.

Philadelphia began interviews for the opening this week after receiving permission to talk with Larry Harris of the Warriors, Gersson Rosas of the Rockets and Justin Zanik of the Jazz. The organization has been operating without a GM since Bryan Colangelo departed in June amid charges of releasing sensitive information on Twitter. Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas was scheduled to interview as well, but decided to decline the opportunity, Pompey adds (Twitter link).

Brand played for five teams in a 17-year NBA career, finishing up with the Sixers in 2016. He is vice president of basketball operations in Philadelphia and serves as GM for the Delaware Blue Coats, the organization’s G League affiliate. Cohen is the Sixers’ assistant GM, Eversley is senior VP of player personnel and Rucker is senior VP of analytics and strategy. All four were promoted to their current positions after Colangelo left.

Latest On Sixers’ GM Search, Front Office

11:40am: The Sixers have issued a press release officially announcing the promotions noted below.

11:17am: While the Sixers are identifying new general manager candidates to meet and interview, the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility of leaving its interim front office structure in place to start the 2018/19 season, managing partner Josh Harris tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“We prefer to find an elite talent who can lead us, but we aren’t going to compromise,” Harris said.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown has served as the team’s interim head of basketball operations since Bryan Colangelo‘s ouster in June, but several members of Philadelphia’s front office besides Brown have been very involved in personnel decisions during the offseason.

Those key voices include Ned Cohen, Marc Eversley, and Elton Brand, all of whom are receiving promotions, Wojnarowski reports. Cohen will become an assistant general manager, Eversley will be the senior VP of player personnel, and Brand will be named the VP of basketball operations. Alex Rucker will also receive a promotion, according to Wojnarowski, who says Rucker will become the 76ers’ senior VP of analytics and strategy.

According to Wojnarowski, after initially targeting top general managers around the NBA – such as Daryl Morey of the Rockets – the Sixers have been gathering information on up-and-coming candidates in recent weeks. In other words, the new pool of contenders figures to include execs who would be more readily willing to make the move to Philadelphia.

Reports have indicated that the Sixers aren’t necessarily looking for a new general manager who will make all the final decisions on his own, but rather a candidate who is willing to collaborate with those existing voices in the front office on personnel moves. While Harris would love to find that executive as soon as possible and doesn’t want Brown to hang onto the head of basketball operations title for the long term, he tells Wojnarowski that the club is very comfortable with the current management group.

“I think we have one of the best, if not the best, situation in the NBA – particularly for the leader of a front office,” Harris said. “We have great young players, lots of cap space and stable ownership willing to invest and spend in the team. We’re going to be patient and try to find the right person. The next year is going to be incredibly important for us, and we have a real desire to find the right person now – but if not, we are incredibly comfortable with the existing staff and we’ll move forward from there.”

Latest On Sixers’ GM Search

After working their way through the NBA draft and the first wave of 2018 free agency without a general manager, the Sixers figure to shift their focus to filling that open front office position in the coming weeks. However, principal owner Josh Harris cautions that the search may not be completed quickly, as Keith Pompey of Philly.com details.

“I think it’s going to take a while to find the right person,” Harris said on Monday. “I hate to keep talking about it, but we really need to find the right person who can develop the special culture. It’s very consensus-oriented.

As Pompey explains, the Sixers want to take a collaborative approach to key personnel and roster decisions, meaning any serious candidate for the GM opening will have to be willing to surrender total power on those decisions. The team’s goal is to find a candidate that will mesh with head coach Brett Brown, vice president of basketball operations Ned Cohen, and other front office executives like Alex Rucker and Sergi Oliva.

“Certainly there are other ways to do it, where there’s a big, strong leader,” Harris said. “He or she makes every decision, and there’s many roads to run. That’s just not the road we are going to take.”

The Sixers’ reluctance to give total decision-making control to their next GM may turn off some top candidates, but Pompey still identifies a handful of noteworthy names receiving consideration. Multiple sources tell Pompey that former Nets and Nuggets GM Kiki VanDeWeghe has expressed interest in the job. Spurs GM R.C. Buford has also been cited as a possible target, according to Pompey, who notes that it would be difficult to lure Buford out of San Antonio. Of the Sixers’ internal candidates, Cohen probably has the best case, Pompey adds.

Harris suggested that the Sixers would like to hire a general manager who has previous GM experience, adding that a proven “track record” is a plus, though he acknowledged that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker.

Philadelphia has been on the lookout for a new general manager since a scandal involving multiple burner Twitter accounts ultimately led to Bryan Colangelo‘s ouster. Brown is serving as the team’s interim GM.

Community Shootaround: Sixers’ GM Job

Nine days after The Ringer published a fascinating report linking Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to a handful of anonymous Twitter accounts that had seemingly revealed sensitive information about the franchise, Colangelo announced his resignation on Thursday, confirming that he and the club had agreed to part ways.

It was an extremely unusual way for a top executive to lose his job, but the upshot is that the Sixers have become the third NBA team this spring in the market for a new head of basketball operations. The Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as their new GM and president of basketball ops, while the Pistons’ search remains active.

While Detroit’s list of candidates has included several executives who recently retired as NBA players and don’t have extensive front office experience, the early – and informal – list of options in Philadelphia looks a little heavier on former GMs and seasoned top lieutenants.

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has been cited most frequently, viewed as an ideal fit not just due to his résumé in Cleveland, but due to his connection to a certain Cav — LeBron James figures to be the Sixers’ top target in free agency this summer, so bringing aboard a GM LeBron liked could boost the team’s chances of landing him.

League sources have also identified Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren as a top candidate for the 76ers, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Zarren has received consideration for several GM jobs over the years – including the Philadelphia gig before Sam Hinkie was hired in 2013 – but has always opted to remain in Boston. His track record suggests he won’t leave the C’s, but the Sixers, armed with a pair of potential franchise players, a top-10 pick, and significant cap room, would be an extremely appealing landing spot.

O’Connor indicates that Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley and VP of basketball operations Ned Cohen are two internal candidates that may receive consideration for the position, and says Kiki VanDeWeghe‘s name has been floated as a possible target too. A former GM, VanDeWeghe currently works in the league office.

Malik Rose, who is said to be receiving interest from the Pistons for their front office opening, is a Philadelphia native, which could make him an appealing target for the Sixers. If the team wants to dip into Houston’s front office again, Gersson Rosas would be a strong candidate. The 76ers’ list of candidates may grow even further, though it’s probably safe to assume that Hinke – the club’s previous hire from the Rockets – won’t be returning to Philadelphia, despite the wishes of many Sixers fans.

What do you think? Which GM candidate would you like to see replace Colangelo in Philadelphia? Which candidate do you believe the Sixers will ultimately hire?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Sixers Ownership Met To Discuss Colangelo’s Future

The Sixers‘ ownership group convened in New York on Tuesday evening, talking for several hours about whether head of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo should be fired based on the findings in an investigation into several burner Twitter accounts, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the 76ers could reach a decision on Wednesday.

As Wojnarowski has previously reported, the investigation into those Twitter accounts, which published tweets critical of Sixers players and revealed sensitive information, has increasingly focused on Colangelo’s wife Barbara.

Both Colangelo and his wife were interviewed by investigators for several hours on Sunday and Monday. While those interviews took place separately, Sixers ownership is struggling to separate Colangelo from his wife when it comes to the tweets in question, if she did in fact post them, Wojnarowski writes.

With Colangelo’s future up in the air, the Sixers are looking ahead to next month’s free agent period with the intent of putting Brett Brown “front and center” in presentations to top players, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that the hiring of Monty Williams as Brown’s top assistant could have an impact on discussions with free agents too. Both Brown and Williams have strong reputations with players around the NBA.

The 76ers could also rely on assistant GMs Marc Eversley and Ned Cohen to help navigate the coming offseason if they decide to move on from Colangelo, Woj observes.