Brett Brown

Spurs Notes: Rebuilding, Brown, Poeltl, Primo

The Spurs have created “optionality” as they consider the best path toward rebuilding, general manager Brian Wright told Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Wright explained that the organization has the ability to improve through the draft, trades or free agency.

San Antonio has one of the league’s worst records at 9-20 and figures to be among the teams with the best odds for the No. 1 pick and Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs also have a surplus of draft assets already in place following the Dejounte Murray deal with Atlanta, and they have veterans such as Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson who should be in demand before the February 9 trade deadline. The team is also more than $30MM under the salary cap and could have up to $60MM in cap space next summer.

“In a season like this one with the draft, everything gets overmagnified about tanking or anything like that,” Wright said. “It’s never been about that, and it won’t ever be about that. You’re younger and this is a league where you have to learn how to win, and it takes time. It takes the standards and habits and repetitions and doing the right thing, and that’s what this coaching staff has done for a long time, and that’s what these players are learning right now. We will get there.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • Bringing Brett Brown back in June gave the coaching staff someone with plenty of experience in rebuilding, MacMahon adds. Brown served as head coach in Philadelphia during the “Process” years and understands what it takes to construct a team from the ground up. “Everything revolves around development,” he said. “It’s a big word. It’s not just, ‘Now they’ve got a jump hook.’ It’s growing them up with NBA habits and terminology and educational stuff on scouting.”
  • Poeltl was able to play Saturday after missing seven straight games with a bone bruise in his right knee. That allowed the Spurs to have their preferred starting five available for the first time since November 26, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that the NBA “worked in conjunction with the Spurs” on the investigation of Joshua Primo, who is accused of exposing himself to a team psychologist, per Tom Orsborn of The San-Antonio Express News. Silver said the subsequent lawsuit, which was settled out of court, shows that the league needs to work to protect the safety of its employees.

Western Notes: Simons, Popovich, Markkanen, Payne

Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons erupted for 45 points against the Jazz on Saturday and jokingly lamented he wanted more, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian writes. “Back of my mind, I wanted 50,” Simons said. “There’s going to be plenty of opportunities for it. But it’s alright. We got the win.” Simons, who is filling the scoring void for injured Damian Lillard, is in the first season of a four-year, $100MM contract.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Gregg Popovich may return to the Spurs bench on Thursday when they host Houston, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Popovich underwent a minor medical procedure. “He is fine. That’s what people should hear the loudest,” said Brett Brown, who is filling in as San Antonio’s head coach. “It was just a minor situation, and you’ll have to deal with me for another night, another afternoon. But he is fine.”
  • Lauri Markkanen needs to realize he’s now the top offensive option with the Jazz and should be just as aggressive with the ball when he’s having an off night as he is when filling up the nets, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News opines. Markkanen’s unselfishness is admirable but he needs to think like an All-Star, Todd adds.
  • Cameron Payne was disappointed in himself for making four turnovers despite a 20-point, 12-assist night against Houston on Friday. But Payne has continued to impress with Suns starting point guard Chris Paul sidelined by a heel injury, Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic writes. “I love his balance. I love what he’s done for our team,” coach Monty Williams said. Payne’s $6.5MM salary for next season is only guaranteed for $2MM.

Southwest Notes: Popovich, Zion, Ingram, Jones, Hardy

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is unavailable for Friday’s game against New Orleans after undergoing a minor medical procedure earlier in the day, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). Assistant coach Brett Brown is serving as head coach in his place.

According to McDonald, Popovich met with reporters prior to the game with the intention of coaching, but decided to sit out shortly thereafter. He’s also expected to miss Sunday’s contest versus Phoenix.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson had his most complete two-way performance of the 2022/23 season in Wednesday’s victory over the Raptors, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Playing without fellow high-scoring starters Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, Williamson finished with 33 points (on 12-of-15 shooting and 9-of-12 from the line), 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. According to Guillory, none of Toronto’s strong defenders could slow Williamson down on offense, and his defensive energy was contagious. “I told him tonight in the locker room that he was a monster. He carried us. He continued to make the right plays over and over again,” head coach Willie Green said. “He was flying around on both ends of the floor … It’s just impressive. Impressive to see.”
  • Second-year forward Herb Jones suffered a left ankle sprain in New Orleans’ victory over Toronto and did not return (Twitter link). X-rays were negative, but Jones and Ingram (left great toe contusion) were both ruled out Friday against the Spurs, the Pelicans announced in a press release. Ingram has now missed three straight games with the injury, which he suffered a week ago.
  • 2022 second-round pick Jaden Hardy dominated in his G League stint with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks‘ affiliate, averaging 29.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists on .548/.482/.844 shooting in nine games (34.1 MPG). Prior to Thursday’s loss to Detroit, head coach Jason Kidd said he hoped to find some minutes for the rookie guard after Dallas recalled him. “Hardy’s playing extremely well in the G League. We hope on this road trip we can find some time for him to get on the floor. Hope that presents sooner than later, but he’s with us this week, and we’ll see how the schedule [goes],” Kidd said, according to Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Hardy has only played 10 minutes over three games thus far with the Mavs.

Western Notes: George, Holmes, Fernando, Dinwiddie, Kleber, Popovich

Clippers star forward Paul George missed Monday’s game against Utah due to a right hamstring tendon strain, according to Law Murray of The Athletic.

It’s a different injury than the one the team cited when George sat out the second half of Saturday’s game against San Antonio. The reason given that night was right knee soreness.

George will be reevaluated in the next couple of days.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Richaun Holmes has fallen out of the Kings’ rotation and it may be difficult to move his contract, James Ham of The Kings Beat notes. Holmes is owed $11.2MM this season, $12MM next season and has a player option for $12.9MM in 2024/25.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas is optimistic Bruno Fernando can return to action later this week, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Fernando has only appeared in two games this season due to left knee soreness.
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd expressed hope that Spencer Dinwiddie and Maxi Kleber will be available during the team’s upcoming road trip, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dinwiddie dislocated his left shoulder against Denver on Sunday, while Kleber hasn’t played since Tuesday due to a lower back contusion.
  • Gregg Popovich didn’t coach the Spurs on Sunday after meeting with the press prior to the game. Brett Brown filled in after Popovich felt ill, but doctors who examined him in the locker room pronounced him OK, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

Sixers Notes: Defense, Bench, Embiid, Brown

The Sixers thought their offseason moves would make them a title contender, but they haven’t looked the part through the first week of the season, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After opening with losses to the Celtics and Bucks, Philadelphia dropped to 0-3 on Saturday by falling at home to the rebuilding Spurs.

“I’m happy that we are going through this right now,” said James Harden, who admits that “everything” needs to be addressed. “We don’t have fool’s gold. We got to work through it. We gotta figure it out on both ends. Realistically, it’s a good thing for us.”

The most obvious issues have been on defense, which the Sixers focused on upgrading this summer. Pompey cites a lack of intensity on that end of the court and an inability to stay in front of wing players. Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Doug McDermott all had big games Saturday as the Spurs shot 48.3% from the field, including 42.1% on three-pointers.

“We do have to give them credit. They made tough shots,” Tobias Harris said. “But on our part, that’s not the standard of defense that we hold ourselves to.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers aren’t getting enough production from their bench, Pompey adds. Their reserves were outscored by San Antonio’s, 40-10, with Georges Niang contributing eight of those points. Montrezl Harrell, De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House and Matisse Thybulle shot a combined 1-of-6. Pompey notes that Thybulle gives the team a stronger defensive presence, but he has barely been used so far this season.
  • Joel Embiid dealt with plantar fasciitis this summer that affected his ability to train, tweets Sixers reporter Derek Bodner. Embiid said it began to affect him during team workouts in July, and it reached a point where he couldn’t walk. “Coming into training camp I hadn’t done anything in like two months, so it really slowed me down,” he said. “Still trying to work my way back and hopefully everything goes back to normal.”
  • Former Sixers coach Brett Brown was back in Philadelphia on Saturday for the first time since getting fired in 2020, Pompey adds in a separate story. After being out of the NBA for two years, Brown rejoined the Spurs’ coaching staff in June. “He meant a lot,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he started the whole thing and things didn’t work out the way they should have. But he did a great job and he’s one of the reasons why we’re in this position.”

Spurs Notes: Point Guard, B. Brown, C. Brown, Bill

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t know who the team’s starting point guard will be yet after trading All-Star Dejounte Murray to Atlanta this offseason, but he knows that making up for Murray’s production will be very difficult, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News.

We have to find somebody who is going to score those points and make those assists,” Popovich said. “He was also a heck of a rebounder at his position. So there is a lot we have to fill in with him not being here.”

According to McDonald, third-year guard Tre Jones, a more traditional point guard, could be one option. Jones’ $1.8MM contract is only partially guaranteed for $500K at the moment, but becomes fully guaranteed on October 18. He realizes there’s a “big opportunity,” but he’s focused on doing what he does best — leading and distributing.

We’ll just have to see how camp goes,” said Jones. “I am going to try to take on that role of being a leader for this group, continue to do everything I was doing – set up our team, set up guys in the right spot and let the rest take care of itself.”

Another option could be Joshua Primo, last year’s lottery pick. Primo doesn’t think he’s set in any one position, per McDonald.

Honestly, I still feel like a position-less player,” Primo said. “I have always been a position-less player … I don’t think I am ever going to stop that, but whatever Pop needs me to do out there, I am going to do.”

Here’s more from San Antonio:

  • The Spurs are excited to have Brett Brown back on the coaching staff, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Brown won four championships with the organization in various roles prior to becoming Philadelphia’s head coach for seven years. “Since ’99, we have shared basketball thoughts,” Popovich said of his close friendship with Brown. “To have that back is very meaningful for me. It comes at the right time. As a friend, his personality, his sense of humor, he is just a fantastic human being. And so, when you can combine those personal traits with the basketball skills and knowledge he has, it’s wonderful to have him back.”
  • San Antonio’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, have acquired the returning player rights of Chaundee Brown from the South Bay Lakers (Twitter link). Austin gave up its 2023 NBAGL first-rounder and the returning rights to Galen Robinson Jr. in the deal. Brown was briefly signed to two-way deals with the Lakers and Hawks as a rookie last season, and inked a 10-day hardship deal with Atlanta last winter. He was waived by the Hawks a few weeks ago.
  • Congressman Tony Gonzales has introduced a bill to prevent the Spurs from moving amid future relocation concerns, per Benjamin Wermund of The Express-News. The Spurs are playing a couple of games in Austin this season and Austin-based billionaire Michael Dell bought a 10 percent stake in the franchise last year, notes Wermund. “No one would ever imagine the Spurs would leave San Antonio, but what if they do?” Gonzales said. “Sometimes when we say it takes an act of Congress, sometimes we have to take that seriously.”

Brett Brown Returns To Spurs As Assistant

Brett Brown has returned to the Spurs as an assistant coach, the team announced in a press release.

Brown was on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio for 11 seasons from 2002-13, first as the club’s director of player development, then as an assistant coach.

“I’m thrilled to be able to hire such a good coach, human being and dinner partner,” Popovich said.

Brown left San Antonio to become the head coach with the Sixers. He patrolled Philadelphia’s sidelines through the 2019/20 season.

Brown joins Mitch Johnson and Matt Nielsen on Popovich’s staff. Given that Popovich is 73, it’s fair to wonder if Brown will emerge as a candidate to eventually replace Popovich when he retires.

Spurs Notes: Murray, Rebuild, Popovich, Collins, Brown

The Spurs were motivated to trade Dejounte Murray because the agent for the All-Star guard informed the team that he wouldn’t agree to a contract extension, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link, hat tip to Bleacher Report). Murray wasn’t unhappy with his current contract, which runs for two more seasons, Windhorst adds, but recognized he’d have to reach free agency to get a significant raise.

“And that wasn’t really necessarily about the Spurs,” Windhorst said. “His contract is about $16 million on average. When you extend your contract, you’re limited into how much of a raise you can get. And it would’ve been probably below his market value as a 25-year-old All-Star. But he pretty much told them — he’s like, ‘I’m probably not going to extend next summer either.'”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The three picks and a future draft swap that the Spurs received from Atlanta in return for Murray will pave the way for a full-scale rebuild that the organization was reluctant to do after losing Kawhi Leonard, observes John Hollinger of The Athletic. San Antonio will likely bottom out this season in advance of a strong draft that features French center Victor Wembanyama at the top. Hollinger also notes that the team will have plenty of cap room, both to take on unwanted contracts this season and to potentially offer two max deals next summer.
  • The Murray trade isn’t a sign that head coach Gregg Popovich won’t return next season, according to Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News, who says Popovich approved the deal. With the playoffs seemingly out of reach, Popovich can focus on teaching and player development.
  • The Spurs had internal discussions about taking back John Collins from the Hawks, but they decided the draft equity was more valuable for the future of the franchise, Finger tweets.
  • Former Sixers head coach Brett Brown is expected to rejoin Popovich’s staff as an assistant, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). Brown was an assistant in San Antonio from 2007-13 before becoming the head coach in Philadelphia.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Porzingis, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets

Asked by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during an appearance on First Take about rumors that there has been some friction between Mavericks teammates Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, head coach Jason Kidd dismissed the idea that there are any issues between the team’s two leading scorers (video link).

“I think we all heard in the NBA circle that there was tension between the two, but I would have to say that’s fake news,” Kidd told Smith. “… There were some other issues that I thought they did a great job of keeping in-house that had nothing to do with those two.

“I’m excited, I think the relationship between the two of them is at a high level. They’re basketball players who want to compete and who want to win. For a coach, I have to put them in that position to be successful. But I think their relationship is great.”

Smith didn’t press Kidd on what those “other issues” in Dallas were that didn’t involve Doncic or Porzingis, but it’s possible the Mavs’ new head coach is referring to some of the conflicts that were outlined in a report from The Athletic back in June. Presumably, given the way the front office and coaching staff were overhauled this summer, the franchise believes those issues are in the rear-view now.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Brett Brown Steps Down As Australia’s Head Coach

After losing his NBA position earlier this year, former Sixers head coach Brett Brown has now elected to step down from his international coaching job as well. Brown has resigned from his role as Australia’s head coach and won’t lead the Boomers at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, the program announced today in a press release.

“Whilst I have a deep and long-standing passion for Australian Basketball, I am currently unable to commit to coaching the Boomers at next year’s Olympic Games,” Brown said in a statement. “The uncertainties around the direction of my professional future unfortunately mean that I cannot commit to the time and preparation that this job deserves and requires. The difficulties around traveling internationally with my family during the pandemic have also contributed to my decision.”

Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter said in a statement that the program is “naturally disappointed” that Brown will no longer be coaching the team, but understands his decision.

Brown initially finalized a deal to coach the Australian national team last November, after the club had clinched a spot in the Tokyo Olympics with its fourth-place finish at the 2019 World Cup. Those Olympics had originally been scheduled to begin on July 24, 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the new start date for the Tokyo games is July 23, 2021.

Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, and Patty Mills are among the notable players expected to represent Australia in Japan next summer, as long as they’re able to work around the revamped NBA schedule. The selection of Brown as the Boomers’ head coach led to speculation that Sixers star Ben Simmons may elect to participate as well — it’s not clear if Brown’s resignation will influence Simmons’ decision one way or the other.