Tim Duncan

Sixers Notes: Morey, Offseason Changes, Fultz

When a July report indicated that the Sixers tried and failed to lure Daryl Morey away from Houston, it appeared that those discussions didn’t go far — Philadelphia reportedly received permission from the Rockets to talk to Morey, but the veteran executive decided to remain in his current job.

According to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, however, Morey didn’t turn down the Sixers’ advances out of hand. One source close to the process tells Arnovitz that discussions got “pretty far down the road” before Morey elected to stay in Houston.

As the 76ers’ search for a new head of basketball operations continued following their failed bid for Morey, a consensus begin to build that it was important to maintain continuity in the front office, per Arnovitz. That’s one reason why Elton Brand was the eventual choice for the general manager job.

“When you live with these guys over three months, from draft and free agency, you appreciate what we already had,” head coach Brett Brown said, per Arnovitz. “Elton was always going to be a general manager at some point, in some city. And it might as well be here, and it might as well be now.”

According to Arnovitz, multiple league insiders viewed the decision to promote Brand and give him the title of GM (rather than president of basketball operations) as a “statement of control” by Sixers ownership — if they get cold feet on Brand down the road, they could always bring in a veteran executive above him. For now though, he’s running the show in Philadelphia.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Arnovitz’s feature on the Sixers, which is worth checking out in full, also includes details on how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are shaping the franchise’s culture and identity, and the lessons Embiid was taught by Tim Duncan during his rookie year in 2014/15.
  • Replacing Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli on the second unit will be one of Brown’s biggest challenges this season, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In 23 games after that duo was acquired in February, the second unit averaged 41.6 PPG and improved its three-point percentage from 32.2% to 35.2%. Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, acquired in trades this summer, are projected to replace them in the rotation but both are batting injuries, Murphy adds.
  • Late first-rounder Landry Shamet had a productive preseason and that opens up more options for the second unit, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Shamet, a 6’5” point guard, had a pair of double-digit games while mostly working alongside J.J. Redick. “I think it went about as well as it could have,” Shamet told Todd. “I didn’t surprise myself, that’s kind of the way I look at it.”
  • Markelle Fultz will start the season opener and Redick will come off the bench, Jon Johnson of KYW 1060 Philadelphia tweets. The 2017 top overall pick will be starting for the first time. Fultz only appeared in 14 regular season and three postseason games as a rookie. Redick, who averaged a career-best 17.1 PPG last season, hasn’t come off the bench in a regular season game since the 2013/14 season.

(Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.)

And-Ones: Bazley, Garnett, Two-Way Players, Munford

Darius Bazley’s curious summer decisions have hurt his draft stock, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. The 6’9” Bazley backed out of a commitment with Syracuse in order to play in the G League. He then announced he would simply train on his own until next year’s draft. Other than Bazley’s length and defensive effort, there are a lot of question marks about his game, Woo continues. He’s unpolished with a thin build and needs plenty of work on his offensive game, so he would be better off playing competitively for the next nine months. He now has the look of a second-round flier, Woo adds. Woo takes a closer look at several risers and droppers among 2019 draft prospects.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Kevin Garnett is filing a federal malpractice lawsuit against accountant Michael Wertheim and his firm, alleging they helped a wealth manager steal $77MM from him, according to Associated Press report. The suit claims the accountant and his firm enabled Charles Banks IV of Atlanta to defraud Garnett through businesses in which Garnett and Banks shared an interest. Banks, who was sentenced last year to four years in federal prison for defrauding retired Spurs star Tim Duncan, was not named in Garnett’s suit.
  • The maximum amount a two-way player can earn in training camp with an NBA team is $50K. The G League salary of a two-way player is $77,250, a mild increase from $75K last season. Those are some of the nuggets offered by Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days in an examination of maximum earning power for players on two-way contracts during the upcoming season.
  • Free-agent guard Xavier Munford is mulling a move to the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Amico Hoops. The 6’4” Munford played on a two-way contract with the Bucks last season and appeared in six NBA contests. Munford, who also played 14 games with the Grizzlies during the 2015/16 season, is a restricted free agent within the NBA after receiving a qualifying offer from Milwaukee early this summer.

And-Ones: NBA Owners Ranked, Tomjanovich, NCAA Tournament

ESPN concluded their management series with ownership rankings, citing the Spurs (Julianna Hawn Holt), Warriors (Joe Lacob, Peter Guber), and Celtics (Wyc Grousbeck) as teams with the best ownership in the league (article link). ESPN’s panel ranked owners in terms of “performance in guiding the franchise to overall on-court success, both in the short and long term.” To that end, it perhaps isn’t surprising to see the Kings (Vivek Ranadive) and Knicks (James Dolan) round out the list; two owners who have made unfortunate headlines for on-and-off the court stories this season.

More from around the game…

  • Rudy Tomjanovich, a five-time NBA All-Star and decorated head coach, wasn’t inducted into the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame class. Several figures around the league were critical of Tomjanovich receiving the shaft, including former Rocket Calvin Murphy and Jeff Van Gundy. (Twitter links) In an op-ed piece for the Houston Chronicle, Jonathan Feigen chastised Hall of Fame voters who “inexplicably” snubbed Tomjanovich. “Tomjanovich, especially, deflected attention, not just in the way he downplayed his coaching contributions, but even in his coaching style that stripped away excess to get the ball simply and quickly to his best player, turning the Rockets from winners to champions,” Feigen writes. “The exclusion of Tomjanovich and others said nothing about their achievements, and everything about the secret panel’s failure.”
  • Tim Duncan‘s ex-adviser, Charles Banks, plans to admit financial misconduct from his business relationship with Duncan (Associated Press link). According to court paperwork, Banks will confess to misleading Duncan into obtaining $6MM in loans.
  • Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress provided an NBA prospect guide to the Final Four, naming South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell as the NCAA Tournament’s MVP thus far.
  • Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett will put his name in the NBA Draft but won’t hire an agent, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reports (link). Per Patrick Brennan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bluiett is “certain to again seek out evaluations from industry experts on his likely draft stock.”

Southwest Notes: Parsons, Bogut, Barea

Chandler Parsons could be back in action for the Grizzlies in a “matter of days,” tweets Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal. The news is the latest in a series of positive headlines for a franchise that has already recently welcomed back Mike Conley and James Ennis.

Parsons has been out of action since November 18 when he sustained a bone bruise on his left knee, the latest in a concerning line of various knee ailments. On Monday, however, the 28-year-old forward practiced for the first time in a month and spoke with Tillery about getting back into routine with the Grizzlies.

Having fallen victim to knee injuries twice in the past year (he had surgery on his right knee back in March), Parsons will have his work cut out for him to prove that he can be a reliable option for the Grizzlies. In a feature for CBS Sports earlier this month, James Herbert detailed some of the small forward’s previous injuries, going so far as to say that concern over his torn meniscus is what led to the Mavericks opting against signing him to a long-term contract over the summer.

In six games of limited action prior to the bone bruise, Parsons had been brought along slowly and posted averages of 7.7 points and 3 rebounds per game.

Elsewhere in the Southwest Division:

  • J.J. Barea will play for the Mavericks tonight in their tilt against the Nuggets, says Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Not surprisingly, he will be on a minute restriction after missing the last 17 games with a calf injury.
  • SportsDay’s Eddie Sefko thinks that the Mavericks would be ready and willing to ship out Andrew Bogut should a contending team inquire about him over the course of the season. Bogut had been averaging 3.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game before suffering a bone bruise earlier this month.
  • The Spurs retired Tim Duncan‘s jersey Sunday and the tribute videos are out in full force. The NBA’s YouTube channel has uploaded the full retirement ceremony and San Antonio’s official website is celebrating 21 Days of TD.

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Holiday, Conley

Pau Gasol knows that trying to replace Tim Duncan is a quixotic task, as Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post relays. “I didn’t come here to replace Tim,” Gasol said. “Tim is an incredible player, a player that I looked up to, an icon in San Antonio, and anywhere else, for that matter. But I just came to bring my talent, my abilities and help this team be the best it can be. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to try to be someone that’s played here 19 years, got five championships with this team. I’m trying to help this team get one, and that’s where I’m at.” The Spurs signed Gasol to a two-year, $30MM deal over the summer and the big man has helped the team earn a 10-3 record this season.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jrue Holiday is thrilled with how the Pelicans handled his absence and he’s happy to be back on the court, James Varney of USA Today writes. “I’m blessed, man,” Holiday said earlier this week. “Blessed to have my family back, blessed that we’re OK. So blessed for the support, especially from the team. This team was there for me and my family. A lot of people were. I just can’t put it on one group of people. So many showed faith and support.” Holiday helped the team get its third win of the season on Friday night, scoring 21 points in 23 minutes off the bench.
  • Mike Conley is still underrated despite re-signing with the Grizzlies on the largest contract in league history over the summer, Jerry Zgoda of the StarTribune argues. Conley has always been a team-first guy, but he admits that his lack of All-Star appearances weighs on him. “It’s very frustrating, but I know my team feels like I am, I feel like I am that All-Star-caliber guy,” Conley said. “I just have to keep playing like that and get better as each year goes by.”

Community Shootaround: Duncan, KG, And Kobe

Kobe Bryant‘s final season was one of the NBA’s top stories throughout the 2015/16 season, capped with a 60-point performance in the Lakers’ regular-season finale against the Jazz. However, Bryant wasn’t the only longtime NBA star who called it a career in 2016. Tim Duncan announced his retirement in the summer, and Kevin Garnett did the same this fall.

Bryant, Duncan, and Garnett are three of the most accomplished players of the last two decades, having combined for four MVP awards, 11 NBA titles, and an incredible 48 All-Star appearances. While they were hardly at their best in 2015/16, their career résumés prior to last season were strong enough to ensure they’ll become Hall-of-Famers as soon as they become eligible.

In a community roundtable, the basketball writers at SI.com look at the three retired stars and attempt to determine which one they’ll miss the most. The trio had very different styles of play, with Garnett defined by his intensity on the court, while Duncan was more of a steady, calm presence in San Antonio. As for Kobe, his production was more unpredictable than that of the two forwards, but he also had the ability to put up 50 points on any given night.

As we enter the first NBA season since 1994/95 in which none of these three players will take the court, which one will you miss the most? Bryant, Duncan, or Garnett? Take to the comments section below to weigh in and share your thoughts on the three retiring stars.

Western Notes: Lillard, Harris, Napier

Point guard Damian Lillard has been open about his desire to remain with the Blazers for his entire career. Speaking on Sirius XM today, Lillard emphatically dispelled any notion of him leaving Portland to join a “super team,” the way a number of high-profile NBA stars have done in recent years, Casey Holdahl of NBA.com relays. “If somebody wants to go join people and do that, it’s not against the rules, they can do it,” said Lillard. “It’s just more pressure to win when you do it. Some people say ‘Ah, they just joining up, they had to do this to win it,’ but we play to win it.  So when people do it, that’s they decisions. I wouldn’t do it, that’s just not who I am. I might have too much pride for that or be too much of a competitor where I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It also makes it more fun. You get to take a monster down and that’s always fun.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted that he feels a “little bit lonely” now that Tim Duncan is retired and no longer a member of the team, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com writes. The coach reiterated his desire for his former player to remain with the organization in some capacity, Wright adds. “If he wants to scout a little bit or run a drill one day or take a week road trip with us, we’re open to whatever he wants,” Popovich said. “We’re hoping it will infect him a little bit and he’ll want to do more.”
  • Nuggets shooting Gary Harris suffered a groin strain during Monday night’s preseason game against the Raptors, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. Harris underwent an MRI today and it hasn’t been announced how long he’ll be in street clothes while recovering.
  • Lakers center Timofey Mozgov insists he’s healthy after dealing with knee injuries last season and says he’s ready to assume a heavy workload for his new team, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News relays.
  • Shabazz Napier, who was acquired from the Magic for cash considerations this summer, could prove to be a steal for the Blazers, Cody Sharrett of NBA.com writes. The point guard has made an impression on the coaching staff with his preseason work, Sharrett adds. “I’ve been impressed with him in training camp and in September,” coach Terry Stotts said Napier. “I think he’s a quality guard. He shoots the ball a little bit better than maybe I expected. He’s a smart player, he’s tough. I’ve been very impressed with his defense throughout September. I think you saw [at Fan Fest] and tonight, he can get a shot. He’s a good player.

Spurs Notes: Duncan, Ginobili, Gasol, Belinelli

Tim Duncan showed up at practice today, but his role with the Spurs remains undefined, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. Newly retired after 18 years with the team, Duncan will be used in some type of coaching or advisory capacity. Head coach Gregg Popovich said the former All-Star will be “coach of whatever he feels like,” but won’t be on the bench during games. It also hasn’t been determined whether Duncan will travel with the team on road trips. GM R.C. Buford said Duncan’s role will define itself as the season wears on, adding that the team “want[s] to let it kind of morph into its own sort of thing.” “I think he’s learning about life after playing,” Buford said. “And he can impact us in so many ways. I think we need to sit back and get a better understanding of how he feels like he wants to fit in, and what works for his family. Then, we’ll figure it out from there. But the gym feels better when he’s in it.”

There’s more news out of San Antonio:

  • Buford is grateful that Duncan and Manu Ginobili didn’t retire at the same time, relays Tom Orsborne of The San Antonio Express-News. Calling it a “lonely summer” with so much player turnover, Buford was gratified that he was able to convince Ginobili to play one more season with a $14MM contract. “To have had to replace them both at the same time would have been even more impactful than when each one decides to leave as individuals,” Buford said. “I don’t know how you judge that or gauge that other than that we know there is a transition approaching for our organization and it will be better if it’s a more managed transition than if it all happens at the same time.”
  • A year after joining the Spurs in free agency, LaMarcus Aldridge is the most tenured member of the big-man rotation, notes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Not only did Duncan retire, but Boris Diaw was traded to the Jazz, Boban Marjanovich signed with the Pistons and David West left for the Warriors. Veteran shooting specialist Matt Bonner is working out in New Hampshire and hoping for another chance at the NBA. Taking their place are free agent additions Pau Gasol, David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon. “We were lucky to sign him,” Tony Parker said of Gasol. “Losing Timmy, you can’t replace a guy like that. At least we have Pau and LaMarcus. It’s going to be a great combination.”
  • Marco Belinelli is on his second team since leaving San Antonio in 2015, but the new Hornet still has fond memories of his time with the Spurs, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “Pop is unbelievable and for sure I can say [there were] so many examples to me: Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker,” Belinelli said. “They so can make you a better basketball player and a better person.”

Popovich: Tim Duncan Will Have Role With Spurs

Speaking to reporters at the Spurs’ media day on Monday, head coach Gregg Popovich suggested that while Tim Duncan is no longer a member of the team’s roster, he’ll still be around. According to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter), Popovich said that Duncan will have an official role with the Spurs this season: “Coach of Whatever He Wants to Be.”

Buck Harvey of The San Antonio Express-News had reported earlier this month that many people within the Spurs organization believed Duncan would eventually join the team in a full-time role, perhaps focusing on personnel rather than coaching. When the team announced its new coaching and front office hires and promotions a day later, Duncan wasn’t mentioned. However, Popovich says the future Hall-of-Famer will be involved this season, though he won’t be on the bench with the other Spurs assistants (Twitter link via Jim Lefko of The Express-News).

Popovich’s vagueness suggests that Duncan’s exact role – if he has one – hasn’t been officially determined yet, so we’ll see if the Spurs eventually make an announcement and give him a formal title. Either way, it seems Duncan will remain a part of the organization with which he spent his entire 19-year NBA playing career.

Spurs Hire Monty Williams, Landry Fields

The Spurs have added former Pelicans head coach Monty Williams to their basketball operations staff, the team announced today in a press release. According to the club, Williams will take on the role of vice president of basketball operations.

Within today’s announcement, the Spurs also confirmed several other hires and promotions, and one of the most notable names is a player who has only been away from the NBA for one year. San Antonio has hired former Knicks and Raptors swingman Landry Fields as a college scout, per the team’s press release.

In addition to hiring Williams and Fields, the Spurs also named Brian Wright the club’s assistant general manager, Andy Birdsong as the director of pro player personnel and the GM of the D-League’s Austin Spurs, Pat Sund as a pro personnel scount and Austin’s assistant GM, and Will Hardy as an assistant coach.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported back in July that Williams had a standing job offer from the Spurs, though it wasn’t known at the time what sort of role the team envisioned for him. Williams was an assistant with the Thunder last season, but took a leave of absence in February when his wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car crash. Before joining Oklahoma City’s staff, he spent five seasons as head coach in New Orleans, compiling a 173-221 record. He also spent time as a Spurs player under Gregg Popovich from 1996 to 1998, and was a coaching intern with the team in 2004/05.

When Stein first reported the Spurs’ offer to Williams, he noted that the longtime coach had received similar offers from other organizations, including the Thunder, and that he “absolutely” wants to become an NBA head coach again. However, as Stein pointed out, Williams’ in-laws live in San Antonio and have been helping to care for his five children, making that an ideal landing spot for now.

As for Fields, we heard last September that he would be sidelined for most of the 2015/16 campaign with a hip injury. His on-court production had also declined significantly, so it’s no surprise he didn’t land with a team at all last season. It’s not clear whether he has decided to transition into the next stage of his career, or if he’d still consider a comeback at some point.

A recent report indicated that many people within the Spurs organization expect Tim Duncan to take on a full-time role with the team at some point, but if that’s going to happen, it will likely happen down the road — Duncan wasn’t mentioned at all in today’s announcement.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.