New Sixers coach Brett Brown says he wouldn’t have taken the job without 4 years guaranteed

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The Sixers are expected to be one of, if not the worst team in the NBA next season, and a quick look up and down the roster tells us that’s not exactly a stretch.

The veterans that remain aren’t guys you can count on for consistent output at either end of the floor, and the rest are rookies or other young players that are continuing to develop. Put together, it’s one of the least talented collection of players the league has seen in recent seasons.

New Sixers head coach Brett Brown was introduced to the media on Wednesday, and he knows all of this as well as anyone. That’s why there was no way he was going to leave the comfort of a tenured position with the San Antonio Spurs — one of the league’s best-run franchises — to take on a project of this magnitude without a guarantee he’d have enough time to turn things around.

From Jason Wolf of The News Journal (via SLAM):

“I was not going to take the job without the four years [guaranteed],” Brown said about his contract. “And I am extremely grateful to the owners where they took a step back, and I think it’s a tremendous reflection of what they truly think, too. It’s going to take time. They really do have a tolerance. There is a patience. And as much as it was security for myself, I felt like they made a statement to the marketplace that they’re for real. They really do see this being a long haul-type of position. But it was vital to my decision and I’m thrilled that they allowed me to have that duration.”

Low expectations are understandable in Philadelphia, especially in this first season under Brown. But the challenges ahead are monumental, and whether or not he makes it the full four years has as much to do with the performance of the front office as it does with how he manages during his first couple of years as an NBA head coach.

It’s extremely difficult to build a winning culture and one of “doing things the right way” almost completely from scratch, especially when the losses are piling up and the young players are feeling frustrated at the lack of tangible results.

It’s tough to keep the locker room engaged in those situations, and that will be Brown’s biggest challenge as he undertakes this project — getting his team’s consistent buy-in to what he’s teaching, while keeping the players focused on the bigger picture.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.