Tag: Jarvis Varnado

Philadelphia 76ers v Houston Rockets

Extra Pass: How Brett Brown and his 76ers have embraced their youth


BOSTON – “Do we have young-guy film today?” a player calls from the corner of the 76ers locker room.

Curious, I ask the 76ers’ media-relations official what that is.

“What do you think it is?” he replies.

“I’d guess its film young guys have to watch,” I say. “But, on this team, isn’t that everybody?”

“Pretty much,” Thaddeus Young chimes in.

The 76ers, carrying an average age of 23.4 (weighted for playing time and holding a player’s age constant as of Feb. 1 each season), are the NBA’s youngest team. Their youth permeates through their organizational culture, maybe even defining them more than losing has – though it’s not as if those traits are mutually exclusive.

They have the sixth-youngest team of all-time. By comparison they have the relatively non-descript 51st-worst win percentage of all-time, and even if they lose out, that would drop only to 33rd-worst.


Philadelphia has only one player older than 26 – 33-year-old Jason Richardson, who has missed the entire season due to injury. Every other team has at least three players over 26.

So, when the 76ers hold young-guy film, it’s essentially team film. Only Young and James Anderson, a fourth-year pro, are exempt.

Rookie 76ers coach Brett Brown implemented the film sessions as a way to provide extra tutoring for young players during an NBA season that includes little practice time, and he personally decided who must participate. He likes the system and would have used it with any roster, though had he taken over certain other teams, maybe only a couple players would have been required to attend.

In Philadelphia, it’s become an essential tool.

Many coaches talk about loving the profession for the ability to teach above all else. But few competitors, which all NBA coaches are, would trade a good team (which requires fewer lessons) for a bad team (which requires more).

Brown doesn’t have that option, and if he did, there’s nothing to say he wouldn’t exercise it. However, he has remained enthusiastic through Philadelphia’s 17-60 season, demonstrating a real passion for serving the 76ers’ youth.

“I love coaching these guys,” Brown said. “They play hard. They play with their hearts on their sleeves.”

Philadelphia’s youngest player is 19-year-old Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft who has yet to play this season due to injury. League-wide, only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Archie Goodwin are younger.

Of 76ers who’ve actually played this season, 20-year-old Tony Wroten is youngest.

“You would never realize that I’m the youngest guy playing right now,” Wroten said.

That’s because Wroten spent last season with the Memphis Grizzlies. The guard has played more NBA games than anyone in Philadelphia outside Young, Anderson and Byron Mullens. At times, Wroten feels he should help the 76ers’ six rookies, but it’s a tough balancing act.

“I’m still learning too every day,” Wroten said.

As are all the 76ers.

The players were recently discussing the oldest one on the team besides Richardson. Young thought it was himself. A lot of 76ers probably thought it was Young, too. Jarvis Varnado sure did.

But it’s actually 26-year-old Varnado, who beat 25-year-old Young into this world by a few months.

Varnado and Young actually graduated high school the same year, but Young left Georgia Tech after only one season, and Varnado played all four years at Mississippi State. Their professional careers have followed similar tracks. While Young is in the midst of a five-year, $43 million contract, Varnado is already with his fourth team in two seasons, trying to extend an NBA career that didn’t begin until two years after the Heat picked him in the second round of the 2010 draft. He signed with the 76ers on a 10-day contract before getting a rest-of-season-deal last month.

Never expecting to be the the oldest player on a team at this stage of his career, Varnado he likes the environment in Philadelphia nonetheless.

“We barely know the NBA,” Varnado said. “So, we’re just trying to go out there and trying to play hard. A lot of guys in here are trying to fight for jobs next year. So, we’re trying to impress everybody.”

And as far as his role as elder statesman?

“I haven’t really felt old,” Varnado said. “I’m around a lot of guys who are young guys, but I don’t feel old, though.”

Neither does Young, whom Brown calls the team’s grandfather.

“I’m still relatively young,” Young said. “It’s just I’ve seen a lot more than they have in this NBA structure.”

Including his veteran teammates traded.

The 76ers began the season with a few 25-year-olds – Evan Tuner, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen – but they dealt all three at the trade deadline (Turner and Allen to the Pacers, Hawes to the Cavaliers). A separate deal with the Wizards netted Eric Maynor – who, at 26, is the oldest person to play for Philadelphia this season – but, per his request, Philadelphia waived him after just eight games.

That left Young as the only 76er with a history of quality NBA production, even generously counting a few small-sample seasons by his teammates.


Philadelphia is not young by accident, and those trades and buyouts are part of a long-term rebuilding strategy. In place of veterans like Turner and Hawes, the 76ers have turned to younger, cheaper and less-productive alternatives.

“It definitely tested my patience a little bit,” Young said. “I was just dealing with so many young guys and them not knowing certain things.

“On any team, you want as many veterans as possible. It definitely helps out having a lot of veterans, because sometimes, younger players just don’t know certain things.”

But for all the downside, Young appreciates aspects of the 76ers’ youth movement. He enjoys going fast – Philadelphia plays at the highest pace the NBA has seen in four years – and he’s grown as a leader.

Though Varnado edges him by a few months in age, Young is the unquestioned face of the 76ers.

“He’s had to carry a young team that is in a total rebuild mode, and he’s endured that,” Brown said. “He’s found ways to compete and lead and not whine or cry about it. He’s dug in.”

Young has done so as the 76ers have gotten progressively younger, especially after the trade deadline. They were always headed toward one of the eight youngest seasons ever, but now they appear likely to close sixth.


Perhaps, I’m overstating the 76ers’ youth. After all, I’m counting their age in human years. Like dog years, maybe another measure – Sixer years? – is more appropriate.

On Jan. 29, the 76ers won in Boston. Their next game began a 26-game losing streak. During it, they traded Turner and Allen, traded Hawes, traded for Mullens, traded for Maynor, waived Earl Clark, waived Danny Granger, signed Varnado, waived Lorenzo Brown, signed Darius Johnson-Odom, waived Maynor and signed James Nunnally.

Finally, they returned to Boston this weekend and won again. Brown recalled Philadelphia’s first victory over the Celtics, just 65 days prior.

“That,” Brown said, “seems like a thousand years ago.”

How U! Roger Mason signs on with Miami Heat

Roger Mason Jr. Hornets

Miami is always on the lookout for veterans they think they can bring on a minimum deal they think can help the team.

Apparently Roger Mason fits that bill as he can still knock down the three ball (41.5 percent from deep last season).

Mason announced he has signed with the Heat on twitter.

Mason, 33 and best known recently for his front and center role with the union during the lockout, played last season with the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) giving them nearly 18 minutes and 5.3 points a game. The Hornets offense was better when he was on the court last season but their defense struggled (the season before in Washington he played some good defense).

With Mike Miller amnestied the Heat need other guys who can play a limited role, walk in and knock down shots. Mason can do that and might be as good a fit for them as there was on the open market.

This is a make-good deal — there are no guarantees, he will have to make the roster. The Heat have 13 guaranteed deals on the roster plus a handful of non-guaranteed deals such as Jarvis Varnado, Larry Drew II and Justin Hamilton (among others). One or two of the non-guaranteed players likely make the final roster.

Heat may only carry 13 players with guaranteed contracts

Juwan Howard, Dwyane Wade, Jarvis Varnado

The Miami Heat added two players on non-guaranteed deals to their roster on Tuesday, but both are in all likelihood only going to appear as training camp bodies.

Already deep into luxury tax territory for next season — which is obviously a concern, considering the decision to cut Mike Miller using the amnesty provision built into the new collective bargaining agreement — it’s unlikely that Miami would guarantee contracts to anyone beyond the 13 players the team already has in place.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Center Justin Hamilton and power forward Eric Griffin, whose additions previously had been confirmed, became the 15th and 16th players under contract to the Heat in advance of the Oct. 1 start of training camp at AmericanAirlines Arena.

With 13 other players already under guaranteed contract, and with the Heat potentially to carry as few as 13 this season due to their position against the onerous luxury tax, Hamilton, Griffin and center Jarvis Varnado, the other player on the current roster without a guaranteed contract, face long roster odds.

The Heat may add another player later in the season, as they did with Chris Andersen last year. But if that happens, it will be a veteran who they believe can help the team to its third straight title — not a rookie or a project player who wouldn’t see real playing time in the postseason.

Agent refutes report that Heat’s Jarvis Varnado is close to signing overseas

Jarvis Varnado

Jarvis Varnado is a project player on the Heat’s roster that joined the squad in January of last season. He was inactive during the playoffs, but is under contract with Miami for the upcoming season.

That small fact means that Varnado can’t sign elsewhere without the Heat’s permission.

A report surfaced over the weekend that Varnado was close to signing with a team in Italy, but a quick check with his agent proved that wasn’t the case.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Despite a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport that the shot-blocking center was close to a deal in Italy, Boca Raton-based agent Mitch Frankel said Sunday his client remains under contract to the Heat and is planning to be at training camp, which opens Oct. 1.

“Fact is, Jarvis is under contract with the Heat. Jarvis hasn’t accepted any offer from any team in Europe and Jarvis plans on playing for the Heat next year,” Frankel said. “There’s a lot of teams in Europe that have contacted us about Jarvis and his plans.”

Varnado wants to play in Miami next year, but the fact is that right now, his contract is not guaranteed for the upcoming season. It becomes partially guaranteed if he is on the team’s opening night roster, and fully guaranteed if he remains past December 15.

It’s clear that Varnado will report to camp and do what he can to earn himself a spot on the team for next season. Should the Heat decide to cut him loose before opening night, it also seems clear that he’ll be able to sign a deal to play overseas.

American players stashed overseas, it doesn’t work out all that often

Raptors Heat Basketball

At least six players American college players drafted in the second round — including James Ennis of Miami and Colton Iverson of the Boston Celtics — and as many as 11 total could sign their first contract overseas.

It’s a full blown trend — for a long time NBA teams had drafted European players then stashed them overseas, but now they are trying it more with Americanized players. Some players prefer it. Ennis, for example got six figures to play in Australia, if he had gone to the D-League he would have made $25,000.

But does it work?

Not all that often. Then again second round player don’t pan out all that often in the NBA anyway (yes, there are exceptions, but look back to like 2010 and only a handful of the 30 guys drafted in the second round are still in the league, while 11 never played in the NBA at all).

Our man Scott Schroeder dug into the numbers over at SB Nation and found 27 American players drafted in the second round who signed their first contract overseas.

Thirteen of those 27 players are still plying their trades in Europe, with their rights still held by the NBA team that drafted them, while five others were released by their NBA teams after failing to earn a roster spot upon their return to the states. There are therefore just nine of 195 players (drafted in the second round in the past 10 years) that have succeeded with what this year’s draft-and-stash second rounders hope to accomplish.

Who are the success cases? Matt Bonner and Ronny Turiaf are the names you know. After that it’s guys like Kyle Singler, Jerome Jordan, Jarvis Varnado and Nick Calathes.

Looking at the evidence, it’s difficult to think that all of this year’s second-round picks currently signed overseas are going to someday have successful stateside returns. Players like Singler, Songaila, Turiaf and Bonner have shown it’s possible, however, to go overseas and return to the team that drafted you, thereby proving that the non-international draft and stash process can sometimes work out for the player.

Which is to say, what Iverson, Ennis and guys like Pierre Jackson (New Orleans), Mike Muscala (Atlanta Hawks), Erick Green (Denver Nuggets), and Alex Oriakhi (Phoenix Suns) are trying to do can be done. But I’d be careful betting on it working.