Coach Brett Brown denies report Sixers unhappy with Joel Embiid


This is about as surprising as the ending of the movie “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown came out Friday and denied a Sports Illustrated report that the Sixers organization was frustrated with Joel Embiid‘s dedication to rehab.’s John Finger has his quotes.

“In general, what everybody has written has been factual, previously. There were portions that were factual that had been well documented early on,” Brown said before Friday night’s preseason game against the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. “When you read about portions that have been reported, there are portions that are wildly inaccurate.”

Specifically, Brown had issue with the idea that he and GM Sam Hinkie had direct orders from owner Joshua Harris to keep Embiid from going to Las Vegas to watch Summer League this summer.

“I don’t know what that means or why it was said and it’s one of those things that we move on from,” Brown said. “We’re treating it as noise and we’re going to move on from it.”

Noise is NBA coach speak for anything they see as a distraction. Such as this story.

“It’s just wildly unfair some of the accusations as it relates to now. This story is old. The media in front of me did a helluva job of reporting accurately what has been going on,” Brown said. “So to wake up and have these things be revisited, I think it’s unfortunate and sad particularly because of the timing.”

Three thoughts.

First, what did you expect Brown to say? Regardless of the level of reality in the story, this was going to be the reaction of the Sixers staff — even a guy seen as a straight shooter such as Brown — because he has to protect his star. That’s the reality of today’s NBA.

Second, while I know and fully trust the reporter who published this story, anybody who speaks off the record in these kinds of situations is trying to spin things. No doubt there are people frustrated with Embiid and his recovery effort, but that doesn’t mean everyone — or even the people in decision-making positions — with the Sixers are.

Finally, if those people are not somewhat frustrated with Embiid, they should be. Questions about his dedication to the rehab process and conditioning are far from new, and if he is not wearing his boot or is pushing back on the Sixers medical staff, those are not good long-term signs.

Also, you should believe that there are people around and in the Sixers growing frustrated with the slow rebuild process. Not the decision makers. Yet. But the rumblings are out there.

As with all things NBA, if Embiid someday gets back on the court and performs like the franchise cornerstone player he was projected to be, this will all be forgotten. If not, well, this story and others like it will have legs.

Al Horford ($500K), C.J. McCollum ($170K) donate to coronavirus relief

76ers big Al Horford
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Al Horford (four-year, $97 million-$107 million contract with 76ers) and C.J. McCollum (three-year, $100 million extension with Trail Blazers) received big deals last offseason.

Now, both are stepping up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum will be donating $170,000 total to the communities of Portland, Oregon, and Canton, Ohio, for COVID-19 relief, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Area will receive a $70,000 donation and the Akron-Canton Food Bank will receive a donation of $100,000.

This is great.

Report: LaMelo Ball buys his Australian team

LaMelo Ball
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LaMelo Ball signed in Australia under the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program and built himself into a high-end draft pick. But he suffered a season-ending foot injury then left his team under criticism from Illawarra Hawks owner Simon Stratford.

What a powerful rebuttal.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Potential No. 1 NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, have purchased his Australian NBL team, the Illawarra Hawks, Jackson told ESPN on Thursday.

“When Melo wants to do stuff in the summertime, we’ll be there,” Jackson said. “We’ll take a tour with his family all over Australia, doing basketball camps and connecting with the youth. He wants to inspire the next generation.

“That’s how he was raised by his family. People have a perception of his father, but he has a heart of gold and it trickles down to his kids. His father didn’t take him on a traditional route. He started his own sneaker company, Big Baller Brand. We’ve always talked about ownership. Melo wants kids to think big, especially in times like this.”

This is a heck of a headline for an 18-year-old.

I’m curious about the details. What share of the franchise do Ball and Jackson now own? How much did it cost? Did they assume debt to complete the deal? How profitable are NBL teams, especially considering coronavirus-caused uncertainty?

But with Lonzo Ball‘s Pelicans season on hold and LaVar Ball losing influence, this at least puts the spotlight back on a Ball.

Report: 76ers happy with GM Elton Brand, who’s drawing Knicks interest

76ers owner Josh Harris and general manager Elton Brand
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The Knicks are reportedly interested in hiring 76ers general manager Elton Brand.

In New York, Brand would work under new Knicks president Leon Rose. Brand holds the top position in Philadelphia’s front office. So, Brand would likely go to New York only if fired by the 76ers.

Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand’s leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

The 76ers are so pleased with Brand… someone said so without under the cloak of anonymity. If he wants to back Brand, 76ers owner Josh Harris can do so publicly. Otherwise, this is so weak.

Teams generally express support toward employees while the employees are still working for the team – whether or not the employees actually hold approval. A key way to tell whether the support is genuine? Check the source. Harris doesn’t want to look like a hypocrite. If he endorses Brand now then fires him soon, Harris would look silly. With this sourcing, nobody would get egg on his or her face if Brand gets ousted, because we don’t know the source.

I bet Brand does have good relationships with everyone. He has long connected well with others.

But his roster-building has fallen flat.

Inertia will probably keep him in his job. Philadelphia overachieving in the playoffs (whatever form they take) – certainly possible – would make that an easier call. It’s just difficult to build an affirmative case for Brand as a team’s lead executive.

Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

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The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.