Around the Atlantic: Knicks' Smith must 'grow up'

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Around the Atlantic: Knicks' Smith must 'grow up'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks coach Mike Woodson says J.R. Smith needs to "grow up and do the right things" after the sixth man was suspended five games by the NBA for violating the anti-drug policy.

Woodson said Wednesday he and the players stand behind Smith, but that they all need to "make sure that he understands it's something that can't happen again."

Smith has been in trouble on and off the court during his career but was credited with showing more maturity last season while winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. Then he received a one-game suspension in the playoffs for foolishly throwing an elbow before getting hit with the five-game ban last month.

Smith is recovering from knee surgery, and Woodson doesn't know when he will be able to return (see full story).

Nets: GM says championship window is 'this season'
DURHAM, N.C. -- Billy King put together this Brooklyn Nets team to win now.

The Nets general manager said Wednesday that he's not worrying yet about the future and is hoping his series of offseason moves helps bring a championship to Brooklyn.

When asked if this team has a 2-year window to compete, King said that "this is the window. This season."

"And we're going to see what we can do with this season and then we'll see what next season brings," King added. "Now that we're within this season, this is the now."

Team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who is due to pay about $80 million in luxury tax, has said his goal was to win a championship within five years of buying the team in 2010 (see full story).

Knicks: Douglas-Roberts deal
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Knicks have signed veteran guard Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Douglas-Roberts played six games for the Dallas Mavericks last season and another 16 for the Texas Legends, their NBA Development League affiliate. He averaged 17.9 points for the Legends.

Douglas-Roberts, a second-round pick of the Nets in 2008, has averaged 7.5 points in 161 games over four seasons with the Nets, Milwaukee and Dallas.

Also Wednesday, the Knicks waived forward Justin Brownlee, whom coach Mike Woodson says could end up playing for the Knicks' D-League affiliate at Erie.

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist. 

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers' abundance of big men lends itself to numerous combinations in the frontcourt.

On Thursday, Nerlens Noel had his first experience playing with Ben Simmons. The center gelled with the rookie forward.

"It's a great duo, I think," Noel said following the morning practice session of training camp at Stockton University.

Noel has been paired with many big men during his career with the Sixers. Last season, he faced the challenge of playing out of position at times with Jahlil Okafor. The logjam prompted him to speak out about the current makeup of the roster (see story).

After playing with Simmons, Noel saw how the two can share the court.

"I think we complement each other very well, especially on the defensive end," Noel said. "He's definitely a lockdown type defender that digs in."

Even though Simmons has yet to play an NBA game, Noel already envisions how he can help the Sixers.

"He just plays basketball the right way," Noel said. "When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."