Brown impressed by Sixers' small crop of vets


Brown impressed by Sixers' small crop of vets

Brett Brown is not looking at the Sixers’ roster through rose-colored glasses.

The new head coach knows he has young players that need to develop. Brown also knows that no player is guaranteed a certain amount of playing time and he will reward guys who compete and play with energy.

“How would you like to be a young guy coming into the Philadelphia 76ers? There really is an abundance of minutes available, there is legitimate court time available,” Brown said. “I mean, I look out there and see only a handful of veterans.”

Brown admitted that Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes will play. He added that it is his job to cultivate Michael Carter-Williams into a valuable NBA point guard.

The rest of the Sixers’ puzzle is a mystery that will begin to unfold when training camp commences Saturday morning at Saint Joseph’s University.

Life as a 76er is new for Carter-Williams, just as things are for Brown in the role of first-time NBA head coach.

However, Young, Turner and Hawes have a combined 15 seasons of NBA experience. Change can be unsettling for veterans, who often don’t enjoy the thought of having to prove themselves all over again.

Fortunately for the team, Brown’s initial experience with the Sixers’ veteran trio has been nothing but positive.

“The thing that has impressed me the most is how curious they are about what I think about something,” Brown said. “They will say, ‘Tell me about this player or what do you think about how we are going to play offense?’ They are enjoyable to talk to and I have empowered them.

“I do look at them the way we used to look at Timmy (Duncan), Tony (Parker) and Manu (Ginobili). When you go into a room and see veteran players who are healthy, I just wrap my arms around them because I want their opinion on a lot of different things. I know what I want to happen, but they know the lay of the land and they deserve to be heard.”

That certainly has to be music to Turner’s ears. True or not, the swingman seemed to be under the guise that he had to conform to what former head Doug Collins laid out in his first three NBA seasons.

Only time will tell if a new voice makes Turner feel differently about his role on the team. To help with that transformation, Brown has some ideas for the Turner to embrace.

“He has a lot of areas he really can blossom,” Brown said. “I think the weight of the city at times and the expectations, like they would anybody, can drown you if you let them. I think it is important that we don’t pay attention to what you write and I hope he is not caring about what goes on Twitter.”

In other words, the former No. 2 overall pick should tune the outside world out.

“We are going to come into a gym and find some way to find a passion for the game again, enjoy playing the game again,” Brown said. “That comes from putting in the time and people putting you on the right road map and telling you the truth about what is going on. We hope to improve his perimeter game, but most of all we hope he finds a real joy to play again.”

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who raised their championship banner before the game, beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener.

James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the game, celebrating the city's first championship in 52 years.

James, who spoke to the crowd before the game, continued his perfect record on ring nights. He was 2-0 when the Miami Heat players were presented with their championship rings.

Irving scored 19 points in the third quarter, when Cleveland used a 20-4 run to take a 74-53 lead. Kevin Love scored 23 for the Cavaliers.

Carmelo Anthony led New York with 19 points and Derrick Rose had 17 (see full recap).

Leonard, Spurs blow out Warriors in Durant's debut
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 35 points and the San Antonio Spurs emphatically spoiled Kevin Durant's long-awaited Warriors debut Tuesday with a 129-100 rout that sent Golden State fans for the exits early on opening night.

Durant had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but little looked in sync for MVP Stephen Curry and the reigning Western Conference champions in a forgettable first game -- and quite a different one after the Warriors dominated at home and came out of the blocks last season with a record 24-0 start.

Leonard scored 31 points by the end of the third, LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and 14 rebounds and Gregg Popovich thoroughly outdid a couple of his close friends on the opposite bench in reigning NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr and top assistant Mike Brown (see full recap).

Yes, San Antonio sent quite a message to the West.

Blazers win 16th straight home opener
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard scored 39 points and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak in home openers to a league-record 16 straight games with a 113-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.

CJ McCollum added 25 points for the Blazers, who trailed 83-77 at the start of the fourth quarter. They were still down 102-99 with under 5 minutes left before McCollum made a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer to give Portland a 104-102 lead.

Lillard made a pair of free throws before nailing a 3-pointer that put Portland up 109-102 with 1:02 left and the Jazz couldn't catch up.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points in his debut with the Jazz and Rodney Hood added 26, including a rim-rattling dunk in the third quarter (see full recap).

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel has had surgery on his sore left knee, and the Sixers have not disclosed a timetable for the disgruntled center's return.

Noel has been out since the team's first preseason game. He initially had a left groin strain before experiencing soreness in the knee during rehab, and it was discovered he had an inflamed plica. 

The team is calling the surgery a "minor elective arthroscopic procedure." It was performed in New York by Dr. Riley J. Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Noel eventually will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to rehab with associate clinical director Kevin Wilk at Champion Sports Medicine.

The Sixers expect to have a timetable for his return once Noel returns to Philadelphia. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is expected to miss three to five weeks. 

This has been a rough preseason for Noel, who hasn't hidden his displeasure with his role on the Sixers' jammed frontcourt. The team has until Oct. 31 to extend his rookie contract but, per a report in the Inquirer earlier this month, the two sides have yet to discuss it.