Brown impressed by Sixers' small crop of vets

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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.”

Sixers free-agent fits: Point guards

Sixers free-agent fits: Point guards

Over the course of this week, we will look at the Sixers' free-agent possibilites at each position. First up is point guard.

Sixers point guards for 2016-17
T.J. McConnell (non-guaranteed, $874,636)

Kendall Marshall (non-guaranteed, $2,048,257)

Current PG situation
The Sixers' biggest hole is at the point guard spot. Brett Brown has deemed this position the most important on the court, yet it has been the most changing. 

Last season, the Sixers did not establish a consistent starting point guard until they re-acquired Ish Smith in December. Smith wasn't brought in as the long-term point guard of the future, though. He is an unrestricted free agent again this summer and should receive interest from other teams after a solid season stepping into the starting role. 

There are several young point guards on the market, but the Sixers would benefit the most from bringing in someone with veteran experience to be a leader on the court. While incoming rookie Ben Simmons can play point-forward, the team plans to start him off at the four spot and let him learn the NBA first before assigning him ball-handling duties. With that in mind, a good free-agent fit would be able to play off the ball when Simmons does run the floor. 

Of the current players, McConnell has developed into a backup option after emerging as the sleeper of last season's team. The Sixers would be getting a bargain with his contract value (see below). The sparingly-utilized Marshall has a non-guaranteed deal at just over $2 million for next season and the team could get more return spending that money elsewhere. 

Reach free agent
Mike Conley (unrestricted)

Even in spite of his injuries, Conley is the best point guard available in free agency. He averaged 15.3 points, 6.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 turnovers for the Grizzlies last season. Conley has a high basketball IQ and is playoff-tested. He will garner big money on the market, and the Sixers are not necessarily looking to break the bank this summer to fill the role. Conley could stay with the Grizzlies, who put together a Justin Timberlake-led video to express their interest in keeping him. He will turn 29 in October. 

Possible fits
Matthew Dellavedova (restricted, $1,434,095 qualifying offer)
Could there be another Australian on the Sixers next season? Brown, who coached there, is a fan of Dellavedova's game. Dellavedova, 25, averaged 7.5 points, 4.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds for the championship-winning Cavaliers. Dellavedova could have double value to the Sixers: he could run the floor and give Simmons a sense of familiarity being from Australia. 

Jeremy Lin (unrestricted)
Lin was a backup for the Hornets last season and could earn a paycheck this summer as a starter. He would like to find a long-term team, which may not fit into the Sixers' plans for the future. Lin, though, does have six years of experience and averaged 11.7 points, 3.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds mostly off the bench for the Hornets. 

Greivis Vasquez (unrestricted)
Vasquez's sixth season was cut short after only 23 games because of foot surgery last December. Coming off of injury, could he be available at a discount? When healthy, he is a high-energy ball handler. Vasquez averaged 5.7 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game last season. 

Ben Simmons favorite to win Rookie of Year, Joel Embiid not far behind

Ben Simmons favorite to win Rookie of Year, Joel Embiid not far behind

Last week, the Sixers used the No. 1 overall pick to take Ben Simmons out of LSU. 

This week, Simmons is the favorite to be the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 2017, according to Bovada

Simmons, 6-10, 242 pounds, beat out Buddy Hield (11/2), Brandon Ingram (13/2), Kris Dunn (15/2) and Jamal Murray and Denzel Valentine (both 12/1) among the top six. 

Right after them? Joel Embiid. Embiid was the Sixers' third overall pick in 2014, but foot injuries haven't allowed him to play in either of his first two NBA seasons. Now 22, Embiid's odds to become Rookie of the Year are 14/1. 

The last Sixer to win Rookie of the Year was Michael Carter-Williams in 2013-14. He was the last since Allen Iverson in 1996-97. 

Here are this year's full Rookie of the Year odds from Bovada:  

Ben Simmons (PHI)

13/4

Buddy Hield (NO)

11/2

Brandon Ingram (LAL)  

13/2

Kris Dunn (MIN)    

15/2

Jamal Murray (DEN) 

12/1

Denzel Valentine (CHI) 

12/1

Joel Embiid (PHI) 

14/1

Wade Baldwin (MEM)

16/1

Marquese Chriss (PHO) 

16/1

Thon Maker (MIL)     

16/1

Taurean Prince (ATL)      

16/1

Dragan Bender (PHO)    

20/1

Jaylen Brown (BOS)

20/1

Brice Johnson (LAC)   

20/1

Caris LeVert (BKN)   

20/1

Malachi Richardson 

20/1

Jakob Poeltl (TOR)    

25/1

Domantas Sabonis (OKC) 

28/1

 

Cousin of Sixers' Ben Simmons killed in hit-and-run accident Saturday

Cousin of Sixers' Ben Simmons killed in hit-and-run accident Saturday

The cousin of Sixers No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons was killed in a hit-and-run accident early Saturday morning.

Zachary Simmons, 21, was struck by a black SUV around 3:30 a.m., CBS New York initially reported. Ben Simmons confirmed the death of his cousin on Twitter.

Zachary Simmons' mother, Monique Steel, said she was told by police that the driver was going at least 70 miles an hour. She also told CBS2 in New York that her son was out Friday for a friend's birthday and was celebrating the night before with his first cousin, Ben, following the NBA draft.

Investigators are analyzing pieces of the SUV and checking surveillance video in attempt to find the driver.

Ben Simmons, a native of Australia, has roots in New York where his father Dave was born.