Can Brown build culture like mentor Popovich?

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Can Brown build culture like mentor Popovich?

They went to dinner the other night -- shared stories, told jokes, reminisced. It was just like old times. They’ve had a lot of those together.

Brett Brown was an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for years. They have been friends for so long that Popovich couldn’t recall when he knew Brown was ready to lead his own NBA team.

“I’ve known him for way too long to remember,” Popovich said. “He’s got a great personality, a great energy and exuberance about him. He has a love for the game and a love for people, and it shows in everything that he does. He’ll infect the players with that, and they will respond. And over time, you’ll all be very happy.”

Time. They talked a lot about that on Monday -- about all the time Popovich has put in with the Spurs and all the time Brown still has to put in with the Sixers. Popovich has been the head coach in San Antonio since the 1996-97 season. His first year, the Spurs won 17 games. The next year, they won 56.

Popovich’s teams have won 50 or more games in 15 of the last 17 seasons. They would have done it in 1998-99, too, except it was a strike shortened 50-game campaign. (The Spurs won 37 games that year.) They have won the NBA championship four times under Popovich. Brown was there for all of them.

The victories and the titles would be nice, but when Brown was asked what he would like to borrow from San Antonio and bring to Philadelphia, he didn’t hesitate.

“The opportunity to build a culture,” Brown said on a night when the Spurs smacked the Sixers, 109-85, at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay). “You look at that team, and I’m watching them play the New York Knicks [on Sunday], and they’re bringing Kawhi Leondard, Manu Ginobli and Tiago Splitter off the bench. Now, you’ve got some gold medalists in there. You’ve got future All-Stars in Kawhi. You’ve got a lot of talent just rolling in off the bench ... they’ve had the opportunity to build a culture.”

That last part was important. In case anyone was confused by his meaning -- or by the fact that the Sixers have surprised people by winning half of their games so far -- Brown explained.

“You don’t use the word culture without respect for what it really means,” he continued. “People kick around that word like it’s a word. It takes time. Never can you associate culture without applying longevity. There’s been a length of time that that group has been with each other. They’re veteran. They’re men. They’re Hall of Famers. They’re gold medalists. You’ve got a Hall of Fame coach. It’s just a machine. That thing just chugs along and moves along and they’ll bang out another 50 [wins] this year and be amongst the NBA’s best again and again.”

Unless the Sixers go from early-season surprise to late-season mind-blowers, they will not win 50 games or be among the NBA’s best this year. The Spurs are in the advanced stages of culture cultivation. The Sixers are in the embryonic phase. As Brown said, the Spurs have men and Hall of Famers and the Sixers are trying to develop youngsters like Michael Carter-Williams -- and whichever players they pluck with all those draft picks they’ve stockpiled.

It will take time. Luck too. The Spurs have been at it a while, but you don’t get to be at it a while -- you don’t get the longevity necessary to build a culture -- unless you’re fortunate enough to land quality talent.

“This is repetition a million times,” Popovich said. “What we did is, we didn’t screw it up. We’ve had a lot of good fortune. When you can have David [Robinson] in your program and you’re fortunate enough to draft Tim Duncan to follow him, you’re talking about a couple of decades of possible success, obviously, if you don’t screw it up. I try to leave it at that. We don’t know anything that other people don’t know. But with those guys as the base of an organization for 20 years, anybody would love to have that good fortune.”

It has been a good start for Carter-Williams, but the Sixers are a long way from knowing what sort of player he’ll be over his career. They’re even further from knowing about Nerlens Noel and whomever they end up drafting or adding next year and beyond. Time and luck. Building a culture with the Sixers was never going to be easy. Brown knew it all along.

“When you see that, the undercurrent behind the scenes [with the Spurs], is detail and pride for day-to-day work,” Brown said. “That’s in all areas. It’s not just what you do on a court. It’s how you act in all capacities and how you build a program -- from general managers to equipment managers to head coaches to trainers, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

And there, once more, just to fully explain himself, just to make sure there was no confusion about the heavy lifting ahead and all the backs it might break, Brown clarified.

“The program is looking for A’s,” Brown said, “not B-pluses.”

Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot headline Sixers' summer league roster

Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot headline Sixers' summer league roster

The Sixers set their roster for the upcoming summer leagues in Utah and Las Vegas. The squad is compiled of incoming rookies, returning roster players and free agents. 

First overall pick Ben Simmons will headline the roster. Twenty-fourth pick Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will also play for the Sixers. Twenty-sixth pick Furkan Korkmaz is not going to participate. 

T.J. McConnell, Richaun Holmes and Christian Wood, who played for the Sixers last season, will play. The only other player with NBA experience is James Nunnally. He played for the Sixers and Hawks during the 2013-14 season.

The roster is rounded out by Bryon Allen, Javon McCrea, Alex Caruso, Maodo Lo, James Webb III, Kwame Vaughn, Levi Randolph, Shawn Long and Tomasz Gielo. Caruso, Gielo, Lo, Long, and Webb III worked out for the Sixers before the draft. 

The Sixers will begin summer league action on July 4 in Utah at 7 p.m. against the Celtics. The next day they face San Antonio at 5 p.m., and on Thursday they play the Jazz at 9 p.m. All will be live on TCN and re-aired on CSN.

Assistant coaches Billy Lange will coach the Utah squad and Lloyd Pierce will coach in Las Vegas. 

The roster:

• Bryon Allen, guard, George Mason
• Alex Caruso, guard, Texas A&M
• Tomasz Gielo, forward, Mississippi
• Richaun Holmes, forward, Bowling Green
• Maodo Lo, guard, Columbia 
• Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, guard, France
• Javon McCrea, forward, Buffalo
• T.J. McConnell, guard, Arizona
• James Nunnally, forward, UC Santa Barbara
• Shawn Long, forward, Louisiana Lafayette
• Levi Randolph, guard, Alabama
• Ben Simmons, forward, LSU
• Kwame Vaughn, guard, Cal State Fullterton
• James Webb III, forward, Boise State
• Christian Wood, forward, UNLV

Source: Sixers to sign veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless

Source: Sixers to sign veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless

The Sixers have been in need of a veteran point guard, and it looks like they have found one on the first day of free agency.

A league source confirmed the Sixers have reached a deal to sign guard Jerryd Bayless. According to the Associated Press, the deal is worth $27 million over three years.  

Bayless, 27, is entering his ninth NBA season. Last season, he played for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 10.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game. Bayless shot 42.3 percent from the field and a career-high 43.7 percent from three. He ranked fifth in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season.

The point guard role is unique for the Sixers. First overall pick Ben Simmons can play point-forward. While the Sixers will start him out at the four spot, eventually he will assume some point guard responsibilities as he develops in the NBA. Bayless is a good fit for this situation because he doesn't need to dominate the ball. He also gives the Sixers versatility in the backcourt with his ability to shoot. 

The Sixers have struggled to find consistency at this position. Last season, they went through a pool of point guards before trading for Ish Smith in December. That acquisition wasn’t meant as a long-term solution, and Smith reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Pistons on Friday (see story).

The Sixers will be Bayless' seventh team. He previously played for the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Raptors, Grizzlies, Celtics and Bucks. Bayless was the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft.

When Bayless played in Toronto in 2010-11 and 2011-12, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was the Raptors' president and general manager. This is Colangelo's first free-agent signing with the Sixers. 

Source: Sixers to hire former head coach Jim O'Brien as assistant

Source: Sixers to hire former head coach Jim O'Brien as assistant

The Sixers are going to hire former head coach Jim O'Brien as an assistant coach on Brett Brown's staff, a league source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato. 

FOX29's Howard Eskin was the first to report the hire. 

O'Brien, 64, was the Sixers' head coach back in 2004-05, when he led the team to a 43-39 record. He was the Celtics' head coach from 2000-2004 and the Pacers' head coach from 2007-2011. In his nine years as an NBA head coach, he has a 303-327 record. 

O'Brien, who is from Philadelphia and went to Roman Catholic, last coached in the NBA as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks in 2012-13.