Michael Curry hasn't yet interviewed with Sixers

michael-curryuspw.jpg

Michael Curry hasn't yet interviewed with Sixers

ORLANDO – The Sixers’ coaching search continues with each passing day and does so in relative secrecy.

Thirteen head coaching vacancies have opened up this offseason and 12 of those jobs have been filled.

The Sixers remain the lone opening and figuring out whom the franchise will tab is anyone’s guess.

Michael Curry served as Doug Collins’ associate head coach. Curry was head coach of the Detroit Pistons in 2008-09 and finished the season with 39-43 record before being fired.

Curry has a year left on his contract along with other assistants Jeff Capel and Aaron McKie. Curry was given the reigns to coach the Sixers’ team in the Orlando Pro Summer League. However, he has not formally interviewed for the position with president and general manager Sam Hinkie.

“Sam and I, we have talked about it. Sometime after the summer league it will happen,” Curry said after the Sixers’ 74-62 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday. “I knew that when he and I first talked that it was going to be a long process and I am under contract, so I said I will be here working every day.

“I said you let me know when you want to talk, and to me every day that you are working you are doing an interview. That is how I have approached it, just go to work every day.”

A year ago, Curry interviewed for the Orlando Magic head coaching position before Jacque Vaughn was hired. This offseason, Curry also interviewed with Milwaukee before Larry Drew was named the Bucks’ new head coach.

Curry is meticulous with his craft. He is definitely a teacher and holds professionalism in high regard. Curry talks to the media daily following each summer league contest and always has the big picture in mind in addition to comments about the game.

“Guys are going to have to play hard and compete every time out on the court,” Curry said. “You can’t make a lot of mental mistakes, especially when you get fatigued. With young guys that is always the challenge, to play through fatigue.

“We have had a lot of practices in the morning and then coming here. But we are not going to let up on them. We are using these 10 days to push them and really identify what they need to work on and they can really identify how hard it is going to be to be successful in this league.”

Curry’s words sound similar to those Hinkie has used when talking about player development, suggesting the two share similar philosophies about how the team should move forward.

Meanwhile sports columnist Peter Vecsey tweeted Wednesday that a source said Hinkie is considering hiring Lloyd Pierce as head coach.

Pierce is an assistant coach with the Grizzlies. He previously worked with the Cavaliers and Warriors in player development. He played his college basketball at Santa Clara, graduating in 1998 and began his coaching career at his alma mater as an assistant in 2003 after spending one year as the program’s director of basketball operations.

One NBA source said Pierce is a highly valued player development guy, but that he would be shocked if the Sixers hired him as their head coach.

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."