NBA Notes: Garnett out at least one week

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NBA Notes: Garnett out at least one week

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston's Kevin Garnett is expected to miss at least a week with inflammation in his left ankle as the Celtics practice patience with their 36-year-old star.

Coach Doc Rivers, preparing his team for a playoff run, said on Monday he doesn't think Garnett will be out for the long term.

"I don't know what long term is," Rivers said before practice. "If you mean that he's not going to play this year, no, I don't worry about that. But can he miss four or five games? Yeah, that's possible."

Garnett sat out Saturday night's 110-106 loss at Memphis and will miss Tuesday night's home game against the New York Knicks, Rivers said. The Celtics' busy stretch continues Wednesday night at Cleveland, Friday night at home against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday night at New York and Monday at Minnesota.

Boston general manager Danny Ainge wasn't sure how much time Garnett would miss.

"I think that it's not longer than three weeks or it could be a week," he said. "I'll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he's really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway," (see full story).

Royce White back with D-League team
HOUSTON -- Royce White is back with the Houston Rockets' developmental league affiliate, five days after he left the team.

White announced on Twitter that he had returned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and that a "miscommunication" with the Rockets had been cleared up. He said last week that he had left the team and returned to Houston on the advice of a team doctor.

The Rockets had no comment on White's departure last week or his return.

White has played in 12 games for the Vipers, averaging 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. He was a first-round pick (16th overall) last summer and has yet to play for the Rockets.

Qualcomm CEO joins Sacramento bid to keep Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Add another investor to the group Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is assembling to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle.

Johnson announced Monday night that Paul Jacobs, CEO of the international technology company Qualcomm, has agreed to become part of the Sacramento bid. Jacobs joins a group that includes billionaire investor Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and TIBCO Software CEO Vivek Ranadive.

Sacramento city officials reached a preliminary agreement Saturday with the investment group for a new $447 million downtown arena. The City Council is planning to vote on the non-binding term sheet Tuesday night.

Sacramento is hoping to block a bid by a group that has a pending purchase agreement to buy the Kings from the Maloof family and move the team to Seattle. The NBA Board of Governors is expected to make a decision by the end of its April 18-19 meetings.

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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."