Sixers Notes: Brown figuring out 'Bomb Squad'

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Sixers Notes: Brown figuring out 'Bomb Squad'

NEWARK, Del. -- Just two months into the job, Sixers coach Brett Brown hasn’t had much difficulty putting together a starting five. Three games into the exhibition season, Brown has settled on Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Thad Young, James Anderson and Michael Carter-Williams as his first five.

That was the easy part.

“I might tinker with it during the preseason, but I don’t need to,” Brown said. “I feel the need to play more of the bench guys and the young guys to see what we have there. I’ll persevere with that starting group and give them as much court time as I can.”

The trick will be for the coach to figure out the rest of his rotation. Tony Wroten, the 6-foot-6 guard, is the first man off the bench. But after that, Brown hasn’t quite figured out which players work well together.

And he’s not really in a hurry to find out.

Prior to Friday night’s exhibition game against the Boston Celtics at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center (see Instant Replay), Brown said one of the objectives for the game was sizing up the second unit.

“If you look at that group it’s kind of like The Bomb Squad,” Brown said. “They come in with reckless abandon, they don’t know what they don’t know and it gets even a little more trickier with Royce (White). We haven’t seen him and it’s all guesswork for me when I see those young guys come in with the second group.”

Brown went with Wroten, Darius Morris and White as his first players off the bench and used 12 players during the opening half. Getting time for the bench players hasn’t been difficult for Brown. Finding the right mix will be a challenge.

“It hasn’t been hard,” Brown said. As long as I know my first wave of subs and you manage it, then you go with gut feel and you try to end games with guys you think can win games.”

It wasn’t always that way. Brown says when he was coaching in Australia that he used to script out his substitutions before the game. Over time he learned he didn’t need to micromanage the game so much. Instead, because Brown likes to run an up-tempo offense, he bases his sub routines on whether or not his players are tired.

“I’m so focused on fatigue. They aren’t running like we want to run or guard how we want to guard for whatever reason,” Brown said. “I don’t like subbing for mistakes at this stage of the season because I want to help them and I want them to learn, but I do sub for fatigue reasons.”

In other words, Brown lets the game play out naturally before sticking his thumbprint on it.

White gets active
Like everyone else, Brown wanted to see how much ballyhooed rookie White handled his first action with the Sixers.

After a run of two-minutes, 42 seconds in the first quarter, White made his presence felt.

Literally.

White picked up four fouls in less than three minutes. In the third quarter, White was on the floor for less than three minutes before picking up his fifth foul.

He was busy.

In a little more than eight minutes, White had a dunk, a layup, a foul shot, three rebounds, a steal and a pair of turnovers.

“That’s the deepest I’ve ever gotten in a short amount of time,” White said. “I had four in two minutes. That’s unheard of. That’s unprecedented.”

But it was preseason and Brown allowed White to get some minutes. More than anything, White needed to run.

“That was great,” White said. “It was like a dream come true all over again. I played in one preseason game last year, but it’s been so long. It felt great.”

The 6-foot-9 rookie also saw some action at the five-spot on the floor. Before the game, Brown was asked where White’s natural position is.

“Four, maybe five. He’s strong enough to play five,” Brown said. “He reminds me of [Spurs forward] DeJuan Blair. He’s strong enough that he can play behind and not get manhandled, but clever enough where he could create problems for a natural five.”

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the most consistent NBA teams for nearly 20 years. They have made 19 consecutive postseason trips and won five championships during that span. 

The Sixers, on the other hand, are entering a phase of building a new foundation with a group of young players. They are working to improve upon a 10-win season, let alone making the playoffs.

Yet four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili saw more than records when weighing his options in free agency. The veteran point guard looked to the Sixers sidelines and was intrigued.

Head coach Brett Brown previously worked in the Spurs basketball operations department and on the coaching staff under Gregg Popovich. He was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. When the Sixers approached Ginobili this offseason, he gave them consideration before returning to the Spurs, where he has spent his entire 14-year career.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical on Thursday. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

The Sixers reportedly offered Ginobili, 38, a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal worth around $30 million. The Spurs first offered him a one-year, $3 million contract. Ginobili ended up re-signing with the Spurs for one-year, $14 million. 

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili said. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.”

Ginobili averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 19.6 minutes coming off the bench last season. The Sixers are adding veteran leadership, and Ginobili is one of the most experienced in the game. In addition to his reliability at the position, he could have been a mentor to the entire team and worked with Ben Simmons to help hone his point guard skills as the rookie big man plays point-forward. His years of international competition would have gelled with incoming players such as Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Sergio Rodriguez. 

The Sixers signed point guards Jerryd Bayless (three years, $27 million) and Rodriguez (one year, $8 million) this summer. T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall still are under contract. Last season's starting point guard Ish Smith signed with the Pistons at the start of free agency.