Doug Collins Wanted to Sign Kwame Brown for Five Years, $30 Million

Doug Collins Wanted to Sign Kwame Brown for Five Years, $30 Million

Sam Hinkie might be some kind of genius, but he’s not a miracle worker. The lone black mark on an otherwise earth-shattering week for the 76ers was Kwame Brown exercising his player option, so get ready for another season of 1.9 points/3.4 rebounds per game at $2.9 million.

Honestly, you should probably just be happy with that. Apparently it could have been worse – much, much worse.

John Mitchell examines what went so terribly awry for the Sixers last season for the Inquirer on Sunday, and aside from the obvious there are some fairly major reveals. We learn one of the doctors who checked out Andrew Bynum’s knees intimated he never cleared the trade. Spoiler alert: a healthy amount of this story is about Bynum (the only healthy thing about Bynum).

But it’s also about Doug Collins and a behind-the-scenes power struggle, one we can all be thankful Collins lost if Mitchell’s accounts are true. According to sources, the departed head coach was the driving force behind the acquisition of Brown – and wanted to pay Kwame a lot more than the modest-by-comparison contract the Sixers ultimately awarded.

Collins, who declined comment for this article, made a push for more power, for control of all player personnel decisions - which at the time was then team president Rod Thorn's responsibility. According to sources with intimate knowledge of the situation, Collins wanted to sign center Kwame Brown to a guaranteed five-year, $30 million deal before the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

Harris, on Thorn's advice, vetoed the signing. Unfortunately for the Sixers, it was revisited.

Collins was still pushing to pick up Brown, who had played just nine games for Golden State before suffering a season-ending injury. Harris this time agreed with the coach and inked him to a one-year, $3 million contract with a $3 million player option, which he exercised on Saturday.

But Brown flopped. Identified by Collins as the team's starting center before Bynum's arrival, Brown had feuded with Collins when they were first paired in Washington early in Brown's career. Despite being initially high on Brown, Collins virtually ignored him once the season heated up. He played in only 22 games, and because of the player optioned that he exercised last week, he will be back.

Even the thought of Kwame Brown for five years at any price, let alone $6 mil per, is so mind-numbingly stupid I almost refuse to believe it could be true. That’s the report though.

Thankfully somebody had the good sense to put a stop to it. Too bad they ever decided to revisit it.

>> The 76ers: What went wrong [Inq]

Update:

Another report says it was four years, $20 million. Which of course is still insane.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).