Brett Brown says he 'misspoke' about Ben Simmons' January timetable

Brett Brown says he 'misspoke' about Ben Simmons' January timetable

MIAMI — Scratch that January timetable for Ben Simmons, at least for now.

Sixers coach Brett Brown said on Friday night that he “misspoke” earlier in the day when he said that Simmons, the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick for 2016, is on schedule to return from foot surgery in January.

This had been the first time the Sixers put a timetable on the return of Simmons, who rolled his ankle when he landed on the foot of another player during an intra-squad scrimmage on Sept. 30.

On Friday night, before the Sixers played the Miami Heat, Brown said he misspoke on Simmons because he was “just getting excited about when he might be able to come back. There were so many dates and speculation that as a coach you sort of hear what you want to hear at times.

“I did mention a January hopeful return, and that was premature. That was a coach doing a lot more wishing than receiving instruction.”

Simmons, a 6-10, 240-pounder from Australia, was the national Freshman of the Year last season at LSU and then decided to bolt for the pros after just one collegiate year.

In six NBA summer league games earlier this year, Simmons averaged 10.8 ponits, 7.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

“We will play this out,” Brown said of Simmons. “Everything is on track with his rehab. It’s only been two weeks since the surgery. Over a short period of time, we will be better prepared to give a statement that will map out his future.”

NBA Notes: Chauncey Billups meets with Cavaliers for 2nd straight day

NBA Notes: Chauncey Billups meets with Cavaliers for 2nd straight day

CLEVELAND -- Chauncey Billups once competed against the Cleveland Cavaliers as a player. He could be joining them as an executive.

Billups met with team owner Dan Gilbert on Wednesday for the second straight day to discuss a front-office position with the Cavaliers, who are regrouping after losing to Golden State in the NBA Finals.

Gilbert could be close to offering a job to Billups, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. Billups is the first person to meet with Gilbert since he parted ways with general manager David Griffin this week when talks about a possible contract extension broke down.

Billups was in Cleveland, but as of 7 p.m. EDT there was no official agreement in place. The 40-year-old is likely weighing whether Cleveland is a good spot for him to begin a new career, given the team's recent upheaval and that superstar LeBron James will be eligible for free agency after next season.

While the Cavaliers are looking for Griffin's replacement after he guided them to three straight Finals, it's believed that Billups would take on a different role, perhaps as the team's director of basketball operations. Trent Redden, who served as the senior vice president of basketball operations, is also not returning next season.

Billups has no previous experience as an NBA executive, but he does have a long-standing relationship with Gilbert from their time together in Detroit and he knows the league well. Billups, who was a five-time All-Star, also is close with Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue (see full story).

Wizards: Frazier acquired from Pelicans for pick
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have acquired point guard Tim Frazier from the New Orleans Pelicans for a second-round pick in the NBA draft.

Wednesday's deal gives the Pelicans the No. 52 overall selection Thursday night.

That was the only pick Washington had this year. Its first-rounder went to Brooklyn in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal at the trade deadline.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Frazier has averaged 6.2 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in three NBA seasons with New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland. He has played in 127 regular-season games, making 40 starts.

Last season, he averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists for the Pelicans in 65 games, including 35 starts.

With Washington, Frazier could be the primary backup to All-Star point guard John Wall.

Lakers: Young declines contract option for next season
LOS ANGELES -- Nick Young will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after declining his $5.66 million contract option for next season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers announced Young's decision Wednesday.

Young has spent four tumultuous seasons with the Lakers, averaging 13.1 points and 2.3 rebounds over 220 games.

The Los Angeles native realized a childhood dream by joining the Lakers, but the 10-year NBA veteran's tenure has coincided with the worst four-year stretch in the 16-time NBA champions' history.

After struggling on the court during the 2015-16 season and enduring upheaval in his personal life due to an infamous video scandal with then-rookie D'Angelo Russell, Young enjoyed a career revival last season under new coach Luke Walton. Young averaged 13.2 points while hitting 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

Hornets: Coach says Howard can return to All-Star level
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is confident he can help newly acquired Hornets center Dwight Howard become a dominant force and an NBA All-Star again.

Clifford is familiar with Howard, having coached him for six seasons as an assistant in Orlando and Los Angeles.

"I know what he has to do to play well," Clifford said Wednesday. "He understands that I know him. I know his game. Being around him in different settings I have a feel for what he likes to do... There is no reason he can't get back to playing at a really high level."

General manager Rich Cho said Clifford's familiarity with Howard is a major reason the Hornets pulled the trigger on a trade that sent guard Marco Belinelli, center Miles Plumlee and the No. 41 overall pick in the NBA draft to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Howard and the No. 31 overall pick. It meant taking on Howard's contract, which will pay him $47 million over the next two seasons.

Now the question becomes if Howard can bounce back from two tumultuous seasons in Atlanta and Houston, and also fit in in Charlotte.

Howard was an NBA All-Star eight straight seasons from 2007-14. But Howard didn't play in the fourth quarter two of Atlanta's first-round playoff games last season, something that irked the 13-year NBA veteran. Atlanta dealt Howard to Charlotte just one year into a three-year, $74 million contract (see full story).

Sixers should pursue Danny Green if Spurs willing to trade

Sixers should pursue Danny Green if Spurs willing to trade

Could Brett Brown and Gregg Popovich's basketball worlds collide in a trade this summer? 

The Spurs are open to trading shooting guard Danny Green, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News on Wednesday. Young pointed out the Spurs are not close to a deal. 

The Sixers should at least pursue a move if it is on the table. 

Green would fit the Sixers' needs: outside shooting, defense and a veteran presence. Last season, Green, who turns 30 on Thursday, averaged 7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shot 37.9 percent from three in 26.6 minutes as a starter. 

Green has averaged 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in his eight-year career. He is a career 42.3 percent shooter from the field and a 40.0 percent shooter from three-point range.

He is set to make an affordable $10 million next season with a player option for the same amount in 2018-19. That's a bargain in today's market and less than what some free agents will be garnering this summer. 

The real hook here, though, is Green's connection with Brown. 

The Sixers head coach was key in Green's development while on the Spurs' staff. Three-point shooting is just as much about mentality and confidence as it is skill. Brown helped boost Green's confidence to go after that open look. 

The following is from a CSNPhilly.com article published in February when the Sixers hosted the Spurs (see full story):

Green joined the Spurs in 2010, already on his second team in as many years after being waived by the Cavaliers.

Brown urged Green, who shot a mere 27.3 percent from long range his rookie season, to keep taking his looks no matter how many times he missed. Green listened and went on to set the record for most three-pointers made in the NBA Finals in 2013. Brown has been instilling the same mantra in Robert Covington on the Sixers.

“Brownie’s amazing,” Green said. “He was always the positive guy and kept things even-keeled. He always told me to shoot the ball every time. … He’s always that guy to brighten up the practice, brighten up the day, made our lives easier for us, made our jobs easier for us.”

...

Brown’s presence was quickly missed when he parted ways to begin his career in Philadelphia.

“When he left and also Bud (Mike Budenholzer) left, it was just different,” Green said. “It was after we lost, it was a tough summer, it was a tough year. ... Until we got back to the playoffs and back to the championship and won it, finally, the whole year was kind of a drag. … Everybody was hard on each other. There was a lot of tension, a lot of hostility, a lot of still thinking about that previous summer, previous year of losing.

“It was very hard and we lost that guy that mediates the locker room and the coaching staff — him and Bud. It was very different until we won it and then it kind of eased up a little bit. But still, since he’s gone, the locker room’s been different.”

“I think he’s the perfect fit for this job to turn things around, keep guys positive, stay above water,” Green said. “If there was any guy to do it throughout a whole season with things going in the opposite direction, it’s him.”

The Sixers traded away a future first-round pick to the Celtics this week but they still have draft assets with which to work (see story).

Looking at the current roster, Nik Stauskas could be appealing to the Spurs. He improved last season to 36.8 percent from three and is a long-range contributor who can play multiple positions. Stauskas also has an expiring contract. 

Then there's the ongoing uncertainty about Jahlil Okafor's future with the Sixers. Center (and former Sixer) Dewayne Dedmon is opting out of his contract with the Spurs to become a free agent. Would they take a look at Okafor at the five spot? 

Again, Young noted the Spurs are not close to a trade. But if the Sixers have any questions about Green's game, Brown is the right person to call.