NBA Notes: Ewing still eyes head coaching job

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NBA Notes: Ewing still eyes head coaching job

The Sixers were able to land what was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in last month's NBA draft by trading for Nerlens Noel. However, the team had other plans in place in case it couldn't acquire the Kentucky big man (see story).

That's just the latest sign of big ideas flowing from a revamped front office that is all business (see story).

Now, let's look at some news and notes from around the NBA:

Bobcats: Ewing not angry about being passed over
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As a player Patrick Ewing never envisioned himself as an NBA head coach.

Now he can't wait to become one.

The Hall of Famer who played 17 seasons in the NBA and has spent nine more as an assistant coach said he's not angry about being passed over again for a head coaching job.

The 50-year-old Ewing said it's only going to drive him to work harder to reach that ultimate goal.

"Every now and again I'm discouraged, but I look at it like, `Hey, I'm going to keep on working," Ewing told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Right now I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be coaching in the league. Every experience is a learning experience" (see full story).

-The Associated Press

Rockets: Team fined $150K for Howard comments
NEW YORK -- The Houston Rockets talked too much, too soon about Dwight Howard.

A league spokesman confirms the team and its personnel were fined $150,000 by the NBA for comments made about the All-Star center during the moratorium period.

Howard committed to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and join the Rockets on Friday, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey gave an interview later that night with Comcast SportsNet Houston in which he talked about the recruitment and landing of him. Coach Kevin McHale also discussed Howard over the weekend at the Orlando Summer League.

Though free agency opened July 1, deals can't become official until Wednesday, after the 2013-14 salary cap is set.

ESPN.com first reported the fine.

-The Associated Press

NBA: Salary cap set at $58.7 million
NEW YORK -- The NBA has set next season's salary cap at $58.7 million, paving the way for contracts to be signed starting Wednesday.

The tax level is $71.7 million, with harsher penalties starting this season for teams that exceed it. Teams formerly paid $1 for every $1 they were over, but the penalties now start at $1.50 per dollar for teams up to $4.9 million over, with increases from there.

Contracts such as the one Dwight Howard agreed to with Houston couldn't be signed during the league's moratorium period while the cap was calculated.

The cap is a slight increase from this season's $58 million.

The mid-level exception for non-taxpayers is $5.15 million. It's $3.2 million for teams over the tax, and there's a mid-level worth $2.7 million for teams with room under the salary cap.

-The Associated Press

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

It never happened between Magic Johnson's Lakers and Larry Bird's Celtics. Same for Michael Jordan and Karl Malone or Jerry West and Bill Russell.

While there have been 14 rematches in NBA Finals history, this year's meeting between LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors will be the first trilogy in league history.

After the Warriors beat the Cavs for their first title in 40 years in 2015, Cleveland got revenge last season with a comeback from 3-1 down to give the city its first major championship since 1964. Now they meet for the rubber match starting June 1 in Oakland.

While this may be unprecedented in the NBA, it has happened once before in the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball with matchups that included some of those sports' biggest stars.

There was Babe Ruth vs. Frankie Frisch in the 1920s and then a pair of memorable three-peat matchups in the 1950s featuring Otto Graham against Bobby Layne in the NFL and Gordie Howe against Maurice Richard in the NHL.

Warriors: Durant once team’s 2nd choice
Truth be told, Golden State's former coach wasn't sure the Warriors needed Kevin Durant.

The Warriors were already small-ball sensations, capable of piling up the points with their daring drives and sizzling shooting. So rather than add another scorer, Don Nelson figured Golden State might be better off getting a dominant man in the middle to shore up the defense in the 2007 NBA draft.

Nelson thought the Warriors needed Greg Oden.

That was 10 years ago, leading up to the heavily hyped draft in which the Oden-Durant debate raged throughout basketball. And now, as Durant leads the league's most potent team into the NBA Finals while Oden is long gone from the NBA spotlight, it's easy to forget that a lot of people agreed with Nelson.

"I think everyone felt that there were two players there that were going to be prominent players, but one thing you can't count on is injuries," Warriors executive Jerry West said. "So Greg really never had a chance to have a career, where Kevin's obviously been more than advertised."

Celtics: Thomas unsure if he’ll need surgery
Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas wanted to keep playing in the Eastern Conference finals, but team doctors and officials convinced him he needed to shut down his season for his long-term health.

"They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what's more important," Thomas said Friday, a day after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. "But I definitely wasn't trying to hear that at that point in time."

Thomas injured the hip in March and aggravated it in the second-round series against Washington. He played three halves against the Cavaliers before limping off the court in the middle of Game 2.

The Celtics lost that game by 44 points to fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, then announced the next day that Thomas was done for the season. Still, they beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland the next game before falling easily in Games 4 and 5.

"Eastern Conference finals, that's the biggest stage I've ever been on," Thomas said at the team's practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. "To not be able to go back out there in that second half and continue that series was painful. Like it hurt me."

Speaking for the first time since the end of his season, Thomas said he might need surgery but it's "not the No. 1 option right now." He will have to wait for more tests until the swelling goes down, he said (see full story).

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.