Sixers standing by amid flurry of NBA moves

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Sixers standing by amid flurry of NBA moves

What an awesome weekend it was with one of the sporting world’s greatest events in our very own backyard.

The U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club featured great entertainment and drama on a course that truly is a gem. Phil Mickelson finished as runner-up for a sixth time at the U.S. Open. Mickelson showed tremendous class throughout and was truly forthcoming in his post-tournament comments regarding his “heartbreak” of finishing second in another Open (see story).

Listening to Mickelson makes you wonder why more people in the sports world aren’t willing to tell the truth?

The Sixers played their last game of the 2012-13 regular season exactly two months ago. Their head coach stepped down one day later, and in early May, Sam Hinkie became the organization’s new president and general manager.

Since then the franchise has drifted into silence. The Sixers have conducted all their pre-draft workouts behind closed doors. If they have interviewed possible coaching candidates, they have done so in relative secrecy.

Hinkie believes the less he says about which prospects the Sixers like, the more he will be able to wheel and deal on draft night. He may be right, but giving fans nothing to talk about is a mistake.

The splash the Sixers made last summer when they traded for Andrew Bynum went so awry that it is hard not to view as one of the worst trades in NBA history. Couple that with a roster that lacks stardom outside of Jrue Holiday and seven free agents to replace or re-sign with $11 to $15 million, and it can be hard for even the most loyal Sixers fans to get excited about the direction of the team.

While team after team conducts coaching searches -- 11 other coaching changes have been made since the end of the regular season -- Doug Collins’ replacement remains an unknown. Brooklyn thought outside the box when it hired Jason Kidd last week and the Los Angeles Clippers are stealing headlines now by reportedly trying to trade for Boston’s Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett.

By the time July rolls around, the NBA draft will be complete. The Sixers will have used the 11th, 35th and 42nd overall picks or traded them away. A coach will likely be in place and free agency will be in season.

That will be a lot of news for a team that has spent the last two months being so quiet. For the Sixers, it’s been a little too quiet.

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.