76ers

Brett Brown defends himself and Jimmy Butler

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Brett Brown defends himself and Jimmy Butler

Brett Brown did his best Saturday night to put out the fire caused by a report that came out Friday.

The report said that Jimmy Butler had “aggressively challenged” Brown and the Sixers’ offense. It also mentioned a film session in Portland that was described as “disrespectful.”

Brown knew the film session that was described in the article, but his version seemed to differ.

In that film session that was referenced, I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line. And if it did, it would’ve been dealt with quickly. People speculating about an argument or some type of ‘aggressive disagreement’ — if it were I would own it. I think that from his standpoint, that is unfair. I’ve had many conversations that with other players over my years coaching that would warrant that type of description. This wasn’t one of them for me.

The offenses that Butler played in before he arrived in Philadelphia were much different than Brown’s. Butler was heavily involved in pick-and-rolls and in isolation. The pick-and-roll is something the Sixers don’t run much of. In fact, they ran the least amount of pick-and-rolls of any team in the league last season.

The team prefers to run dribble handoffs and has had tons of success running them with Joel Embiid and JJ Redick. Brown said Butler flat out doesn’t like dribble handoffs.

This, as Brown acknowledged, was one of the points of contention. While Brown conceded that he could do a better job getting Butler in situations he’s more comfortable in, he’s not going to change his offense too much, because it’s working.

“So that we don’t get too twisted about this pick-and-roll thing, there is truth to that, but not to the point that, ‘Oh, now we gotta run 20.’ It’s not going to happen,” Brown said. “We have other things going on in our offense. We’re the second-best offensive team in the NBA while [Butler’s] on the floor. We have the third-most wins, we have the most wins in the league since last Christmas. We’re doing OK.”

Brown spoke to reporters for roughly 20 minutes and was steadfast in defending his team, his offense and Butler. He does have a point in that the Sixers, while flawed, have been doing just fine. They were only three games out of the top spot in the East heading into Saturday night's game vs. the Mavericks. That’s with an underwhelming bench and three stars trying to figure out how to play together.

Getting star players to gel doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in 21 games, either. To Brown’s credit, he took ownership of the situation.

“This year, we’re better. Jimmy Butler makes us better — none of us can deny that,” Brown said. “And so that ecosystem and challenge, if you can get it right, comes with a hell of a lot of reward.

“So this is the mission, this is my job. There is nobody trying harder to figure this out than I am. I’ve got a lot of support around me with my staff. I speak just like I’m speaking to you with my players. And we will or we won’t. We will or we won’t. But I believe that we will. And I believe that the rewards once we do, the rewards are significant, shared by all.”

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NBA owners reportedly expected to approve plan for return

NBA owners reportedly expected to approve plan for return

Updated, Wednesday, 3 p.m.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, NBA commissioner Adam Silver intends to propose a 22-team plan to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA's Board of Governors has a call at 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday and is expected to approve Silver's plan. 

Silver is targeting a date of July 31 to resume play, per Charania. The season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What exactly would a 22-team return look like? Each team would play eight regular-season games to determine playoff seeding, and the six teams outside of those in a playoff position at the moment would be the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards, Wojnarowski reported.

According to Yahoo Sports' Vince Goodwill, teams would continue with their schedule as originally planned. If a team is slated to play one of the eight teams not included, it would move on to the next game on its schedule. The Sixers had a relatively easy remaining schedule, so the elimination of non-contending teams would be a slight negative for them. They had a stretch of games set for March 19-26 against Charlotte, Atlanta, Minnesota and Chicago.

Here's what their remaining schedule could look like, based on Goodwill's reporting:

Vs. Indiana 
Vs. Washington
Vs. Toronto 
Vs. Phoenix 
Vs. Portland 
Vs. Houston
At Washington
Vs. Orlando 

At 39-26, the Sixers are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. While they're 8.5 games ahead of the Nets, the seventh seed, the Sixers could have an opportunity to rise in the standings. The final regular-season games could also impact the Sixers in the NBA draft. The team owns Oklahoma City's first-round pick, but that selection is top-20 protected, meaning it won't convey if the Thunder don't finish with one of the league's 10 best records.

There would be a play-in tournament if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed at the end of the regular season, Charania reported. If that's not the case, the eight seed would go straight to the playoffs. That won't apply to the Sixers, since they're not on the playoff bubble.

Still, the play-in tournament might impact the probability of early upsets, one way or another. It remains to be seen whether a team performing well in the play-in tournament would carry over to the playoffs, or whether it would be adversely impacted by the extra games played. Both factors could have an influence. 

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Sixers' Tobias Harris delivers strong message about racism, police brutality in personal essay

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Sixers' Tobias Harris delivers strong message about racism, police brutality in personal essay

In an essay published Wednesday morning in The Players’ Tribune, Tobias Harris delivered a strong message about racism and police brutality in America while also providing insight into how his perceptions about race have been shaped. 

The piece is headlined, “Y’all Hear Us, But You Ain’t Listening.” Harris begins by framing the conversation about the death of 46-year-old black man George Floyd, who was killed last week in police custody when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the three other officers on the scene were fired but haven’t been charged.

“But if we gon’ talk about what happened to George Floyd,” Harris writes, “there needs to be a baseline acknowledgement of the reality: A white police officer killed an unarmed black man, and he was able to do it in broad daylight, with three other cops watching, because of the color of his skin.

“And don’t reply to me with, ‘Oh, but this person did this.’ Don’t try and make excuses, or say this isn’t about race. In a lot of my conversations with white people lately, I’m getting that statement over and over again: ‘Let’s stop making this about race.’” 

Harris draws a sharp juxtaposition between President Donald Trump’s characterization of protestors against stay-at-home orders in place because of the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's language about protestors who have marched around the country in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. 

Last month, armed men took over the steps of Michigan’s capitol building. To protest the QUARANTINE.

And what did the President call them?

'Good people.'

But we go out and protest that another black life has been taken senselessly, and we’re 'THUGS.'

Come on.

This is why black Americans are angry.

Harris writes that “the killing of Trayvon Martin was a turning point for me.” 

“When he was killed, all because he looked ‘suspicious’ for wearing a black hoodie at night in his own neighborhood, I realized that that could have been my brother,” he writes. “Once you really sit with that, it’s a really scary feeling. I had to get out of my own NBA bubble, and understand that there’s a different world out there. Not everybody can get in a nice car every day, drive to work, come home, work out, and be O.K. People go through different s---. Every. Single. Day. I had to come to grips with that.”

He later reflects on the obligation he feels to speak on behalf of black people who don’t play in the NBA or have celebrity status and cites the late Muhammad Ali as an inspiration.

The way I look at it? If people in my community are oppressed, then so am I. Shout out to Muhammad Ali, one of the biggest role models in my life, for showing the way. He was never scared to take a stand against INJUSTICE.

"I’ve also had to get uncomfortable in knowing who I am — knowing that, yeah, I made it to the NBA, and that’s changed some things for me in terms of how I’m treated. I don’t have it the same as the next person. I’ve come to grips with the fact that yes, I’m black, but that dude that’s getting pulled over by a cop in his car, he don’t have the luxury of that officer recognizing him.

"That’s the problem. The difference between a cop recognizing you or not shouldn’t be life or death. 

Harris says he’s glad he protested on Saturday in Philadelphia after regretting a missed opportunity to march in Orlando in 2013, about a year after Martin’s death.

“On Saturday in Philly, it was about a togetherness of people pushing out a message. And that message was really about respect. It was about people respecting others, and understanding their hurt and their pain.”

Another interesting topic Harris covers is the deficiencies he sees in what kids are taught about black history, and his individual efforts to fill in knowledge gaps. He also covers his own work mentoring young people in the Philadelphia area and the disparities he’s observed “between a school in North Philly out here, and a school in the Main Line of Lower Merion.”

The entire piece is worth a read. 

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