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Sixers make flurry of front office moves but no new general manager

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Sixers make flurry of front office moves but no new general manager

The Sixers on Monday announced several front office moves — none of which included a new general manager.

The team has promoted Ned Cohen from associate vice president and chief of staff to assistant GM, and Marc Eversley from VP of player personnel to senior VP of player personnel. Former Sixer Elton Brand has been given the title of VP of basketball operations but will still run the Delaware Blue Coats, the team’s G-League affiliate.

For now, head coach Brett Brown will keep the title of interim GM … and maybe for the foreseeable future.

"We have a skilled and stable staff who share the same vision under Brett," Sixers managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN. "We prefer to find someone, but we don't want to feel forced into compromising."

Harris isn’t wrong with this line of thinking. With the draft and free agency over with, the Sixers’ roster is pretty much set. Any roster battles that play out would likely be decided by Brown anyway. A new GM likely wouldn’t play a significant role until the trade deadline.

While Harris is comfortable with the current power structure heading into the season, it’s not something he wants to run with forever. Brown is a coach first and foremost and Harris would like to keep it that way long term.

"Through and through, Brett loves being a basketball coach — and he's really good at it," Harris told ESPN. "In-season, it's an 80- to 100-hour-a-week job, and I think he's reflective on just how much harder it would be to try and do both jobs. He's done it on a temporary basis because it's the right thing for the organization. His goal is to coach the Sixers to an NBA championship, and in order to put us in that position, to have a maximum chance of doing that, Brett realizes that a strengthened front office would be a good thing."

The most interesting of the aforementioned names may be Cohen. Cohen spent 12 years working for the league, working his way up to associate vice president of basketball operations. 

Through that job, Cohen developed relationships with the front offices of NBA teams. His job focused on competitive rules, which gives him a great understanding of the rules when it comes to playing, collective bargaining and the draft. He also had a role on the undergraduate advisory committee, which lets potential picks know where they are projected to be drafted.

All of this coupled with the fact that Cohen already has a good working relationship with Brown makes him an attractive candidate.

"What I've learned is that GM job has got many facets and that it's a learned skill,” Harris said. “It's certainly got a public facing nature to it, but management and very strong relationships are important — and very few people who are not sitting GMs have all of those components. We have strengths in all those areas around our front office right now."

Harris was obviously speaking in broader terms, but he did describe Cohen to a certain extent.

Eversley is no slouch either. He began his career working for Nike and has since worked for the Raptors and Wizards before joining the Sixers. Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets were reportedly sniffing around Eversley for their vacant GM job. The team eventually hired longtime Lakers executive Mitch Kupchak.

Aside from Cohen, Eversley and Brand, a few other minor changes were made. Alex Rucker was bumped up from VP of analytics and research to senior VP of analytics and research. Assistant coach Kevin Young has also been promoted. He’ll be on the front of the bench with Monty Williams and Billy Lange. Jim O’Brien will now serve as senior advisor to Brown.

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Instead of Joel Embiid, Kevin Garnett appears alongside Adam Sandler in 'Uncut Gems'

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Instead of Joel Embiid, Kevin Garnett appears alongside Adam Sandler in 'Uncut Gems'

Joel Embiid has a theatrical instinct.

The Sixers’ center has a knack for embellishing contact, enjoys asking the Wells Fargo Crowd for a little extra noise after an and-one and even shadowboxed after being ejected for his fight with the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns on Oct. 30.

Embiid apparently was close to appearing alongside Adam Sandler in the film “Uncut Gems,” which will have a limited release in the United States on Friday and has received strong reviews.

“It was Joel Embiid for a very long time,” Josh Safdie, who directed the film along with his brother Benny, said on The Ringer’s NBA Desktop. “Joel made sense for the themes of the movie. It’s about this Ethiopian opal that gets smuggled into the city and this African player was going to basically reclaim it, and it was going to empower him. And then the schedule pushed into the season. We couldn’t use an active player anymore.”

The directors said they also considered Kobe Bryant and Amar'e Stoudemire earlier in the process.

The trailer, which, we warn, contains plenty of profanity, is below.

(H/t PhillyVoice)

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Sixers vs. Nuggets: 3 storylines to watch and how to follow the game

Sixers vs. Nuggets: 3 storylines to watch and how to follow the game

Updated: 7:30 p.m.

The 17-7 Sixers will try to maintain perfection at home Tuesday night and earn their 13th win of the season at Wells Fargo Center when they play the 14-7 Nuggets, who have lost four of their past five games.

Here are the essentials: 

When: 8 p.m. ET 
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: TNT
Live stats: Follow here 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Fourth-quarter offensive woes 

The fourth quarter of the Sixers’ Nov. 8 loss in Denver was their worst of the season. They were outscored 35-13, struggled to create everything they got on offense and saw Nikola Jokic nail a go-ahead jumper with 1.2 seconds left and Josh Richardson in his face at the end of a broken play. To make things more painful, the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report deemed that, on the ensuing possession, the offensive foul call on Joel Embiid actually should have been a foul on Jokic.

Though that particular fourth period was especially bad, it hasn’t been a productive quarter for the Sixers’ offense overall this season. The team has a 102.9 fourth-quarter offensive rating, which is third-worst in the NBA, and allowed the Raptors to make the end of Sunday night’s game a turnover-filled farce, coughing it up seven times in the final 4:14. 

“Where do we begin? Some of the passing decisions, it's stuff you’ve just got to get better with,” Brett Brown said. “I’m not really too sure how to address some of it, some of it you just scratch your head and try to coach better and help them more. It is disappointing the way that ended because I thought for the most part, we played good basketball. It's just the way that it ended, you have a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth.”

Richardson’s return

Richardson will make his return to the lineup. Though the Sixers have gone 5-1 in the six games Richardson has been out since sustaining the injury on Nov. 27 against the Kings, they’ll welcome back his ability to defender smaller guards, a duty Ben Simmons has assumed more — and handled very well — recently. 

Before the game, Richardson had a big smile as he talked about being able to play again.

"I’ve been itching to go back out there for a while, but sometimes you’ve just gotta be smart," he said. "Just tried to take my time getting back and hopefully today goes well.”

The fifth-year guard won't be without limitations. It sounds like the Sixers plan to ease him back into action.

"We’ll probably be watching my minutes for the first couple games back but while I’m on the floor, I’m going to go all out," he said.

A blueprint vs. the Nuggets’ pick-and-roll defense 

The Nuggets hedged hard on the pick-and-roll often in their first matchup vs. the Sixers. A unit with Raul Neto at the point — Simmons was sidelined with a shoulder sprain — had success against that scheme in the second quarter. Kyle O’Quinn, who scored a season-high 11 points in the game, rolled to the rim, forced a help side defender to tag him in the paint and freed up the Sixers’ shooters. 

Furkan Korkmaz was frequently the shooter who profited, scoring 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting, and the Sixers’ bench outscored Denver’s, 37-12.

If the Nuggets’ pick-and-roll defense is aggressive again, the Sixers’ approach a little over a month ago in the second quarter is the way to beat it — draw help on the roll, move the ball crisply and make scrambling defenders pay by hitting open threes. 

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