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.