New York Knicks

Knicks targeting Elton Brand as GM? Sixers 'very happy' with him, per team source

Knicks targeting Elton Brand as GM? Sixers 'very happy' with him, per team source

The Knicks could be looking within the Sixers' organization during their GM search.

Team president Leon Rose has reportedly “targeted” Sixers GM Elton Brand for the same role with the Knicks, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The report went on to say that Rose would wait to see if Brand, 41, would be let go after this year’s playoffs.

It’s a little hard to imagine the Sixers parting ways with Brand despite the team underperforming this season. Though his big moves of stealing Al Horford away from the Celtics, acquiring Josh Richardson in a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler and signing Tobias Harris to a near-max deal haven’t panned out, the organization seems to be high on Brand.

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand's leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

That's in line with what managing partner Josh Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia back in October.

“When the Bryan Colangelo situation occurred, we went through a really long search to try to figure out who was the right person for the job of general manager,” Harris said. “Obviously, [Brand] hadn't been in the front office very long, but all of his strength as a leader and his intelligence and his ability to communicate and his history with the game and with our team and with our city. All those things really were very large in the decision. …

“… and he's increasingly putting his insignia, his imprint on the team, and it's really great. I mean, today's NBA is a player's league. He was an All-Star player not that long ago. He's a really unique person. So I'm really happy that we're working together.”

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Spike Lee, James Dolan controversy should make Sixers fans happy they don't root for Knicks

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Spike Lee, James Dolan controversy should make Sixers fans happy they don't root for Knicks

And you thought the Sixers were having a tough time this season.

Just when you think the Knicks couldn’t possibly out-Knick themselves, they go out and do something like this.

Spike Lee, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and easily the most famous Knicks fan, has found himself in the middle of a controversy with his favorite team.

The dispute was over Lee using an employee entrance he said he’s used for years. According to Lee, the security at Madison Square Garden asked him to exit the arena and re-enter the building.

Eventually, Lee got into the game and spoke with owner James Dolan. 

In his appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Lee denied that he shook Dolan’s hand and was “smiling,” a claim made in a statement by a team spokesperson that was read to Lee by host Molly Qerim.

The controversy probably should’ve just ended here.

Then, in the most Knicks move ever, they released the following statement — with pictures!

Perhaps Lee was asked to use a different entrance and it’s clear that he shook hands with Dolan — though Lee doesn’t appear to be smiling — but this statement doesn’t make anyone look good.

It’s similar to the situation a couple years ago with former Knick Charles Oakley. Oakley, who had seats near Dolan, was removed from the Garden during a game on Feb. 8, 2017. The team’s statement said in part that they hoped Oakley "gets some help soon." 

That situation is ongoing as a lawsuit Oakley filed against Dolan and Madison Square Garden was dismissed on back on Feb. 19. He plans to appeal that ruling.

Instead of the headlines being about the hiring of former player agent Leon Rose as team president, Dolan and the Knicks have shifted it to being all about Lee. Probably not great for a team that’s trying to change its image.

Even with how disappointing the Sixers' season has been, at least they're not the Knicks.

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Tobias Harris picks up slack for Sixers in win over Knicks with no Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

Tobias Harris picks up slack for Sixers in win over Knicks with no Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

Updated: 10 p.m.

BOX SCORE

Something that’s only happened one other time since the beginning of the 2017-18 season happened Thursday: The Sixers played a game without both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Tobias Harris led the charge as the Sixers took care of business in a 115-106 win over the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center.

Embiid (left shoulder sprain) is expected to be re-evaluated in approximately one week, a team spokeperson said after the game (see story). Simmons (lower back impingement) will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.

The win improves the Sixers to an NBA-best 28-2 at home and 37-23 overall. They embark on a four-game West Coast swing starting Sunday in Los Angeles against the Clippers (3:30 p.m./ABC)

Here are observations from the win:

Picking up the slack

When Embiid went down in Cleveland, the trio of Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson struggled, going just 12 of 35 for the game.

With Embiid and Simmons both out, the Sixers needed Harris to be aggressive and looking to score — and he obliged. He scored 14 of the Sixers’ 26 first-quarter points and had 23 at the half. There was no player on the Knicks that could match up with Harris. He punished their smaller guards in the post and drove on their bigs. He showed off his three-level scoring by also going 3 of 6 from three.

He was outstanding with 34 points (14 of 21), seven rebounds and seven assists. That point total is the most he's scored since he had 34 back on Jan. 15 against Brooklyn and one off his Sixers high of 35.

Like Harris, Horford had a bounce-back game, recording 15 points (including 4 of 4 from three), nine assists and seven rebounds. It’s been a struggle for Horford this season, but the veteran big took advantage of the Knicks using one of their power forwards or the talented but at times undisciplined Mitchell Robinson at the five. 

Richardson’s offensive struggles continued early. In the seven games since Richardson returned from a hamstring injury, he’d averaged just 9.4 points and 37.1 from the field and below 30 percent from three. He couldn’t get it going from the field yet again Thursday, going scoreless in the first half. In the third, we saw Richardson warm up, putting up 10 of his 11 points.

The Sixers are currently even with the Heat for the East's fourth seed, with Miami winning the season series and holding the tiebreaker. The Sixers will need Thursday's performance and then some from these three players to keep pace.

Figuring out roles

Glenn Robinson III made comments to a reporter about not understanding his role. Before the game, Brett Brown had a chance to respond and Robinson was given the chance to clarify his comments.

Robinson got the start against the Knicks and his shooting woes continued (2 of 6). He was brought in from Golden State to be a 3-and-D wing. He still has yet to hit a three as a Sixer (0 of 9) and hasn’t been overly impactful defensively. He’s capable, but we haven’t see it yet as a Sixer.

Shake running the show

Brown hasn’t anointed a permanent starting point guard in Ben Simmons’ absence, but it sure looks like Shake Milton has won the job. The second-year guard continues to be poised and looking more comfortable running the show.

Brown has recently lauded Milton’s defense and we saw some of that Thursday as well. He wasn’t exactly going up against Kemba Walker or Chris Paul, but he still turned in a solid effort. Coming off a 20-point performance against the Cavs, Milton was strong again against the Knicks with 19 points (5 of 5 from three), four assists and just one turnover.

With the second unit, Richardson had another tough night as the backup point guard. It seemed like a role Richardson would be able to fill when the season started, but even newcomer Alec Burks looks like a better option initiating the offense at this point.

O’Quinn gets rewarded

When the Knicks turned to springy big man Robinson at the five, it would’ve made sense for Brown to turn to Norvel Pelle, who was active after the last two games with an upper respiratory illness.

Instead, he went with veteran Kyle O’Quinn, who gave the Sixers solid minutes Wednesday in Cleveland after Joel Embiid went down. O’Quinn was solid yet again, pulling in 10 rebounds in just a little over 14 minutes.

O’Quinn’s future has looked tenuous at best since the veteran big was relegated to fourth on the center depth chart. Much to his credit, he was ready to play against the Cavs and was up for the task against his former team Thursday. 

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