Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Josh Richardson


The Philadelphia 76ers have failed to cash in on their superstar duo after enduring years of trusting the process at the bottom of the league.

Multiple seasons saw the 76ers finish last or second last in the Eastern Conference to build up the picks which saw them secure the likes of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

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But even with two All-Stars on the roster, they’ve failed to capitalise when it counts in the playoffs, winning only two series over the past three seasons and being swept out of the first round this season by the Boston Celtics.

The team made key moves once their season came to an end by getting rid of Brett Brown and bringing in Doc Rivers. But it was the hiring of former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey that spiked interests.

Morey has never been afraid of making league-shaping moves and on Thursday during the NBA Draft he pulled off major trades that set the 76ers up for a big push in the 2020/21 season.

Rumours had swirled in the lead up to the Draft that Simmons could be packaged in a trade with the 76ers reportedly attempting to lure James Harden.

Simmons’ five-year contract extension kicks in this season which sees him owed $A233m with Embiid having three-years and $A130m remaining.

The problem however for the Sixers was bloated salaries and a poor mix of players on the roster. Morey took care of that Thursday.

Big man Al Horford and his absurd $A149m salary was sent out the door to Oklahoma with the 76ers receiving wing players Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson in return.

Next came the move to send the underperforming Josh Richardson to Dallas in exchange for sharpshooter Seth Curry.

The moves open the floor up for Simmons and Embiid to work in the paint by surrounding them with quality shooters from beyond the arc.

The moves drew widespread praise and that was before the 76ers went into the Draft and secured promising prospects in Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed.

Morey knew the team needed to get better fits around the two stars and that meant landing stars who could light it up from deep.

“When Joel and Ben have had that, it’s actually insane how good those line-ups and how good those teams played,” Morey said.

“That was the theme for tonight. Getting Seth, you can argue he’s the best shooter in the NBA.

“Having a truly gravity elite shooter really changes the dynamic for Ben and Joel. Those who watched the Sixers up close and personally, like you [more] than me, know that when Joel and Ben have had that, it’s actually insane how good those line-ups and teammates played when everyone was happy.”

The 2020-21 NBA season will officially get underway on December 23.



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76ers sack Brett Brown, Ben Simmons tweet


The axe hanging over Brett Brown’s head fell quickly after the 76ers were swept out of the NBA postseason.

Brown, who is also the coach of the Australian Boomers, was given his marching orders on Tuesday after a season which began with talk of a title ended with a first round playoff exit.

Current LA Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue is the leading candidate to replace him.

Brown’s defenders will say he wasn’t responsible for handing huge contracts to underperforming forwards Tobias Harris and Al Horford, but his detractors will point to his inability to get the best out of young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Rightly or wrongly, it appears Philly’s owners are holding Brown responsible for Embiid never being in great shape — or Simmons developing a jumpshot.

“The job of an NBA coach you’ve got to take the team you have and try to maximise it and get the most out of it,” Brown said after exiting the playoffs. “And I did not do that.”

ESPN reports Elton Brand, the general manager who reshaped the team around Embiid and Simmons with underwhelming results — including a one-season dalliance with Jimmy Butler — will keep his job. But the rest of the front office will be restructured.

Embiid commented on the upheaval of the team in recent years after the 76ers were beaten 4-0 by the Celtics.

“I just feel like, a couple years ago, when we made the playoffs for the first time, we had a bunch of great players that were drafted here or either formed in Philly and we had a bunch of guys especially that were in a great situation,” Embiid said.

“And then we, as you know, we decided to trade a lot of it with the picks and stuff for Jimmy (Butler), Tobias (Harris), and we got a bunch of great players in return. Like I said, it just didn’t happen. We could never find a rhythm this year. It is disappointing. There’s a lot of regrets. I felt like the focus was not always there. And we got to do better; we just got to look at ourselves in the mirror and just do better.”

Simmons, who missed the playoffs after injuring his knee, tweeted overnight: “Watching my team get swept hurt, and I don’t ever want to feel that way again.”

Brown, who took over in 2013 as the 76ers began a series of losing seasons as part of a tanking strategy that led to several high draft picks, released a classy statement after his dismissal.

“In 2013, I was employed to lead one of the most dramatic builds in professional sports history,” he said.

“In the past seven years our players and coaches have evolved and grown and I have a deep appreciation for the 102 players I have coached. I am grateful for my coaching staffs and their dedication to our common goal, while also proud to see three of my former assistants now deservedly NBA head coaches and one a major college head coach.

“I would also like to thank the ownership group, led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, former GM Sam Hinkie, the 76ers’ historic alumni, our passionate fans, and finally current GM Elton Brand, who I coached and worked for. He is a high-character talent that the 76ers are fortunate to have. I sincerely wish him, the players and the next coaching staff my very best in their pursuit of an NBA championship.”

“We are really disappointed and know we let our fans down,” 76ers owner Josh Harris said. “It’s unacceptable and it’s important that we hold ourselves accountable … this will be a crucial offseason for us and we need to get it right.”

BRETT BROWN’S PHILLY TENURE

2013-14 — 19 wins, 63 defeats (missed playoffs)

2014-15 — 18 wins, 64 defeats (missed playoffs)

2015-16 — 10 wins, 72 defeats (missed playoffs)

2016-17 — 28 wins, 54 defeats (missed playoffs)

2017-18 — 52 wins, 30 defeats (lost in conference semis)

2018-19 — 51 wins, 31 defeats (lost in conference semis)

2019-20 — 43 wins, 30 defeats (lostin first round)



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Philadelphia 76ers fire NBA coach Brett Brown


The firing was widely expected, with Brown telling reporters on Sunday that the injuries prevented him from doing his best work this year and acknowledging that the season did not meet expectations.

“The job of a coach is to take the team you have and maximise it,” Brown said. “I did not do that.”

It is unclear whether Brown, who is coach of the Australian Boomers, will remain in the NBA. He is also a former coach of the Sydney Kings and the now-defunct North Melbourne Giants, having won the NBL title with the latter in 1994.

“I have a tremendous level of respect for Brett both personally and professionally and appreciate all he’s done for the 76ers organisation and the city of Philadelphia,” Sixers general manager Elton Brand said in a statement.

“He did many positive things during his time here, developing young talent and helping position our team for three straight post-season appearances. Unfortunately, we fell well short of our goals this year and I believe it is best to go in a new direction.”

Brown finished with an overall record of 221-344 with the Sixers but that needs to be taken in context because the franchise did not try to win in his initial seasons, for top draft picks were considered the aim as part of a controversial “Process”.

Brown’s 76ers won two playoff series and fell just short of a third when Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard eliminated them last year with a game seven buzzer-beater.

“In 2013, I was employed to lead one of the most dramatic rebuilds in professional sports history,” Brown said in a statement. “In the past seven years, our players and coaches have evolved and grown, and I have deep appreciation for the 102 players I have coached.”

Possible candidates to replace Brown include Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka. Brown’s replacement will inherit a roster that is heavy on size and experience and light on shooting and versatility.

MORE TO COME



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Sad Joel Embiid photo sums up 76ers sorry season


With 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and his team trailing 112-90, Joel Embiid trudged to the 76ers bench, sat down and put his head in his hands.

A season that began with serious championship ambition was all but over after a game two humiliation against the Celtics saw Philly fall behind 2-0 in their first round series. And there’s no coming back.

Optimists will point to Ben Simmons’ absence as a reason why this team as it’s currently formed can’t be counted out, but the 128-101 defeat was another heartless performance from a team that’s made a habit of them.

Embiid was immense in 34 minutes, scoring 34 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. But the problem areas that drive 76ers fans crazy were still there as he fell in love with his jumpshot after a strong opening and didn’t have enough gas in the tank to go a full four quarters.

The big man shouldn’t cop most of the criticism though after another disappearing act from $180 million man Tobias Harris. The 28-year-old hit just 4/15 shots and didn’t make a three. $109 million forward Al Horford scored four points and grabbed two rebounds in 23 minutes.

Philly started well, hitting almost every shot in the first eight or nine minutes. But as soon as Boston — led by emerging superstar Jayson Tatum’s 33 points and eight threes — threw a punch, the 76ers went down and didn’t get up.

Coach Brett Brown’s days are surely numbered while the Celtics look set to hit the second round with serious momentum as Kemba Walker (22 points) rediscovers his form.

SMOKIN’ JOE STARS IN UTAH AVALANCHE

Utah responded from the gut punch of a playoff-opening overtime defeat against Denver by shooting the lights out in a 124-105 game two win to square the series.

Australia’s Joe Ingles (18 points, 4/9 threes) was among the Jazz players who lit up from deep, along with Donovan Mitchell (30 points, 6/7 threes), Jordan Clarkson (26 points, 4/9 threes) and Royce O’Neale (3/4 threes).

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Ingles has hit some nice form in the bubble, getting off to a strong start in the playoffs with a 19-point, six-assist, five-rebound outing in game one after stat lines of 11 points and 13 assists against Denver and 25 points and five assists against Memphis in his last two regular season games where he played normal minutes.

Michael Porter Jr was also on fire from the three-point line for Denver hitting 6/9 triples on his way to 28 points. Nikola Jokic was also solid with 28 points, six assists and 11 rebounds.

RAPTORS HAVE ENOUGH IN RESERVE

Toronto reserve Norman Powell scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the defending champion Raptors rallied to beat Brooklyn 104-99 and take a 2-0 lead.

The Raptors, who had converted 22 three-pointers in a game-one blowout of the Nets, connected on just 25.7 per cent of their three-point attempts — and 43.7 per cent of shots overall — under heavy defensive pressure from a Nets team eager to even the series.

But turnovers proved crucial, with nine Toronto giveaways leading to six Nets points while 17 Brooklyn turnovers resulted in 23 points for the Raptors.

Brooklyn, trailing by three with 15 seconds remaining, had a chance to force overtime but an ill-timed pass on their final possession led to a final, decisive turnover — forced by Toronto’s Kyle Lowry — that sealed the win for the Raptors.

“We’ve been here before,” said Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, who delivered a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists. “You’ve just got to stick with it, weather the storm.”

Trailing 80-74 through three quarters, the Raptors opened the fourth on a 17-5 scoring run, taking their first lead since the second period on OG Anunoby’s dunk with nine minutes to play.

Powell extended the lead to eight points with a driving dunk, and the Raptors held on.

Lowry finished with 21 points and nine rebounds and Pascal Siakam added 19 points for the Raptors.

— AFP



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