This morning's headlines:
- Brown ready for playoff talk in Philadelphia
- Shreveport City Council votes against arena for G League team
- Title chase led Gay to join Spurs
- Burks finally healthy for Jazz
Brown unfazed by higher expectations for Sixers -- Three first-round picks (Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Furkan Korkmaz) plus budding young talent (Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor) plus signs of improvement in 2016-17 have made the looming season a big one for the Philadelphia 76ers. Many think a playoff spot is within reach for this young crew and that chatter and more isn't lost on coach Brett Brown, writes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com:
The line for the entrance wrapped around the parking lot as approximately 1,000 coaches attended Brett Brown’s third annual Coach the Coaches Clinic on Tuesday night at the Sixers' training complex.
“You feel like you’re giving back to the game,” Brown said. “On some levels, it’s sort of a responsibility you feel. On another level, I love doing it.”
Brown opened the free clinic to youth, high school and college coaches. They sat around the Sixers' practice court while Brown led drills, many tailored to the coaches’ previously-submitted inquiries. Justin Anderson, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes, T.J. McConnell and Jahlil Okafor volunteered to participate.
Brown held the clinic on the same floor where the Sixers have been gathering for workouts ahead of training camp. He refers to his courtside office as his “beachfront property,” where he watches the offseason activity and describes the atmosphere in the gym as “really high-energy.”
“I look at people that are going to be around here for a while,” Brown said. “I look at legitimate talent. I look at this facility. We’ve worked incredibly hard, and everybody knows, to grow a culture and how we do things. … This place is alive and it was in June. … It’s way different than it was in 2013.”
Perhaps Brown will share stories of the coaching in the playoffs at his next clinic. The expectations are high for the Sixers this season. Brown, though, said he isn’t feeling the pressure. He pointed out he has coached into the month of June five times in his NBA career (previously with the Spurs) and is invested in the steps it takes to turn a team into a postseason squad.
“I’m more concerned about sort of the homework than the exam,” Brown said. “I want to knock out good days. I want to handle things with a playoff mentality and playoff professionalism. … All the things that equal, how do you get where we want to go. I’ve had the privilege of living it so I feel like I can share it and do it.
“I’m always mindful our guys are ridiculously young and haven’t played with each other. But that’s said with a tremendous amount of excitement and certainly, shouldn’t be heard in any other way.”
Shreveport votes against arena for Pelicans' G League team -- NBA G League expansion has flourished in the last few years, as more and more NBA teams have their own affiliate (instead of a shared one in years past). The New Orleans Pelicans currently do not have an affiliate, but talk had circulated that the team is looking to have its own club in time for the 2018-19 G League season. According to William Guillory of The Times Picayune, the city of Shreveport voted against building a new arena for a future G League team:
The Shreveport City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday against moving forward with the plan to invest $30 million into building an arena that would have served as the home of the New Orleans Pelicans' G League team.
The team won't begin playing until the 2018-19 season.
Shreveport and Pensacola, Fla., were identified as the two finalists for the Pelicans' G League team, but Shreveport's potential addition of a new arena would have likely put it in prime position to land the team.
Pensacola would reportedly utilize the 10,000-seat Bay Center for G League games.
The original plan in Shreveport was to only build an arena that would have housed the Pelicans' G League team. But Corporate Realty, a Birmingham, Alabama-based developer that isn't connected to the Pelicans, expanded the deal by offering the city up to $139 million to build a downtown sports complex that could potentially host several different types of events.
Greg Bensel, senior vice president of communications for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, said that Shreveport is still under consideration as the future home of the Pelicans' G League team along with a few other cities.
Gay ready to make impact for Spurs -- Veteran swingman Rudy Gay has played in 753 NBA games in his career ... and just seven playoff games in his career. That run in 2011-12 with the Memphis Grizzlies is all he's ever tasted of the postseason and played a big part in why he chose to sign with the San Antonio Spurs this summer. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News has more on Gay's mindset as training camp nears:
“I think it was a do-or-die point in my career,” said Gay, who is 31 and coming off a major Achilles tendon injury. “I wanted to be with an organization that was known for winning and can help me raise my game to the next level.”
Gay’s health in the season to come will go a long way toward determining whether he can get his career back on track in his 12th season.
It has been nearly eight months since that night in January when Gay collapsed during a game against Indiana, his left Achilles tendon in tatters. He opted out of $14 million in Sacramento to ink a two-year, $17 million deal with the Spurs.
His first San Antonio training camp begins Sept. 26. Gay says he is ready. He was been cleared for all basketball activities. He has been working out all summer and does not not expect to miss time once practices begin.
The rehabilitation to get to this point, Gay said, has been grueling.
“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do,” he said.
Gay’s desire to make his comeback worthwhile, instead of languishing on a losing roster, is what led him to San Antonio. The next step comes in 12 days.
“I haven’t played since January,” Gay said. “I’ve worked so hard to get back to feeling normal. I didn’t want to do that for nothing. I came here to possibly play for a championship.”
Jazz' Burks healthy, ready to contribute -- A little more than three years ago, the Utah Jazz locked up rising young swingman Alec Burks with a contract extension. Since then, injuries have wreaked havoc on Burks' playing style and overall health. As training camp in for the Jazz nears, Burks talked with Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune and shared how he's finally feeling like himself again:
“I feel so much better,” Burks told The Tribune on Wednesday. “I’ve had a great summer, and playing at UCLA was the first time that I thought to myself that I’m back and ready to play like my old self.”
Burks’ ongoing saga with injuries is almost three years old. It began in 2014, with an injured shoulder that required season-ending surgery. He recovered by training camp of the next year, and was playing some of the best basketball of his career.
Then Burks’ run-in with Paul Pierce happened.
Playing against the Los Angeles Clippers, Burks went to the basket and took flight before Pierce undercut him and Burks fractured his fibula.
Both players later said the injury was unintentional. But the damage was done. Burks came back before the season was finished, but was nowhere near himself. He never recovered that summer and underwent surgery again last November. He came back in January, but he lacked his usual explosion and lift. He couldn’t get to the basket, and wasn’t nearly as effective.
“There were some frustrating times, but I never got down on myself or lost confidence,” Burks said. “It is what it is. People get injured, and it was something I needed to deal with. I cherish the game a lot more now. Three years is a long time. I was 23, I had never been hurt a day in my life. It makes you appreciate things a lot more.”
In many ways, the team has moved on during his injuries, and Burks will have to fight for every minute on a roster that’s long on depth at the wing spot, even with the loss of Gordon Hayward.
Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles project as the starters. Donovan Mitchell and Thabo Sefolosha were added during the offseason. Joe Johnson and Dante Exum played on the wings a season ago.
That’s a bunch of talent Burks will have to navigate his way through for minutes. At the same time, the Jazz need scoring, badly. They need someone who can create his own offense and get to the free-throw line. If Burks can regain past form, he qualifies as a guy who can get these things done.
“I’m excited for Alec,” Hood said. “He’s looked really good this summer, and he’s healthy. That’s the main thing.”
“As much as anything, we’re just happy for him,” Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey said. “ He’s had two consecutive injuries, first the shoulder and then when he took his fall. As much as anything we’re glad to see that he’s hit a significant stretch of being able to work on his body and skills. Now he’s playing basketball and he’s had no major setbacks. Alec simply deserves a stretch of seasons with no setbacks.”
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