Brett Brown is heading back to California.
The 76ers coach and interim general manager will fly to Los Angeles on Saturday to check in on Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid and accompany Ben Simmons at Monday’s NBA Awards Show. Brown was in L.A. last Monday to watch Fultz workout with shooting coach Drew Hanlen.
There’s no doubt that taking another look at Fultz is a priority on the second trip. It appears that he won’t play in the NBA Summer League while trying to regain the shooting form that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2017.
“The development on his shot is looking great,” Brown said of Fultz. “The progress of his shot is looking great.”
#Sixers coach Brett Brown talked about @MarkelleF’s shot and the PG’s chances of playing in summer league. While he wouldn’t come out and say it, one would assume it’s unlikely that Fultz plays based on Brown’s response. Here’s the video: pic.twitter.com/iF9km7AAON
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) June 22, 2018
Brown added that point guard isn’t playing a lot of basketball. The focus has been on his shot.
“It’s back to foundational-type stuff,” the coach said. “To expedite that worries me a little bit as it relates to summer league, it does. He’s in a good place. So I feel not now we can give you guys answers about what that means summer-league wise.
“But no that’s a lot on my mind that he’s really in a good place and he’s coming along.”
In other words, it’s unlikely that Fultz plays in the summer league, which starts July 6-17.
However, Brown said back on May 10 that he wanted Fultz to play in the summer league. That had a lot to do with the 20-year-old playing in only a combined 17 regular season and playoff games.
Fultz played in the first four regular-season games before being sidelined for the next 68 with what the team called a right-shoulder injury. However, his shooting woes were actually mental, according to several sources. After showing some improvement in his shot, Fultz returned in time for the final 10 games of the season.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) June 22, 2018
He played 4 minutes, 21 seconds in the first half of Game 3 of the first-round series against the Miami Heat on April 19. However, T.J. McConnell took over the point-guard duties in the second half of what was Fultz’s last playoff game. He had played in the first two games of that series.
Brown thinks participating in shooting drills instead of playing basketball is the right path for Fultz.
“I think there’s a timeline of that where you are going to start doing some things skill-wise and handle and play,” Brown said. “But I think when you look at what’s most important, what thing needs the most work, it’s that. I don’t really want to pivot out of that if we think it’s going to hurt a very elementary way we are going about reclaiming his shot.”
Free agency first
The 76ers will focus on the start of free agency before turning their attention to finding a general manager.
But Brown, the team’s interim GM, said he doesn’t think they will have to look far for a new GM.
“There’s so much in place that is good here,” Brown said of the Sixers’ front office. “I’m not saying it’s plug and play, but it’s pretty close.”
If the Sixers do hire someone outside the organization, Brown said he hopes they compliment what the teams has in place.
Brown has said he doesn’t want the GM job, too, preferring to go back to focusing solely on coaching. Of the current front office executives, Marc Eversley, vice president of player personnel, is regarded as the best candidate for the job. Co-owner David B. Heller could continue to have a huge say regardless of who the Sixers hire.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin is the top outsider the Sixers are expected to consider. Boston Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren is another potential candidate. However, Atlanta Hawks manager of basketball operations Malik Rose would likely get an interview if he is available. The Philly native was also offered the Detroit Pistons assistant general manager’s job.
Rose, a former San Antonio Spur, has a long relationship with Brown, a former Spurs assistant coach. They are both implementing things they learned from their San Antonio stints at their current jobs.
“I don’t think we need an overhaul,” Brown said of the front office. “We’re in deep on this. We have ways we do business. So somewhere out there, we’ll find the balance of those things that I said, and I’m sure that I’ll have a voice in the selection of the next general manager.”
Bryan Colangelo resigned as the Sixers’ president of basketball operations and general manager on June 7. That ended a stunning nine-day saga that began when a website report tied him to damaging and anonymous Twitter accounts.