The 76ers are looking for Connor Johnson to apply what he learned with them to the Delaware Blue Coats.
That’s part of the reason Johnson has been named head coach of the Blue Coats, the Sixers’ NBA G-League affiliate.
“This is great timing for me, having spent so much time with the Sixers,” said Johnson, who’s been a Sixers staff member since 2014. “The kind of emphasis the Sixers and the organization are now putting in Delaware with the Blue Coats, in Wilmington, I think is incredible. I learned a ton from [Sixers head coach] Brett [Brown], working closely with him right away with my career.”
The 28-year-old was promoted to Sixers director of player development and coaching administration before the start of last season. Part of his duties involved conducting the team’s practices. The San Diego native spent the previous two seasons as Sixers video coordinator. Johnson started his career as Brown’s personal assistant.
Now, he becomes the G-League team’s fourth head coach since the Sixers purchased the franchise in April 2013.
“I’ve been lucky to work for Brett,” Johnson said. “He’s given me a lot of responsibility as I got going. Now, I think I’m in a really fortunate position to help and take the reins of the G-League program, which I think will have a real impact on the 76ers if I do this right.”
As they have in previous seasons, the Sixers will send some of their seldom-used young players to Delaware to get quality practices and meaningful playing time. So part of Johnson’s role will be to serve as an extension of the Sixers coaching staff.
He replaces Eugene Burroughs, who coached the squad the last two seasons. Kevin Young was Delaware’s coach during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. And Rod Baker coached the squad in 2013-14.
Baker is now a scout with the Sixers, and Young and his former assistant, John Bryant, are members of the Sixers’ coaching staff. Burroughs’ contract was not renewed after his two-year tenure. Burroughs, who had a stint as Sixers shooting coach, is looking for a basketball position outside the organization.
“Part of the G-League is developing staff and developing coaches that can be real contributors on an NBA staff,” Johnson said. “So I see this kind of like Kevin Young. He was an assistant for the G-League. Then he was the head coach. Now, he’s in an improved role for the 76ers.
“I kind of see that same path as something I want to follow.”