NEW YORK – Brett Brown is excited about Tuesday’s contest with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It will provide the 76ers coach an opportunity to see Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Jerryd Bayless for the first time since they were traded to the Timberwolves in exchange for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton in November.
“I’m just excited to see them,” Brown said. “I follow them all. I played text tag with Robert the past 24, 48 hours.”
Covington is sidelined after suffering bone bruise in his right knee on Dec. 31 against the New Orleans Pelicans. However, the small forward has been a big pickup for Minnesota (21-22), averaging 15.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals in his 22 games since the trade.
“You saw Robert when nobody even knew about him,” Brown said signing of him on Nov. 15, 2014. “Then we gave him  million dollars. You visited Dario Saric over in Europe even before he came to [our] shores.
“Think about it. We brought Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Michael Carter-Williams. We all go to Spain to watch him play in the World Championships.”
Former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie accompanied them on the trip to Spain after the team acquired Saric in the 2014 NBA draft.
They made the trip despite knowing Saric wouldn’t play for the franchise until at least the 2016-17 season. At that time, he was under contract with a Turkish team.
“So I’ve been around those guys a long time,” Brown said. “I’ve seen them grow. They are fantastic people. They helped us start a culture, and I truly look forward to seeing them.”
The Sixers acquired Bayless in free agency in July 2016.
He’s averaging 2.3 points and 9.5 minutes in six appearances off the bench after a left knee sprain sidelined him at the start of the season. Saric is averaging 10.2 points as the Timberwolves' backup power forward.
Joel Embiid finished with a team-high 26 points in Sunday’s 108-105 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. However, he made just 9 of 24 shots. He struggled mightily in the second half, missing 10 of 13 field goals.
“Today, I felt like it was a situation where there was a lot of contact,” Embiid said. “I felt like there were five instances where I could have gotten a call, but I didn’t. You move on.”
The All-Star center made 8 of 12 foul shots. He was playing with a sore right ankle that sidelined him for Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
“I hate being 9-for-20, because as a big man you always want to be consistent,” Embiid said. “But I was also tired. I didn’t have the bounce.”