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Brown has big aspirations for the Sixers' offseason

Coach Brett Brown thinks summer is the best time to make players better, has even higher hopes once new practice site is done.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown and center Joel Embiid. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Sixers head coach Brett Brown and center Joel Embiid. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

MANY MIGHT think that with only 18 games and 33 days left in the season, it is a welcomed time for the 76ers. After all, through the first 64 games, the season has yielded 50 losses. The wonderment of training camp probably seems as if it happened many years ago instead of months. And while the postseason is just a dream at this point of the rebuild, time away from the court after this hard season most likely is more than a welcomed thought.

Maybe, but certainly not for all. It isn't a time for rest and relaxation for coach Brett Brown, or for veteran Jason Richardson, fresh off a 2-year hiatus from the game because of injury.

As his first season as head coach drew near an end, Brown spoke last year about taking the summer to getting to know his staff better and devising a more thorough plan to improve the young players general manager Sam Hinkie continues to thrust upon him. This summer will be some of the same.

"I always miss it. I always miss it," Brown said of the regular-season grind. "I like coming and seeing the guys. I really feel that this final third [of the season], I'm trying and the coaching staff is trying to move them forward, to move them ahead, to reclaim some of the success and continuity that we experienced prior to the All-Star break. That's sort of an open-ended type goal that we have as a coaching staff. I think my big picture is that I want to send these guys excited about the summer, where we end feeling good about ourselves and moving forward. NBA players improve during the summer. There's not enough time in the season. I want to set the table and set the stage just to where there's enough motivation in pointing out some things [so] that we can end this final third strong, so that we can leapfrog and springboard into a great summer.

"It's just a little bit more in detail of what I said last year. They are still growing, the coaching staff. Everybody is growing. I look around and I think I have a great coaching staff. Everybody has embraced the roles that I look to them to have a level of expertise and carry my message about what I think about offense and defense. We argue things out - how to teach and what drills we are using. Coaching the coaches means me, too, and how we can can all coexist better."

That's just part of the coach's plan. With a new practice facility in Camden supposedly a little more than a year from completion, Brown wants his players not off seeing the world during the offseason, but rather sticking close to where they call home during the cold winter months.

"I am going overboard in trying to have as many people here in this city and really have Philadelphia be seen as our home," he said. "Although people may not make their homes here annually, I want them to reconsider that. I want guys here in this city, and I feel like, when we grow our own practice facility and have something that is world-class and elite like we're building, it's going to be more purposeful and [the players will] have more reason to just stay here in Philly. Grow games in Philly. Maybe have New York players come down or Boston or D.C. players. Tap into some local colleges where we build our home. Like 'Field of Dreams': If you build it, they will come and give purpose to what we do, development-wise, and keep them here under our roof. That is one of my main focuses."

If that does come to fruition, expect Richardson to visit regularly from his home in Denver. While he has spent the past two offseasons rehabbing, he expects this one to be similar to all the others pre-injury.

"I want to continue my career, and it will give me a summer to work out and get my basketball timing back - the moving, cutting, jumping, all that stuff. It will definitely be a fun summer for me. I've only played eight games or nine games, but you can tell sometimes I look good and sometimes I look bad. That's all about timing and not having two summers to work out and play basketball."

After such grueling rehab the past two summers and finally getting back on the court, you'd think Richardson would be ready for some down time, to work on his golf game, of which he is an avid participant. But that's not what Richardson does.

"That's not me," Richardson said, laughing, when asked about some relaxation. "I'm the type of guy who can't sit down more than 2 weeks. I've got to do something. That's just me always wanting to move around, always wanting to come back a better player, always wanting to come back in shape. I don't take long months off and get ready in August. I'm always doing something, maybe 2 weeks after the season is over. I'll do weight training, some light running. My son is into basketball, so there will be some shooting going on. I'm the type of guy who is always moving."

If Brown has his way, a lot of that moving would be done here.

Upcoming games

Sacramento Kings (22-41) at Sixers (14-50)

When: Tonight, 7 o'clock

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: Nerlens Noel has played some great defense of late and he'll have his hands full with Kings center and fellow Kentucky product DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings snapped a four-game losing streak in Charlotte on Wednesday.

Brooklyn Nets (25-38) at Sixers

When: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: When he was dealt by the Sixers over the summer, Thaddeus Young undoubtedly thought the grass would be greener anywhere else. Well, he was with the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves before they traded him to Brooklyn at the trade deadline. Tough season for a good guy.

Sixers at Boston Celtics (27-36)

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: TD Bank Garden, Boston

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: Since being acquired at the trade deadline, guard Isaiah Thomas has been Boston's best player. He has been out recently, though, with a bruised lower back. Coach Brad Stevens said he hopes for Thomas to return against the Sixers.

Detroit Pistons (23-41) at Sixers

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/The Fanatic (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: In Wednesday's loss at Golden State, Andre Drummond had a career-high 27 rebounds, including 17 at the offensive end. He also had 22 points.

By the numbers

10 and 4: Nerlens Noel has had 10 or more rebounds and at least four steals in each of the past four games. That's the longest streak since Hakeem Olajuwon did it in 1988 for Houston.

30: That's how many times the Sixers have held opponents below 100 points this season.

12: That's how many times the Sixers held opponents under 100 last season.