MINNEAPOLIS - The 76ers are taking a different approach to their rebuilding process than that of their opponent Monday night.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have three players in Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince, who have at least 13 years of experience, to mentor their young standouts. Meanwhile, the Sixers' lone veteran presence comes from ninth-year forward Carl Landry. Because he will be sidelined until January, the 32-year-old really hasn't had a presence on a team whose second-oldest player is 24.
So how do the Sixers make up for the lack of veteran presence? How do they learn how to have long-lasting careers in the NBA and take care of their bodies?
"It's on me," said Sixers coach Brett Brown, a former longtime assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. "I'm privileged to have seen five NBA [Finals] and won four of them. . . . I like sharing stories like that with my players."
Brown said he's privileged to have spent time around several Hall of Fame-type players and coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. With that said, he regards himself as the veteran of the franchise.
"I have a responsibility to hold us together," Brown said, "to sort of love them in many ways unconditionally. As long as they give us their attitude and effort, I'm with them. . . . It's just part of my responsibility as coach of the team with the stage that 76ers are at."
The Timberwolves are in a similar stage, but they are relying on Garnett, Miller and Prince to deliver the message.
Garnett (Boston Celtics, 2008) and Prince (Detroit Pistons, 2004) have garnered titles like Brown. However, they are able to give a player firsthand perspective on how to win a title.
Garnett is in his 21st season. This is Miller's 18th campaign and it's the 14th for Prince.
"You've got to have them on your team," Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell said of the veteran mentors. "They are invaluable. It's not necessary what they do on the court, points and rebounds and things of that nature. Trust me they add a lot of value to our basketball team."
The Sixers had veteran leadership last season in Jason Richardson and Luc Mbah a Moute. Their work ethic provided an education for the Sixers.
"Most nights I enjoy the responsibility," Brown said. "At other nights, you wished you had a veteran voice behind me in that locker room."