"I haven't spent a second this offseason thinking about offense or defense," Brown said yesterday, in between the many meetings that litter his schedule these days. "Every bit of my time has been spent looking at us as a coaching staff and seeing how I can improve what we do. We need to be able to, as a staff, really develop the culture that we want to have here.
"In a week and a half we're going to get some more young players in here and we have to learn better what we can do to make these bunch of 20-year-olds better. We have to learn how to communicate better with them. Learning how to do it all goes on and on, and that's why I really haven't thought about a way to run a play or what we're going to do offensively or defensively. I didn't have an offseason last year [having gotten hired in August]. I came in and we hired 14 people and I didn't even know them. So now it's time for us to really develop as a staff so that we can really know how to develop the culture that we want."
The model of the culture, the San Antonio Spurs, where Brown worked before coming to the Sixers, became the talk of sports this week after they captured their fifth NBA title since 1999. Does Brown want to emulate their dazzling offensive style with the players he will have here?
"First of all, I'm a fan," Brown said. "Times have moved on, I have a new set of challenges, new responsibilities. My emotions go to the people who are close to me and the coach [Gregg Popovich] that has been so good to me and so influential. After the heartache of last year [when Brown was an assistant and the Spurs lost a winnable Game 6 before succumbing in the next game to the Miami Heat], to navigate through a great regular season and come together, it's incredible. It's the middle of June and I feel like our season was over so long ago. What they did, ended up being so dominant, you're just blown away. I think it was the most impressive of all the ones they've won.
"Let's just start with a look at that offense, it's like a learning chart in school. It started so vanilla with Timmy [Duncan] and David [Robinson]. You put in place two future Hall of Famers and you sprinkle shooters around them. Then David retires and you go to the post game with Timmy. But then you get Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili] and Timmy gets older and you have to change things, different nuances and you make it this hybrid, Euro-type offense, and it's done at hyper-speed.
"But the core of those guys have 10 years together. They have a lot of NBA All-Stars and some Hall of Famers and a coach that has the intellect and creativity and the flexibility to go with the times. You can't be naïve enough to think people can replicate what they saw in the Finals. It's not possible."
Besides Thaddeus Young, who may or may not be here when the season begins, Brown has to look at very young players to lead on the court. That role will fall to rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams (who is coming off shoulder surgery) and Nerlens Noel (who didn't play during his rookie season due to a knee injury).
"Ultimately we'll adapt [to whoever is drafted]," Brown said. "You don't draft to the system you have, you draft and then build the best system. In a week and a half we could possibly have seven new players in our system. It's up to me to make those guys fit and give them all the best chance to show their skills and make us a good team.
"Michael and Nerlens are doing great. They are perfect in regards to the roles I'm going to ask them to play with leadership and responsibility to help grown this. In 10 days they'll have new teammates and they'll have a whole new responsibility. Physically, they'll be fine."
Brett Brown would not talk about any of the players who have already worked out or who are planning to ahead of the June 26 draft . . . According to the coach, Nerlens Noel has continued to work on his outside shooting and has shown improvement. Noel, who is happy where he is in his knee recovery, is expected to participate in the team's summer league program, either in Orlando or Las Vegas or both.