Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown is set to coach the Australian men's basketball team at next year's Olympics, according to an ESPN report.
In a major change for the Boomers and reflecting the desire and urgency for the team to win its first Olympic medal, Brown would replace Andrej Lemanis as coach.
Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown with his Australian star Ben Simmons.Credit:Getty Images
ESPN, quoting NBA sources, reported on Tuesday (US time) that "Australia is finalising an agreement" with Brown.
It is a major turnaround for Brown who said in January that he does not "have any desire because of time more than anything" to coach the Boomers.
Brown coaches Australia's best player and NBA All-Star Ben Simmons and rising star Jonah Bolden at the 76ers.
Simmons and Bolden both controversially dropped out of the Lemanis-coached Boomers' recent World Cup campaign where the team once again fell short of a medal.
Lemanis, coach of the NBL's Brisbane Bullets, has been the Boomers' coach since 2013 and despite squads featuring NBA players Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova failed to lead the squad past fourth place.
Brown, an American, began his coaching career in Australia's NBL in 1988 under the great Lindsay Gaze at the Melbourne Tigers and moved on to helm the North Melbourne Giants and Sydney Kings.
In 2002 he moved to the US where he assisted Gregg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs before taking the 76ers' head coaching position in 2013 and, after initial dismal seasons, turned the team into an NBA power.
Brown coached the Boomers at the London Olympics before stepping away to concentrate on his NBA coaching career.
Simmons, who recently signed a five-year $US169.6 million ($249.4 million) contract extension with the 76ers, has had a rocky relationship with Lemanis.
In 2014 Lemanis decided not to include a then 18-year-old Simmons in the Boomers' 2014 World Cup team, telling reporters "he wasn't ready yet".
Simmons tweeted he was "'really disappointed" he was a late cut from the squad.
Simmons has since repeatedly skipped Australian squad duties, including the 2016 Rio Olympics and this year's World Cup.
Bolden surprisingly quit the Boomers' World Cup squad just days before departing for China and after playing in exhibition games in Australia.
Lemanis cut Australians with NBA experience, Deng Adel and Mitch Creek, from this year's World Cup squad.
Creek was later added when Xavier Cooks suffered a meniscus tear.
Brown has a strong Australian connection to the NBL, but also experience coaching and managing NBA players.
In January when Brown was asked about whether coaching the Boomers was an option, he backed Lemanis.
"I was the head coach in London, I was with the program for many years and I'm always happy to help Andrej Lemanis and Basketball Australia but I don't have any desire because of time more than anything," Brown said.
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