Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown is expected to be confirmed later today as coach of the Australian men’s basketball team at next year’s Olympics.
Brown is set to replace Andrej Lemanis as coach, with the Boomers desperate to maximise the potential of their talent-laden line-up to win their first Olympic medal.
Brown coaches Australia’s best player and NBA All-Star Ben Simmons and rising star Jonah Bolden at the 76ers.
The pair both controversially dropped out of the Lemanis-coached Boomers’ recent World Cup campaign in which the team once again fell short of a medal.
Brown refused to comment late on Tuesday on the Olympics job when asked by local media.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer after 76ers practice.
“It’s stuff that I prefer not to talk right now about. Fair question, though.”
ESPN, quoting NBA sources, reported earlier that “Australia is finalising an agreement” with Brown, who held the role for the 2012 London Olympics.
Lemanis was originally contracted to serve as head coach until after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It is a major turnaround for Brown who told AAP in January he does not “have any desire because of time more than anything” to coach the Boomers.
Given Australia have already qualified for the Games, the role wouldn’t impact heavily on his NBA job.
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, has failed to go better than a fourth-place result.
Simmons, who recently signed a five-year $US169.6 million ($A250 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 then 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.
Brown, an American, began his coaching career in Australia’s NBL in 1988 before moving to the US in 2003 where he assisted current USA national coach Gregg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs.
He took the 76ers’ head coaching position in 2013 and, after initial dismal seasons, turned the team into an NBA power.
In January when AAP asked Brown about whether coaching the Boomers again 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.