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The Latest: Coach Avery Johnson returns to Barclays Center

Collin Sexton
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Thursday night’s NBA draft (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

Avery Johnson is back at Barclays Center, home of some turbulent times.

Draft night will be a celebratory one for the Alabama coach, who is seated at the green room table of star Crimson Tide point guard Collin Sexton.

Johnson was the Nets’ coach when they moved to Brooklyn in 2012 but was fired with a 14-14 record early in that first season shortly after they were blown out at home by Boston in a nationally televised Christmas Day game.

He eventually ended up at Alabama and coached here last season when the Crimson Tide played in the Barclays Center Classic. They finished their championship game loss to Minnesota with only three players following ejections after a near brawl. But the game showed how good Sexton was, as he scored 40 points to keep Alabama close in what became an 89-84 loss.

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6:25 p.m.

Blue and burgundy appear to be the colors of choice at this year’s draft.

The green room prospects have posed on stage for their traditional class photo and a few, including expected top-five picks Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic, are sporting traditional navy suits. A couple other players are going with much lighter shades of blue.

Trae Young, standing front and center and holding the ball in the photo, was one of the players in burgundy — and the only one not in slacks. He is wearing suit shorts, similar to what LeBron James wore to a couple NBA Finals games and Draymond Green donned for last year’s NBA Awards.

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5:30 p.m.

Even on NBA draft night, some people in Philadelphia are already thinking about free agency and the pursuit of LeBron James.

A plane is flying above Barclays Center carrying three banners. One has James’ No. 23 with a crown and the Liberty Bell, another urges him to “Strive for GOATNESS” and the last reads #PHILLYWANTSLEBRON.

Draft night had been the highlight of the 76ers’ year in their recent tanking seasons and large number of their fans made the short trip to Brooklyn to see who they would select with their high picks. But now the 76ers have moved from process to playoffs and are in position to add a major free agent to their core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Power Home Remodeling, a Philadelphia-based company, has become a James recruiter, originally setting up three billboards in Cleveland urging him to come to the city. The company also flew Thursday’s billboards in Brooklyn.

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11:44 a.m.

It could be a big night for big men in the NBA draft.

Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr., Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. and Texas center Mo Bamba are all expected to be high selections Thursday night in Brooklyn. All are 6-foot-10 or taller.

The Phoenix Suns have the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history and are expected to take the 7-foot-1 Ayton. They are followed by Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis and Dallas.

Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, and Bagley were high school teammates for one season at Hillcrest Prep in Arizona.

There has been less emphasis on traditional centers in the NBA in recent years, but most of the top big-men prospects are versatile enough to play outside as well, making this the first time since 2007 that six players 6-10 or taller could go in the top 10.

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