Sixers Rumors

Embiid On Perceived Issues With Simmons: “It’s B.S.”

As the Sixers have struggled to maintain offensive consistency this season, the dynamic between Philadelphia’s top two players, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons has received some scrutiny.

During NBA All-Star media day on Saturday, Embiid addressed the chatter that he and Simmons struggle to co-exist.

“I think it’s B.S. because when you look at the last couple years, the last two years we’ve been playing together, it was not a problem,” Embiid said, via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “The issue is only a problem because at times our offense has struggled. I think it’s definitely going to be better after the All-Star break.”

Entering the All-Star break, the Sixers wield a 34-21 record, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Simmons and Embiid, meanwhile, are enjoying typically strong individual seasons.

Embiid, now a three-time All-Star, is averaging 22.9 PPG and 11.9 RPG through 39 contests. Both numbers are down from last season, however, as he has battled some injuries. As for Simmons, he’s averaging 16.9 PPG, 8.3 APG, 7.9 RPG and an NBA-best 2.2 SPG. While the rotation for Philadelphia needs to find consistency, Simmons insists that coexisting alongside Embiid is not an issue.

“It takes time, not everything is supposed to be perfect. We’re two different people trying to figure it out,” Simmons said during his media session (via Mark Media of USA Today). “I love playing with Joel, I think he’s an amazing talent and I respect his game. I know he feels the same way about me so as long as we continue to strive and go the right way, we’ll be fine.”

2020’s Most Valuable Traded Second-Round Picks

Fans of lottery-bound NBA teams will be keeping a close on the league’s reverse standings down the stretch because of the effect they’ll have on the draft order and lottery odds for the 2020 first round.

However, it’s not just the first round of the draft that’s worth keeping an eye on. Those reverse standings will also dictate the order of the draft’s second round, and an early second-round pick can be nearly as valuable as a first-rounder.

Traded first-round selections like the one the Grizzlies are sending to the Celtics will ultimately be more valuable than any second-rounder, but it’s still worth taking a closer look at some traded 2020 second-rounders that project to be valuable picks.

[RELATED: Traded Second-Round Picks For 2020 NBA Draft]

Here are a few of those traded picks:

From: Golden State Warriors
To: Dallas Mavericks
Current projection: No. 31

This traded pick dates all the way back to the 2016 offseason, when the Mavericks acquired it along with Andrew Bogut. That deal gave them the option to eventually receive either the Warriors’ 2019 or 2020 second-rounder.

Dallas faced a little criticism at the time for helping Golden State clear the cap room necessary to sign Kevin Durant, but if the Mavs hadn’t done it, another team would have. Now they’ll benefit from the end of the Warriors’ dynasty, potentially acquiring the best non-first-round pick of the 2020 draft.

From: Cleveland Cavaliers
To: Charlotte Hornets
Current projection: No. 32

The Cavaliers first traded this pick to Orlando at the trade deadline in 2016 to acquire Channing Frye. It was later traded from the Magic to the Clippers, who eventually sent it to Charlotte on draft night in 2018.

The pick was one of two future second-rounders L.A. surrendered to move up a single spot in the lottery to draft Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11 in ’18.

Considering the Cavs won a title with Frye and the Clippers eventually used Gilgeous-Alexander to acquire Paul George – and, indirectly, Kawhi Leonard – I don’t think either team is losing sleep about giving up this selection, but it’ll be a nice asset for the Hornets this spring.

From: Atlanta Hawks
To: Philadelphia 76ers
Current projection: No. 33

From: New York Knicks
To: Philadelphia 76ers
Current projection: No. 35

Philadelphia sent three second-round picks to the Warriors at the deadline for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, but did well to hang onto these selections, both of which could fall in the top 35 this spring.

The Sixers received both of these picks in deals that saw their trade partners move up in the second round to nab big men. The Knicks’ second-rounder was sent to Philadelphia in a 2015 deal for No. 35 pick Willy Hernangomez, while the Hawks’ second-rounder changed hands in last June’s swap for No. 34 pick Bruno Fernando.

From: Detroit Pistons
To: Sacramento Kings
Current projection: No. 36

This pick has been involved in two trades, neither of which worked out particularly well for the Suns. It was all Phoenix received in return for Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, and Danny Granger in a cost-cutting trade during the 2015 offseason. Then it was part of the package the Suns sent to the Kings for 2016’s No. 8 pick, Marquese Chriss.

The two 2016 first-round picks the Kings got that in that Chriss trade (Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere) didn’t pan out for Sacramento. However, the package also included the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic, making it a big win for the Kings. This year’s second-round pick is just an added bonus.

Norvel Pelle Remains Hungry After Earning Promotion From Sixers

For Norvel Pelle, earning a standard contract with the Sixers took several years of hard work, dedication and passion, as the 27-year-old spent much of his professional career playing in the G League and in international leagues.

Pelle, who made his NBA debut this past November, took a rather unique path to the Association. Rather than attending college, he joined the NBAGL’s Delaware 87ers (now the Delaware Blue Coats) in the fall of 2013. He showed some promise as a 20-year-old, averaging 5.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just 13.1 minutes per contest, but went undrafted in 2014.

Pelle would test his luck by signing in Taiwan later that summer before returning to the G League with Delaware in March of 2015. He appeared in four games during that second NBAGL stint and signed in Lebanon to end the year, seeking a sense of stability in his young, budding career. Pelle subsequently joined the Heat for two summer league stints, attempted a third overseas stint in Italy, then made a fourth trip to join Auxilium Torino in early 2018.

It was around that time when Pelle, a 6’10” defensive specialist, began to make a name for himself. He was added to Philadelphia’s 2018 summer league team and received his first invitation to training camp, spending the rest of the season in Delaware and a final overseas stint in Lebanon.

Unbeknownst to fans, the 76ers were keeping close tabs on Pelle as he continued to develop and improve throughout the 2018/19 season, eventually earning a spot on the G League’s All-Defensive team. Philadelphia decided to offer Pelle a two-way contract last July, with general manager Elton Brand showing a level of trust in the big man that other lead decision-makers hadn’t.

“That made me feel real good,” Pelle told Hoops Rumors in a phone interview.

Brand had a successful 17-year NBA career in his own right, going first overall in the 1999 draft and earning a pair of All-Star berths. Having Brand recognize his improvement was an important step for Pelle.

“We’ve gotten close, where I could just call him up and talk to him [if need be],” Pelle said of the Sixers’ GM. “It’s just amazing.”

Pelle accepted Philadelphia’s two-way contract offer, entering training camp last fall having improved significantly since attending camp with the team a year earlier. His progress made a strong impression with coaches and teammates alike, and he continued to make strides in the preseason. After all, playing alongside the likes of Al Horford and Joel Embiid — all while having Brand as the team’s GM — is sure to have a positive influence on a big man’s arsenal. Pelle’s focus on improving his touch and strength during the offseason paid off, earning respect from Horford, Embiid, and others.

“You get motivated competing against them every day,” Pelle said. “Al’s been in the league for so long, Joel’s been dominant over these years. It motivates me to just want to keep working.”

Pelle did exactly that, working tirelessly on his two-way deal this season. Earning that contract was a notable milestone, yes, but Pelle had his sights set on something greater: earning a standard contract with the franchise. Fast forward to early February, just after the trade deadline, and Pelle received the phone call he’s always dreamed of — the Sixers wanted to turn his two-way contract into a traditional, multiyear NBA contract, guaranteeing his salary for the remainder of the season.

“It definitely brings out a lot of feelings,” Pelle said of signing his first standard contract. “I tried to do something that I wanted to accomplish, and I accomplished it. Now it’s just about longevity — playing a long time in the league.”

Back in September, a member of the media asked Pelle what his primary goal was coming into the season. His response was fitting, short and sweet.

“To get better day by day,” Pelle said. “You know, learn from the people that have been in the league for a long time. Contribute to a championship.”

Pelle has unique athletic capabilities and defensive skills that are highly coveted by NBA teams. He leads all rookies in blocks per game (1.4), despite averaging just over 10 minutes per game. His rate of 5.0 blocks per 36 minutes is easily tops among players who have logged at least 150 minutes this season (Daniel Gafford is second at 3.6). Pelle has also chipped in 2.5 PPG and 3.4 RPG on 59% shooting. He remains a student of the game, soaking up as much information as possible from Horford, Embiid, and Philadelphia’s other vets.

Horford came off the bench at center for the first time on Tuesday, and if the Sixers stick with their new lineup going forward, Pelle’s path to more playing time could become challenging. But he remains a talented defensive player with high upside, possessing the necessary tools to be a handful for defenses around the rim, a threat for alley-oops, and a physical screen-setter on offense.

“Just high energy off the bench, blocking, shots, protecting the rim,” Pelle said of what he brings to the team. “Just an actual spark. I feel like that’s really what my role on this team is, to just come in for however long I’m in for and provide a quick burst of energy — a quick spark.”

There’s no question that earning a standard NBA contract was an important breakthrough for Pelle, but it hardly represents the end of his journey. His salary for 2020/21 becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster beyond July 6, and those closest to him not only insist that his hunger remains — they’re adamant it has increased.

“This season has been amazing,” Pelle said. “It’s like a dream come true. Everything that’s happened, every experience as far as being in the NBA — it’s just been amazing.

“The next step is to keep growing as an individual, both on and off the court. It’s just soaking up as much information as I can throughout the years, however long I stay in the league. Just keep soaking up information each year, learn something new. It doesn’t have to be Hall or Fame or nothing — just to know that Norvel Pelle did this is great.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Notes: Horford, Richardson, Embiid, Shamet

Al Horford wasn’t in the starting lineup last night for the first time since his rookie season, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Sixers coach Brett Brown met with Horford on Monday to explain the lineup change, which included starting Furkan Korkmaz at small forward and shifting Tobias Harris to power forward. Horford said he’s willing to accept his new role, even though it’s not what he expected when he signed a four-year, $109MM deal with Philadelphia last summer.

“Obviously, not the position that I saw myself in, but it’s what was best for the team,” he said after the game. ” … I honestly don’t think it changes much from what I was doing before.”

Although Horford seemed like an ideal candidate to play alongside Joel Embiid, the two big men haven’t been able to get their games to mesh, adds Bontemps, who suggests that Horford now faces the possibility of being on the bench in the closing minutes of playoff games.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Josh Richardson‘s absence has been an overlooked reason for the Sixers’ recent slump, Bontemps adds in the same piece. Richardson returned to the starting lineup Tuesday for the first time since a hamstring injury on January 22 and posted a plus-24 rating in 31 minutes.
  • Embiid’s ongoing drama with Philly fans continued as he was booed during introductions for the third consecutive game, but he got them cheering with a 26-point, nine-rebound performance, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We are all human beings. If I can take it, then everybody else can take it, too,” Embiid said. “We learn from it and we move on. I got to do a better job. They got to do a better job. I understand where they come from. But then again, if you dish it, you got to be able to take it back. But at the end of the day in my location … it’s all love.”
  • Landry Shamet was angry when he learned that he had been traded from the 76ers to the Clippers last season, but he quickly got over it, relays Mark Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Shamet, who returned to Philadelphia last night for the first time since the deal, was having a strong rookie season for the Sixers before being included in the package L.A. received in exchange for Harris. “You realize you have been traded and you have to move so it was kind of a roller coaster at first, but once you get settled, especially once I got that first game under my belt, I realized the makeup of the team and where I was and realized it was a good situation,” Shamet said.

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Butler, J. Robinson, Embiid

Justise Winslow is thrilled about his new start in Memphis, but in an interview with Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel he offered little insight into an injury that has forced him to miss all but 11 games this season. Winslow has taken the court just once since December 6 because of a lower back bone bruise. “The (Miami) coaching staff thought I was able to play,” Winslow said without further explanation.

After being taken with the 10th pick in the 2015 draft, Winslow developed into a versatile forward for the Heat and often handled play-making duties. However, the lingering injury and the development of young talent in Miami made him expandable in last week’s trade for Andre Iguodala.

“I’m not going to give any dates (for a possible return), I’m sorry,” Winslow said. “But it’s been an ongoing thing this season. That’s the bottom line. I’m sure the Miami Heat did everything that they thought was right to try to help me. Things didn’t work out. I’m here now. I wish I could tell you a date that I’m expected to be back, but there isn’t one.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler has finally found a team that views the NBA the same way he does, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Butler clashed with teammates, coaches and management in his previous three stops, but his ultra-competitive attitude is welcome with the Heat“When [Butler] was in other places, he got knocked for (speaking his mind),” Iguodala said. “He was disruptive toward his other teammates, but you put him around some guys that actually want to get to the grind, what did he do for them? He upped their level of play, right?”
  • Jerome Robinson sees the Wizards as an ideal fit and is ready for the opportunity he never got with the Clippers, relays Chase Hughes of NBA Sports. Robinson was a lottery pick in 2019, but often languished on the bench as L.A. focused on challenging for a title. He’s hoping for more playing time in Washington after being traded there last week. “Experience, that’s what you really learn from,” Robinson said. “To grow as a player and a person, I think this is a great step for me right here.”
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer believes the Hornets should pounce on the opportunity if Sixers center Joel Embiid ever goes on the trade market.

Community Shootaround: Joel Embiid

Last spring, the Sixers took the eventual champion Raptors to the limit in a seven-game playoff series. This season, their star center Joel Embiid seems more interested in testing the limits of everyone’s patience.

Philadelphia has the league’s best home record but overall it has been a disappointment. The Sixers are just 9-19 on the road and Embiid’s effort and focus has been the subject of scrutiny.

Embiid seemingly made a vulgar comment directed toward the home fans on Sunday and heard many boos during pregame introductions on Tuesday.

Embiid denied that he criticized the home fans but then continued to stir the pot on social media. He even insinuated in an Instagram exchange with former teammate and Heat swingman Jimmy Butler that he’d rather be in Miami.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst indicated on a podcast that rival executives have started to openly wonder whether the Sixers would consider moving Embiid if the team has an abbreviated postseason run.

It’s hard to imagine that the Sixers would give up on Embiid despite his injury history and penchant for stirring controversy. His stats have dropped off this year but he’s still on the short list of the league’s best big men. At 25, Embiid is just entering his prime, as long as health issues don’t sidetrack his career.

Embiid is signed through the 2022/23 season and there figures to be plenty of interest around the league if Philadelphia’s front office grows weary of his act and looks to shake things up.

That brings us to our question of the day: If the Sixers getting knocked out early in this year’s playoffs, should they consider trading center Joel Embiid?

Please take to the comments sections to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Sixers Notes: Brown, Burks, Robinson

  • Following last week’s trade deadline, Sixers general manager Elton Brand said he believes in Brett Brown‘s ability to lead the team. However, as Malika Andrews of ESPN writes, the 76ers’ GM stopped short of guaranteeing Brown would keep his job for the rest of the 2019/20 season. “I’m not going to play what-ifs,” Brand said. For what it’s worth, the team was mired in a four-game losing streak at the time of Brand’s comments and is 2-0 since then.
  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer explores what sort of roles newly-acquired bench pieces Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III will play for the Sixers, suggesting that Robinson may end up with a more defined role.

Forbes Releases 2020 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have had a miserable 12 months, finishing the 2018/19 season with a league-worst 17 wins, missing out on their top free agent targets, and then firing head coach David Fizdale and president of basketball operations Steve Mills during the 2019/20 season.

None of that seems to have had a noticeable impact on the team’s market value though. Once again, the franchise is considered the most valuable of any of the NBA’s 30 clubs, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Lakers and Warriors aren’t far behind, having both surpassed the $4 billion mark for the first time this year.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1.3 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. Every team’s value increased by at least 6% since Forbes put out their 2019 valuations last February, with a handful of franchises jumping by 20% or more.

The NBA-wide average of $2.12 billion per team in 2020 is also a new record — that league-wide average surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time. NBA franchise values are up almost sixfold over the last decade, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $4.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $4.4 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $4.3 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $3.2 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.1 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.6 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $2.5 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $2.475 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $2.4 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors: $2.1 billion
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: $2 billion
  12. Miami Heat: $1.95 billion
  13. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.85 billion
  14. San Antonio Spurs: $1.8 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.775 billion
  16. Washington Wizards: $1.75 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.625 billion
  18. Denver Nuggets: $1.6 billion
  19. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.58 billion
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.575 billion
  21. Utah Jazz: $1.55 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.525 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.52 billion
  24. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.51 billion
  25. Charlotte Hornets: $1.5 billion
  26. Detroit Pistons: $1.45 billion
  27. Orlando Magic: $1.43 billion
  28. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.375 billion
  29. New Orleans Pelicans: $1.35 billion
  30. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.3 billion

The Raptors are among this year’s big “winners,” with their value rising 25%, from $1.675 billion a year ago to $2.1 billion this year following their first NBA championship. The Clippers also had a noteworthy bump, moving from ninth place on Forbes’ list to sixth after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer.

Although every franchise’s value increased, the Nets had the smallest jump, just 6%. The Magic‘s modest 8% increase resulted in the team slipping from 23rd on last year’s list to 27th this year.

It’s worth noting that when a franchise has been sold in recent years, the price often exceeds Forbes’ valuation, so these figures are just estimates.

Latest On Joel Embiid, Sixers

Things have felt a little off in Philadelphia this season. Widely considered a top-two team in the Eastern Conference entering the season, the fifth-seeded Sixers have fallen short of those expectations so far and have struggled to smoothly incorporate major offseason signee Al Horford.

Franchise center Joel Embiid hasn’t been immune to the ups and downs of the 76ers’ season, having spoken last week about wanting to “get back to the fun Joel.” On Sunday, when Philadelphia hosted the Bulls, Embiid heard some boos from fans during pre-game intros and later appeared to shush the home crowd and say “Shut the f–k up” after hitting a dagger three in the fourth quarter (video link via Michael Lee of The Athletic).

Embiid, who claimed after the game that his comment was aimed at himself and not Philadelphia fans, said he didn’t care how it looked, adding that he wants to get back to being a “good a–hole.” On Monday, he posted an Instagram photo of that shushing moment, accompanied by the caption, You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Not content to leave it at that, Embiid later exchanged comments with Heat swingman Jimmy Butler, who replied to his former teammate’s Instagram post with the message, “I know a place where villains are welcome,” an apparent reference to Miami. Embiid’s response? “Damn right my brother.” (hat tip to Bleacher Report).

It’s premature to read too much into Embiid’s on-court actions on Sunday and his social media posts after the game. Considering the way the 76ers’ season has played out, the big man was probably just letting out some frustration and then engaging in some light trolling. He published a tweet later on Monday night reasserting his commitment to Philadelphia.

Still, given the ongoing drama, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on. When the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring, head coach Brett Brown‘s job security seemed tenuous, and if the team doesn’t advance even further in this year’s postseason, changes of some kind are probably coming.

A head coaching change and/or secondary roster moves are much more likely than anything drastic involving Embiid or Ben Simmons, but teams around the NBA are monitoring the situation. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his podcast this week (hat tip to RealGM) that rival executives have started to openly wonder whether the Sixers would consider moving Embiid. As Windhorst acknowledged, that’s an extremely unlikely scenario, but it’s notable that execs don’t believe it’s an impossibility.

“My point is people are talking about that,” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “I don’t think they would do that without making an adjustment to the head coach. It’s such a radical thing. But the fact that we’re in mid-February and the people who work in the league, who have to prepare in advance, are mulling over Joel Embiid potentially coming to market, whether that’s true or not… I mean, (Sixers owner) Josh Harris can come on this podcast and deny it if he wants, but the fact people are talking about it, is not good. It’s a symptom of where they are.”

23 Trade Exceptions Generated In Deadline Deals

As we explain in our glossary entry on the NBA’s trade rules, teams that complete a “non-simultaneous” deal can create what’s called a traded player exception. These are salary cap exceptions a team can use anytime during the following calendar year to acquire one or more players whose salaries are no greater than the amount of that exception (plus $100K).

A number of the traded player exceptions created at the 2019 trade deadline expired this week without being used, but nearly two dozen new TPEs were generated as a result of the trades completed at this year’s deadline. They’ll expire next February, so they could be used during the offseason or sometime next season.

The full list of traded player exceptions created this week is below, sorted by amount. The player whose departure helped generate the TPE is noted in parentheses. The full list of available trade exceptions can be found right here.

In addition to the traded player exceptions from the deals completed on February 6, this list includes the exceptions created on February 5 in the four-team trade involving the Hawks, Timberwolves, Rockets, and Nuggets.

It doesn’t include trade exceptions generated in deals earlier this season, such as the $7,069,662 TPE the Trail Blazers got when they sent Kent Bazemore to Sacramento in a five-player trade. Again, the full list of current TPEs can be found here.

If you have any questions or corrections, please let me know in the comment section below.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post.