Sixers Rumors

Pacific Rumors: Randle, Bradley, Looney, Kokoskov

Lakers power forward Julius Randle could wind up in his hometown of Dallas next season, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. Randle would be a nice fit alongside guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavericks have plenty of cap space to sign him. He played very well against them this season, averaging 21.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG and 5.6 APG on 66% shooting, Urbina notes. Randle would also slot in well with the Suns and Pacers, Urbina adds, though it’s more likely he winds up staying with the Lakers. Randle will be a restricted free agent if, as expected, the Lakers extend a $5.564MM qualifying offer by the June 29th deadline.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley could wind up with the Sixers if Philadelphia loses J.J. Redick in free agency, Urbina writes in a separate piece. Bradley’s spot-up shooting and man-to-man defense would make him a good fit with their young core, Urbina continues. The Spurs and Thunder, who were involved in trade rumors for Bradley this winter, could be potential landing spots. The Pelicans might also be interested in upgrading the shooting guard spot, which would allow them to move Jrue Holiday back to the point if they lose free agent Rajon Rondo, Urbina adds.
  • Big man Kevon Looney has emerged as a key player for the Warriors and that won’t change throughout the postseason, according to Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News. The Warriors’ first-round pick in 2015 has battled injuries during his first two seasons. Now healthy, Looney gives the Warriors another quality defender with length who guard all five positions, Kurtenbach adds. Looney could be plying his trade somewhere else next season, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Warriors declined their team option on him last October.
  • Igor Kokoskov has Jared Dudley‘s endorsement as the Suns search for a new head coach, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Kokoskov, 46, was instrumental in drawing up plays when Lindsey Hunter was Phoenix’s interim coach in 2013, according to Dudley. Kokoskov, who has interviewed for the Suns job, is currently a Jazz assistant. “It’s not like Igor is young,” Dudley said. “He’s had plenty of experience. It’s like Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. They put the right staff around them. That’s the critical part. I think he’s shown he deserves the opportunity.”

Urbina: Sixers A Possible Suitor For Barton?

  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype offers up four potential destinations for Will Barton in free agency. Barton has spent the last three and a half seasons with the Nuggets and has expressed interest in sticking with the team, but Urbina also views the Suns, Pacers, and Sixers as viable suitors for the veteran swingman.

Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Henson, Rodgers, Ilyasova

The Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo are both envisioning a long-term relationship, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Antetokounmpo will be 26 when his current contract expires after the 2020/21 season, and he hopes to sign another long-term deal in Milwaukee.

“Definitely. That’s one of my goals,” Antetokounmpo said about spending his career with one franchise.Kobe [Bryant] did it. Tim Duncan did it. Dirk Nowitzki did it. I just want to be one of those guys … that stays for the city, play for the city for 20 years.”

That view is shared by the Bucks, who want to hold onto their MVP candidate for as long they can. Antetokounmpo is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 26.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and leading the team to its third playoff appearance in the past four seasons. Bucks president Peter Feigin calls him a “unicorn” and says the franchise is doing all it can to maximize Antetokounmpo’s appeal.

“I think all of us feel like extremely lucky and have a big responsibility to do fantastic things for him, for the team, for the league,” Feigin said. “So we spend a lot of time and just being as innovative as we can and [discussing] how do we really take his likability and just blow it out of the sky.”

There’s more today from Milwaukee:

  • John Henson is sitting out his second straight playoff game with back issues, the Bucks announced this morning (Twitter link). Milwaukee’s starting center averaged 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the first two games of the series with Boston.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become a limited partner in the Bucks’ ownership group, relays Rob Demovsky of ESPN. A longtime NBA fan, Rodgers was introduced to the crowd in his new role during Friday’s Game 3. “I am excited and honored to deepen my connection to the region by joining Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli and the ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks,” Rodgers said. “As a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball, this is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to furthering my affinity for Wisconsin sports as a minority owner in a team I love and support.”
  • Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova gave serious consideration to the Bucks after his buyout from Atlanta, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Ilyasova broke into the NBA with Milwaukee and his family still lives there, but he was more excited about the opportunity in Philadelphia.

Sixers Worked Hard To Get Embiid's Mask Approved

Joel Embiid made his on-court return for the Sixers’ Game 3 first-round series matchup against the Heat. It was Embiid’s first game since March 28, when he suffered an orbital fracture in his left eye and a concussion. To prevent further injury, Embiid sported a league-approved protective mask, which involved a lot of effort to construct, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne details.

Joel Embiid made his on-court return for the Sixers’ Game 3 first-round series matchup against the Heat. It was Embiid’s first game since March 28, when he suffered an orbital fracture in his left eye and a concussion. To prevent further injury, Embiid sported a league-approved protective mask, which involved a lot of effort to construct, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne details.

“They [the Sixers] did everything possible,” Embiid said. “They were like throwing stuff at it to make sure it could withstand it.”

Philadelphia's Carefully Constructed Culture

Love or hate The Process, it produced a Sixers team that is every bit an Eastern Conference contender. Beyond the roster loaded with talent, however, is a strong culture, one that ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz points out is far more developed and nuanced than we all assumed while they were losing historically.

Love or hate The Process, it produced a Sixers team that is every bit an Eastern Conference contender. Beyond the roster loaded with talent, however, is a strong culture, one that ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz points out is far more developed and nuanced than we all assumed while they were losing historically.

All of that was a time of learning, a time of progression, a time of really seeing the type of person you can become when you endure hard time,” said Sixers forward Robert Covington. “That journey made us who we are. The 18-win season, the 10-win season. All that, it built us up for this moment.

A mainstay for the team during those lean years is a tradition of having players give presentations about topics that resonate with them on a monthly basis. The result? A series of PowerPoint speeches over which Sixers staffers and stars have been connecting.

Arnovitz breaks down the motivation behind the Sixers’ discussions, which range from Covington’s lecture on snakes to Dario Saric‘s lesson on the Balkan conflict that shaped his childhood. If you dive into one #LongRead today, make it this one.

Joel Embiid Will Play For Sixers In Game 3

Joel Embiid will play and start in Game 3 of the Sixers‘ first-round Eastern Conference matchup against the Heat, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Earlier today, Embiid had been listed as doubtful for tonight’s game before shootaround.

The Sixers had reportedly been working on a new protective mask for Embiid, as the black mask he has been wearing was not cleared by the league. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets that Embiid’s new and approved mask has built-in protective eyewear mask and is made of carbon and polycarbonate.

Embiid has not played since March 28 when he collided with teammate Markelle Fultz during a home game against the Knicks. The 24-year-old suffered a concussion and underwent surgery three days later for an orbital fracture in his left eye. As Embiid’s recovery progressed — and he cleared the NBA’s concussion protocol before Game 2 — he was still yet to test himself beyond light contact in practice.

Before the injury ended his regular season, the 2017/18 All-Star averaged 22.9 PPG and 11.0 RPG in 63 games for the Sixers. With the series even at 1-1 entering Thursday’s Game 3 in Miami, a healthy Embiid could change the dynamic of the series for Philadelphia.

Pompey: Sixers Right To Play It Safe With Embiid

Following up on Wednesday’s report that the Knicks will interview Kenny Smith for their head coaching position, Marc Berman of The New York Post classifies the TNT analyst as a long shot, suggesting that it may simply be a “courtesy interview,” unless Smith has interest in joining the coaching staff as an assistant.

A job as an assistant is also a possibility for Mike Woodson, according to Berman, who writes that there has been speculation about a scenario in which the Knicks hire Mark Jackson as their new head coach and bring aboard Woodson as Jackson’s top assistant.

The Knicks continue to go through the interview process, so it’s probably too early to suggest that the team is leaning toward a single candidate, but it still seems as if Jackson, David Fizdale, and David Blatt represent the top options for the club. Jerry Stackhouse was reported to be a part of the Knicks’ “top tier” of candidates too, but Berman’s sources suggest Stackhouse may be the top choice for the Magic.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Kyrie Irving blockbuster and the Celtics‘ lack of activity at the trade deadline generated most of the headlines during the 2017/18 league year, but Danny Ainge has done a nice job filling out the roster with under-the-radar acquisitions, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. Forsberg points to the signings of players like Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin, and Daniel Theis as moves that paid off for Boston.
  • While the Celtics have done an admirable job complementing their big veteran contracts with affordable rookie deals, the team will have to look ahead and consider which players are long-term keepers when their youngsters start getting second contracts, tweets Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. As Mannix notes, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier will be up for raises soon, with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to follow down the road.
  • While the Sixers and Joel Embiid – who remains doubtful to play in Game 3 – would both love to see the franchise center on the court during the team’s first-round series against the Heat, his orbital bone injury is “no joke,” writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Given the risk of further damage to Embiid’s eye, the 76ers are right to play it safe with Embiid this year, in Pompey’s view. That’s especially true when considering Philadelphia’s long-term investment in the young big man — his maximum-salary extension goes into effect in 2018/19.
    (Note: Embiid has been upgraded to probable for Game 3 — 3:55pm)

Joel Embiid Listed As Doubtful For Game 3

  • The Sixers are listing Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 3, the team announced on Twitter. Coach Brett Brown said Embiid, who is recovering from March 31 facial surgery, was able to handle contact “quite well” in Tuesday’s practice, relays Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter link). “He did a little bit of contact,” Brown said. “Not much, but a little. Got up and down and scripted some plays. But really not much more than that.” Embiid will be evaluated again at tomorrow’s shootaround (Twitter link).

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs continue to insist they won’t consider trading Kawhi Leonard this summer, but it’s getting harder to believe, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Stein suggested last month that coach Gregg Popovich should have a one-on-one discussion with Leonard after the season to repair the relationship. Now he writes that it may be too late for that to make a difference.

Rumors of strained feelings between Leonard and the Spurs have escalated in the playoffs as he chose to remain with his doctors in New York rather fly to California to support his teammates. Popovich, who has taken veiled shots at Leonard before, raised them to a new level in responding to a question about LaMarcus Aldridge after Monday’s game.

“He plays through everything,” Popovich said of Aldridge. “I can’t imagine being more proud of a player as far as playing through adversity and being there for his teammates night after night after night. He’s been fantastic.”

While Aldridge is deserving of the kind words, the double meaning was clearly aimed at Leonard, who hasn’t been with the Spurs despite receiving medical clearance from team doctors in February. He remains in New York after traveling there last month to consult with his personal physicians about treatment for a lingering quad injury that limited him to nine games this season.

San Antonio will face a major decision in July when Leonard becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension that would pay him more than $200MM. If Leonard doesn’t agree to an extension and the Spurs refuse to trade him, the clock will being ticking toward next summer when he can opt out of a $21.33MM salary and become an unrestricted free agent.

There’s more news today regarding Leonard:

  • The Spurs have expected for weeks that Leonard wouldn’t return for the playoffs, relays Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Bontemps expresses similar doubts about Leonard’s future in San Antonio, although the relationship with Popovich remains solid. Nearly every team will be interested if Leonard becomes available in trade, but Bontemps expects the Lakers and Clippers to be among the most active, along with the Sixers, who could offer Markelle Fultz and two first-round picks in this year’s draft. He also mentions the Celtics, who are stocked with young talent, and the Cavaliers, who might be willing to part with the unprotected Nets’ pick in an effort to convince LeBron James to stay.
  • Popovich denied his comments on Aldridge were directed at Leonard, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Told that a lot of people were interpreting his words that way, Popovich responded, “Who are these lots of people? Who are they? Did you count them? I think you just made that up.”
  • Aldridge serves as a reminder that broken relationships between teams and players can be repaired, notes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Aldridge issued a trade request last summer, but Popovich smoothed things over in an offseason meeting that led to Aldridge signing a three-year extension and turning in his best season since coming to San Antonio.
  • Don’t forget to vote in our poll on what the Spurs should do about the Leonard situation this summer.

Sixers To Play In China In Preseason; Philly A Fit For Evans?

  • The NBA will return to China during the 2018 preseason, with the Sixers and Mavericks set to become the 16th and 17th teams to play in the country since 2004, per a press release. Dallas and Philadelphia will play in Shanghai on October 5 and in Shenzhen on October 8.
  • The NBA will return to China during the 2018 preseason, with the Sixers and Mavericks set to become the 16th and 17th teams to play in the country since 2004, per a press release. Dallas and Philadelphia will play in Shanghai on October 5 and in Shenzhen on October 8.
  • The Grizzlies made a surprising move at February’s trade deadline when they held onto Tyreke Evans rather than dealing him to a contender. The Grizzlies have maintained that they want to re-sign Evans, but they’ll likely face competition for his services. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype speculates that the Trail Blazers, Pacers, and Sixers could be fits for Evans this offseason.