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Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons Determined To Play This Season

Sixers rookie Ben Simmons doesn’t have a definite timetable to return to action after fracturing his right foot, but he tells ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that he definitely plans to play this season.

There has been speculation in some areas that Simmons’ best course of action might be to sit out the rest of the season and come back fully healthy next year.

“There’s a lot of talk; somebody put that out there,” Simmons said. “But I will come back when I am ready. There is no timetable on getting healthy. I am working every day to get back. As soon as they tell me I can play, I will be out there.”

Simmons suffered the injury, a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal, in a practice scrimmage and underwent surgery on October 4th. He recently had his sutures removed, and the team says he is making progress with his rehabilitation. With no complications, he is expected to return in January.

The rookie out of LSU also answered charges that a 33-pound weight gain over the offseason contributed to the injury. Simmons now carries 250 pounds on his 6’10” frame.

“I came down on somebody’s foot, so it wasn’t anything weight-wise or anything to do with that,” he said. “My playing weight was fine. I know a lot of talk was about that. It happened.”

Sixers Exercise Options On Embiid, Okafor, Stauskas

The Sixers have exercised their 2017/18 team options on the rookie contracts of Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Nik Stauskas, according to the transactions log. For Embiid and Stauskas, that means having their fourth-year options picked up. It’s a third-year option for Okafor.

While Embiid has missed his first two NBA seasons due to injuries, he’s set to finally make his regular-season debut, and the Sixers remain very excited about his long-term potential. The cost of his 2017/18 option is $6.1MM. He’ll be extension-eligible in 2017 and eligible for restricted free agency in 2018.

Okafor, meanwhile, is coming off a rookie season in which he averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 53 contests. While Okafor’s offensive production was solid, he missed some time with injuries, didn’t mesh particularly well with Nerlens Noel, and needs to improve on the defensive end. Still, his $4.995MM salary for 2017/18 is extremely affordable.

As for Stauskas, his hold on a roster spot for 2016/17 appeared tenuous over the last few weeks, but now that he’s made the team, he’ll also have his $3.807MM salary for 2017/18 guaranteed. Given his struggles during his first two NBA seasons, that decision comes as a bit of a surprise. However, Philadelphia is well below the salary floor this year and only had about $20MM in guaranteed salary on its books for ’17/18 entering today, so it’s not as if the Sixers can’t afford to eat Stauskas’ salary if they decide to waive him.

The full breakdown of the 2016 decisions on 2017/18 team options can be found right here.

Teams With Flexibility For Waiver Claims

Waiver claims aren’t particularly common in the NBA. During the 2015/16 league year, for instance, only seven players were claimed off waivers. However, October is one time when things are a little more active on waivers, as teams cut camp invitees from their rosters and other clubs have a chance to snatch up a potentially appealing contract without having to negotiate with the player. Three of 2015/16’s seven waiver claims occurred in October, and this year we’ve already seen one played claimed, as the Pistons nabbed Beno Udrih after he was cut by the Heat.

Not every team can claim any waived player. In fact, there are only a few instances when teams can claim a player who is earning more than the minimum salary. A club must either have enough cap room to accommodate the player’s salary, or a trade exception (or disabled player exception) large enough to fit the player’s salary.

For a team like the Pistons then, the only reason they were able to claim Udrih was because he was on a minimum salary contract. Teams can use the minimum salary exception to claim a player who is on a one- or two-year minimum salary contract. But if Udrih had been making $2MM, Detroit wouldn’t have been able to submit a claim.

With that in mind, here’s the list of teams able to afford to claim a player making more than the minimum:

Teams with cap room:

  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Utah Jazz
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Notes: The Lakers are also under the cap, but only by about $530K, which is less than the minimum salary. The Celtics, meanwhile, will have about $1.1MM in cap room as of the start of the regular season, since the cap holds for their unsigned first-round picks come off the books.

Teams with traded player exceptions:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers ($9,638,554 and three other TPEs)
  • Milwaukee Bucks ($1,733,880 and one other TPE)
  • Charlotte Hornets ($1,666,470)
  • Los Angeles Clippers: ($1,209,600)

For a player like R.J. Hunter, who is currently on waivers with a salary worth about $1.2MM, the 11 teams listed above are the only ones that can currently place a claim. The rest of the NBA’s teams could submit a claim for a minimum-salary player, but don’t have the cap room or cap exception necessary to accommodate, for instance, Archie Goodwin‘s $2MM+ salary. Neither do the Bucks, Hornets, and Clippers, whose trade exceptions are too small.

[RELATED: Players with fully guaranteed salaries who were cut]

When taking into account which teams might place a claim on a waiver player, it’s also worth noting that waiver priority is determined by record — the worst teams get first dibs on each waived player. Since the 2016/17 regular season hasn’t started yet, waiver order is currently determined by last year’s record. That will change on December 1, at which point this year’s standings will determine the order.

For now, that means the waiver priority order for the 11 teams listed above looks like this:

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (10-72)
  2. Brooklyn Nets (21-61)
  3. Phoenix Suns (23-59)
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-53)
  5. Milwaukee Bucks / Denver Nuggets (33-49)
    • (Coin flip determines priority)
  6. Utah Jazz (40-42)
  7. Indiana Pacers (45-37)
  8. Charlotte Hornets (48-34)
  9. Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
  10. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)

So if the Sixers and Nets both had interest in Goodwin and submitted claims, Brooklyn would be out of luck, since Philadelphia is the only team with a higher waiver priority. For minimum salary claims, the rest of the league’s 30 teams would slot into that waiver order based on last year’s record. In the full waiver order, the Pistons would have the 19th priority, meaning the 18 teams ahead of them didn’t make a claim for Udrih.

As noted above, waiver claims aren’t particularly common, but it’s possible we’ll see a couple more waiver moves this week, so the rules above are worth keeping in mind.

Bayless Out of Action For A Month

Jerryd Bayless was penciled in as the Sixers‘ opening night starter at point guard, but he’ll be in street clothes for at least the first month of the season while he recovers from a torn ligament in his left wrist, team sources told Jeff Goodman of The team announced last week that Bayless would not have surgery on his wrist, but did not put a timetable on his return to action, Goodman notes. Bayless signed a three-year deal with Philly this summer after averaging 10.4 points and 3.1 assists with Milwaukee in 2015/16.

Sixers Waive Paul, Webb, Barber, Long, Christmas

3:32pm: The 76ers have confirmed the five cuts listed below, announcing in a press release that they’ve waived Paul, Webb, Barber, Long, and Christmas.

2:35pm: The Sixers entered the day with 19 players, and will waive at least four of those players to get down to the regular-season limit. According to Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers (Twitter link), Brandon Paul will be one of those cuts. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (via Twitter) that James Webb III, Cat Barber, and Shawn Long will also be released by the club.

[RELATED: Elton Brand announces retirement]

In addition to the 19 players they had coming into the day, the Sixers also signed Dionte Christmas to a contract. While it hasn’t been officially reported or confirmed yet, Christmas will likely be Philadelphia’s fifth cut.

Webb, Barber, and Long are all candidates to join the Delaware 87ers, Philadelphia’s D-League affiliate, since the 76ers hold their rights. However, Paul has received interest from other NBA teams and there has been no talk of him heading to Delaware, a source tells Jessica Camerato of (Twitter link). Christmas doesn’t exactly fit the bill of a developmental prospect, but it looks like the Sixers may have picked up the 30-year-old today to send him to the D-League — a team can assign up to four preseason cuts to its D-League affiliate, assuming the player agrees.

Paul, Long, Webb, and Barber had partial guarantees worth $155K, $65K, $65K, and $50K respectively. Those figures will continue to count against Philadelphia’s cap. Assuming the Sixers don’t make any more cuts, they’ll head into the season with Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, T.J. McConnell, and Hollis Thompson on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries.

Additionally, as Fischer notes, Nik Stauskas has made Philadelphia’s roster to start the year. The former eighth overall pick has a fully guaranteed salary worth nearly $3MM, but there was some uncertainty about whether the Sixers would have room for him. For now, at least, it seems they do.

Sixers Sign Dionte Christmas

NBA teams have to reduce their rosters to 15 players in about four hours, but the Sixers aren’t quite ready to give up their 20-man preseason roster limit quite yet. According to a team release, Philadelphia has signed Dionte Christmas, bringing the club’s roster count back up to 20.

Christmas, who played his college ball at Temple, saw his only NBA action back in 2013/14 with the Suns. In 31 games for Phoenix, Christmas averaged 2.3 PPG and 1.2 RPG in 6.4 minutes per contest. He has played for various international teams in the years since then.

On the surface, Christmas looks like an unusual pickup for the Sixers. He’s unlikely to make the 15-man roster, so Philadelphia may intend to have him head to the D-League, but the 30-year-old isn’t the sort of developmental prospect the team would typically stash at Delaware. We’ll have to wait and see what the 76ers have in mind for the Philadelphia native.

Assuming Christmas’ deal isn’t fully guaranteed, the Sixers are currently carrying nine players on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries. They’ll have to waive five players by 5:00pm eastern time today to get down to 15.

And-Ones: Roster Moves, Bulls, Rudez, Onuaku

Monday afternoon is the deadline to reach the roster limit of 15, and nine teams still have cuts to make, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Rockets, Lakers, Pelicans, Thunder, Sixers, Suns and Kings all remain over the limit leading into what should be an eventful day, says Nahmad. By our count, the Grizzlies still have a move to make as well. The Pacers were the latest team to trim their roster, waiving Jeremy Evans and Julyan Stone tonight.

There’s more news from around the NBA:

  • J.J. Avila, who was waived Friday by the Bulls, has agreed to play for Chicago’s D-League affiliate, tweets Dennis Silva II of Monitor News. The 6’8″ power forward from Colorado State signed a training camp contract with Chicago in September. Guard Thomas Walkup of Stephen F. Austin, another Friday cut, will also be joining the Windy City Bulls (Twitter link).
  • Damjan Rudez and Arinze Onuaku both traveled a lot of miles to realize their dream of returning to the NBA, writes John Denton of After playing overseas and in the D-League, both veterans were told Saturday that they had earned a place on the Magic’s final roster. “It was a big blessing,” Onuaka said. “When you are out here fighting for a spot every day it’s stressful and to get that news, it was great. You’ve always got to wait to hear if you’re in or you’re out, so it wasn’t easy sleeping at night.’’
  • Fred VanVleet won the Raptors‘ final roster spot, but coach Dwane Casey said all the training camp invitees were impressive, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. Casey said Drew Crawford and Brady Heslip have the talent to be NBA players, adding that he was disappointed he didn’t have room to keep all of them.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Brand, Rodriguez

The final game of the preseason Friday was the first time Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor appeared in the same game for the Sixers, and while coach Brett Brown is open to the idea of using both simultaneously, it will likely take time for that to happen, Brian Seltzer of writes. The two big men have often been subject of trade rumors because they present a surplus of the same thing. The two players are also coming off of injuries and their limitations are the reason why they likely won’t be able to share the court early on, Seltzer writes.

Here is more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers have approached Elton Brand about accepting a front-office position and he has not ruled out the possibility of taking the job, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. It was a formality move when the Sixers announced they waived Brand Sunday because he had already announced his retirement.
  • The team has yet to decide on a starting point guard for the season opener, but Sergio Rodriguez was in action with the starting unit during practice, Pompey tweets.
  • With Rodriguez the likely starter and with a few notable injuries, the Sixers are reportedly interested in acquiring guard Tyus Jones, but Pompey writes in a separate story that the veteran is a backup at best and would not necessarily solve Philadelphia’s issues.

Nerlens Noel To Have Surgery, Out 3 to 5 Weeks

Sixers big man Nerlens Noel will have surgery Monday and is expected to miss three to five weeks, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel, who hasn’t played or practiced since October 6th, will have a procedure to take care of an inflamed plica above his left knee. An updated recovery time will be issued after the surgery. Noel, who is also recovering from a strained groin, has appeared in just one game this preseason.

The procedure means Noel will be inactive through the October 31st deadline for a rookie contract extension. A report this week said he and the team have not held any discussions about extending his contract. If no agreement is reached, he will become a restricted free agent next summer. Noel made headlines at the start of camp when he criticized the Sixers for having three young centers on the team and has seen his name mentioned repeatedly in trade rumors.

Elton Brand Announces Retirement

SUNDAY, 9:03am: The Sixers have released Brand, tweets Derek Bodner of PhillyMag.

THURSDAY, 12:14pm: After signing a new contract with the Sixers during the offseason, Elton Brand appeared ready to extend his NBA career at least one more year. However, the former first overall pick changed his course, announcing today that he’ll be retiring from the game (Twitter link via Jessica Camerato of Brand vertical

“After 17 years of playing the game that I love – and it’s been great to me – I’m officially retiring,” Brand told reporters today.

Brand previously announced his retirement from the NBA back in 2015, but decided to make a comeback with the Sixers during the 2015/16 season. When he made his announcement today, he asserted that his retirement is “for real this time.”

The No. 1 overall pick by the Bulls in the 1999 draft, Brand averaged over 20 points per game in his rookie season, then reached that mark in five more seasons over the course of his career. A two-time All-Star with the Clippers, Brand spent time in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Atlanta during his 17-year career, finishing with averages of 15.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.7 BPG in 1,058 total regular season contests.

Brand’s minimum-salary contract with the Sixers for the 2016/17 season was partially guaranteed for $1MM, and he’ll likely receive that money. Philadelphia remains well below the salary floor, so there’s little reason for the club to quibble over that payout, particularly if the two sides intend to continue their relationship into the next phase of Brand’s career.

As Camerato tweets, Brand said today that he’ll take some time off before deciding on what his next step will be. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) had speculated earlier today, prior to Brand’s announcement, that a role in the 76ers’ front office could be in the big man’s future.

With Brand no longer in the mix as a player, the Sixers will have one less decision to make as they cut down their roster to 15 players for the regular season. The team currently has 11 players on guaranteed salaries, with eight (plus Brand) on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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