Philadelphia 76ers

Tibor Pleiss May Not Stick With Sixers

The Jazz and Sixers completed a trade today that sent Kendall Marshall to Utah and Tibor Pleiss to Philadelphia, with both teams officially confirming that the deal is done. Reports have indicated that Utah will waive Marshall soon, avoiding having his contract become guaranteed. And even though Pleiss has a fully guaranteed $3MM salary, it sounds like he may ultimately be cut as well.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (via Twitter) that the Sixers are still evaluating whether Pleiss will be a part of the team’s roster this season or whether he’ll be waived. According to Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com (via Twitter), Philadelphia is likely to waive the German big man.

Pleiss, a former second-round pick who signed with the Jazz last summer, barely saw any action in his first NBA season, playing just 82 total minutes for Utah. The German big man was assigned to the D-League for a good chunk of the season, and he played well there, averaging 12.3 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 28 contests.

Because Pleiss’ salary is already fully guaranteed, there’s no rush for the Sixers to make a move right away. The team could bring the 26-year-old to training camp and make a decision on him shortly before the start of other regular season. However, Philadelphia reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber last month and has yet to make that deal official because the 20-man offseason roster has been full — perhaps Pleiss will be waived to make room for Barber.

Here are a couple more notes on today’s Jazz/Sixers trade, and the fallout:

  • According to Derek Bodner of PhillyMag.com, the Sixers will receive the most favorable and the least favorable of Utah’s four 2017 second-round selections. The Jazz currently hold their own second-rounder, along with the Knicks’, Pistons’, and Warriors’ picks. All four teams have playoff (or championship) aspirations, so there’s a chance neither of the picks Philadelphia gets will be that high.
  • Despite the fact that Marshall has failed to stick with an NBA team for more than a single season since entering the league in 2012, several league executives believe there’s still a spot in the league for the former lottery pick as a backup point guard, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Jazz, Sixers Swap Tibor Pleiss, Kendall Marshall

11:07am: The deal is official, the Jazz announced in a press release.

9:38am: The Jazz and Sixers have agreed to a trade that will send point guard Kendall Marshall to Utah, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, the Jazz will send Tibor Pleiss, two second-round picks, and cash to Philadelphia in exchange for Marshall. Utah will subsequently waive Marshall, whose deal is not guaranteed, tweets Wojnarowski."<strong

It’s essentially a cost-cutting move for the Jazz, who had been on track to pay Pleiss a guaranteed $3MM salary in 2016/17. Utah ditches that contract and takes on Marshall’s deal, which is fully non-guaranteed for now. The point guard’s $2,048,257 salary is set to become guaranteed soon, but the Jazz will waive him before that happens.

The move seems somewhat unusual on the surface for Utah, whose cap commitments for 2016/17 only totaled about $85MM prior to the trade. It’s possible though that the club is opening up a little extra cap room in order to renegotiate and extend Derrick Favors‘ contract. The Jazz will now have more than enough cap room to give Favors a pay raise to the max for 2016/17, while locking him up for additional seasons. Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors recently examined Favors’ case for an extension.

Whether or not the Jazz extend Favors this year, the team created more cap flexibility for 2017/18, when Pleiss would have had a modest $500K guarantee on his salary. With Favors and Rudy Gobert both candidates for max extensions, and Utah potentially wanting to lock up George Hill beyond this season as well, every little bit of cap room could help.

The Jazz also created an opening on their 15-man roster for the coming season, which is good news for the players competing for a spot. Utah selected three players – Joel Bolomboy, Marcus Paige, and Tyrone Wallace – in the second round of the 2016 draft, and the odds are good that at least one or two of those players make the regular-season roster.

As for the Sixers, they’re still well below the salary floor, and even if they don’t plan to use Pleiss at all, they’ll pick up a pair of future second-round picks and some cash for their trouble. The conditions on those second-rounders isn’t known, but Philadelphia didn’t have much to lose by making the deal.

Pleiss, a former second-round pick who signed with the Jazz last summer, barely saw any action in his first NBA season, playing just 82 total minutes for Utah. The German big man was assigned to the D-League for a good chunk of the season, and he played well there, averaging 12.3 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 28 contests.

Marshall, meanwhile, continues to jump from team to team, having failed to develop into a reliable NBA point guard since being selected 13th overall in 2012. The 25-year-old has played for the Suns, Lakers, Bucks, and Sixers since entering the league, and will now be seeking a new home for the 2016/17 campaign. This will be the third time he has been traded and subsequently waived — it also happened in 2013 and 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Optimism Surrounds Sixers, Embiid

Sixers coach Brett Brown expects Joel Embiid to be ready to play in the preseason, as he tells Zach Lowe of ESPN.com on his podcast (h/t to Rob Tornoe of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “Physically, mentally, recent medical scans, everything is pointing in the right direction. We’re just very excited,” Brown said. Embiid has yet to play in a game since being drafted with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

  • Brown feels the Sixers are in a good place as a franchise right now, as he discusses on that same podcast. “There’s a real feel good mentality right now in our city. I think everybody’s starting to get excited,” Brown said. “Obviously, this is just one more phase, one more wave on how we build our program. But we have such fantastic young, talented pieces to try to put that puzzle together. Everybody’s excited here in Philadelphia.”

And-Ones: Krzyzewski, Griffin, Simmons, Patterson

Mike Krzyzewski desperately wants to win his final game as coach of Team USA, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Krzyzewski demonstrated he is putting victory over player egos by pulling DeMarcus Cousins from the starting lineup in Friday’s semifinal against Spain and inserting defensive specialist DeAndre Jordan. Voisin also suggests that the closeness of many of this year’s game displays the need for a different philosophy in picking players. Krzyzewski, whose team will face Serbia in Sunday’s gold medal game, has an 82-1 record and two gold medals since taking over as Team USA coach in 2005. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will assume control of the team after the Olympics are done.

There’s more tonight from around the world of basketball:

  • Former D-League All-Star Eric Griffin, who will reportedly play in Israel next season, has a buyout clause that allows him to sign with an NBA team, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Griffin was recently cleared of an attempted murder charge in Florida, and his agent contends the case cost him a chance to play in the summer league.
  • Ben Simmons is the rookie most likely to make an impact in the NBA from the beginning, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. Blancarte picks the No. 1 draft choice because of his combination of court vision, size, athleticism and opportunity. Simmons is expected to take control of the Sixers’ offense right away. Others on Blancarte’s list, in order, are the Timberwolves‘ Kris Dunn, the Sixers‘ Joel Embiid and Dario Saric and the Pelicans‘ Buddy Hield.
  • After being claimed off waivers by the Kings, one of Lamar Patterson’s concerns was whether he could bring his pet alligator, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. His mother had been watching the creature while he played for the Hawks because he couldn’t keep it as a pet in Georgia. Jones found that California only allows pet gators if a special permit is obtained.

Brown Happy To Add O'Brien

  • Sixers head coach Brett Brown was happy to add a man who once held that position to his staff, according to Brian Seltzer of NBA.com. Jim O’Brien, who was Philadelphia’s coach for one season in 2004/05, rejoined the team after former associate head coach Mike D’Antoni left to become head coach of the Rockets. “His experiences in the NBA are documented,” Brown said of O’Brien. “I just felt like, for me, with his Philadelphia background, his NBA experiences, and the fact that I felt comfortable with him, I felt like he would be a veteran sounding board, and good for my other young assistants.”

Brown: TV Schedule Shows Respect

  • The Sixers will play three nationally televised games, and coach Brett Brown believes that’s a sign of progress, Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com reports. Philadelphia hasn’t had a game broadcast nationally since the 2012/13 season. “It’s really I think a statement to the way the public views our young, exciting team,” Brown said in a podcast on the team’s website.

Embiid Remains Wild Card For Sixers

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid remains one of the games more intriguing talents despite not having played in a game that counts in over two years, Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine writes. If he can remain healthy and maximize his potential, Embiid has the talent to change not just Philadelphia’s fortunes, but how the game is played in the NBA as well, Bodner opines.

Simmons On Rookie Transition Program

  • Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft by the Sixers, noted that the league’s mandatory Rookie Transition Program was a great help to him as he kicks off his professional career, Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com relays. “[I learned] a lot, from fans to financial advice, family issues, everything,” Simmons said. “Financially, that’s one of those things I’ve been looking at. I definitely want to be one of those guys who’s not in one of those statistics of not having money. So that’s big for me. You’ve got to look toward the future because you don’t play basketball forever. It’s one of those things you need to take seriously and listen.”

Nerlens Noel Open To Being Traded?

Jahlil Okafor has been the Sixers big man who has been the subject of the most trade rumors and speculation this offseason, but he hasn’t been the only frontcourt player in Philadelphia mentioned in those rumors. Teammate Nerlens Noel has also been considered a trade candidate, with the 76ers needing to clear a logjam up front and add a little more talent in their backcourt.

According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Noel hasn’t asked to be traded and nothing tangible is in the works at this point. However, multiple sources tell Blakely that the former Kentucky Wildcat would be “very open” to being dealt if the Sixers choose to go in that direction. One league source also informed Blakely that the Celtics continue to have interest in Noel.

The Sixers will be faced with a decision soon on Noel — they’ll essentially have to determine this offseason or next summer whether he’ll be a part of their long-term future. The 22-year-old is extension-eligible this year for the first time, and will reach restricted free agency in 2017 if he and the Sixers don’t come to an agreement on a new deal. Odds are that Noel probably isn’t going anywhere before the 2016/17 begins, but it’s still a situation worth keeping an eye on.

Playoffs Not Realisitic Expectation In 2016/17

  • The Sixers progress this season shouldn’t be measured by whether or not the team makes the playoffs or how many additional wins the squad racks up, but on how much the young roster’s play improves over the course of the campaign, writes Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The scribe notes that an improvement of 29 wins over 2015/16 would likely be need to snag a spot in the postseason this season.

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