Nobody in Kendall Marshall‘s camp thought he would be ready for opening night, as Sixers GM Sam Hinkie predicted he would be, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, speaking in his latest “The Vertical” podcast (audio link, scroll to six-minute mark). Another team that considered signing Marshall this past summer told the point guard that it didn’t envision him returning to play from his torn ACL before January 1st, so Wojnarowski expressed surprise when Sixers coach and podcast guest Brett Brown said he, like Hinkie, thought Marshall would be ready for the start of the regular season. Marshall made his season debut December 11th after signing a four-year, $8MM contract that represents Philly’s largest free agent contract since Hinkie joined the team. See more on the Sixers from Brown’s conversation with Wojnarowski:
- Brown believes the arrival via trade of point guard Ish Smith, who’s taken the starting job from Marshall, is directly related to the relative success the club has had since, adding that the unsettled point guard situation prior to that made it tougher to fuse Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel into an effective on-court duo. “I think it caught everybody off-guard to have to figure out that position with some of the young guys and sort of journeymen that we did,” Brown said to Wojnarowski (scroll to five-minute mark). “I think it no doubt hurt us.”
- Hinkie and Brown were in agreement that it was worth it to draft an already-injured Joel Embiid at No. 3 overall in 2014, Brown told Wojnarowski in remarks that made it clear the coach hasn’t lost faith in the center’s potential. “I feel there is something uniquely special in him,” Brown said (scroll to 55-minute mark). “… I look at him, and I see his size, and I see how he carries himself, and I see [an] amazing competitor in all of it. So we get excited for Joel Embiid, no doubt.”
- The coach admitted to Wojnarowski that the team’s rebuilding project has persisted longer than he imagined when he first took the job in 2013 (scroll to 12-minute mark) and explained how he ended negotiations with the Sixers for a brief time at that point when the team was hesitant to give him a four-year deal (scroll to 49-minute mark). Brown signed an extension in December that tacks two additional years onto the contract.