Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Raptors, Brunson, Begarin

After converting Michael Foster Jr. to a two-way deal, the Sixers have an opening on their 15-man roster, and it sounds like the team doesn’t plan to fill that opening right away.

“We believe there’s a lot of guys out there that may become available,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “We wanted to make sure we had a spot.”

Even if Philadelphia doesn’t end up finding a free agent or trade target to fill that 15th spot anytime soon, keeping it open will allow the team to maximize its financial flexibility. The Sixers are a few million dollars below their hard cap and have a chance to duck out of luxury tax territory altogether if they trim a little salary during the season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The chances of Fred VanVleet or Pascal Siakam signing a contract extension with the Raptors before the regular season begins appear slim, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star (Twitter link). VanVleet could still negotiate an in-season extension if he turns down his 2023/24 player option, whereas Siakam would be ineligible to sign an extension until next summer if he doesn’t receive one by opening night.
  • In a full story for The Toronto Star, Smith writes that Justin Champagnie earned the Raptors‘ 15th roster spot almost by default. Champagnie was sidelined for most of the preseason due to a hip injury, but the other challengers – D.J. Wilson, Josh Jackson, and Gabe Brown – didn’t do much in training camp or the preseason to stand out and seize the final regular season roster spot.
  • Newly added free agent point guard Jalen Brunson has been everything the Knicks could’ve hoped for so far, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post, who writes that Brunson’s selfless play seemed to be rubbing off on the other starters during the preseason. “It’s clear as day the impact he’s had on the team,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • Former NBA assistant Will Weaver, who is now coaching Paris Basketball in France, loves what he has seen from Celtics draft-and-stash prospect Juhann Begarin so far this fall, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “We all witnessed it today,” Weaver said on Sunday after Begarin scored 28 points in a loss to AS Monaco. “Juhann Begarin is an NBA player. He can make an impact in Boston.” The Celtics drafted Begarin with the 45th overall pick in 2021 and continue to hold his NBA rights.
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