Dario Saric

Sixers Pick Up Four Options; Okafor In Limbo

The Sixers have exercised their 2018/19 rookie scale team options on four players, according to RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. Philadelphia has picked up third-year options for Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, along with the fourth-year option for Justin Anderson.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2018/19 Rookie Scale Team Options]

That leaves Jahlil Okafor as the only player with a 2018/19 team option that has yet to be exercised. The Sixers could still pick up Okafor’s fourth-year option – which has a cap hit of about $6.3MM – at some point today. However, the club continues to explore potential trades involving the former third overall pick, and those trade talks could determine whether or not Okafor’s option gets exercised, tweets Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

Outside of Simmons’ option, which will count for about $6.4MM against the 76ers’ cap, the 2018/19 options picked up by the team so far are modest. Saric and and Anderson will have cap charges of about $2.5MM apiece, while Luwawu-Cabarrot’s will be a little over $1.5MM.

The decisions lock all four players in for the ’18/19 season, and Anderson will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2019, assuming he’s not extended during the 2018 offseason. Philadelphia will face fourth-year option decisions on Simmons, Saric, and Luwawu-Cabarrot a year from now.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Saric, Bench

Asked on Monday about the possibility of a minutes limit for Joel Embiid to start the season, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said the club doesn’t necessarily have a specific amount in mind. However, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, Brown suggested that the young center would continue to see minutes in the teens, as he had in the preseason. Told later about Brown’s comments, Embiid expressed disappointment, though he insisted he trusts the Sixers and team doctors.

“I got a voice,” Embiid said. “They got to listen to me. … If I feel great and my body feels great and my knee is fine, I should play 30 minutes or more. I definitely have my opinion on that. They are going to hear me. We are going to discuss it.”

As Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia details (via Twitter), Embiid railed against his minutes restriction again on Tuesday, using more colorful language — it’s “f—ing bulls–t,” in Embiid’s view. The fourth-year big man also said he thought he’d be playing at least 24 minutes a night to start the year, adding that he doesn’t believe in the concept of minute restrictions to begin with (Twitter links).

As we wait to see if the Sixers and Embiid can find common ground on his playing time, let’s round up a few more items out of Philadelphia…

  • In his weekly mailbag for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton explored how many games – and minutes – Embiid would need to play for the Sixers to become a probable playoff team. Pelton estimates that 55 games played sounds about right, assuming Embiid averages close to 25 minutes in those contests.
  • Dario Saric was the Sixers’ most productive player down the stretch last season, but will come off the bench to start the 2017/18 campaign. As he tells Sarah Todd of Philly.com, if he can’t start games, Saric hopes to be part of the lineup that finishes them.
  • In a separate article for Philly.com, Todd takes a closer look at the Sixers’ bench, which – led by Saric – features an intriguing mix of depth, upside, and experience.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Saric, Covington, Fultz

Joel Embiid‘s teammates believe the Sixers made the right move by rewarding him with a five-year extension, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid is slated to receive $148MM, but the value could go as high as $178MM if he meets certain criteria. There are also several salary cap protections to guard the organization against further injury for Embiid, who has played just 31 games in three seasons. “Have you seen him play? He’s a beast,” Ben Simmons responded when asked about the extension. “I can’t name one person that can stop him. Honestly, there’s nobody that can compete with him at his position. No one.”

Embiid is still recovering from “minor” surgery in March to fix a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Sixers were hoping to have him ready for the October 18 season opener, but rehab has been going well and Pompey suggests he may play in Friday’s preseason finale. Embiid’s last game before the surgery was January 27.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Embiid’s cap hit for next summer will be either $25.2MM or $30.3MM, depending on whether he meets the qualifications for the 30% max, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. If Embiid is only at the 25% max, Philadelphia will have about $53.34MM in committed salary heading into next year’s free agent sweepstakes. That leaves roughly $47.6MM, but that figure will be reduced by draft picks and option decisions. The Sixers may have two first-rounders if they land the Lakers’ pick, and they have to determine whether to extend rookie-scale contracts for Jahlil Okafor ($6.3MM in 2018/19), Dario Saric ($2.5MM) and Justin Anderson ($2.5MM) by the end of October. Bodner writes that the Sixers are certain to pick up Saric’s option, but Okafor and Anderson are less definite. Philadelphia also has team options on T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes valued at $1.6MM each, but those don’t have to be addressed until June 29.
  • The team’s most important remaining salary decision involves Robert Covington, Bodner adds in the same piece. Starting November 15, Covington will be eligible to have his contract renegotiated or extended. He will become a free agent with a $3MM cap hold next summer if nothing is done.
  • Rookie guard Markelle Fultz may still be suffering the effects of a right shoulder injury, Pompey relays in a separate story. The first overall pick had to sit out Friday’s game and is shooting just 29.2% from the floor in the preseason. “I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body. But he’s been working on just trying to get that thing rehabilitated.”

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Porzingis, Embiid

It hasn’t taken long for Kyrie Irving to gel with his new Celtics teammates, Marc D’Amico of the Celtics’ official website writes. The newly acquired point guard has made an effort to approach his new teammates on the bus and at practice in order to make the transition more comfortable.

Of course Irving’s performance has wowed a Celtics teammate or two as well. Through training camp, Irving has impressed Al Horford with his uncanny ability to finish shots and frustrated Terry Rozier with his slippery offensive game. “He’s a tough one to guard, probably one of the toughest guys I’ve ever had to guard in my life,” Rozier said.

After putting up 25.2 points and 5.8 assists per game in his final season with the Cavaliers, Irving will look to provide much-needed star power to a Celtics squad eager to take the next step toward contention. Irving may well be the player on the roster with the highest ceiling ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Saric, Rambis

Among the biggest things that Gordon Hayward will have to adjust to when suiting up for the Celtics this year is the big market environment, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes.

Ever since rumors started to swirl that Boston may be the ultimate landing spot of the 2017 free agent (thanks in large part to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens), Hayward started to notice just how much attention he was generating in New England.

It is different, and that’s something that’s different for me because I’ve flown under the radar since I’ve been in high school,” Hayward said. “Going into making this decision [to join the Celtics], we talked about how there’s going to be more of a spotlight.

Hayward averaged 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Jazz last season. This year he’ll look to mesh well with a Celtics team dead-set on competing for the Eastern Conference title.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Despite a solid string of performances when given the opportunity to lead the Sixers, Dario Saric is poised to come off the bench for the squad at the start of the 2017/18 season. As Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, there were spacing issues when Saric played alongside Joel Embiid last season and it’s hard to envision a good fit for him with the rest of Philly’s expected starters on defense.
  • After a dismal 2016/17 season, Kurt Rambis has been relieved of his unofficial duties as the Knicks‘ defensive coordinator, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Rambis remains an associate head coach with the team, however.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Sixers have not engaged with Nik Stauskas about a possible contract extension, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Despite that, the shooting guard would be open to remaining with the team beyond this season.

Brogdon Wins Rookie Of Year Award

Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon was named the league’s Rookie of the Year, which was announced on the TNT awards show Monday night.

Brogdon, a second-round pick, edged out a pair of Sixers Joel Embiid and Dario Saric — in the voting. The 36th overall pick last summer appeared in 75 regular-season games and started 28. He averaged 10.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 4.2 APG in 26.4 MPG. He also shot 40.4% from long range.

Embiid posted much bigger stats — 20.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG — but only appeared in 31 games.

A majority of the Hoops Rumors staff selected Brogdon as their choice for the award. He is the first non-lottery pick to win the award since Mark Jackson in 1988.

Brogdon, Saric Headline 2016/17 NBA All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has announced its All-Rookie teams for the 2016/17 season, with Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon and Sixers forward Dario Saric headlining the First Team. Brogdon and Saric were the only two players who were unanimously named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team.

Here’s the full breakdown of this year’s All-Rookie squads:

First Team:

Second Team:

Brogdon, Saric, and Embiid are the finalists for the 2016/17 NBA Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced later tonight during the league’s TV broadcast on TNT.

NBA Reveals Award Finalists

The NBA is in the process of revealing its finalists for each of the major year-end awards on TNT, the winners of which will be announced at the official award show on June 26.

Below is an ongoing list that we’ll update as the NBA on TNT crew reveals more.

Most Improved Player of the Year
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rudy Gobert
Nikola Jokic

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP

Sixth Man of the Year
Eric Gordon
Andre Iguodala
Lou Williams

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man

Rookie of the Year
Malcolm Brogdon
Joel Embiid
Dario Saric

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY

Coach of the Year
Mike D’Antoni
Gregg Popovich
Erik Spoelstra

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COTY

Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert
Draymond Green
Kawhi Leonard

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY

Most Valuable Player of the Year
James Harden
Kawhi Leonard
Russell Westbrook

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Lowry, Saric, Sixers

A spokesman for Kristaps Porzingis is blaming hackers for the mysterious tweet that appeared Saturday on his account, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The message read “LA Clippers” with three smiley faces, prompting speculation that Porzingis has a desire to be traded to Los Angeles. It was deleted a few seconds later. His representative says Porzingis was asleep when the tweet was posted and he believes the account was hacked.

There’s more this morning from the Atlantic Division:

  • This summer could bring major changes to the Raptors, including the departure of Kyle Lowry and coach Dwane Casey, writes Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun. The Raptors trail the Cavaliers 3-0 heading into today’s Game 4, and there is speculation that a second-round exit won’t be enough to keep the team together. Lowry is expected to opt out of his $12MM deal and become a free agent after an injury-filled season. He described himself as “probably doubtful” for today’s game with a sprained left ankle, the latest in a list of ailments that also included back problems and wrist surgery. Lowry has three straight All-Star appearances, but he turned 31 in March and the Raptors will have to decide if he’s worth a long-term investment. Casey has a .548 winning percentage in his six years in Toronto, but team president Masai Ujiri may decide the team needs a different presence on its bench.
  • Rookie of the Year candidate Dario Saric remembers the anxiety he felt on the plane trip from Croatia to Philadelphia, relays Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. “I was nervous,” he said. “I feel like I am coming in NBA, this is it now. I cannot go back anymore.” The Sixers waited two years for Saric to join the team after acquiring his rights in a 2014 trade with Orlando. He didn’t disappoint, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 81 games.
  • The Sixers need more than just another successful draft to become contenders, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey examines the way other teams have been constructed and notes that there is usually a mixture of draft picks, trades and free agency signings. Philadelphia enters the May 16th lottery with the fourth-worst record and about a one in three chance of landing a top three pick. The Sixers will also receive the Lakers’ selection if it falls out of the top three.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Brown, Colangelo, Embiid

Center Jahlil Okafor wasn’t among the players identified as “keepers” for next season by Sixers coach Brett Brown in a news conference today. Brown listed Ben Simmons, Joel EmbiidTimothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Richaun Holmes, Robert CovingtonDario Saric, Nik Stauskas and T.J. McConnell, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Okafor was the subject of numerous trade rumors prior to February’s deadline. and his future with the organization remains uncertain. Brown said Okafor understands this is an important offseason for him (Twitter link), adding, “Our mission this summer is to get his body right.” (Twitter link). GM Bryan Colangelo, who also spoke to reporters today, didn’t say that trading Okafor will be a priority, but he noted, “If a deal comes along that makes sense for both, we’ll listen.” (Twitter link).

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • Brown and Colangelo both identified shooting as the Sixers’ most pressing offseason need. Brown said the team also needs to find a backup power forward, sign some veterans, assess Simmons’ abilities as a point guard and find the right shooting guard to play alongside him, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.
  • Brown added that early-season injuries to Simmons and Jerryd Bayless were the biggest obstacles the Sixers faced in their 28-54 season (Twitter link). Simmons fractured a bone in his right foot during training camp and missed the entire year. Bayless, who signed a three-year, $27MM deal last offseason, tore a ligament in his left wrist during camp and was limited to three games. “You felt like you just blew out your backcourt in about a week,” Brown said.
  • The Sixers are expecting a much healthier version of Embiid next season, Pompey tweets. After missing his first two NBA seasons, Embiid was limited to 31 games in his rookie year. Although he played spectacularly, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, Embiid was on a minutes restriction and Philadelphia’s medical staff was very cautious about his availability. “I don’t think back-to-backs will be an issue” for Embiid next season, Colangelo said.
  • Colangelo promises an aggressive approach in free agency, saying, “If there is the right free agent to spend money on, we will.” (Twitter link). The Sixers will enter the July bidding with more than $50MM available under the salary cap. Colangelo also vowed to be “prudent and wise” with any signings (Twitter link).
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