De'Anthony Melton

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Tatum, Sixers, Brunson

On Thursday, in their first game since Kevin Durant injured his knee, the Nets fell to Boston by a score of 109-98. In some ways, Ben Simmons was the most effective player on the court for the Nets, racking up 13 assists and nine rebounds while being the only Brooklyn player to register a positive on-court rating (plus-10). However, he also went scoreless on the night, attempting just three field goals.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Simmons admitted he was probably looking to pass too often, acknowledging that he needs to make it more of a priority to “get myself going,” per Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“Being assertive, being aggressive and knowing that my team needs that,” Simmons said when asked what his team needs from him while Durant is out. “I think I’m giving the ball up way too many times when I know who I am, I know I need to get to the rim, get buckets. And that’s also going to help my teammates get them going.”

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, who is another one of just 18 players in NBA history to hand out at least 13 assists in a game without scoring a point, wasn’t bothered by Simmons’ performance, suggesting that the team needs him to compensate for Durant’s absence more on the other end of the court.

“My thing is going to be on the defensive end with Ben, the impact that he has to have without Kevin on the floor,” Vaughn said. “… Ben’s got to be able to protect the rim. Ben’s got to be able to be a force for us on the defensive end of the floor, so that we can play small, play three guards out there, so we can have shooting around.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Jaylen Brown isn’t the only Celtics star battling an injury — forward Jayson Tatum is dealing with issues affecting his thumb, ring finger, and wrist, but says he intends to continue playing through those ailments, per Jay King of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • In his latest mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keith Pompey explores a handful of Sixers-related topics, including the team’s biggest need at the trade deadline and whether De’Anthony Melton could replace P.J. Tucker in the starting lineup. Pompey believes Philadelphia could use a reliable backup point guard and a big, physical center to back up Joel Embiid, and says he doesn’t expect Tucker to be removed from the starting five.
  • Jalen Brunson has only been with the Knicks for about six months, but it’s clear that they’re already his team, according to Ian O’Connor of The New York Post, who says Brunson is the best player on the roster and “it isn’t close.” The point guard has been at his best since returning from a recent three-game injury absence, averaging 33.3 PPG on .522/.500/.809 shooting in his last six contests, five of which were Knicks wins.

Sixers Notes: Melton, Maxey, Tucker, Harden

When the Sixers gave up a first-round pick and Danny Green‘s expiring contract for De’Anthony Melton, they knew they were getting a strong defender who could make a three-point shot, but the former Grizzlies guard has given them “more connective tissue in the half court” than they might have expected, writes ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link).

Melton’s play-making and screening ability has been valuable for Philadelphia, according to Lowe, who notes that the team has scored an average of 1.2 points when a Melton screen leads directly to a shot. That’s 17th among 244 players who have set 50 such screens, Lowe writes, citing Second Spectrum. The 24-year-old has also handed out a career-best 3.3 assists per game.

Melton’s presence has helped the 76ers withstand injury absences for James Harden and Tyrese Maxey in the early part of the 2022/23 season. Despite not opening the season as part of Philadelphia’s starting five, Melton has made 20 starts in 27 appearances so far.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Given how well the 76ers have played with Melton in the starting lineup (they have a 13-7 record in those games), there has been some speculation about the possibility of bringing Maxey off the bench as the leader of the second unit when he returns from his foot injury. Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com considers the case for making such a move, but ultimately concludes that it’s probably not in the team’s best interest.
  • In his latest mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keith Pompey also argues against making Maxey the sixth man once he’s healthy. Pompey’s mailbag explores several other topics, including whether the Sixers’ three-year, $33MM+ investment in P.J. Tucker will turn out as poorly as the four-year, $109MM deal they gave Al Horford in 2019 — given the relative size of the two deals, Pompey believes there’s no comparison between the two, especially since Horford was never a good fit, while Tucker is beginning to show overall improvement in his role.
  • In his first seven games back from a foot injury, Harden has averaged nearly 39 minutes per night. However, head coach Doc Rivers isn’t concerned about the former MVP’s heavy recent workload, per Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’ll guarantee you, by the end of the year, you’ll look at his numbers and they’ll look great,” Rivers said. “It’s a whole year. That’s why we can’t overdo things when guys have a three-week spike in minutes and all of a sudden we’re overreacting to that. You don’t. We’ve been low on guards, and so guys have to play minutes. And James is one of those guys that can handle minutes. But by the end of the year, his minutes will be down.”

Sixers Notes: Melton, Rivers, Harden, Embiid

De’Anthony Melton had his best game since joining the Sixers – and arguably the best game of his career – on Friday night. The fifth-year guard established new career bests by scoring 33 points, making eight 3-pointers, and racking up seven steals in Philadelphia’s overtime victory over the Lakers.

As Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com writes, Melton was a difference-maker in a game the 76ers almost gave away and continues to show why the team was willing to give up a first-round pick for him in the offseason. Melton is averaging 11.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 2.3 SPG in his first 23 games in Philadelphia (29.5 MPG), making 38.5% of his 3-point attempts and playing strong perimeter defense.

Melton has enjoyed a career year despite battling a back issue — he has hardly practiced at all this season, Joel Embiid told reporters on Friday. Melton has instead used the team’s off days to take care of his body and go through what he calls a “maintenance” process, according to Neubeck.

“I’ll take (Melton not practicing) every time if he’s going to show up to the game and do what he does every single night,” Embiid said. “He knows it, I appreciate the effort, because I find myself in that same situation quite a bit, and every single chance that I can even when I’m hurt, I want to be on the floor. So to be able to do the same even though he’s dealing with a back injury, I appreciate the effort.”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • In two more articles for PhillyVoice.com, Neubeck considers why the Sixers have been hard to watch this season and fields readers’ mailbag questions, discussing Doc Rivers‘ job security, among other topics. Although he doesn’t believe Rivers is a lock to make it through the season, Neubeck does think the veteran coach has “more security than people on social media want him to have.”
  • James Harden has been a Sixer for only 10 months and has played with Joel Embiid in just eight games so far this season, so head coach Doc Rivers is preaching patience, telling reporters this week that the pairing is “going to take time” to fully jell, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. As Pompey observes, Harden favors an isolation-heavy style of play and is ball-dominant, while Embiid thrives when the offense flows through him. The duo had perhaps its best game this season as a tandem on Friday, totaling 66 points and 17 assists.
  • There has been plenty of speculation about whether Embiid will choose to play for the U.S. or France in the 2024 Olympics, but the star center isn’t interested in discussing his FIBA future during the NBA season, as Marc Stein writes at Substack. “I don’t want to talk about international stuff,” Embiid told Stein. “I’m focused on us getting better as a team and me getting better as a player. I’m focused on making it to the playoffs and doing something there. I’m gonna worry about the rest later. For now, it’s all about trying to do whatever is possible to win a championship.”

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Mitchell, Melton, VanVleet

After an unsuccessful outing against his former team Saturday afternoon, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson sought to take some heat off coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brunson had a season-low 13 points and was minus-26 overall in his first game against Dallas since leaving in free agency.

The 21-point loss drew boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd as the Knicks suffered their seventh defeat in their last eight home games. Thibodeau has become a target for the fans, but Brunson insists the downturn isn’t his fault.

“Coach Thibs has done a great job,” Brunson said. “He’s been able to put us in positions where we need to succeed. I think he knows where to put those puzzle pieces. It’s just on us to actually execute and do things. So it’s just — I know he’s going to get a lot of the blame, guys are going to get some of the blame. It’s on us. We’re the players out there not battling. It’s his job to put us in positions, which he’s done.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks will get a reminder of their most significant decision of the summer when Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers come to town Sunday night, Bondy adds. Team president Leon Rose’s refusal to part with a large amount of draft capital after extensive trade talks with Utah is looking like a “backfire,” according to Bondy.
  • De’Anthony Melton is making an impact on defense for the Sixers after being acquired in a draft night trade, notes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Melton is second in the league with 2.0 steals per game and ranks first overall with a 3.6% steal percentage. “I think De’Anthony’s a very easy guy to play with,” coach Doc Rivers said. “… He defends. And I think guys who defend always have a little more longitude to do whatever. Guys respect that. You want to get respect in a locker room? Go stop somebody and you’ll get it, and I think De’Anthony has that.”
  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet isn’t overreacting to two bad road games, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. VanVleet said the losses at New Orleans and Brooklyn can be part of a growing experience. “I think we’ve got to learn how to be a team,” he said. “We have to learn to play together a little bit more, be professional, be a little bit more ready to go. You can find excuses in this league every night — there are a million of them — or you can show up and play the game the way it is supposed to be played.”

Atlantic Notes: Fournier, Grimes, Robinson, Celtics, Melton

The Knicks used just nine players on Tuesday for the first time this season, removing Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes from their rotation entirely, says Zach Braziller of The New York Post. The trimmed-down rotation was effective, as the team picked up a nice road win in Utah, beating the Jazz 118-111.

“We wanted to see what it would look like and it gave us, I thought, better rhythm,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s why we did it.”

Fournier’s role has gradually diminished over the course of the season, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t get another shot at regular minutes right away. However, Grimes is considered a key part of the Knicks’ future and seems unlikely to be out of the rotation on a permanent basis.

Here are a few more items from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Thibodeau said on Tuesday that Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is “making good progress” in his recovery from a sprained right knee, but it remains unclear when he’ll be cleared to return, Braziller writes for The New York Post. According to Braziller, although Robinson is doing some work in practices, he’s not yet taking contact.
  • In the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that people around the NBA think Spurs center Jakob Poeltl may be a trade target that appeals to the Celtics, given the uncertainty surrounding Robert Williams‘ health. “The question is, ‘Does this team need to go out and get another big man who can defend?'” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “The name that has come up that people have speculated has been Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs. They did a deal with the Spurs last year, obviously, for Derrick White.” Poeltl is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023 and it’s unclear if San Antonio views him as part of the team’s long-term plan.
  • While his arrival in the offseason was somewhat overshadowed by James Harden‘s pay cut and the signing of P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton has proved invaluable to the Sixers due to his versatility and defensive ability, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Joel Embiid, De’Anthony Melton Out Wednesday For Sixers

Sixers star center Joel Embiid will miss his second consecutive game against the Wizards on Wednesday with a non-COVID illness, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. According to head coach Doc Rivers, Embiid has the flu.

As Pompey notes, Embiid also missed Friday’s game vs. Toronto with right knee soreness, but returned during Saturday’s victory over the Bulls. In six games this season (34.5 MPG), the five-time All-Star is averaging 27.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.2 BPG on .532/.300/.788 shooting.

In addition to Embiid, Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton will also miss Wednesday’s game with back stiffness, and Matisse Thybulle will start in his place, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Melton, who was acquired in a trade with Memphis this offseason, had previously started the two games that Embiid was sidelined, with the Sixers opting to go small and sliding P.J. Tucker up to center. Melton performed well in both victories, and is averaging 9.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.3 APG and 2.0 SPG on .517/.407/1.000 shooting through eight games (22.5 MPG) in 2022/23.

The Sixers started the season 0-3, but have won four of their past five games to even their record at 4-4, while the Wizards have dropped three straight after guard Delon Wright suffered a strained hamstring and currently sit with a 3-4 record. Wednesday’s game has an unusually early tip off, beginning at 6:00pm ET.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Morey, Melton, Queen, Joe

With James Harden‘s new contract complete, the Sixers will be able to get a long-term look at what he can do for the organization. Harden played just 21 regular season games after being acquired from Brooklyn at the trade deadline, and there were concerns about his conditioning during that time. He dealt with a hamstring injury that affected his workout schedule last summer, but now he has the benefit of a full, healthy offseason and some familiarity with his teammates heading into training camp.

President of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who was determined to reacquire Harden after having him in Houston, expressed his delight about the new deal in a press release distributed by the Sixers.

“He is one of the best scorers and passers to ever play, and his knowledge of the game allows him to dissect defenses and make everyone around him better,” Morey said. “James’ commitment to winning continues to resonate throughout our organization, and I believe we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in his partnership with Joel (Embiid) and this talented roster. This is an exciting time for our franchise.”  

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice sets some goals for Harden for the upcoming season, which include helping the Sixers build a top-eight offense, playing at least 70 games, and leading the NBA in assists. Neubeck notes that Harden was second in assists last season and should benefit from the additional shooting provided by P.J. Tucker and Danuel House.
  • De’Anthony Melton, who was acquired from the Grizzlies in a draft-night trade, could be a major bargain, Neubeck adds in a mailbag column. Melton’s ability to guard multiple types of players and his versatility on offense make it easy to fit him into numerous lineups. Neubeck notes that Melton was extremely effective in Memphis when he was paired with another ball-handler, and he figures to see a lot of minutes beside both Harden and Tyrese Maxey.
  • Isaiah Joe and Trevelin Queen are likely to battle for the final roster spot in training camp, Neubeck adds. Queen holds a $330K guarantee for the upcoming season, along with a non-guaranteed deal for 2023/24. Joe will have a fully guaranteed $1.78MM salary if he remains on the roster through October 23.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Durant, Brogdon, Melton, Knicks

The potential price tag for acquiring Kevin Durant isn’t what should matter most to the Raptors, argues Scott Stinson of The National Post, who says that determining whether Durant would actually be motivated and invested in playing for Toronto should be the most important factor for the team’s lead decision-makers.

As Stinson writes, Durant’s motivation in asking for a trade out of Brooklyn remains a bit nebulous, especially since he just signed a four-year extension last August. That should concern vice chairman and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, because dealing for a superstar who might not be engaged or on the same page as the club could be disastrous, according to Stinson.

Drawing parallels between Ujiri’s trade for Kawhi Leonard in the 2018 offseason to the Durant sweepstakes now doesn’t make sense, per Stinson, because the situations aren’t similar.

Leonard was coming off an injury that caused him to miss almost the entire 2017/18 season, was on an expiring contract, and the Raptors teams led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had been given ample time to breakthrough in the East, but couldn’t get past LeBron James. The Raptors finished second in the East in the two years after Leonard left Toronto, so obviously the team remained competitive and didn’t mortgage its future to acquire him, Stinson writes.

Durant, on the other hand, has four years remaining on his deal, so obviously it will cost significantly more to land him, plus the current version of the Raptors is ascendant, with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., and Precious Achiuwa among the new additions who made significant contributions to a team that improved its win total from 27 to 48. Dealing away from an emerging core only for Durant to balk at the idea of staying could put Toronto in a hole that would be difficult to climb out of, says Stinson.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Could a lesser role on the Celtics benefit Malcolm Brogdon from a health perspective? “The knock against him coming out of college is that he had terrible knees,” a rival general manager told Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “I mean, some of the examinations were really suspect in terms of how long his lower body would be able to take NBA pounding. So that’s why he ended up going in the second round, because he was damn near red-flagged. So the fact of the matter is he’s probably better off coming off the bench with limited minutes, trying to be impactful in 18 rather than trying to play 30 and always being injured. The question becomes how he’ll accept that.” Boston reportedly views Brogdon as a sixth man, and he said shortly after the deal was announced that he’s motivated to win a championship and is willing to sacrifice his individual stats for the betterment of the team.
  • De’Anthony Melton believes he’s a “great fit” for the Sixers, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscriber link). “Once I saw the team, I’m like, ‘OK, that’s a great spot,'” Melton told The Inquirer by phone last week. “That’s a great fit for me. … I understand what this team needs. I understand what this team is trying to do. I’m ready for the task at hand. I’m ready for whatever’s to come.” Melton was acquired from the Grizzlies in exchange for the No. 23 pick (David Roddy) and Danny Green in a draft-day swap.
  • Signing free agent guard Jalen Brunson was a solid move for the Knicks but they still look like a play-in team on paper, Ian O’Connor of The New York Post opines. According to O’Connor, while Brunson is a good player and the best point guard the Knicks will employ in years, neither he nor RJ Barrett or Julius Randle are capable of being the best — or second-best — players on a championship-caliber team, and unless something drastic changes, New York will begin 2022/23 as “just another barely relevant club.”

Grizzlies Trade De’Anthony Melton To Sixers For Roddy, Green

JUNE 24: The deal is now official, both teams announced in press releases.


JUNE 23: The Grizzlies and Sixers have agreed to a trade that will send the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft to Memphis and guard De’Anthony Melton to Philadelphia, a source tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Danny Green is also headed to the Grizzlies in the swap, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Colorado State’s David Roddy will be Memphis’ pick at No. 23. Roddy had an excellent junior season for the Rams, averaging 19.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.2 SPG and 1.1 BPG on .571/.438/.691 shooting in 31 games (32.9 MPG).

In order for the trade to work, Green’s non-guaranteed contract will have to be partially guaranteed to at least $6.52MM for salary matching purposes, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype tweets. Melton will earn $8.25MM next season and his $8MM salary in 2023/24 is partially guaranteed at $1.5MM.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic observes (via Twitter), the Sixers would lose the full mid-level exception with the deal unless they’re able to dump salary in subsequent moves, which could take them out of the running for P.J. Tucker, who is an unrestricted free agent after declining his player option.

Trading a guard in Melton and drafting a couple of forwards in Jake LaRavia and Roddy seems to indicate that Memphis wants to re-sign free agent Tyus Jones, who is one of the top point guards on the market. Jones has led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio for four straight seasons and set career highs in PPG (8.7) and 3PT% (.390) in 2021/22.

It was reported multiple times in the past couple weeks that the Sixers were dangling the No. 23 pick and Green’s expiring, non-guaranteed deal in an effort to add a win-now veteran, and they were able to acquire a talented young player in Melton, who had reportedly drawn considerable interest around the league.

Melton, 24, is a strong, versatile defender capable of playing both guard positions. In 73 regular season games this past season (22.7 MPG), he averaged 10.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.7 APG and 1.4 SPG on .404/.374/.750 shooting. He’s extension-eligible this offseason, although the Sixers might hold off on that decision.

Sixers, Suns Pursuing Rockets’ Eric Gordon?

The Sixers and Suns are two of the teams interested in a trade with the Rockets for veteran guard Eric Gordon, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Gordon, who averaged 13.4 PPG and shot 41.2% from 3-point range this past season, will make $19.57MM next season and has another non-guaranteed season left on his contract after that. Gordon could provide a perimeter boost to either playoff contender and would reunite with former Rockets teammate Chris Paul if he winds up in Phoenix.

Windhorst and Zach Lowe offered a number of interesting nuggets on ESPN’s NBA Today (video link):

  • The Sixers also have interest in veteran forward P.J. Tucker, who is opting out of the final year of his contract with the Heat.
  • The Hawks are looking at “five or six potential deals,” according to Windhorst, with everyone but Trae Young and possibly De’Andre Hunter in play. They could part with the No. 16 pick in certain scenarios.
  • The Hornets aren’t expected to hold onto both of their first-round picks at No. 13 and No. 15 and might even move both of them, along with a big salary, as they try to clear cap space to re-sign restricted free agent Miles Bridges. Charlotte could also be angling for the Pacers’ Myles Turner, according to Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies, with two picks late in the first round, are looking to clear a backcourt logjam and could move up or down the draft board as they try to maximize their trade chips. De’Anthony Melton, in particular, has drawn “a lot” of interest around the NBA, says Lowe.