Isaiah Joe

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.

Sixers Notes: New Arena Plan, Joe, Reed, Bassey

The Sixers announced on Thursday morning that they’ve created a new development company, named 76 Devcorp, to spearhead a $1.3 billion project to build a privately funded downtown arena, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN details. The 76ers’ lease at Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia expires in 2031 and the team is aiming to move into a new arena for the 2031/32 season.

“We know the best thing, we believe, for the city, for our fans and for our organization, is to be downtown in a state-of-the-art facility that’s going to be privately funded by our ownership team,” team president Tad Brown told ESPN. “And that’s going to create a brand-new environment, a whole new environment, that’s going to also really give a great economic boost in a development boost to a part of town that really needs it.”

According to Brown and Philadelphia business leader David Adelman, who will head up 76 Devcorp, there are currently no plans to accelerate the project to move into the new arena prior to 2031.

As Bontemps writes, it’s unclear whether the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers – who currently share the Wells Fargo Center – would accompany the Sixers in their downtown move. Brown said the 76ers would like to have the Flyers join them, but intend to move forward with the project regardless of the NHL team’s plan.

Here’s more on the Sixers

Atlantic Notes: Harden, T. Young, Celtics, Joe

One of this summer’s top free agents, star guard James Harden, still doesn’t have a new deal in place, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on SportsCenter on Tuesday (video link) that Harden and the Sixers will likely agree to terms sooner rather than later. The two sides reportedly met in the Hamptons over the weekend and will resume negotiations early this week.

“Those (talks) are expected to pick up today, tomorrow,” Wojnarowski said. “You can expect Harden and his representative and (president of basketball operations) Daryl Morey in Philly to really sit down and hammer that deal out here, perhaps as soon as the next 24 hours.”

Harden turned down a $47MM+ player option for 2022/23 and is expected to finalize a longer-term deal with a lower starting salary in order to allow the Sixers to maximize their cap flexibility this season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Thaddeus Young‘s new two-year contract extension with the Raptors has a base value of $8MM per season, with $150K in annual likely bonuses and another $350K in annual unlikely bonuses, Hoops Rumors has learned. Year one is fully guaranteed, while Young’s 2023/24 salary is partially guaranteed for $1MM — he would receive his full ’23/24 guarantee if he remains under contract through June 30, 2023.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston considers the remaining decisions on the Celtics‘ offseason to-do list, including whether or not to use their $17MM+ trade exception and who will get the final spots on their projected 15-man roster.
  • Sixers shooting guard Isaiah Joe, whose minimum salary for 2022/23 is non-guaranteed, will be trying to show during the Salt Lake City Summer League this week that his game can translate to the NBA level, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The thing I really want to build is consistency, especially for a contending team,” Joe said. “They don’t have any time for inconsistent players. So they are really looking for consistency out of me just like they are looking for consistency out of Joel (Embiid) and James.”

Sixers, Nets Haven’t Engaged In Recent Trade Talks

Although a report on Friday stated that the Sixers intend to pursue James Harden prior to this week’s trade deadline and that the Nets are open to talking, it doesn’t sound as if any discussions have occurred between the two teams since then.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey reached out to Sean Marks of the Nets about a month ago to ask about Harden and was flatly turned down. That exchange it still the only direct communication between Morey and Marks this season, per ESPN’s duo.

Both Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report have also heard the two teams haven’t talked at all lately, with Pompey citing a source who referred to the conversation a month ago as “non-productive.”

Fischer suggests the Nets have no plans to discuss any Harden trade scenarios before Thursday’s trade deadline and Pompey hears from one source that Simmons won’t be traded until at least the draft. However, Wojnarowski and Shelburne aren’t yet closing the door on the possibility that the two teams will take this week, and neither is Pompey, who says Brooklyn and Philadelphia are going through third parties and back-channels to get information.

“It’s the most bizarre thing,” a source told Pompey. “It’s almost as if they are playing a game of cat and mouse … because of all the tampering [implications].”

Despite his assertion that the Nets have no plans to discuss Harden this week, Fischer does say there are people within the organization who have openly mentioned their interest in a swap involving Harden and Ben Simmons. Meanwhile, two people who have “significant history” with Harden believed he’s interested in the possibility of joining the Sixers, sources tell Wojnarowski and Shelburne.

Still, ESPN’s report suggests the two teams have a difference of opinions on which side has more leverage. According to Woj and Shelburne, the Sixers believe they shouldn’t have to add many assets to make a Simmons/Harden swap because the Nets risk losing their star guard for nothing in the offseason. But Brooklyn, recognizing all the talent and assets the capped-out Sixers may have to sacrifice to sign Harden outright this summer, would push for a significant package.

“Why would Brooklyn accept anything less now than the assets it would cost Philly to unload contracts and create the space this summer?” one GM said to ESPN.

Here are some more updates from ESPN, Bleacher Report, and The Philadelphia Inquirer on the Simmons/Harden situation:

  • The Nets would want additional pieces besides Simmons in any deal for Harden, but Pompey says the Sixers aren’t willing to include Tyrese Maxey in any trade and view Matisse Thybulle as “close to untouchable.” When the two teams had a brief discussion last month, Philadelphia asked if Brooklyn was interested in Paul Reed and Isaiah Joe, says Pompey. According to Fischer, Reed and Joe are the two players most frequently mentioned by rival executives as possible 76ers trade candidates.
  • Harden doesn’t currently have an agent, but he and manager Lorenzo McCloud are looking to hire representation, at least temporarily, with his free agency looming, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne.
  • Without an agent to talk to, the Nets have to rely on direct communication with Harden, which may be one reason why the team has had a hard time getting a read on his intentions. ESPN’s duo describes the partnership between the Nets and Harden as “murky,” noting that the former MVP has said he’s committed to the team, but his actions – including “private grousing” about Nets coaches, teammates, and the organization – have hinted otherwise. Pompey hears from sources that some people in the organization are “privately questioning (Harden’s) commitment to remaining in Brooklyn, and becoming frustrated with the uncertainty.”
  • Although Kevin Durant wants Harden to stay in Brooklyn, he wants a committed Harden, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, who say Durant isn’t telling Nets ownership or management what they should do at the deadline. A source tells Pompey that key Brooklyn players wouldn’t be hugely disappointed if Harden is ultimately moved, due to uncertainty about his true feelings.
  • Sources tell Fischer that some people around Simmons want him to return to the court for the Sixers if he’s not dealt at the deadline. However, multiple people associated with Simmons’ representation insist that’s not going to happen, Fischer writes.
  • In trade discussions with the Hawks and Kings, the Sixers broached the idea of attaching Tobias Harris to Simmons, but they haven’t engaged in many talks about Harris beyond that, Fischer says. Multiple league sources who have spoken to Bleacher Report have speculated that the Thunder could be a willing trade partner if Philadelphia is motivated to get off of Harris’ contract.

Latest On Kings’ Pursuit Of Ben Simmons

After Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that Ben Simmons appears to be “front and center” in the Kings‘ trade deadline plans and said the team is open to acquiring Tobias Harris along with Simmons, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer has published a report with more details on Sacramento’s pursuit of the Sixers‘ star.

According to Pompey, sources have repeatedly stated the Sixers aren’t interested in a deal headlined by De’Aaron Fox, who would be one of the Kings’ best trade chips.

One source tells Pompey the Kings have considered offering Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and two first-round picks in exchange for Simmons, Harris, and Matisse Thybulle. However, that source also said the Sixers aren’t interested in that package; a second source tells Pompey that Philadelphia has yet to receive a formal offer from Sacramento.

Pompey hears from that second source that the Kings and Sixers haven’t discussed Philadelphia’s younger players like Thybulle, whom the source classifies as borderline untouchable. However, sources tell Pompey that Sacramento has done background work on Thybulle, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed.

Even if the Kings were willing to put the aforementioned Haliburton/Hield/Barnes offer on the table, they’d need to either reroute Harris to a third team or add at least one more player – such as Tristan Thompson or Marvin Bagley III – to make the deal work financially.

The Kings and Sixers haven’t yet gained any “significant traction” on a deal, Pompey writes.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits from Pompey’s report:

  • The Sixers have denied that they’re shopping Harris or want to attach him to a Simmons trade, but multiple teams and sources have told Pompey that’s the case.
  • According to Pompey, before sending Cam Reddish to New York, the Hawks considered offering John Collins, Reddish, and a first-round pick for Simmons, but the Sixers brought Harris’ name into discussions, ending those talks.
  • Pompey confirmed there are league executives who believe the Sixers would be comfortable hanging onto Simmons for the rest of the season. He also confirmed that the three-time All-Star is prepared to sit out the remainder of the season in that scenario.
  • Sources tell Pompey that the 76ers are continuing to fine Simmons for the games he misses, but not for more minor infractions.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Thybulle, Simmons, Joe

This Thursday (November 18) is the earliest that Joel Embiid could return after his stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer said on the HoopsHype Podcast with Michael Scotto that the Sixers center will likely be out a little longer than that.

As Pompey explains, Embiid was symptomatic after contracting COVID-19 and “hasn’t been doing anything basketball-wise” during his absence, so he’ll likely need some time to ramp back up and get game-ready. While Pompey acknowledges it’s possible the All-NBA big man is back in the lineup on Thursday, he thinks it’s more likely to happen on Saturday or sometime next week.

[UPDATE: Embiid has been ruled out for Thursday’s game, tweets Pompey.]

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Pompey also told Scotto that Matisse Thybulle (health and safety protocols) should be back by next week, if not sooner. Head coach Doc Rivers didn’t offer any real specifics on Tuesday when asked by reporters about potential return dates for Embiid and Thybulle, as Pompey tweets.
  • Ben Simmons was, of course, a popular topic of conversation during Pompey’s appearance on the HoopsHype Podcast. During that discussion, Pompey said he still believes Simmons has played his last game as a Sixer, but trade talks appear to be “on pause” for now. Scotto said he has heard from some executives that the 76ers’ hot start without Simmons may have hurt the 25-year-old’s value a little in the eyes of potential suitors. “When you lose a star player, you typically struggle, but Philadelphia coming out of the gate, was leading the Eastern Conference,” Scotto said, noting the team has slumped since Embiid was sidelined.
  • Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com takes an in-depth look at where the Simmons situation stands. Within his column, Neubeck argues there’s an inherent contradiction between agent Rich Paul‘s claim that negative publicity is hurting Simmons’ mental health and Klutch Sports’ apparent willingness to wage a PR battle by leaking details of the standoff to media outlets.
  • As Pompey writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Isaiah Joe said that he experienced some symptoms of COVID-19, including loss of smell, during his time in the health and safety protocols, but is feeling better now. Joe played on Tuesday for the first time since November 3, logging a season-high 24 minutes in Philadelphia’s blowout loss in Utah.

Eastern Notes: Schroder, Maxey, Joe, Bertans

Dennis Schröder signed a one-year contract for the taxpayer mid-level exception in the hopes of building his value. So far, so good. Schröder erupted for 38 points on Friday in the Celtics’ victory over Milwaukee and elicited MVP chants from the home fans, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. Schröder is averaging 20.8 PPG and 5.8 APG as a starter.

“He’s finding his way,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said. “He’s brought his bench role to the starting lineup. He’s been very aggressive.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • While Ben Simmons continues to sit out, Sixers second-year guard Tyrese Maxey has become one of the most popular athletes in Philadelphia. Fans were chanting “MVP!” during Thursday’s home game, according to Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Maxey has piled up 64 points and nine assists while committing just two turnovers over the last two games. “I appreciate the Philly fans, of course,” Maxey said. “They’re always behind us.”
  • Isaiah Joe has cleared protocols and will join the Sixers in Indiana for Saturday’s game, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweetsHe is expected to go through a workout pregame and is questionable to play, Pompey addsJoel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle remain under those health and safety protocols.
  • Wizards forward Davis Bertans is a week away from returning to action, coach Wes Unseld Jr. told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link) and other media members on Friday. Bertans has done more shooting drills in recent days. He has been out since November 1 with a sprained left ankle.

Atlantic Notes: Thybulle, Walker, Noel, Dekker, Birch, Trent

Matisse Thybulle is the latest Sixers player placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. Tobias Harris was placed under the protocols on Monday and Isaiah Joe was added to the list on Thursday. The entire team was tested for the virus before Thursday’s game against the Pistons and everyone else produced a negative test.

Thybulle, whose locker is next to Joe’s, was placed in protocols for contact tracing. That could leave the Sixers will just eight available players for Saturday’s game against Chicago due to protocols, injuries and Ben Simmons‘ situation.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Kemba Walker has scored a total of nine points over the last two games and admits he needs to step up his play, particularly at the start of games, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Walker has shot 4-for-19 from the field in those games. “I have to get my guys going. I take ownership of that,” he said. “That’s who I can be. I have to do a better job at that. I have to be ready to start the game better.’’
  • With Nerlens Noel back in action for the Knicks, he notes that there’s always a shot-blocking presence when he shares the center spot with Mitchell Robinson, Berman relays in a separate story. “Me and Mitch do similar things but we do it different ways,” Noel said. “So I bring what I bring — being aggressive on the pick-and-rolls, hedging out and getting guys uncomfortable, as well as protecting the rim. Mitch brings what he brings with his size and physicality. … We want to get to the level of having two Twin Towers back and holding down the paint.’’ Noel returned this week after recovering from knee and hamstring injuries.
  • The Raptors decided to waive Sam Dekker before his $1.7MM contract became fully guaranteed on Saturday. That leaves the club $618,540 below the luxury tax, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. That has an added benefit, since tax distribution for teams below the line projects to be $13MM, Marks adds. That estimate figures to change by the end of the season as more projected taxpayers look to duck below the tax line or reduce their bills.
  • During the offseason, the Raptors re-signed Khem Birch on a three-year contract and did the same with Gary Trent. Thus far, both players are living up their deals, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes. “I always told myself if I ever got the opportunity, I would take advantage of it,” Birch said. “So now that I got a contract, I don’t think it’s time to rest. I think it’s time to take advantage of that and also prove myself.”

Sixers Getting Precautionary COVID Tests After Isaiah Joe Enters Protocols

Sixers shooting guard Isaiah Joe has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who says Philadelphia is now testing the entire team for COVID-19 as a precaution ahead of Thursday’s game vs. Detroit.

While it’s not yet confirmed, it’s possible Joe has tested positive for COVID-19, like teammate Tobias Harris did earlier this week.

With over 95% of the NBA’s players now vaccinated, the league’s testing guidelines aren’t as strict as they were in 2020/21. However, vaccinated players are still required to be tested if they show symptoms or are determined to be a close contact of an individual who tested positive. In this case, the 76ers likely just want to confirm they don’t have an outbreak on their roster before taking the court against the Pistons later tonight.

If Joe has tested positive for the coronavirus, he’ll need to wait at least 10 days or return two consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart before he’ll be cleared to return to action.

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Irving, Sixers, Raptors

Kyrie Irving is back with the Nets, but he won’t be traveling with the team for tomorrow’s preseason game at Philadelphia, and coach Steve Nash seems resigned to the fact that Irving is going to start missing home games unless he gets vaccinated, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” said Nash. “We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year; so it just depends on when, where and how much.”

However, Nash also noted that things can change quickly in this unprecedented situation, per Lewis.

Right now we assume he’s not going to be available for home games,” Nash said. “Anything can change. Who’s to say, the city’s ordinance could change? Anything could change.”

Right now we’re just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go, because information is coming in by the half-day here, whether it’s Paul [Millsap’s health and safety protocol] situation, Kyrie’s situation or the laws. We found out Friday he could come in the building, so things are shifting. No one’s been through this before, and we’re just trying to figure it out as we go.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton of the Sixers appear locked in a battle over the starting point guard spot with Ben Simmons still away from the team, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. The players have taken turns starting the team’s first two preseason games, with mixed results for both. However, Bodner thinks Maxey has much higher upside and should be given the opportunity to start, given Milton’s physical limitations.
  • In the same article, Bodner notes that second-year guard Isaiah Joe has been outstanding thus far in the preseason and is making a strong case for a spot in the Sixers‘ rotation. Joe is averaging 16.5 PPG while shooting 7-12 (58.3%) from three, and he’s also shown growth as a shot-creator and defender. Coach Doc Rivers has taken notice, per Bodner. “He’s starting to put the ball on the floor. That’s something he couldn’t do (last year),” Rivers said. “He made plays tonight getting into the paint there’s no way he could have done that last year. Good for him because he’s putting all the work in.”
  • The Raptors have been impressed with free agent acquisition Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk thus far, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.
  • Khem Birch is out of health and safety protocols and could be available for the Raptors tomorrow against Houston, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.