Joel Embiid

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Simmons, Embiid, Harden, Celtics Draft

The Sixers created an $8.6MM trade exception in their agreed-upon deal that will send Al Horford to the Thunder, John Hollinger of The Athletic reports.

That’s significant, as Hollinger points out, because the front office will not have a full mid-level exception to offer in free agency since the club is in luxury tax territory. The exception can be used in a sign-and-trade this offseason or – more likely – a direct trade for a player under contract.

New president of basketball operations Daryl Morey promises he’ll make some roster moves via the free agent route, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “They’re going to be some additions there,” Morey said of free agency, while adding “we feel very good where we’re at.”

Morey declared that he’s not interested in trading either of his top players, according to the Associated Press’ Dan Gelston. He said Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid “are going to be here for a long time.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics were advised that they shouldn’t pursue a James Harden deal with the Rockets, longtime Celtics beat reporter Steve Bulpett tweets. The front office researched the possibility of adding Harden and were urged to stay away, as the intel regarding the fallout in the Houston organization painted an ugly picture. Presumably, Harden was a part of that dysfunction.
  • The Celtics had three first-round picks to dangle on Wednesday but didn’t move up. It wasn’t for lack of trying, another longtime Celtics beat reporter Mark Murphy tweets. GM Danny Ainge said they explored the possibility but there was “not anything that was really tempting for us in the first part of the draft.” Boston held onto the first two picks and traded the other to the Grizzlies for two future second-rounders.

Wizards, Bulls Rebuffing Overtures For Beal, LaVine

Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine have been “hot names” around the NBA as potential trade targets, but the Wizards and Bulls are rebuffing overtures for their respective leading scorers, says Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

The fact that the Wizards aren’t showing any interest in moving Beal comes as no surprise, as that has been the team’s stance ever since general manager Tommy Sheppard was hired in 2019. Sheppard reiterated on Tuesday that Beal “isn’t going anywhere” this fall.

LaVine’s status hasn’t been the subject of quite as much speculation as Beal’s, and the new decision makers in Chicago – led by president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas – haven’t given many hints about their plans. Based on Goodwill’s report though, it sounds like the team is looking to hang onto LaVine, who has two years and $39MM left on his team-friendly contract.

According to Goodwill, the Sixers have been one of the many teams kicking the tires on Beal and LaVine.

Earlier today, Jason Dumas of KRON4 News reported (via Twitter) that there’s a growing belief within the 76ers’ front office that the team won’t have a shot at acquiring Rockets star James Harden without including Ben Simmons. Dumas suggested that new president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is working on something else “significant” that would allow the team to keep both Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Beal and LaVine, who both provide play-making abilities, are the sorts of targets that would make sense for Philadelphia. However, with the Wizards and Bulls reportedly resisting offers, any “significant” move by Morey and the Sixers seems unlikely to include either Beal or LaVine.

Teams will continue to monitor Beal’s and LaVine’s situations on draft night and beyond, tweets Goodwill.

Morey Addresses Embiid, Courtship, System, Roster

The Sixers’ new president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, insisted during his introductory press conference that he views Joel Embiid as the leader of a championship team rather than a trade piece, Kyle Neubeck of relays.

After the longtime Rockets executive embraced small ball with his former team, there’s been speculation that Embiid’s days in Philadelphia might be numbered. Morey says that’s way off base.

“Joel is a dominant, dominant big man. I’m excited to get back to that,” he said. “I worked with Yao Ming and we got very close [to a title] in Houston with Yao Ming. I think we can go all the way with Joel.”

While Embiid is often colorful and sometimes controversial, Morey sees the oft-injured center as the leader of the team. Morey noted that Embiid has been in the team’s practice facility twice a day working out and getting his body in top condition for next season.

“I’ve talked to him, Elton (Brand) obviously knows him well, Doc (Rivers) has talked to him, he wants to win a championship,” Morey said. “He’s a smart player who knows you only have so many opportunities. He pushed everyone to improve the organization, improve the roster, and frankly I’m excited to go on this journey with Joel and Ben (Simmons) moving forward.”

Morey also addressed a number of other topics:

  • Morey originally planned to take a year off after leaving Houston but, somewhat to the dismay of his family, the Sixers’ lobbying efforts won him over, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Elton and Doc and Josh were relentless, just relentless, as soon as I stepped away. (Rivers) and I have been chatting a lot, and the more you dig into the players that are here, the more you get excited about what this team can do.”
  • The Sixers won’t play the same system as the Rockets, who tried to win a championship without a traditional center after trading Clint Capela. “It’s not to take your talent and hammer it into a particular system,” he said. “It’s to try to get the most out of who you have.”
  • He didn’t specifically address his controversial tweet about Hong Kong which drew the wrath of the Chinese government but Morey won’t shy away from social issues, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “I do believe a lot in using this platform to push things that are important,” he said.
  • Morey admits the roster needs to be reshaped in order to produce a true title contender, Pompey adds in another tweet. “Our championship team probably is not going to have the same players that we have now,” he said.
  • Philadelphia’s pursuit of Morey two years earlier never led to serious negotiations, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Morey said the talks did not go beyond the preliminary stages and the timing wasn’t right for him to make the move.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Sixers, Knicks, Nets

Given Gordon Hayward‘s close, long-standing relationship with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, the veteran forward finds himself in a tricky situation this fall, writes Sean Deveney of Forbes. Hayward may be able to secure a lucrative, longer-term deal if he opts out of his contract with Boston, but in that scenario he’d reward the team’s trust and patience in him by walking away without allowing Stevens and the Celtics to get anything in return.

On the other hand, if Hayward opts into the final year of his contract, the Celtics could turn around and explore the trade market for him, perhaps ultimately sending him to a destination that he wouldn’t have chosen as a free agent. The Celtics and Hayward have “a more personal stake in this than just basketball and money,” according to Deveney, who suggests that history will complicate both sides’ decisions.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Celtics, Watson, Nets

New Sixers head coach Doc Rivers will have to carefully navigate the workload of injury-prone All-Star center Joel Embiid, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Rivers signed a five-year contract with the club last week.

Load management became a crucial tool for Rivers this past season with the Clippers, as he strove to tacitly limit the minutes and games played by stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George so that the forwards could be healthy for the playoffs. He discussed his approach with the Sixers in a Zoom call with reporters on Monday. “Load management is so individual-based,” Rivers said. “Every team has to deal with it, and we’ll have to deal with it here, and we’ll probably figure it out.”

There’s more out of the NBA’s Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics enjoyed a relatively successful 2019/20 season, as free agent addition Kemba Walker joined rising star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to take Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals. John Hollinger of The Athletic examines the upcoming roster and luxury tax challenges confronting team president Danny Ainge in the 2020 offseason. The team could be in line for a $23MM luxury tax penalty with its extant on-court personnel, even before making any offseason additions.
  • Raptors shooting guard Paul Watson, currently on a two-way contract, could be the next development success story for team president Masai Ujiri and the Toronto front office, according to Alex Nino Gheciu and Alex Narvaez of Complex.“He’s gonna be part of our future from what I can see so far,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the 25-year-old.
  • takes a look at the potential assistant coaches who could be joining newly-minted Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash on the sidelines. The team currently has five assistant coaches from interim head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s 2019/20 staff, including Vaughn himself. Hornets lead assistant coach Jay Triano, G League executive Rod Strickland, Lakers assistant Phil Handy, and Thunder assistant Brian Keefe could all be in the mix.

Doc Rivers Considered Taking Break, “Couldn’t Turn Down” Sixers Opportunity

Since beginning his NBA head coaching career in 1999 with the Magic, Doc Rivers has changed teams three times, but he has yet to take a year off, having coached for a total of 21 consecutive seasons in Orlando, Boston, and Los Angeles. Speaking to reporters today after being introduced as the Sixers‘ new head coach, Rivers admitted that he entertained the idea of a vacation after parting ways with the Clippers last week.

I was not just going to coach anybody. I was ready to take a break,” Rivers said, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). “It depended on the team that was available.”

Rivers was intrigued by the opportunity in Philadelphia, and decided to meet with the team after being contacted by general manager Elton Brand. Despite having two years left on his contract with the Clippers, Rivers ultimately wanted to take on the challenge of leading the Sixers rather than taking any time away from the game.

“For me (it) was a job that you just couldn’t turn down,” he said today, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).

Here’s more from Rivers’ introductory presser:

  • Asked today about what role he’ll play in personnel decisions, Rivers said that he and Brand will “work together,” per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That was one of the things that was so exciting about this job, to have this opportunity to work with Elton,” Rivers said. “… I think Elton and I will have a chance to form an amazing partnership together, and we’ll grow from there.”
  • Rivers said he loves the pieces on the Sixers’ roster, referring to as “loaded” and downplaying concerns about positional overlap (Twitter links via Youngmisuk and Derek Bodner of The Athletic). I don’t get lost in what position guys play,” Rivers said. “I look at how many points we score as a team. I don’t care how you score.”
  • Rivers added that the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiidclearly works when they play together,” observing that the club wins 65% of its games when those two stars are active (Twitter links via Youngmisuk and Bodner).
  • According to Rivers, three teams called his agent within five hours of him leaving the Clippers (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Although he didn’t name the other two teams, the belief is that they were the Pelicans and Rockets.

Atlantic Notes: CP3, Nash, Stevens, Hayward

After the Sixers were swept out of the first round of the 2020 playoffs, the team fired longtime head coach Brett Brown, who had survived several front office shakeups. But the on-court personnel could use some changes, too. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer makes the case for a Chris Paul trade.

Paul, an All-Star in 2020 during his first season with the Thunder, is scheduled to earn $41.3M and $44.2M in the final two years of his current contract. With the Sixers, the 35-year-old point guard could give All-Star guard/forward Ben Simmons more off-ball opportunities and serve as a first-rate facilitator for All-Star center Joel Embiid.

Pompey posits that current Sixers forward Tobias Harris or center Al Horford could be packaged (presumably along with future draft equity) into a deal for Paul.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • New Nets head coach Steve Nash acknowledges that he was brought on board with the franchise because of his interpersonal relationships and culture-building skills, rather than his knowledge of X’s and O’s. “I think they understand that my acumen for the game is strong and I can catch up on any of the tactical aspects,” Nash told Pelicans guard J.J. Redick in a recent edition of Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast (per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). “I think they hired me because of my experience, the personality to work with these guys and help them grow and reach their potential and bring it all together.”
  • Following an emotional postgame locker room conversation, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens held a late-evening hotel meeting with four of his frustrated stars, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart met with Stevens to unpack their feelings following a Game 2 loss to the Heat that puts Boston in an 0-2 hole for the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is hoping to return to action for Game 3 on Saturday, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Hayward’s addition to the active roster would give Boston much-needed lineup flexibility and shooting help.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2019/20 season. Voting was completed prior to the league’s restart in July and was based on results through March 11.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers forward LeBron James, widely considered the two frontrunners for this year’s MVP award, were the only two players to be unanimously voted to the All-NBA First Team this season. Rockets guard James Harden, Lakers big man Anthony Davis, and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounded out the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis and LeBron scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Bucks forward Khris Middleton (82 points), Sixers center Joel Embiid (79), Wizards guard Bradley Beal (32), and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (26). A total of 11 other players also received at least one All-NBA vote — the full results can be found right here.

Today’s announcement is great news from a financial perspective for Siakam and Simmons. As a result of Siakam’s Second Team nod and Simmons’ Third Team spot, both players will earn starting salaries worth 28% of the 2020/21 salary cap, rather than 25%. Players who sign rookie scale extensions can earn maximum salaries up to 30% of the cap if they negotiate Rose Rule language into their deals.

The exact value of those new contracts will depend on where exactly the ’20/21 cap lands. Assuming it stays the same as in 2019/20 ($109.141MM), Siakam’s four-year extension would be worth $136.9MM instead of the $122.2MM it’d be worth if it started at 25% of the cap. Simmons’ five-year pact would be worth $177.2MM rather than $158.3MM.

While it’s also worth noting that All-NBA berths are of great importance to players seeking super-max contracts, there aren’t any real developments to report on that front as a result of this year’s votes. Antetokounmpo and Gobert remain eligible for super-max extensions, but they’d already qualified based on their previous accolades.

Embiid would have become super-max eligible in 2021 if he had earned an All-NBA spot, but he’ll need to make an All-NBA team next season to gain eligibility now, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our spring poll. Beal, Embiid, and Devin Booker were your picks who didn’t make the official list. Of the 12 who made it, 11 made the exact team you projected, with Paul (who made Second Team instead of Third Team) representing the only exception.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Ibaka, Hayward, Ainge, Sixers

Raptors center Serge Ibaka twisted his left ankle during the second half of the team’s Game 5 loss on Monday, potentially jeopardizing his status for Game 6 on Wednesday. As Michael Grange of tweets, Ibaka was in a walking boot today and said that he “will see” about his availability for Wednesday’s game.

Toronto’s initial injury report for Game 6 lists Ibaka as questionable. With the Raptors’ season on the line, down 3-2 to Boston, the big man will presumably do all he can to suit up.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is back on campus, but the team isn’t sure when he’ll clear quarantine and when he’ll be able to play, writes Tom Westerholm of Meanwhile, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wonders if the C’s will extend their season long enough for Hayward to contribute — Monday’s win certainly increased those odds.
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who has suffered multiple mild heart attacks in the past, was advised by doctors that he’d be “at risk” if he contracts COVID-19, he tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. As a result, Ainge didn’t accompany the C’s to the Orlando campus and has been watching the team’s playoff run from afar. “My doctors said it would be best if I did not go,” Ainge said. “But, as we’ve gone along — and I’ve thought about it since — I say to myself, ‘Man, it feels to me like the bubble is the healthiest place to be.'”
  • While Brett Brown, Elton Brand, and the Sixers‘ supporting cast have taken much of the blame for the team’s lack of playoff success in recent years, Sopan Deb of The New York Times notes that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid haven’t necessarily shown the growth expected of “prospective superstars” and questions whether either player is still capable of taking his play to another level.

Sixers Notes: Arena, Brown, Rucker, Embiid, Simmons

The Sixers are possibly looking at building a new basketball arena at Penn’s Landing, according to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inquirer’s report also indicates that the team is lobbying local officials about a plan to have taxpayer support help finance the construction.

The Sixers currently play at the Wells Fargo Center, which is shared with the city’s NHL franchise — Philadelphia Flyers. However, they reportedly want to leave the Wells Fargo Center by 2031.

“The 76ers have long enjoyed a strong relationship with Comcast-Spectacor, but the organization is exploring all options for when its lease ends at Wells Fargo Center in 2031, including a potential arena development at Penn’s Landing,” a Sixers spokesperson said.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Earlier this week, the Sixers fired Brett Brown as their head coach after seven years. The firing came off the heels of Philadelphia being swept in four games by the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Nevertheless, Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports opines that Brown was the wrong scapegoat for the Sixers’ lingering issues. He points out that the 59-year-old was the only stable force in an organization that had three different general managers and 102 different players on the roster during Brown’s tenure.
  • In addition to seeking a new head coach, the Sixers may be in the market for a new executive vice president of basketball operations. Alex Rucker, who currently holds that title, is not expected to be back with the team next season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Sixers general manager Elton Brand was asked on Tuesday about Rucker’s future. “I’m doing a thorough assessment of our front office,” he said. “I don’t want to pinpoint Alex as a scapegoat or anything like that. Our group has to get stronger, we know that. “So I’m taking time to assess where we are and how we get better. We failed, and we’re not happy about it, actually pissed about it.” Rucker was hired in 2016 from the Raptors to be Philadelphia’s analytics manager during the Bryan Colangelo regime. From there, he was promoted to senior VP of analytics and strategy in August 2018.
  • In his latest newsletter, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the Sixers’ intentions to meet with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to seek their opinions on what the team needs. “I’m going to talk with Jo and Ben about the game and how they see it and what’s going to help them and how to complement them,” Brand said earlier this week. “I’m not going to put the pressure of ‘You wanted this new coach’ or ‘You wanted that player’ on them, just have some clear, candid conversations with them, absolutely, as I think I should.”