Joel Embiid

Daryl Morey Offers No Hints On Ben Simmons’ Future

Sixers president Daryl Morey met with reporters today for the first time since his team was bounced from the playoffs Sunday night and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Ben Simmons, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Morey was asked several times during the virtual press conference if he expects the former No. 1 pick to be on the roster next season. He didn’t make a definite commitment on Simmons’ future and said, “I think it’s pretty straightforward what certain players need to improve.”

That statement echoes comments Simmons made Sunday night about his poor free throw shooting and lack of offense in general. He shot 34.7% from the foul line in the playoffs and scored a combined 19 points in the final three games of the conference semifinals.

Coach Doc Rivers has said the team plans intensive offseason shooting work for Simmons, who disappeared offensively in the fourth quarter throughout the Atlanta series.

Morey didn’t tip his hand on his plans for Simmons.

“We have a very strong group we believe in,” he said. “None of us can predict the future of what’s going to happen in any, in any place. We love what Ben brings, we love what Joel (Embiid) brings, we love what Tobias (Harris) brings, in terms of what’s next we’re gonna do what’s best for the 76ers to give us the best chance to win the championship with every single player on the roster.”

Morey attributed the second-round loss to issues with the offense and said the team needs to become more efficient on that end of the floor. He said he’s still processing the unexpected defeat and admits the Sixers are a long way from where he wants them to be.

“I think if you replay that Game 7 a bunch of times and, you know, we execute better, then we win,” Morey said. “But look, reality is reality. We didn’t do it and, and frankly if we’re squeaking by the second round that just tells me we’re not, we’re unfortunately not good enough, probably to win the title so we need to get better. But, you know, the game, that series, is still incredibly painful.”

He singled out the effort by Embiid, who played the entire semifinal series with a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Even though he admitted being limited by the injury, Embiid averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds in the seven games.

Morey added that Embiid will receive a full medical review from the team’s doctors before any decision is made about offseason surgery.

Morey also addressed the negative stories that have been written about the team since Sunday’s loss, contending the dire public perception of the organization isn’t deserved.

“People (are) saying the Sixers are in a bad situation,” he said. “I don’t choose to come here, (Rivers) doesn’t choose to come here if this is a bad situation. I mean, really 25 or 26 teams in this league would love to be in our situation with an MVP-caliber top player and All-Star, near All-Star, great young players who are signed for the long term, good veterans. So, we’ve got a good foundation. We just have to do better, I have to do better, everyone has to do better.”

Sixers Notes: Lowry, Simmons, Embiid, Offseason

The Sixers engaged in trade talks at March’s deadline for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, but ultimately weren’t willing to meet Toronto’s asking price. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, some executives around the NBA felt that Philadelphia should have been more aggressive in trying to land a play-maker who would’ve been an ideal fit on the roster, while others understood why the club was reluctant to go all-in on a 35-year-old on an expiring contract.

While there are varying opinions about the Sixers’ approach to the 2021 trade deadline, most people around the league agree that president of basketball operations Daryl Morey passed on Lowry because he hopes to land an even better star, says O’Connor. However, even if Morey is willing to put Ben Simmons on the table, it’s unclear whether the 76ers would be favorites for the next star who becomes available, given how the playoffs affected Simmons’ value.

Trading Joel Embiid is a “non-starter,” O’Connor adds.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype look ahead to what’s on tap for the Sixers during the 2021 offseason. While Simmons’ future feels like the most pressing question to answer right now, the team’s extension talks with Embiid will also be critical — the All-NBA big man is eligible for a super-max extension that would add four years onto his current deal.
  • The Sixers failed Embiid, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic, who points to the coach, the rest of the players, and the organization as a whole as those who let down the star center. Despite Embiid’s development into a superstar and an impressive playoff performance on a torn meniscus, the Sixers appear “less flexible and more desperate” than they’ve been at any time since The Process began, Bodner contends.
  • In the wake of the Sixers’ latest playoff disappointment, Dan Woiken of USA Today contends that the organization’s “Process” will be remembered as a failure.
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN takes a look at the end of the Sixers’ season, suggesting that this year may ultimately serve as a referendum on the Embiid/Simmons partnership.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up several Simmons-specific items earlier today.

Sixers’ Simmons: “There’s A Lot Of Things I Need To Work On”

In the wake of the Sixers‘ second crushing Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the last three years, all eyes are on Ben Simmons, whose poor foul shooting and reluctance to put up shots – especially in the fourth quarter – helped doom Philadelphia.

“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” Simmons said on Sunday after the Sixers’ loss, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. … There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”

Simmons made just 15-of-45 free throws in the seven-game series vs. Atlanta and connected on only 34.2% of his total foul shots in the playoffs, the worst mark ever for a player with more than 70 attempts in a single postseason.

He also seemed eager to get the ball out of his hands in fourth quarters, for fear of being fouled. At one point late in the Sixers’ loss on Sunday, Simmons passed up an open dunk attempt to get the ball to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled and subsequently made one of two free throws. Joel Embiid singled out that play in his post-game comments to reporters, McMenamin notes.

“Man, I will be honest. I thought the turning point was, you know, when we, I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and they came down and scored,” Embiid said.

The 76ers have invested heavily in Simmons, who is owed nearly $147MM over the next four years. He was supposed to be a franchise cornerstone alongside Embiid. However, when head coach Doc Rivers was asked after Sunday’s game whether Simmons can be the point guard for a championship team, Rivers didn’t commit one way or the other.

“I don’t know that question or the answer to that right now,” he said.

Here’s more on the Sixers’ three-time All-Star:

  • While Simmons took responsibility for his offensive struggles, he also pointed out that he had 13 assists and played good defense on Trae Young, who was just 5-of-23 from the floor in Game 7, McMenamin observes.
  • Asked if he wants to stay in Philadelphia, Simmons replied, Yeah, I love being in Philly. I love this organization. The fans are great people. I had a bad series. I expect that (boos). It’s Philly (Twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype).
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to NBA executives about whether the Sixers should trade Simmons this offseason and received mixed feedback. A pair of execs said they’d explore a trade, while two others said they’d probably hang onto him for now — one of those two suggested a position change. “I’m not sure I’d trade him, but I’d make him a power forward and get a point guard,” that exec told Scotto. “Ben has totally disappeared. He needs to be more aggressive, especially in the playoffs. He’s content getting assists, rebounds, and defending, but to win in the playoffs they need more from him.”
  • While trading Simmons might seem like an inevitability after this postseason, it won’t be easy for the Sixers to move him in exchange for a star after the way his value dropped during the playoffs, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Including him in a package for Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard would perhaps be a best-case scenario, but neither of those players seem available for now, according to Hollinger, who wonders if a swap involving Zach LaVine might make the most sense for the 76ers and the Bulls.

Bruno Fernando Suspended, Joel Embiid Fined For Game 6 Confrontation

Hawks big man Bruno Fernando has been suspended for tonight’s Game 7 after leaving the bench area during an altercation Friday, the NBA announced (via Twitter). Sixers center Joel Embiid was fined $35K for escalating the dispute with Atlanta forward John Collins.

The incident occurred with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter after a hard collision between Embiid and Collins. Embiid was called for a foul on the play and then pursued Collins “in an unsportsmanlike manner,” according to the league. Embiid also refused to comply with an NBA Security interview after the game.

The loss of Fernando shouldn’t be significant for Atlanta, as he has made just two brief appearances during the playoffs, both against Philadelphia. He played 33 games this season, averaging 1.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in about seven minutes per night.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Rivers, Maxey, Simmons

Joel Embiid has a chance to change the course of his career tonight in the Sixers‘ first Game 7 since being eliminated by Toronto two years ago, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The lasting images from that game are Embiid being consoled by Raptors center Marc Gasol and then crying in the tunnel after Kawhi Leonard‘s series-winning shot bounced on the rim several times before falling.

Philadelphia wasn’t a factor in last year’s playoffs, being swept by the Celtics in the first round. That led to a coaching change and a front office shakeup, and now Embiid has a new supporting cast as he tries to reach the conference finals for the first time.

“I’m excited,” Embiid said. “This time around, it’s at home. Even back then, I believe that if we had home court, it would have been easier to win. But that’s why we worked so hard in the regular season to get that home-court advantage.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Coach Doc Rivers is supporting Embiid’s claim that he’s not getting his share of calls from officials in this series, according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid got into an altercation with Hawks forward John Collins after a collision in Game 6 and then criticized the referees afterward. “I thought (with) Joel there were several things, one layup he made that a guy undercut his body, he fell to the floor, zero (call),” Rivers said. “The bigs, I complain about this to the competition committee, it just seems like you can take liberties with them that you can’t take with the guards out on the three-point line.”
  • Rookie guard Tyrese Maxey was a difference maker in Friday’s win in Atlanta, notes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. After his reserves played poorly in Game 5, Rivers told Maxey he would be the first guard off the bench. He responded with 16 points and seven rebounds and replaced Furkan Korkmaz in the lineup Rivers used to close the game.
  • Ben Simmons‘ struggles during the playoffs have reduced his trade value throughout the league, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his latest podcast (hat tip to Adrian Bernecich of Blazer’s Edge). Lowe considers a few possible deals involving Simmons, including a swap with the Trail Blazers for CJ McCollum.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Harden, Nets, Mann

The Sixers forced a Game 7 on Sunday in their second-round series against the Hawks by winning on the road Friday night. That didn’t stop Joel Embiid from complaining about the officiating, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. Without specifically naming Trae Young, Embiid claims the Hawks’ star gets favorable treatment.

“I just felt like it wasn’t called both ways, especially because of the minimal contact that they get on the point guard, and when it comes to us, we don’t get the same thing,” Embiid said. “So I just want it called both ways. If you’re going to call something like nothing on their point guard, it should be the same way and call the same thing [for] me when I get — if I get — touched.”

Young has taken an average of 9.7 free throws in the series but only five on Friday. Embiid has shot an average of 12.0 free throws per game, though just four on Friday.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ben Simmons‘ performances in the last three games have damaged his reputation, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic opines. The Sixers’ guard has four years remaining on his five-year, $177.2MM extension but he hasn’t improved upon his weaknesses. The same knocks against Simmons from four years ago still exist, according to Hofmann, mostly notably that he remains an offensive liability against a set halfcourt defense. Simmons’ 29.8% shooting from the foul line in the series has also forced coach Doc Rivers to pull him out of the game at crucial stages.
  • James Harden promises to be a bigger threat in Game 7 on Saturday than he was the past two games, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The Nets’ star guard scored a combined 21 points on 21.9% shooting after returning from hamstring tightness. “It’s not even about rust, it’s about being able to move,” Harden said. “As I go day-by-day, continue to get better. … I’ve got to be better on both end of the ball, which I will be in Game 7.”
  • With Kevin Durant on their side and the home-court advantage, the Nets have no excuses in Game 7, Ian O’Connor of the New York Post opines.
  • Clippers guard Terance Mann exploded onto the national scene on Friday with a career-high 39 points as his team eliminated the Jazz. Some members of the Knicks’ front office lobbied to acquire Mann in the Marcus Morris deal last year, Ian Begley of SNY tweets. The Clippers retained Mann and instead shipped Maurice Harkless, a 2020 first-round pick and 2021 second-rounder to the Knicks.

Atlantic Notes: Portis, Durant, Embiid, Lowry

Bobby Portis played for the Knicks during the 2019/20 season and it’s not out of the question he’ll return for a second stint, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Portis is widely expected to decline his $3.8MM player option, which would make him an unrestricted free agent this summer. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Knicks were interested in the Bucks’ power forward, who averaged 11.4 PPG and 7.1 RPG this season. They declined a $15MM option on Portis last offseason but were open to him returning at a reduced price, Berman adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks desperately tried to convince Kevin Durant to join them in free agency and keep him away from the Nets, claims Matt Sullivan’s new book, “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow” (hat tip to NetsDaily.com).  The Knicks even went so far as to urge Durant’s father Wayne Pratt — a Knicks fan — to intervene and convince his son to play with them. That approach backfired on them, as Sullivan detailed.
  • Joel Embiid’s injury history — the latest being his current knee ailment — could affect extension talks with the Sixers, Derek Bodner of The Athletic notes. Embiid has two years left on his current contract and could sign a four-year super-max extension this summer. If he waits until next summer, he could get an extra year on that extension, but would have to re-qualify for the super-max by making an All-NBA team again next season, winning Defensive Player of the Year, or earning MVP honors. With the injuries piling up, Embiid might want to lock into an extension sooner rather than later.
  • The Knicks, Sixers, Heat and Mavericks would seem to be logical destinations for the Raptors’ longtime point guard Kyle Lowry if he leaves Toronto. Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes a closer look at how Lowry would fit onto each of those teams.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

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 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 Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Scariolo, Kemba, Knicks

After going 0-for-12 from the field in the second half of the Sixers‘ Game 4 loss to Atlanta on Monday, star center Joel Embiid admitted that the partially torn meniscus in his right knee is bothering him to some extent. That injury is limiting Embiid’s athleticism, which was an issue in particular on a last-minute layup attempt that would’ve tied the game, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” Embiid said. “… Usually, I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it. Try to get fouled and get an and-1. But … not being able to jump for obvious reasons. … It’s tough.”

Embiid didn’t show many ill effects of that knee injury in the first three games of the series, averaging 35.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG on .533/.364/.809 shooting. In Game 4, he put up 17 points and 21 rebounds, but was just 4-of-20 on field goal attempts. After the game, he said he doesn’t expect to be 100% healthy until next season, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Raptors may be losing another assistant, with reports suggesting that Sergio Scariolo will become the new head coach of Virtus Bologna in Italy. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets that nothing has been finalized yet, but confirms that Scariolo has had discussions with the Italian club. If Scariolo departs, he’d be the third top Raptors assistant to leave the team within the last year, joining Nate Bjorkgren and Chris Finch.
  • Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com considers some potential landing spots that would make sense for Kemba Walker if the Celtics trade him this offseason. Report last week suggested there’s a growing sense that Walker could be moved.
  • Mike Vorkunov and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take a deep dive into the Knicks‘ offseason, exploring the team’s primary goals, its cap situation, and the prospects that might be the best fits at Nos. 19 and 21 in the draft.

NBA All-Defensive Teams Announced

The NBA has officially announced the voting results for its two 2020/21 All-Defensive teams.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in four seasons, and Sixers guard Ben Simmons were unanimous selections for the All-Defensive First Team. Both players made the First Team lists of all 100 tallied ballots, for a perfect total of 200 points. Votes are given to 100 media members.

This marks Gobert’s fifth straight appearance on the All-Defensive First Team, and the second consecutive All-Defensive First Team honor for Simmons.

Warriors forward Draymond Green garnered 176 points (including 80 First Team votes). Green was named Defensive Player of the Year in the 2016/17 season. This year’s nod is his fourth First Team honor, and his sixth total All-Defensive team.

Two Bucks players rounded out the All-Defensive First Team this season. Guard Jrue Holiday netted 157 points (65 First Team) and All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year, earned 135 total points (43 First Team). Antetokounmpo has just made his third straight All-Defensive First Team, and his fourth All-Defensive team overall. This is Holiday’s second All-Defensive First Team appearance and his third overall All-Defensive team.

[RELATED: Rudy Gobert Named Defensive Player Of The Year]

Two All-Defensive First-Teamers have unlocked contract bonuses associated with the honor. Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that Gobert will receive a $500K bonus for the inclusion this season. Marks adds (Twitter link) that Holiday will pocket a cool $100K for making All-Defensive First Team. Holiday has other contract incentives associated with his team’s further postseason advancement.

The All-Defensive Second Team honorees are led by Heat stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, who each netted 111 points (37 First Team votes) apiece. Adebayo makes his second All-Defensive Second Team with the nod today. This is Butler’s fifth such honor.

Simmons’s Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle also make the cut. It is the third All-Defensive team nod for Embiid and the first appearance for Thybulle. Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, a former two-time Defensive Player of the Year, rounds out the All-Defensive Second Team this season.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

Suns guard/forward Mikal Bridges, Hawks center Clint Capela, and Pacers forward/center Myles Turner were among the highest vote-getters who missed the cut for the Second Team. You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.