Markelle Fultz

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Sixers have “consistently remained atop the list of teams expected to land” Kawhi Leonard in a trade, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post writes in his latest look at the Leonard situation. In Bontemps’ view, Philadelphia’s ability to acquire Leonard may hinge on the team’s willingness to add Markelle Fultz to an offer. If Fultz is on the table, it’ll be hard for another team to top the 76ers’ offer, says Bontemps.

Keith Pompey of Philly.com also revisits the Sixers’ interest in Leonard, writing that the team is confident it could convince the star forward to stay in Philadelphia for longer than one year if he’s traded. However, the 76ers are willing to walk away from the Kawhi sweepstakes if the Spurs‘ asking price remains high, as principal owner Josh Harris hinted on Monday.

“If the right situation comes where we can acquire someone that can really add value to our program and the cost of it isn’t prohibitive, then we’ll move forward and do that,” Harris said, per Pompey. “But if that doesn’t come along for whatever reason, then we’ll keep moving forward with our program.”

As Pompey details, the Spurs keep trying to “raise the ante” in Leonard talks, telling clubs that another team is offering more for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Pompey suggests that Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Miami’s 2021 first-round pick would be a realistic package from the Sixers’ side, but notes that the Spurs are believed to be seeking three first-round picks in addition to those two players.

Here’s more on Leonard:

  • Within his look at the Leonard situation, Bontemps writes that the Raptors have “generated buzz” as a potential destination for the Spurs star. ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week about the possibility of Toronto being a wild-card team in the Kawhi sweepstakes, suggesting that they could offer a package centered around one of their All-Star guards, a young player, and a first-round pick.
  • One aspect of the Leonard saga that frustrated the Spurs during the 2017/18 season was repeatedly believing he was on the verge of returning to the court, only to be informed he wasn’t coming back after all, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays Wright’s comments on that subject from an appearance on the Back to Back podcast.
  • Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports rounds up several of the Leonard rumors from the last week or so in an informative article.

Lowe’s Latest: Kawhi, Sixers, Celtics, Scott, More

The Sixers have not made Markelle Fultz available in Kawhi Leonard trade talks with the Spurs, and the Celtics haven’t been willing to include Jaylen Brown in their discussions with San Antonio, ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirms in his latest article.

We’ve heard variations on Lowe’s report for the last week or two, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link) recently suggesting that the Sixers don’t want to discuss Fultz, Joel Embiid, or Ben Simmons in Leonard talks, and adding that the Celtics’ top five players have been “off-limits” in negotiations with the Spurs — presumably, Woj was referring to Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford.

Lowe’s full piece on the Leonard situation features several more tidbits of note, including some items only tangentially related to a possible Leonard trade. Let’s round up the highlights…

  • LeBron James isn’t pressuring the Lakers to add a second star for now, according to Lowe, who says that James “has faith in the combined powers of his supernova talent and the Lakers brand.” LeBron also recognizes that Brandon Ingram has considerable upside and is aware that many star free agents could be on the market in 2019, Lowe notes.
  • Lowe classifies rumors that Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving want to play together as “credible chatter.” However, the Celtics remain confident that they’ll be able to re-sign Irving next year, per Lowe.
  • Details of Mike Scott‘s contract agreement with the Clippers have yet to surface, but Lowe indicates the deal will use part of the team’s mid-level exception rather than being a minimum-salary signing.
  • Lowe’s piece is worth checking out in full, particularly for a section in which he brainstorms hypothetical wild-card suitors for Leonard, exploring whether the Raptors, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Timberwolves, Thunder, Heat, Rockets, Bucks, Nuggets, Warriors, Pistons, or Kings might be fits — many are quick “no”s, but some generate some intriguing hypothetical deals.

Poll: Where Will Kawhi Leonard End Up?

There have been plenty of huge NBA headlines during the first few days of July, with LeBron James agreeing to become a Laker, Paul George deciding not to become a Laker, and DeMarcus Cousins lining up a deal with the defending-champion Warriors, among others.

However, for the most part, all has been quiet on the Kawhi Leonard front.

After Leonard’s camp made a public trade request earlier in mid-June, the Spurs forward seemed likely to dominate the offseason rumor mill, but for now, the primary suitors for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year may be playing it safe.

As Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports tweets, the Celtics and Sixers appear to be “playing the long game” on the Leonard front, not wanting to do anything rash with their rosters in great shape and LeBron finally out of their conference.

As for James’ new team in Los Angeles, the Lakers‘ other deals this offseason have suggested the club is retaining flexibility for the 2019 offseason, leaving the door open for Leonard to sign as a free agent and for the Lakers to keep all their young players and picks.

While the Lakers – wary of being too patient after what happened with George – may increase their efforts to land Leonard in a trade at some point, they “aren’t keen” on giving up Brandon Ingram, tweets Schultz. Meanwhile, the Celtics won’t give up Jayson Tatum and aren’t enthusiastic about moving Jaylen Brown, and the Sixers prefer to keep Markelle Fultz, Schultz adds.

While Schultz believes Leonard – who is unhappy in San Antonio and reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles – will be dealt eventually, he’s not sure where the star forward will end up. So we’re opening up that question to you.

What team to do you expect Leonard to be with to start the 2018/19 season? Will he get his wish to join the Lakers? Can the Spurs convince him to stick around a little longer? Will a budding Eastern powerhouse like the Celtics or Sixers go all-in for him? Could L.A.’s other team, the Clippers make a surprise play to land him? Or will a wild-card suitor enter the fray and steal him away?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Redick, McConnell, Free Agents

Sixers guard Markelle Fultz will skip summer league to keep working on the mechanics of his shot that were disrupted during his rookie year, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The team wants Fultz to continue his work with shooting coach Drew Hanlen in Los Angeles.

Fultz was limited to 17 games during his rookie season because of a combination of injuries and shooting problems. He played the first four games before suffering a shoulder injury that stretched into a 68-game absence as he tried to recover the form he had in college. He returned for the final 10 games, then had a limited role in the playoffs.

Hanlen said Fultz is making progress with his shot, and coach Brett Brown believes he will benefit more from the drills than by playing summer league games.

“I think there’s a timeline of that where you are going to start doing some things skill-wise and handle and play,” Brown said. “But I think when you look at what’s most important, what thing needs the most work, it’s that. I don’t really want to pivot out of that if we think it’s going to hurt a very elementary way we are going about reclaiming his shot.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

Sixers Weighing Trade Packages For Kawhi Leonard

The Lakers and Celtics are in talks with the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, but they’re not the only teams interested in making a play for the star forward. According to Jake Fischer of SI.com, the Sixers have held “serious internal discussions” about trading for Leonard within the last couple days, and the front office has taken several trade scenarios to team ownership for consideration.

Fischer reports that the Sixers have yet to present the Spurs with a formal offer for Leonard, but their internal discussions have revolved around various young players and future draft picks.

One team source tells Fischer that, based on preliminary discussions between the Sixers and Spurs, San Antonio appears to have “strong interest” in a package that includes Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and a future first-round pick — perhaps the Heat’s 2021 first-rounder, which the 76ers acquired last Thursday from the Suns.

Markelle Fultz isn’t mentioned in the SI.com report and Fischer confirms in a follow-up tweet that last year’s No. 1 pick isn’t part of any of the proposed packages that team management has brought to Sixers ownership.

According to Fischer, the 76ers showed little interest in parting with either Saric or Covington in pre-draft trade talks when they explored moving up from No. 10. That doesn’t mean that either player would be off-limits in an offer for Leonard, but Philadelphia appears to strongly value the on- and off-court contributions it gets from Saric and Covington.

Interestingly, the Spurs have informed teams that Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is their preferred target in Leonard talks, sources tell Fischer. Other clubs believe this is a negotiating tactic though, since Boston is unlikely to surrender Tatum. Per Fischer, it’s “widely believed in league circles” that the C’s would propose a deal centered around Kyrie Irving and draft picks. We heard earlier today that Boston had yet to discuss Jaylen Brown in talks with the Spurs.

While Los Angeles is Leonard’s preferred landing spot, a source close to the situation suggests to Fischer that the star forward is open to other major markets. That could bode well for teams based in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, though the Nets and Knicks are unlikely to be players for Leonard.

The Sixers’ offseason will be fascinating to watch, particularly if the team takes a major swing on a player like Leonard. The franchise currently doesn’t have a permanent general manager in place, with head coach Brett Brown holding the position on an interim basis after Bryan Colangelo‘s dismissal. For what it’s worth, Fischer notes that Leonard and Brown are believed to have a good relationship, dating back to their time together in San Antonio.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Smith Trade, GM Candidate

The Sixers’ decision to draft two guards in the first round could mean Markelle Fultz won’t be part of the future in Philadelphia, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The team acquired swingman Zhaire Smith in a trade with the Suns and took point guard Landry Shamet at No. 26, but coach Brett Brown said the selections have nothing to do with Fultz and the difficulties he encountered during his rookie year.

After being the first player taken in the 2017 draft, Fultz missed much of the season with a shoulder injury and an unexplained problem with his shooting motion. Fultz is still limited to “foundational-type” shooting drills, according to Pompey, and probably won’t join the Sixers for summer league.

The front office insists it isn’t trying to trade Fultz, but Pompey cites a report of internal discussions about moving him, along with the two first-rounders, in an effort to obtain a top five pick. Several league sources also say Fultz was available for a deal, but his performance as a rookie makes it difficult to get anything of value in return.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated offers an inside look at the draft night deal that sent Smith to Philadelphia and Mikal Bridges to Phoenix. The Sixers turned down several offers from the Suns prior to the deal coming together just before Phoenix made its selection at No. 16. Bridges had a private workout in Philadelphia and Smith participated in two group workouts, and the Sixers considered them “1A” and “1B” as prospects who might be available with the 10th pick. When Smith fell all the way to 16th, Philly reconsidered, seeing an opportunity to stock up on future picks.
  • Brown would like to see the Sixers hire someone already in the organization as the next GM, Pompey writes in a separate story. The top internal candidate is believed to be Marc Eversley, who serves as vice president of player personnel. “I don’t think we need an overhaul,” Brown said. “We’re in deep on this. We have ways we do business. So somewhere out there, we’ll find the balance of those things that I said, and I’m sure that I’ll have a voice in the selection of the next general manager.”
  • Brown compares Smith to Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, another player who was traded on draft night, Pompey notes in another piece. Leonard is Smith’s favorite player and could wind up being a teammate if the cards fall right for the Sixers. “I think somebody said we have the same shooting mechanics,” Smith said. “So I try to do whatever move he does to get his shot off. I try to learn that.”

Mavs Optimistic About Signing DeMarcus Cousins

The Mavericks believe they have a strong chance of signing DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Cousins, coming off a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, will be an unrestricted free agent next month. While the Mavericks’ interest in Cousins has previously been reported, Scotto’s story suggests the Mavericks are ready to make him a hefty offer to lure him away from the Pelicans. If the Mavs pass on Texas big man Mohamed Bamba with the No. 5 pick, that would reinforce the notion they’ll go all in to secure the services of either Cousins or the Rockets’ restricted free agent center, Clint Capela.

Scotto also has several other notable items to pass along:

  • The Sixers discussed the possibility of packaging the No. 10 and 26 picks, along with last year’s top pick Markelle Fultz, to move into the top five of the draft with Michael Porter Jr. as their target. However, lingering concerns over Porter’s back have cooled their interest in making that move.
  • Tobias Harris expiring contract is part of the package the Clippers are dangling to move up in the lottery. They have back-to-back picks at Nos. 12 and 13.
  • The Hawks are trying to make a deal with the Clippers or Nuggets (No. 14) in order to nab Miami (Fla.) guard Lonnie Walker IV. They are looking to package their picks at Nos. 19 and 30.
  • The Nets are dangling point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and the No. 29 pick in order to move into the middle of the first round.
  • The Rockets have received calls on guard Eric Gordon and could move him in order to get a mid-first-rounder.

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Fultz, Brown, Bayless

Bryan Colangelo probably had no way to save his job as president of basketball operations, even if he had blamed the Twitter incident on his wife from the start, suggests Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Colangelo resigned Thursday after the completion of an investigation into burner accounts on Twitter that released sensitive information and made critical comments of Sixers players and opponents.

The law firm that investigated the matter concluded that Colangelo acted in a “reckless” and “careless” manner, even though the accounts belonged to his wife, Barbara Bottini. Investigators said they couldn’t prove Colangelo knew about the accounts, but there also isn’t strong evidence that he wasn’t aware of them.

Regardless, Hayes concludes that Colangelo had already lost trust among management and the players and that a change was necessary for the Sixers to move past the incident.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • Colangelo didn’t turn in a remarkable performance during his time with the Sixers, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. O’Connor states his best moves were the decision to retain coach Brett Brown and to add J.J. Redick in free agency last summer. However, Colangelo got little value when he shipped off Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, and he didn’t have any other significant signings or notable draft picks outside the lottery.
  • Colangelo ignored other voices in the organization who wanted to consider Jayson Tatum or Lonzo Ball after Markelle Fultz turned in a disappointing performance at last year’s pre-draft workout, O’Connor adds. Colangelo reportedly insisted on drafting Fultz after completing a deal with the Celtics that cost Philadelphia the rights to a future first-rounder from the Kings.
  • Brown won’t have much time to relax this summer with his new roles as GM and president of basketball operations in addition to his coaching responsibilities, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown will hold the front office positions until replacements can be found, but that might not happen until after the draft and the start of free agency. “My role in all of this is simply to provide a level of leadership with people I trust and respect and do the best I can while I’m here moving us forward,” Brown said.
  • One of Brown’s first major decisions will involve guard Jerryd Bayless, Pompey notes in the same piece. As they try to maximize cap space for a run at LeBron James or other elite free agents, the Sixers could be tempted to waive Bayless and stretch his $8.6 million salary over three seasons.

Bryan Colangelo Denies Criticizing Sixers Players Via Burner Accounts

In perhaps the most bizarre story yet in a drama-filled NBA season, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has denied using several Twitter burner accounts to defend his reputation and to criticize Sixers players.

A compelling report from Ben Detrick of The Ringer connects five anonymous Twitter accounts to one another, suggesting that the accounts are strikingly similar in terms of content, tone, follows, and likes. As Detrick details, these accounts seemingly shared inside information on the 76ers and tipped team strategy — they also criticized current and former Sixers players and defended Colangelo’s track record with the franchise.

After Detrick sent an inquiry to the Sixers asking about two of the five accounts, Colangelo issued a statement claiming ownership of one of the accounts, which had never posted a tweet, denying knowledge of the other. Simultaneously, the three other accounts – which Detrick didn’t mention in his inquiry to the Sixers – went dark, switching from public to private.

The Ringer’s story is worth reading in full for many more details on the circumstantial evidence linking the accounts to Colangelo, as well as for the details on the tweets in question, which go after Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel, along with former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie and current Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who replaced Colangelo in Toronto. Tweets from those anonymous accounts also repeatedly referred to an Okafor trade falling through after he failed a physical, and telegraphed the Sixers’ trade for 2017’s No. 1 pick several weeks before it happened.

While it’s impossible to say at this point that Colangelo is or isn’t behind the five accounts identified by The Ringer, it doesn’t look great for the Sixers’ president, considering the tweets “launched personal beefs, jealousies, [and] frustrations that he’s shared inside and outside [the] 76ers,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Still, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that many executives around the league seem to believe Colangelo’s denials, since it’s hard to imagine a high-level executive would risk his job “in such a reckless manner” — it just doesn’t add up, Woj observes. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (via Twitter), the prevailing sentiment around the NBA – and within the Sixers organization – so far is confusion.

The controversy hasn’t gone unnoticed by Embiid, who was the subject of several negative tweets by the accounts in question. In one tweet tonight, Embiid pretended to accidentally post from his own account rather than from a burner profile, writing: “Joel told me that @samhinkie IS BETTER AND SMARTER THAN YOU @AlVic40117560 #BurnerAccount.” @AlVic40117560, one of the five accounts cited in The Ringer’s story, published a number of tweets criticizing Embiid, many of which the Sixers center “liked” tonight.

However, Embiid was more diplomatic in a statement to Wojnarowski, telling ESPN’s top reporter that he trusts Colangelo’s denials for now.

“I talked to him and he said that he didn’t say that,” Embiid said. “He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad.”

Sixers Notes: Probably LeBron James, McConnell, Fultz

Sixers head coach Brett Brown made it very clear that the team could benefit from acquiring a high-level free agent as they accelerate their title-contention timeline. That, Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes, probably means one LeBron James, though tampering rules prevented Brown from saying that outright.

The Sixers coach spoke in a press conference after his team’s exit from the second-round of the playoffs, saying that he believes the organization is an appealing landing spot.

Given that the dynamic tandem of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons wasn’t enough to guide the Sixers into the Eastern Conference Finals, the club is ready and willing to add the necessary reinforcements to make a genuine title run.

I’m not here to tell names,” Brown said in regard to the type of player the Sixers will pursue. “To me, the answer becomes clear. […] It’s true though, right? I mean, like, we don’t have to turn this into calculus. It’s quite clear.

There’s more out of Philly this evening:

  • After head coach Brett Brown spoke of attracting a high-level free agent this summer, general manager Bryan Colangelo clarified that the organization needs to add high-level talent in general, which could come in the form of a trade or internal development, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.
  • There’s no denying that T.J. McConnell‘s future with the Sixers will be impacted by Markelle Fultz‘s growth as a player. “Markelle is a special player, that’s not a lie,” McConnell told Sarah Todd of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “When he plays at the level that they drafted him to play at, if there’s a spot for me, great; if not, I’m not really sure what I can do about that. Unfortunately, that’s out of my hands. But I’d love to be here.
  • The most likely draft-and-stash player to join the Sixers next season is 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden out of Australia, The Athletic’s Derek Bodner tweets. The power forward played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in EuroLeague this season.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bryan Colangelo said that he has no regrets about trading up in the 2017 draft to select Markelle Fultz. Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets that Colangelo doesn’t have an ounce of buyer’s remorse.