Matt Lilly

Sixers Notes: Floor/Ceiling, Reed, Milton, Personnel Changes

In a mailbag for The Philly Voice, Kyle Neubeck examines the potential floor and ceiling of the Sixers, assuming they take their current roster into the regular season.

As Neubeck outlines, a worst-case scenario would see a disgruntled Ben Simmons refusing to rejoin the team and president Daryl Morey sticking to his very high trade demands for the point guard, causing the Sixers to fall way behind during a difficult start to the season and not being able to recover, especially if Joel Embiid happens to miss any time due to injury.

What Neubeck refers to as the “pie in the sky” scenario is that – with last year’s playoff humiliation behind him – things click into place for Simmons, who comes back renewed and recommitted, and the Sixers continue their hunt for a championship. A more realistic ceiling, Neubeck writes, is that the team plays together for one more year, as Simmons returns to form, Tyrese Maxey takes a mini-leap and Embiid stays relatively healthy, all of which should combine to give the 76ers a decent chance against the other top teams in the East.

We have more on the Sixers:

  • Neubeck also examines the question of what G League and Summer League standout Paul Reed needs to add to his game to become a consistent rotation player. The two keys are the outside shot and converting his impressive shot-blocking numbers into genuine back-line organizational ability. There’s a difference between blocking shots and being the backbone of a team’s defense, Neubeck writes, but Reed showed improved decision-making under the Summer League coaches, and should be able to progress in that department in time.
  • As for guard Shake Milton and his role with the team moving forward, Neubeck writes that being the only consistent offensive force off the bench probably over-burdened the 24-year-old guard, but Maxey’s emergence as a point guard could help simplify Milton’s role as more of a pure scorer. Given that Milton is on a cheap contract and has proven capable of swinging a crucial playoff game single-handedly, Neubeck writes that there’s no reason to think he isn’t a part of the team’s plans.
  • In a surprise move, the Sixers dismissed several scouting and development staff members, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer. Scouts Rod Baker and Jordan Cohn were let go, as was Delaware Blue Coats GM Matt Lilly, among others. Pompey writes in a separate tweet that around 17 staff members were let go in the cost-cutting move. Senior Director of Equipment Operations Scott Rego, who had been with the team for 34 years, was among the firings.

Eastern Notes: Parker, Howard, Irving, Sixers

Things aren’t off to a great start this fall for the Bulls‘ big-name free agent acquisition, Jabari Parker. Head coach Fred Hoiberg adjusted his starting lineup this week, moving Parker to the bench, and it paid dividends in the team’s 104-89 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday, as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune details. While Hoiberg initially said his new lineup was “just an experiment,” Johnson hears from sources that the coach has had discussions with his staff about whether to move Parker out of the starting lineup, and sounded today like he might be committed to that change.

“With the second unit — and I talked to Jabari about this — we used him in more of a facilitating role and put the ball in his hands as really kind of a point forward. I liked the look of it,” said the Bulls’ head coach, per Johnson. “We’ll continue to evaluate. But I did like the look of both groups.”

Addressing the change on Thursday, Parker – who has started 150 of his 183 career regular season games – didn’t sound overly enthusiastic about coming off the bench for the Bulls. According to Johnson, the former No. 2 overall pick provided a “no comment” when asked if he’d be willing to take whatever role at this stage in his career, and said playing a reserve role would be a “huge adjustment for me.” However, he also added, “I’ve just got to change with the times.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Dwight Howard‘s availability for the Wizards to start the season remains in question. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington wrote earlier this week that Howard had suffered a setback and visited a back specialist, while sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Howard had sustained a piriformis (buttocks) injury. While Howard will reportedly receive an injection to relieve the pain, the injury isn’t considered serious, according to Charania, so Washington should get its big free agent addition on the court before too long.
  • Discussing his decision to ask the Cavaliers for a trade, Kyrie Irving called it the “best thing” he’s done. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report has that quote and much more in an in-depth feature on the Celtics‘ starting point guard.
  • After promoting Elton Brand to general manager last month, the Sixers have named a new interim GM for their G League team, announcing today in a press release that Matt Lilly will serve as head of basketball operations for the Delaware Blue Coats. Brand previously held that position.