Sixers Rumors

Olshey's Firing May Help A Sixers-Blazers Trade; Adjustments On Offense Needed To Help Embiid

  • In a separate story, Neubeck examines the Sixers‘ recent offensive struggles and looks at how the team can create more easy opportunities for Joel Embiid. Part of the problem occurs when Matisse Thybulle is used for defensive purposes, making it easier for opponents to double team Embiid. Neubeck says coach Doc Rivers needs to adjust his rotations, especially late in games. “The whole season I haven’t gotten any easy ones. It feels like I’ve got to work for everything, that’s why I say we’ve got to communicate,” Embiid said this week. “I’ve got to let my teammates and my guys know, and I probably got to come up with it myself, find ways that I can get easy ones. It just feels like I have to work for everything. I get doubled every single possession.”
  • The Trail Blazersfiring of general manager Neil Olshey may open the door for a trade with the Sixers, suggests Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Olshey drafted backcourt stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and has been reluctant to break them up. Both have been mentioned as possible returns for Philadelphia as the Sixers seek a resolution to the Ben Simmons standoff. Neubeck states that Portland may be more open to moving McCollum now that Olshey is no longer in charge, or Lillard may see Olshey’s firing as incentive to request a trade. While most Philadelphia fans prefer the second option, Neubeck believes a move with McCollum is more realistic.
  • In a separate story, Neubeck examines the Sixers‘ recent offensive struggles and looks at how the team can create more easy opportunities for Joel Embiid. Part of the problem occurs when Matisse Thybulle is used for defensive purposes, making it easier for opponents to double team Embiid. Neubeck says coach Doc Rivers needs to adjust his rotations, especially late in games. “The whole season I haven’t gotten any easy ones. It feels like I’ve got to work for everything, that’s why I say we’ve got to communicate,” Embiid said this week. “I’ve got to let my teammates and my guys know, and I probably got to come up with it myself, find ways that I can get easy ones. It just feels like I have to work for everything. I get doubled every single possession.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Drummond, Horford

After missing nine games due to a case of COVID-19, Sixers center Joel Embiid had a huge game in his first night back on Saturday, racking up 42 points and 14 rebounds. However, he struggled on Monday and again on Wednesday, scoring a total of 29 points on just 7-of-33 shooting in a win over Orlando and a loss to Boston.

Embiid said after Wednesday’s game that he feels like he’s still rounding into form again following his COVID-related absence, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays.

“I would never use it as an excuse but obviously I think it’s going to take me awhile to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff,” Embiid said. “But every single day I got to keep working hard, and keep getting better.”

Head coach Doc Rivers acknowledged after Wednesday’s loss that Philadelphia needs improved shooting from Embiid, but said the issues on offense extend beyond the team’s star center.

“We’ve got to get Joel going,” Rivers said. “We get him going, the whole team gets going. That’s the number one thing. But that’s two games in a row I thought the offense was lackluster. Execution is really bad right now. But, again, I’m not concerned by it. We’re going to get through it. It’s just that we’re dropping games while we’re getting through it.”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Asked on Wednesday about the Ben Simmons situation, Rivers said it’s not an issue that’s at the front of his mind. I literally don’t even talk about it,” Rivers said (Twitter link via Justin Grasso of “I coach the team and the guys that I can see every day. I let (president of basketball operations) Daryl (Morey) and (GM) Elton (Brand) deal with all of the other stuff.”
  • Speaking to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire, veteran center Andre Drummond said he has loved his time in Philadelphia so far and dismissed the idea that he ever had any “real beef” with Embiid.
  • Al Horford only spent one season with the 76ers after signing a four-year, $97MM deal with the team in 2019. He wasn’t a fit in Philadelphia and admitted on Wednesday when his Celtics faced the Sixers that 2019/20 was a “difficult year” for him, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “No question about it,” Horford said when asked if his reputation took a hit during his time with the Sixers. “But it’s everything on me. It was my decision to leave [the Celtics], and it was like, ‘How are you going to respond when you’re faced with adversity?’ Being down, being talked down about and those things. I was written off, and I’m glad I got another opportunity in a place where I want to be.”

Nets Notes: Irving, Harden, Thomas, Durant

An ESPN report in October indicated that the Nets were willing to take calls from teams asking about Kyrie Irving, but weren’t making calls themselves. According to Ian Begley of, Brooklyn has maintained that approach during the past several weeks. Even though the Nets are willing to listen to inquiries on Irving, his trade value is down at this point due to his season-long absence, so making a deal may not be in the team’s best interest.

Begley also follows up on reports from The Athletic and The Philadelphia Inquirer stating that James Harden is among the Sixers‘ trade targets. Sources tell Begley that even before those reports surfaced, people with the Nets organization were aware that Philadelphia “loomed as a potential suitor” for Harden.

As we’ve noted before, the Nets are extremely unlikely to consider a Harden trade during the season, and all indications are that he wants to remain in Brooklyn going forward. But he does have the ability to opt out in 2022, so if the Nets’ season turns south, the Sixers could emerge as a more viable threat.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • With Harden off to an up-and-down start this season, Michael Pina of attempts to determine whether the 32-year-old’s inconsistency can be attributed more to an early-season slump or the start of a career decline. With Harden up for another maximum-salary contract in 2022, he’ll be highly motivated to recapture his All-NBA form.
  • Joe Harrisankle injury pushed rookie Cameron Thomas further up the depth chart, but the Nets don’t want to have him take on a bigger role until he’s fully ready for it, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who says the organization is happy with Thomas’ development so far. “If his role grows it’s more on his continued development than on our necessity, because that’s too much of a burden to throw at him,” head coach Steve Nash said.
  • Two years removed from his Achilles tear, Kevin Durant is averaging 35.8 minutes per game, his highest mark since his Oklahoma City days. As Nash acknowledges, the team would prefer not to play Durant that much going forward. “It’s not ideal to have him have such a burden,” the Nets’ head coach said, per Lewis. “But I don’t know what options we have other than to play him less and lose more. He’s a great player, and we’re down a great player (Irving) and a really good player (Harris) and a few others. So I don’t know if we have the luxury right now.”
  • For his part, Durant said he feels good and would love to play all 48 minutes every night if the Nets would let him, as Lewis relays. “If I can convince coach to play me the whole second half sometimes and put me in earlier in quarters, I’m gonna do it,” the former MVP said. “It don’t matter. My basketball life is not that long, so I’m gonna get the most out of it.”

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Walker, Kanter, Riller

Ahead of the Knicks‘ eventual 112-110 loss to their cross-town rival Nets on Tuesday night, New York All-Star forward Julius Randle praised Brooklyn All-Star forward Kevin Durant, per Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“He’s the best player in the league, for sure,” Randle raved on Monday. “[I’ve] never seen a 7-footer that skilled… [He can] do anything, everything, on the court. No weakness. That’s him. He’s tough. Great player, but I love competing against him.”

In an MVP-level season for the Nets, Durant is averaging 28.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 5.6 APG in 35.8 MPG, with a shooting line of .539/.389/.863.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The demotion of Kemba Walker from starting Knicks point guard to a DNP-CD serves as clear evidence of head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s zeal to win, per Ian O’Connor of the New York Post. Though the move for the 31-year-old hometown hero may not be a popular one, Thibodeau knows it will help the club’s defense significantly. “I just don’t like the way we’ve been trending, the inconsistency of our team,” Thibodeau said. “I want to get bigger. I want our defense to get bigger at the point of the attack.” The six-foot Walker, never a good defender, has seen his efficacy on both sides of the ball decline following knee injuries while with the Celtics. Fred Katz of The Athletic notes that the disparity in points per possession when Walker plays as opposed to when he sits represents the difference between what would be the best defensive efficiency in the NBA (when he sits) and what would be the worst (when he plays).
  • Upon becoming a US citizen on Monday, Celtics reserve center Enes Kanter has officially changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). “It was really important to me” to acknowledge the freedom that the Turkish native gets to enjoy as an American citizen, the freshly-anointed Kanter Freedom said.
  • Sixers two-way player Grant Riller injured his right shoulder during a contest for Philadelphia’s NBA G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, this past Sunday, tweets Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Bodner adds that Riller’s health status will be reassessed in a week. The No. 56 pick in 2020 out of the College of Charleston, Riller has yet to appear in a game for the Sixers this season. The 6’2″ point guard is averaging 5.5 PPG, 2.3 APG and 1.5 RPG across four games for Delaware.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Gentry, Simmons, COVID-19

The Sixers lost in overtime in Joel Embiid‘s return from COVID-19 Saturday, but the star center was just relieved to be back on the court, writes Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. Embiid missed the team’s last nine games after testing positive for the virus and described it as a frightening experience.

“I mean, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “It was that bad. I’m thankful to be sitting here.”

Embiid started slowly, making just one of four shots in the first eight minutes of the game, but he eventually became his usual dominant self. He played more than 45 minutes and scored 42 points, with 25 of those coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I didn’t think I was going to play tonight,” Embiid said. “To me, it’s a miracle I played this many minutes, but it’s good.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Alvin Gentry, who became the Kings‘ new interim coach when they fired Luke Walton last weekend, decided to join Sacramento’s staff in the offseason even though the Sixers made a more lucrative offer, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. There has been speculation that the Kings might shake up their roster in their quest for a playoff spot, but there have been no recent talks with Philadelphia about Ben Simmons, Fischer adds.
  • Simmons was seen working out at the Wells Fargo Center before Saturday’s game, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Simmons completed his session before the team’s walkthrough, then left before the game started. There has been no progress in his standoff with the team, Pompey adds, as Simmons continues to contend that he isn’t mentally ready to play, while the Sixers want him to return unless mental health experts confirm that he can’t.
  • The Sixers fell to 10-10 with the loss, but injuries and COVID-19 have hounded the team through the first quarter of the season, Pompey notes in a separate story. Saturday marked just the seventh time that all five starters have been played together, and the team has played just twice with a full roster available. “We showed the potential that we have,” Danny Green said. “With our guys being out, it just shows how great we could be. We just have to show the rhythm and that chemistry. But we never know if we’ll get that with the guys back. But that potential that we have and how good we could be, and the way we were playing without our guys, I think it shows a lot of character and how great we can be.”

Joel Embiid Cleared To Return For Sixers

After missing the past nine games due to COVID-19, Sixers center Joel Embiid will be back on the court for Saturday’s contest with the Timberwolves, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Embiid hasn’t played since November 6 after testing positive for the virus. He reportedly experienced some COVID-19 symptoms, which explains why he was sidelined for so long. Philadelphia has been especially hard hit by the virus this season with Tobias Harris, Isaiah Joe and Matisse Thybulle also spending time in the league’s health and safety protocols.

After being an MVP finalist last year, Embiid was off to another strong start, although his numbers are down in several categories. Through nine games, he is averaging 21.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night, but he is shooting just 43.5% from the field. The Sixers were 2-7 while Embiid was sidelined.

Harris will also return today after missing the past two games with a strained hip, Wojnarowski adds.

Embiid And Harris Questionable Saturday

  • Joel Embiid (COVID recovery) and Tobias Harris (hip) are both questionable for the Sixers‘ home game tomorrow against Minnesota, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter).

Growing Optimism Embiid Will Return Saturday

  • After ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Tuesday that the Sixers are hopeful Joel Embiid will be able to return as soon as Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) reiterated today that there’s growing optimism about Embiid’s ability to play on Saturday. The star center hasn’t suited up since November 6 due to a case of COVID-19.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Harris, Carmelo, Rose, Allen

Sixers center Joel Embiid has been working out at the team’s practice facility, head coach Doc Rivers said on Monday, per Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter link).

He passed one of the tests, I think he has another big one today. Then after that, we have to decide what we want to do. But the fact that he’s out working again is huge,” Rivers said.

Embiid has been sidelined since contracting COVID-19 on November 8. Appearing on ESPN’s NBA Today with Malika Andrews, Adrian Wojnarowski says the Sixers are optimistic that Embiid could return as soon as Saturday, Nov. 27, versus Minnesota (video link).

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • The Sixers were missing four of the team’s five starters on Monday against the Kings but still managed to emerge victorious. Tobias Harris (strained hip) is the latest addition to the list of injured players, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Seth Curry (back stiffness), Danny Green (hamstring) and the aforementioned Embiid were also sidelined. Harris, Curry and Green are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Warriors, while Embiid is out, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • Ex-Knicks star and current Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony believes the Leon Rose regime deserves more credit for the job they’ve done, per Ian Begley of “It’s very hard to come in and do what they’re doing, what they started, what they created as far as starting from the ground up,” Anthony said. “When I say that, it’s getting everything out, clearing everything out, bringing in the right people. But not doing it in a frantic way, not doing it in [by] taking advantage of power. It’s just coming in, talking to people, getting to know people, understanding people, understanding what was happening before and being able to clean that up and build on that. I think people need to talk about that a lot more.” Team president Rose was Anthony’s agent prior to working for the Knicks.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said part of the reason Jarrett Allen was traded last season was the team realized they probably couldn’t afford to keep him long-term due to luxury tax concerns, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “We loved him and wish him a lot of success, and happy for him to get a contract. I mean, the reality is he was probably out; we couldn’t probably resign him anyways,” Nash said. “Looking at the marketplace, he probably would’ve gotten a lot of money. And it would’ve been a huge cap hit compared to some of the priorities. So that was part of the decision in being able to let something like that go.”

Sixers Not Interested In Jerami Grant, May Extend Ben Simmons Trade Talks Into Summer

The Sixers don’t have any interest in acquiring Pistons forward Jerami Grant in a potential deal for Ben Simmons, a source tells Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Neubeck states that a Friday report that Grant is on a list of about 30 potential Sixers trade targets is outdated and there are no current negotiations involving Grant between the two teams.

Grant is a bad fit for the Sixers for several reasons, Neubeck adds. He’s too similar to Tobias Harris, and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is only willing to overlook concerns about position overlap if he can get a star player in return. Also, Morey doesn’t view Grant’s salary – $20MM this year and $20.9MM next season – as easy to move in a future deal.

Philadelphia doesn’t consider Grant to be talented enough to be the centerpiece of a Simmons deal, according to Neubeck’s source. Morey isn’t panicking about not having a deal for Simmons yet and continues to hope for an elite perimeter player such as Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard or someone else in that class.

The Sixers expect offers for Simmons to increase and improve starting after December 15, when most newly-signed free agents can be dealt, but they don’t feel like they have to get something done by the February 10 trade deadline, Neubeck adds. Many executives around the league believe Morey is willing to let Simmons remain idle all season and see what new trade opportunities are available next summer.

That could give the team a chance to take advantage of sign-and-trade possibilities involving upcoming free agents as well as unhappy stars looking for a change of scenery or new management taking over other franchises and being willing to gamble on Simmons.