Sixers Rumors

And-Ones: Musa, Scola, Mannion, Nigeria

Former Nets wing Dzanan Musa, a first-round pick in 2018, has been named the Most Valuable Player of Liga ACB, Spain’s top basketball league, for the 2021/22 season, per an official press release.

Fans, reporters, players, and coaches vote on the award, and Musa was the top pick among all four groups, earning the maximum 100 points. Ex-NBA forward Nikola Mirotic finished fourth with 30 points.

After appearing in just 49 games in his two seasons with Brooklyn from 2018-20, Musa returned to Europe and has played in Turkey and Spain over the last two years. He averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG on .494/.381/.787 shooting in 29 Liga ACB games (32.0 MPG) for CB Breogan this season.

Former NBA forward Mirza Teletovic stated earlier this year that he’s confident Musa, who just turned 23 years old this month, will return stateside sooner or later.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran forward Luis Scola, who played in the NBA from 2007-17, will exercise his option to assume majority ownership of the Italian team Pallacanestro Varese, the club announced in a press release. Once the paperwork is official, Scola will own 51% of the franchise’s shares.
  • Former Warriors guard Nico Mannion is drawing some interest from NBA teams as a possible Summer League player, tweets George Zakkas of SDNA in Greece. Mannion remains under contract with Virtus Bologna in Italy for the time being.
  • Having opened a league office in Lagos earlier this year, the NBA is on the lookout for the next Giannis Antetokounmpo in Nigeria, according to Lindsay du Plessis of ESPN, who spoke to NBA Africa VP Gbemisola Abudu about NBA Nigeria’s goals in the country.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic takes a look at what the offseason for the holds for the four teams eliminated in round two, examining the key areas for the Grizzlies, Bucks, Sixers, and Suns to address this summer.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Rivers, Knicks, Flynn

Sixers guard James Harden was still an elite player in 2021/22, but his numbers began trending in the wrong direction and he appeared to have lost the explosive first step that defined his MVP-caliber seasons, writes Tommy Beer of

With Harden set to turn 33 this summer, giving him a long-term, maximum-salary contract could cripple the Sixers and would be borderline “organizational malpractice,” Beer argues. Still, Philadelphia can’t afford to let him walk, since doing so wouldn’t actually open up any meaningful cap room and the team is under pressure to maximize Joel Embiid‘s prime.

As Beer outlines, it will be fascinating to see how those contract discussions play out this offseason, since both sides have some leverage concerns. The Sixers can’t afford to lose Harden, but it will be difficult for the former MVP to play hardball in negotiations, considering none of the teams projected to have cap room are expected to seriously pursue him.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has made it clear that the plan is for Doc Rivers to remain the head coach going forward, prompting Kyle Neubeck of to consider whether that decision is the right one for the franchise.
  • Former Knicks center Eddy Curry has confidence in the abilities of executives Leon Rose and William Wesley to turn things around in New York, writes Ian Begley of Curry said Knicks fans shouldn’t focus on Rose’s lack of public statements and press conferences, since it’s “not his personality” to be in the public eye. “Regardless of how often you see him, you better believe he’s making things happen behind closed doors,” said Curry, who worked with Rose and Wesley during his playing career.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic wonders if Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could benefit from a change of scenery and identifies some other players in a similar boat whom Toronto could target in a potential Flynn trade, including Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, and Udoka Azubuike.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a series of Celtics notes earlier today.

Nets Notes: Trade Exceptions, Irving, Vanterpool, Harden Trade

The Nets won’t have any cap room this summer, but they can upgrade the roster by using their three trade exceptions, writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. Brooklyn owns an $11.3MM exception from the James Harden trade with the Sixers, a $6.3MM exception from a deal that sent DeAndre Jordan to the Pistons and a $3.3MM TPE from the Spencer Dinwiddie trade with the Mavericks.

Winfield suggests using the largest exception, along with Philadelphia’s 2027 first-round pick and the Nets’ second-rounder in 2029, to acquire Spurs wing Josh Richardson, and notes that the smaller exceptions could be valuable as rival teams try to clear cap space in advance of free agency.

Winfield shares other ideas for the Nets’ offseason, such as targeting Joe Ingles with the taxpayer mid-level exception and looking for bargains with minimum-salary contracts such as Ben McLemore, Markieff Morris, Danuel House, Isaiah Hartenstein, Bismack Biyombo and Hassan Whiteside.

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Kyrie Irving has been difficult for management to handle since he signed with Brooklyn in 2019, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. A source tells Bondy that Irving, who only played 20 games in his first season with the Nets because of a shoulder issue, disappeared from the team and didn’t communicate with the front office about the condition of his shoulder as he looked for second opinions.
  • Steve Nash is expected to return as head coach next season, but he could have a much different staff working for him. Amar’e Stoudemire is leaving his position as a player development assistant, and David Vanterpool isn’t expected back either, Marc Stein states in his latest article for Substack. Vanterpool recently interviewed for the Hornets’ head coaching job.
  • Neither team benefited much from the blockbuster deal headlined by Harden and Ben Simmons, but the Sixers appear to be worse shape than the Nets, observes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn at least has roster stability with Simmons under contract for three more seasons. Philadelphia is facing a difficult decision on how to handle an extension for Harden, who could make nearly $270MM in a five-year max deal.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Thybulle, Embiid, Toughness

As we previously relayed, when James Harden was asked whether he’d opt in to his $47.37MM player option for next season, he said, “I’ll be here.”

Following up on Harden’s statement, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey confirmed that the team plans on having the former MVP on its roster going forward.

That’s the plan, is to have him back,” Morey said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “That’s been the plan since the trade. Obviously, we have to work with his representation and that’ll be between us to figure out how that works.”

Morey added that improving the defense will be a focus in the offseason, while coach Doc Rivers said the team needs to improve its toughness.

Well, I think it’s something that our players can grow,” Morey said of a lack of mental toughness being a common theme in exit interviews with players. “I mean, going through losses and how you respond to that and how you take it as your own look in the mirror. I think we all need to look in the mirror and say, ‘How can we each be better?’ … And that goes for myself as well.”

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • In an appearance on “Get Up,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said, Nobody in the NBA believes that the Sixers are going to give James Harden a max contract.” If Harden is willing to take a pay cut to improve the team’s financial flexibility, Windhorst points to Chris Paul‘s contract structure with the Suns as something that might work for both sides. Paul declined his $44MM player option last summer and signed a four-year, $120MM contract, but only $75MM is guaranteed.
  • Matisse Thybulle, who was only partially vaccinated and thus ineligible to play in Toronto, was removed from the starting lineup for the postseason after starting 50 of 66 regular season games. Thybulle was asked at his exit interview whether he regretted his decision to not get fully vaccinated, with the hindsight that it impacted his performance and – by his own admission – his confidence. However, Thybulle said he was content with his choice and had no regrets, according to Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice (Twitter link). Thybulle averaged 25.5 minutes per contest in the regular season, but just 15.2 during the playoffs.
  • Joel Embiid was understandably frustrated that his otherwise-healthy season ended with injuries, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m not looking for any excuses, but those are just the facts,” Embiid said of his orbital fracture and torn thumb ligament. “It [stinks]. I don’t think anybody would believe that I was 100%, so it does [stink] to get to this stage and not be yourself, not being able to do what you want and your body not allowing you to just be yourself … I would say [I should] try to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but those are freak injuries. If it happens, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
  • Rivers’ comments about improving the team’s toughness were initiated by Embiid, who said the Sixers have “never had P.J. Tucker” during his tenure, a nod to Tucker’s hard-nosed defense and all-out effort. “[He] believes that he can get from Point A to Point B and he believes that no one can beat him,” Embiid said of Tucker, per Mizell. “They [Miami] have a few of those guys. … Since I’ve been here, I’d be lying if I said that we’ve had those type of guys. Nothing against what we have. It’s just the truth.”

Danny Green Diagnosed With Torn Left ACL, LCL

Sixers wing Danny Green has been diagnosed with a torn left ACL, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team has confirmed Charania’s report, adding that Green also sustained a torn LCL in his left knee.

Green injured his knee during Philadelphia’s season-ending Game 6 loss to Miami on Thursday night and there was said to be “significant concern” that the injury was a major one. He underwent an MRI to determine the extent of the damage.

Speaking this afternoon to reporters, including Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Green acknowledged he expected there to be ligament damage but expressed optimism that the major ligaments in his knee would be intact. Unfortunately, it seems that’s not the case.

An ACL tear typically sidelines an NBA player for the better part of a calendar year, if not longer, so Green’s availability for the 2022/23 season is presumably in jeopardy.

To make matters worse, the veteran swingman will turn 35 years old next month — rehabbing such an injury and getting back to full health and effectiveness at his age could be a far greater challenge than it would be for a player 10 or 15 years younger.

A three-time NBA champion with the Spurs, Raptors, and Lakers, Green was one of the Sixers’ most reliable outside shooters in 2021/22, averaging 5.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG on .394/.380/.786 shooting in 62 games (21.8 MPG). He’s a career 39.9% shooter from beyond the arc.

Green signed a two-year, $20MM contract with Philadelphia last offseason, but only the first year was guaranteed. He now appears almost certain to be waived this summer, allowing the 76ers to clear his $10MM salary from their ’22/23 cap.

Morey: Doc Rivers Will Return As Sixers’ Head Coach

Asked directly during his end-of-season press conference whether Doc Rivers would be back in 2022/23 as the Sixers‘ head coach, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey provided a simple response, tweets Kyle Neubeck of

“Yes,” Morey said.

Rivers, who was hired by the Sixers during the 2020 offseason, has led the team to a 100-54 (.649) regular season mark in the past two years, but hasn’t gotten out of the second round of the playoffs. Philadelphia lost to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals a year ago and to Miami in the same round this year.

There had been some speculation that Rivers could be on the hot seat for failing to lead the Sixers to at least the Eastern Finals, since the team had championship aspirations following its deadline deal for James Harden. Additionally, Rivers’ hiring preceded Morey’s arrival, so there was a sense that Philadelphia’s lead basketball executive may want to bring in his own coach.

However, Morey’s response today should quell that speculation for the time being. Prompted to expand on the decision to stick with Rivers, Morey had nothing but praise for the 60-year-old.

“I just think he’s a great coach and I love working with him,” Morey said (Twitter link via Neubeck). “… I think (general manager) Elton (Brand) and I and him make a great team, and we’re going to see where this journey takes us.”

Rivers reportedly still has three years and $24MM left on his contract, so it would have been expensive for team ownership to make a change at this point.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Rivers, Green, Butler, Offseason

It has become clear over the course of the season – and especially in the playoffs – that the current version of James Harden isn’t the same one who earned the MVP award in 2018 with the Rockets, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, who suggests that recurring hamstring issues over the last couple years have slowed down the Sixers guard.

“Since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden,” Sixers star Joel Embiid said on Thursday, after the team lost Game 6 to the Heat and was eliminated from the postseason. “But that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a play-maker.”

While it’s true that Harden is still an elite play-maker, he’s being paid like he’s also an elite scorer, with a $44.3MM salary this season and a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s a belief in some league circles that Harden isn’t fully healthy and has bounce-back potential, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, according to Bontemps, the soon-to-be 33-year-old is viewed by many executives as more of a $25-30MM per year player than a superstar who should warrant a five-year, $270MM commitment this offseason.

During an ESPN appearance (video link), Amar’e Stoudemire, who saw Harden up close as a member of the Nets’ coaching staff this season, questioned the guard’s conditioning and advised the Sixers against offering a maximum-salary contract.

Harden, who will be eligible for a contract extension if he picks up his player option or a new free agent contract if he turns it down, suggested after Thursday’s loss that he would be open to taking less than his max, and an Eastern Conference scout who spoke to Bontemps said the 76ers would be wise to go that route.

“If there were any logic whatsoever, the answer (to giving him a max deal) would be no,” the scout said.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his job security, head coach Doc Rivers defended his track record, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).I don’t worry about my job,” Rivers said. “I think I do a terrific job. If you don’t, then you should write it. I worked my butt off to get this team here. When I first got here, no one picked us to be anywhere. Again this year, the same thing.”
  • After leaving Game 6 due to a left knee injury, Sixers swingman Danny Green will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There’s “significant concern” that Green’s injury is a serious one, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps relays.
    [UPDATE: Danny Green Diagnosed With Torn Left ACL, LCL]
  • Having eliminated the 76ers from the postseason, former Sixer Jimmy Butler rubbed salt in the wound, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, who notes that the Heat forward said in his postgame interview he wishes he were still playing with Embiid. On his way to the locker room after the game, Butler also referenced the 2019 offseason, when Philadelphia invested heavily in Tobias Harris as Butler departed for Miami. “Tobias Harris over me?!” Butler yelled, as captured by Miami’s WPLG Local 10 Sports (video link).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype both preview the Sixers’ upcoming offseason, examining some of the biggest questions facing the franchise in the coming weeks and months.

Maxey Thought Heat Would Take Him In 2020 Draft

  • Tyrese Maxey was surprised he slipped to No. 21 in the 2020 draft, the spot where the Sixers snapped him up, as he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. He thought he might go as high as No. 11 to the Spurs. He also thought the Magic at No. 15 and the Heat at No. 20 would take him. “Miami, Orlando and San Antonio. Those were the three teams I thought would draft me,” Maxey said. “When I started slipping, I was upset, but I kept reminding myself that my dream of getting drafted was coming true.”

James Harden On Player Option: I’ll Be Here

Following his disappointing performance in the decisive Game 6 of the Sixers’ playoff series against Miami, James Harden was asked if he’ll opt in to the final year of his contract, Derek Bodner of The Daily Six newsletter tweets.

“I’ll be here,” Harden said after Philadelphia’s 99-90 loss and elimination.

Harden, who has a $47.366MM option on the final year of his contract, indicated back in February that he plans to opt in. He could also decline the option and sign a new contract with the 76ers.

There has been plenty of speculation whether the Sixers would pursue extension talks with Harden after the blockbuster trade with the Nets. Harden’s lack of production in the postseason has put the Sixers in a difficult spot.

Harden, who would be in the final year of a four-year, $171MM contract if he picks up his option, suggested he’d be open to taking less than the max in an extension. Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice tweets.

“Whatever it takes to help this team continue to grow,” he said.

Harden resembled his old superstar self in Game 4 of the series, piling up 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. He had 22 points and 15 rebounds in the playoff clincher against Toronto.

Otherwise, he didn’t produce at the level Philadelphia hoped. Harden took only two shots in the second half and scored just 11 total points in 43 minutes on Thursday in the Sixers’ last game of the year.

Nikola Jokic Repeats As Most Valuable Player

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has won his second straight Most Valuable Player Award, topping the SixersJoel Embiid and the BucksGiannis Antetokounmpo by a comfortable margin, the NBA announced in a press release.

Jokic received 65 first-place votes and 875 total points, putting him well ahead of Embiid, who finished second with 26 first-place votes and 706 points. Antetokounmpo came in third with nine first-place votes and 595 points.

Nobody else received a first-place vote, but Suns guard Devin Booker was fourth with 216 points and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was fifth at 146 points. With 100 total voters, the balloting system awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for second, five points for third, three points for fourth and one point for fifth.

Other players receiving votes were the Celtics‘ Jayson Tatum (43 points), the GrizzliesJa Morant (10), the Warriors‘ Stephen Curry (4), the SunsChris Paul (2), the BullsDeMar DeRozan (1), the LakersLeBron James (1) and the NetsKevin Durant (1).

Jokic is the 13th player to win MVP honors in back-to-back seasons. He averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 games and helped the Nuggets earn the sixth seed in the West despite the absence of Jamal Murray and  Michael Porter Jr. Jokic was named Western Conference Player of the Month twice this season and reached the All-Star Game for the fourth straight year.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Monday that Jokic would win the award.