Sixers Rumors

Draft Updates: Mavericks, Kings, Celtics, Warriors

There’s a “growing sense” that the Mavericks will scoop up Michael Porter Jr. if he’s still available at No. 5, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. He cautions that Dallas hasn’t reached a final decision, but the team likes Porter enough to take him even if he has to sit out all of next season because of back issues.

A report earlier today has the Sixers interested in moving into the top five to grab Porter, so it appears they’ll need a top four pick to trump the Mavericks. Porter also remains in contention for the Kings at No. 2.

There are more draft day rumors to pass along:

  • The Kings have narrowed their choices down to Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III, according to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team’s ownership may break the deadlock later today. Mannix adds that the Hawks will get a “stampede” of offers from teams interested in Doncic if Sacramento opts for Bagley.
  • A conflicting report from Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated states that the Kings have already reached a decision and believe they are adding a “franchise altering prospect.” (Twitter link).
  • Former NBA coach Larry Brown believes Doncic will need to land in the right situation to be successful, relays Sportando (Twitter link). “At 16 he was as good as he’s now,” said Brown, who recently accepted a job with Fiat Torino in the Italian League. “He’s smart but I don’t know in which role he can play. Maybe forward/big man. If he’d play for [Rockets coach Mike] D’Antoni or a coach with European mentality he’d be phenomenal.”
  • The Celtics are working to trade into the top five, but their chances are small unless they part with Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. The Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th selections, also want to move up and the Bucks would like to add more picks.
  • The Warriors are still hoping to buy a pick somewhere in the 30s, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). They worked out a group of players yesterday who might be available in that range, including Jacob Evans, Devon Hall, Gary Trent Jr. and Hamidou Diallo. Golden State already owns the 28th pick and can spend up to the maximum $5.1MM to acquire another.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander confirmed that he held a workout for the Clippers, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Gilgeous-Alexander admitted that he turned down a few workout requests, but didn’t specify the teams. In addition to the Clippers, the Knicks and Hornets have also watched him work out, according to Woo, who adds that Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t believed to have a promise but could be taken in the top 10 by teams that need backcourt help (Twitter link).
  • The Sixers attempted to see Donte DiVincenzo in person, but weren’t able to work out a time because of scheduling conflicts, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).
  • Mitchell Robinson was limited by a sprained left ankle in his recent workouts, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 7-footer expects to be fully recovered soon.


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.

Lakers To Acquire 2018 Second-Round Pick From Sixers

The Lakers will acquire the No. 39 selection in tomorrow night’s draft from the Sixers, league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The Lakers will send the Bulls‘ 2019 second-round pick and cash to the Sixers in return.

The 39th pick, originally owned by the Knicks, was acquired by the Sixers back in 2014 when the Knicks traded it and forward Travis Outlaw to the Sixers in exchange for forward Arnett Moultrie.

As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer opines, the Lakers could potentially package the No. 25 and No. 39 pick to move up in the draft, but it remains to be seen whether they’d be able to find a team with whom to trade.

Another possibility, per Jonathan Givony of ESPN, is selecting Mitchell Robinson, a long-projected target for the Lakers whose poor pre-draft process likely pushed him into the second round.

Finally, as noted by both Eric Pincus and Bobby Marks, this trade, as reported, can’t become official until the new salary cap year begins since the Sixers have already received the allotted $5.1MM in cash this season. As such, the Sixers will essentially be selecting a player for the Lakers tomorrow night.

Zhaire Smith Discusses Second Workout With Sixers

Meanwhile, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News explores the Leonard situation and notes that the Spurs have heard from multiple “serious suitors,” including the Celtics, Cavaliers, and Sixers. However, executives who spoke to Deveney don’t anticipate a Kawhi deal being made before or during the draft.

  • Texas Tech wing Zhaire Smith said today that the Sixers wanted to work out him for a second time in order to take a closer look at his shooting and ball-handling development, tweets Jake Fischer of The No. 10 pick may be a little high for Smith, who may not last until Philadelphia’s next pick at No. 26, but the club has explored trade options, so he shouldn’t be ruled out as a potential target.

Five Key Offseason Questions: Philadelphia 76ers

The 2017/18 season was essentially a best-case scenario for the Sixers and true believers in “The Process.” Former top picks Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons stayed healthy and established themselves as bona-fide NBA stars, and despite getting virtually nothing from 2017’s No. 1 selection Markelle Fultz, the Sixers piled up 52 wins, earned the No. 3 seed in the East, and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Fultz’s lost rookie season is somewhat concerning, and it’s not clear if Philadelphia is quite out of the woods yet when it comes to Embiid’s health, but this is a team on the rise. With another lottery pick at their disposal in 2018, along with a significant chunk of cap room, the Sixers are also better positioned than just about any other contender to make another major addition or two to their roster this offseason.

Here are five key questions facing the franchise this summer:

1. Will the Sixers be able to lure a top free agent to Philadelphia?

With a playmaking point guard (Simmons) and a big man who can knock down outside shots and protect the rim (Embiid), the Sixers have two key cornerstone pieces in place. Using this summer’s cap flexibility, the club should now make it a priority to add a wing with size who can stretch the floor. Fortunately, two of 2018’s top free agents – LeBron James and Paul George – fit that bill.

If he wants to continue his streak of NBA Finals appearances and add more titles to his résumé, Philadelphia is a logical landing spot for James. The club should be able to create enough cap space to sign him outright, meaning there would be no need to give up valuable assets to acquire him in a trade. On top of that, this is a team that already had enough talent to win 52 games and a playoff series. Adding LeBron to the mix would create a force to be reckoned with in the East.

Still, as silly as it feels to play devil’s advocate to the idea of signing the best player in the NBA, I can’t help but wonder if George makes more sense as a target for the 76ers. Embiid and Simmons put their mark in the franchise in 2017/18, establishing the Sixers as their team. They’re still on the rise and have the potential to be the top two players on a championship club someday — having them take a back seat to LeBron might create some chemistry issues both on the court and off it.

Of course, if LeBron wants to join the Sixers, I don’t expect the team to turn him down, and I’m sure it’d be a fine fit in the long run. But if landing James is the club’s No. 1 offseason priority, George makes for an intriguing 1A. His stints in Indiana and Oklahoma City have shown that he may be more comfortable when he’s not a club’s go-to option, and he’s exactly the sort of player any contending team would love to have as a second or third scoring option and a lock-down defender on the wing.

2. What’s the best route to maximum-salary cap room for the Sixers?

Whether they pursue James, George, another impact free agent, or all of the above, the Sixers will probably need to create a little more cap room than they currently have available. Our estimate currently has them about $25MM under the cap, assuming they keep their nine players on guaranteed contracts, along with T.J. McConnell, Richaun Holmes, and their two first-round picks.

Based on a $101MM salary cap projection for 2018/19, the Sixers would have to get to $30.3MM in room for a maximum-salary deal for George or another free agent with 7-9 years of NBA experience. For James or another player with 10+ years of experience, $35.35MM in cap room would be required.

The 76ers can actually get to $30.3MM+ in cap room pretty painlessly without even having to get another team involved. Using their No. 26 pick on a draft-and-stash prospect and waiving and stretching Bayless’ expiring contract would do the trick.

However, in order to get to $35MM+ in space, attaching that late first-round pick to Bayless in a trade would be the preferred option. If the Sixers were to package Bayless and the No. 26 pick in a trade without taking back any salary in return, the club could then create enough room for a $35.35MM offer by waiving one of Holmes or McConnell.

With plenty of appealing assets under team control, there are other paths Philadelphia could take to open up cap room. If a marquee free agent targeted by the Sixers wants to sign with the team, the front office will find a way to make it happen.

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Deveney’s Latest: Draft, Raptors, Gilgeous-Alexander

While all five teams at the top of the draft have reportedly been open to the idea of moving down, the odds of any of those teams actually trading a top-five pick may be slim. As Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details, teams that have explored trading up have found the asking price for a top-five selection to be extremely high.

“This is a good draft, a very good draft at the top,” one league source told Deveney. “But the value that teams are placing on these picks is a little unreasonable in some cases.”

The Sixers, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Celtics are among the teams that have looked into trading up. The Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th picks, have also had multiple discussions about that possibility, but if they stay where they are, there’s a sense that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and Robert Williams will be among their top targets, per Deveney.

Here’s more from Deveney’s latest round-up of draft rumors:

  • While the Raptors were believed to be considering moving into the lottery to land Gilgeous-Alexander, their trade options are limited, according to Deveney. League sources tell Deveney that Toronto’s most likely deal is a salary dump of Norman Powell.
  • Speaking of Gilgeous-Alexander, he has been a mystery man during the pre-draft process. Appearing on Wednesday at media day, he didn’t shed much light on what he has been up to, telling reporters that he “can’t say” how many teams – or which teams – he has worked out for (Twitter link via Deveney).
  • The Warriors will likely to look to buy a second-round pick, but at least one general manager tells Deveney – perhaps half-seriously – that he hopes teams aren’t eager to accommodate the defending champs. “If anyone sells them a pick, they ought to have their head checked,” the GM joked. “Once that first round is over, everyone needs to just not pick up the phone if [Warriors GM Bob] Myers is calling.”
  • Deveney identifies Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. as one of the wild cards near the top of the draft, suggesting that Carter could go as high as No. 4 to the Grizzlies.

Draft Rumors: Bridges, Knox, Nuggets, Jackson, Clippers

Villanova forward Mikal Bridges is at the top of the Sixers’ wish list if they don’t move out of the No. 10 spot, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kentucky forward Kevin Knox and his college teammate, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, are the likely alternatives if Bridges is off the board, Pompey continues. Knox came in for a solo workout with the Sixers on Tuesday, his second visit with the team. The Sixers are reportedly trying to move into the top five of the draft.

Here’s more draft news to pass along with the big night fast approaching:

  • The Nuggets are actively shopping the No. 14 pick attached to a big salary, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated tweets. Denver is seeking suitors for the expiring contracts of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur, Fischer adds. Faried is due to make $13.76MM next season while Arthur has $7.46MM remaining on his deal.
  • The Grizzlies will have a tough decision regarding Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 4 if the Hawks select Luka Doncic at No. 3, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Doncic has reportedly moved into the lead on the Hawks’ draft board, while Jackson has refused to work out for the Grizzlies and hasn’t provided his medical information, Givony continues. That could increase the chances of Memphis trading the pick, something it has shown little interest in doing up to this point, Givony adds (Twitter links).
  • The Clippers like Jackson and could try to move to the No. 4 spot, but they’ve refused thus far to take Chandler Parsons bad contract as part of any proposed deal, Givony reports in another tweet.

Coaching Moves: Sixers, Raptors, Pelicans, Suns

 The Sixers have named Connor Johnson as their G League coach, the team announced in a press release. Johnson will coach the Delaware Blue Coats after working the past four seasons working with the 76ers coaching staff. The newly-named Blue Coats will play in the new 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. Johnson was Philadelphia’s director of player development and coaching administration last season.
In other coaching-related news around the league:
  • The Raptors were denied permission from the Pelicans to hire Chris Finch as an assistant coach, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. New Raptors coach Nick Nurse was an assistant under Finch on Great Britain’s Olympic team in 2012 and was hoping to bring his well-regarded knowledge of offensive schemes to Toronto, Stein adds in another tweet.
  • The Pelicans did lose one of their assistants as Jamelle McMillan, son of Pacers coach Nate McMillan, joined Igor Kokoskov’s staff with the Suns, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. The younger McMillan is just 29 years old.
  • The Raptors hired Jama Mahlalela as head coach of their NBA G League affiliate, Raptors 905, the team’s media relations department tweets. Mahlalela, who has five years of experience as an NBA assistant, replaces Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse, who led the team to consecutive G League Finals, joined the Grizzlies’ staff after being interviewed for multiple NBA head coaching jobs.

And-Ones: Wanamaker, Jeanne, Crawford, G League

The Celtics are giving strong consideration to signing Euroleague star Brad Wanamaker, international basketball journalist David Pick tweets. Wanamaker, the MVP of the Turkish finals with Fenerbahce, is a 28-year-old, 6’4” shooting guard who went undrafted in 2011. He has spent most of his pro career overseas, though he had a stint in 2012 with the G League’s Austin Toros. The Magic, Nets, Sixers and Heat have also expressed interest in him, according to Pick. However, Wanamaker has a $3.8MM contract with Barcelona that runs through 2020, so he may stay in Europe, Pick adds in another tweet.

In other news on the domestic and international front:

  • Jonathan Jeanne, who was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, has been cleared by his doctor to play, his agent told Sportando. Jeanne, a 7’1” center from France, was considered a potential first-round prospect before the diagnosis was made last June. He went undrafted and now will explore all international possibilities, Sportando adds.
  • Veteran guard Jamal Crawford is looking for the best fit in free agency after deciding to opt out, he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Crawford insisted he wasn’t unhappy with the Timberwolves, despite leaving $4.5MM on the table. “For me, it’s just fit. I don’t think anything’s wrong (in Minnesota),” Crawford told Krawczynski. “There’s nothing wrong that’s not wrong anywhere else. It’s the NBA. Everybody’s not going to get along every second. That’s not realistic.”
  • The G League Expansion Draft will be held August 22, tweets 2 Ways & 10 Days. The only team utilizing the draft is the Capital City Go-Go, the new affiliate of the Wizards.
  • How does a swap of Chander Parsons and the Grizzlies’ picks at No. 4 and No. 32 for the Clippers’ lottery picks at No. 12 and No. 13 plus Danilo Gallinari sound? ESPN’s Insiders throws out a number of trade scenarios heading into the draft.
  • Longtime NBA coach Larry Brown officially signed his contract to coach Fiat Torino in Italy, Sportando relays.

Sixers Prefer To Trade Second-Rounders For Future Picks, Not Cash

  • Armed with four second-round picks in this year’s draft, the Sixers figure to trade at least one or two of those selections. If they do, they’d prefer future second-rounders in return rather than cash, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.