Sixers Rumors

Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey Wins 2023/24 Sportsmanship Award

After being named the league’s Most Improved Player last month, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has added another 2023/24 award to his trophy case, having been voted the Sportsmanship Award winner for this season as well, the NBA announced in a press release (Twitter links).

The Sportsmanship Award has been presented annually since ’95/96 and “honors a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.”

According to the NBA, each team nominated one of its players. The 30-player list was then trimmed down to six — one player from each division — by a panel of league executives. Finally, current players voted on the six finalists.

As the full voting results show, Maxey received the most first-place votes and most total points, making him the winner. Heat big man Kevin Love was the runner-up, followed by (in order) Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, and Spurs point guard Tre Jones.

The 21st overall pick of the 2020 draft, Maxey will be eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. After his excellent performances this season, there’s no doubt that the 23-year-old will return to the 76ers.

Atlantic Notes: Thibodeau, Sixers, Raptors, Nets

Asked before Tuesday’s Game 5 about the outside perception that Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is running his players into the ground, Josh Hart – who leads all NBA players with 44.1 minutes per game in the postseason – scoffed at the idea, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post.

“You expect ignorance when people have no idea what goes on in this building,” Hart said. “People love to have a narrative or a label and run with it. None of those guys are here watching us practice. None of those guys are watching what we do. At the end of the day, seventh year of my career, I’ve probably had more off days than I’ve had in other days. We don’t go contact in practice. Everyone thinks we do three-hour practices of scrimmaging. It’s idiotic to put (the Knicks’ injury woes) on him. He’s not going to say anything about it. He’s going to take it on the chin and keep on moving.”

Within an in-depth feature on Thibodeau, Tim Keown of ESPN notes that the Knicks’ head coach has a knack for staggering his timeouts during games in order to give his players as much rest as possible even when they’re playing heavy minutes. That’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by those who play for him.

“I would say he’s one of the most prepared coaches,” Donte DiVincenzo said. “That’s not a shot at any other coach, but Thibs is on a whole ‘nother level. He knows every single movement they’re going to do, every single adjustment they’re going to make. We go through it all, and being the more prepared team makes you more confident, and when you’re more confident, you play more loose.

“The way he runs a game,” DiVincenzo added, “you kind of forget the minutes sometimes.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer considers whether the Sixers are likely to use their substantial 2024 cap room on free agents, noting that many of the top players on this year’s market could end up being unavailable, since they’re candidates to sign extensions or free agent contracts with their current teams. “The main mistake that could be made that we won’t make is if some of the better options don’t go our way,” president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said last month. “Trade into our cap space, free agents, turn our draft picks into things – if all those things don’t yield what we want, we are definitely not going to just sign some player for a lot of money who’s just an OK player.”
  • Sunday’s draft lottery results mean the Raptors won’t control their own first-round pick – No. 8 overall – this year, having committed it to San Antonio in last year’s Jakob Poeltl trade. As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, that outcome gives the franchise an opportunity to learn from its past mistakes and to have a clean slate going forward. Toronto holds all of its own first-rounders beginning in 2025, so if the team wants to take a patient approach to its retooling process, the front office won’t have to worry about losing a lottery pick in a stronger draft year.
  • Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily rounds up a few items related to the Nets‘ offseason, including following up on the report stating that the Rockets asked Brooklyn earlier this year about swapping draft assets. According to Kaplan, league sources say the talks between the Rockets and the Nets “reached nothing beyond light-hearted conversation.”

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, Harris, Sixers, Knicks, Raptors Pick

There’s a sense that Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas won’t return to the team this offseason, and the Sixers could be an option for him in free agency. According to PHLY Sports’ Kyle Neubeck (Twitter link), Philadelphia “kicked the tires” on a trade for the big man earlier this season. Equipped with spending power this offseason, circling back to Valanciunas might make sense for the 76ers.

The 32-year-old big man would be arguably the best backup center that Joel Embiid has had in Philly. In his last three seasons with New Orleans, Valanciunas averaged 14.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while making 54.9% of his shots from the field.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In a mailbag previewing Philadelphia’s offseason, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that it would be shocking if Tobias Harris returned to the team, adding that he “strongly” believes Harris’ tenure in Philly is over. Pompey also sees the Sixers undergoing a complete roster overhaul this summer.
  • Bringing on Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau — as well as acquiring players like Jalen Brunson and OG Anunoby — are obvious reasons for the Knicks‘ success this season. However, as detailed in a piece by ESPN’s Chris Herring, some of the moves they didn’t make also helped the Knicks achieve their best record in over a decade. While the Knicks were panned for missing out on the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell over the past few years, it allowed them to maintain their assets and develop from within.
  • The Raptors are in a no-win situation at this week’s draft lottery, TSN’s Josh Lewenberg writes. The Raptors have the sixth-best odds at the top overall pick but in the likely event it falls out of the top six (54.2% chance), Toronto owes its pick to San Antonio as per the Jakob Poeltl trade in 2023. Keeping the pick and landing in the top six sounds good in theory, but in that event, the Raptors then owe a top-six protected pick in 2025, which would limit their flexibility going forward.

Sixers Notes: Reed, Lowry, FAs, Martin, Maxey

Sixers backup center Paul Reed had the best regular season of his career in 2023/24, posting career-best marks in every major counting stat while appearing in all 82 games (24 starts), including 7.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 19.4 MPG.

However, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes (subscriber link), Reed struggled mightily on both ends of the court in the team’s first-round loss to New York, with those averages falling to 1.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 0.5 BPG in 7.2 MPG.

The 24-year-old signed a uniquely structured offer sheet with Utah last summer, which Philadelphia quickly matched. He’s on a three-year, $23.56MM deal, but the next two seasons are fully non-guaranteed after the Sixers failed to make the second round of the postseason. Reed’s future with the club is now uncertain, though one report stated the 76ers wanted to bring him back.

This definitely adds a little extra pressure, but I’m going to go out there and put my best foot forward every day like I always do,” Reed said. “I always perform my best under pressure, so everything is for a reason. And maybe this is in God’s plans. So it is what it is.”

Here’s more from  Philadelphia:

  • Former six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry isn’t sure what his future holds in free agency, but the longtime veteran point guard did say he plans to play a 19th season in 2024/25, according to Pompey (subscription required). “I had a great opportunity to be a part of two superstars in this league,” the Philadelphia native said of playing with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. “And for me, it was a joy to be around them. We’ll see what happens in the next couple months.” Though he struggled individually in the final two games of the series to the Knicks, Lowry was definitely a positive overall addition, Pompey adds.
  • The Sixers have 10 impending free agents this summer. Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscriber link) breaks down what each player said about his situation after the season concluded. Little-used reserve KJ Martin freely acknowledged he planned to test the open market. “I got traded twice this year, and that wasn’t my choice,” Martin said. “And now I have the option to kind of pick where I can go and what’s best for my career, so that’s what I’m going to do. … I think it’s time to do what’s best for me and keep moving forward, whether it’s here or God knows where.”
  • Most Improved Player award winner Tyrese Maxey exceeded the team’s expectations this season and Philadelphia is firmly committed to him as a centerpiece of the future, Mizell writes in another story (subscription required). “The step he took this year is extremely hard,” president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said of Maxey. “And, for sure, not a given that he would have done it. But I guess we should all learn not to bet against Tyrese, given he has beat expectations every single season, both prior to coming here and then here.”

Frank: Clippers Will Look To Keep Core Group Intact

The Clippers are hopeful of bringing back their core group despite the team’s first-round loss to Dallas, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank told assembled media during a Monday press conference.

Kawhi Leonard has already signed a three-year extension but the team’s three other big stars could all depart. Paul George has a $48.8MM player option on his contract for next season, while James Harden will be an unrestricted free agent. Russell Westbrook holds a $4MM option on his 2024/25 contract.

The Clippers and George chose to defer extension talks around the All-Star break, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“We’d like to be able to bring back and retain Paul and James,” Frank said. “We’re hopeful we can, but also understand and respect the fact that they’re free agents. Paul has a decision with his option. James will be an unrestricted free agent, so our intent is to bring him back, but also realize that they’re elite players and they’ll have choices.”

The Sixers and Magic are expected to pursue George if he opts out, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register writes.

George is eligible to sign up to a four-year, $221MM extension, though it’s reasonable to assume the Clippers are pursuing a lesser amount, considering that they failed to reach an agreement during the season. Shams Charania of The Athletic confirmed on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) on Monday that L.A. has offered George less than his full max.

“We want Paul, we value Paul,” Frank said. “Paul’s done some tremendous things here. He’s an elite player, and our biggest thing is we always want to be able to treat players well and pay them fairly, and we also have to build out a team, especially, this is a new CBA. But in terms of the exact money, I would never go into details other than we’ve had really, really good conversations over the course of the year and hopeful that we can get him to remain a Clipper.”

Harden said right after the series that he “hadn’t even thought” about his free agency.

As for Westbrook, Frank said he’d hold discussions with the former MVP regarding his role next season, if he decides to opt in. Westbrook was the team’s sixth man for a majority of the season.

“I’ll sit down with Russ. (Tyronn Lue) will sit down with Russ, talk with his representatives and you kind of outline what the role is going forward,” Frank said, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “It’s very similar to when Russ came last summer. Like, we explained to him exactly what his role is, what it could be, the different guys that we’re looking at and then Russ has a decision to make. And so we’re kind of going through the process. So, I’m not going to speak for any player in terms of what they’re thinking, but that’s our process.”

Frank said he’ll also pursue extensions with center Ivica Zubac and wing Terance Mann, per Carr, then look to make marginal improvements if he’s able to retain his stars.

Sixers’ Morey Vows To Shake Up Roster In “Big” Offseason

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey confirmed during a Monday press conference that he’ll be busy reworking his roster this summer, Dan Gelston of The Associated Press reports.

“We’re not going to have continuity,” Morey said. “We’ll have continuity with our stars and our head coach but we’re going to have a lot of changes this season.”

Morey feels the heat to build a championship roster around his two stars.

This offseason’s a big one,” Morey said. “I owe it to the fans, to ownership, to everybody, to get this team in a place where we’re competing for championships. We obviously didn’t achieve it this year.”

Joel Embiid is the only two player with a guaranteed contract beyond this season. Tyrese Maxey will be a restricted free agent and is expected to sign a maximum-salary contract.

Beyond that, everything is up for grabs. Morey could have $65MM in cap space to wheel and deal, along with signing free agents. He’s not against signing an aging star, such as Paul George, if one becomes available in the free agent market.

“You have to factor in the age,” Morey said. “We feel like we’re in the window where we have to win now. We’re mostly focused on getting the best players that fit with Joel and Tyrese.”

Morey has some regrets regarding this season, namely that he didn’t have a deep enough roster. The Sixers slid down the standings when Embiid was sidelined for two months after undergoing knee surgery. He wasn’t close to 100% in the postseason when Philadelphia lost to New York in the opening round.

“It can’t be a big focus, how we play without him. We know that team can’t win a championship,” Morey said. “It’s really, how do we manage through it better? I felt like, on me, the depth wasn’t quite there when he was out to win at the level we wanted to win at.”

Here are some other notable tidbits from Morey’s press conference:

  • His top priority is to find a wing “who can play and deliver at a high level in the playoffs,” Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets.
  • Coach Nick Nurse will be retained. Reserves Paul Reed and Ricky Council IV are also expected to be back, even though their salaries are not guaranteed, Vorkunov adds.
  • Though he hasn’t ruled out re-signing Buddy Hield, who was acquired from Indiana at the trade deadline, Morey admitted that “the fit was less good than I thought,” per Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports (Twitter link). Hield played sparingly in the first round until Game 6, when he scored 20 points in 21 minutes.
  • Maxey’s performances during the regular season and playoffs proved to Morey that he can be the second-best player on a title team, Vorkunov relays in another tweet. “That belief went from high to we’re certain at this point that he can do that,” he said.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Horst, Butler, Sixers, Hornets, Nets, More

Now that the Bucks‘ season has come to an end, the Pistons are expected to formally seek permission to interview Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst for their president of basketball operations job soon, Marc Stein reports in his latest story at Substack. According to Stein, it’s not yet known whether the Bucks will grant Detroit permission to meet with Horst, a Michigan native who began his NBA career in the Pistons’ basketball operations department.

Elsewhere in his Substack article, Stein says that Jimmy Butler‘s future has become an “increasingly hot topic” around the NBA following the Heat‘s first-round playoff exit. Multiple rival teams have wondered if the Sixers will make a run at trading for Butler this offseason in an effort to reunite the star swingman with good friend Joel Embiid, per Stein. The Embiid/Butler 76ers took the eventual-champion Raptors down to the wire in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2019, but were broken up less than two months later when Butler was signed-and-traded to Miami.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Several executives around the NBA thought the Hornets would have concluded their head coaching search by now, but the team is taking a “very methodical” approach to the process and there’s no specific timeline to make a hire, Rod Boone writes in a mailbag for The Charlotte Observer. Boone’s mailbag also explores Charlotte’s draft strategy and how to revitalize the team’s brand, among other topics.
  • How much of a difference could it make for the Nets to have a healthy Ben Simmons and Dariq Whitehead next season? Net Income of Nets Daily explores that subject, citing league insiders who say Brooklyn has no plans to waive Simmons this offseason.
  • With Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby set to square off in the second round of the playoffs as members of the Pacers and Knicks, respectively, the Raptors will “catch some sass” for trading away both players this season, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Given how well the two forwards have played alongside backcourt stars – Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana and Jalen Brunson in New York – Koreen wonders if things went wrong in Toronto because the club couldn’t find the right “dynamic” guard to allow Siakam and Anunoby to play their proper roles.
  • James L. Edwards III of The Athletic previews next week’s draft combine from a Pistons perspective, identifying the players the club will have its eye on in the top five and naming a few prospects who could make sense at No. 53. Edwards views Alexandre Sarr as the player likeliest to be atop Detroit’s board, with Stephon Castle, Cody Williams, Donovan Clingan, and Matas Buzelis in the next tier.

Atlantic Notes: Batum, Nets, Ex-Raptors, Celtics-Cavs

Sixers forward Nicolas Batum kept things fairly open when it came to talk of his potential NBA retirement, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The 35-year-old is now a free agent, having wrapped up his two-year, $22.6MM contract at the end of Philadelphia’s 2023/24 season. There were rumors prior to the season that it could be his last in the NBA.

Batum told gathered media that he is, for now, just thinking about playing for his native Team France in this year’s Paris Olympics. He then reflected on his initial impressions of the Sixers.

“One thing I’ve learned is Philly is not for everybody, though,” Batum said. “You’ve got to be ready to play for that city, and I loved it. … I could feel the passion of this city for sports, for the Sixers. And I [felt] it right away, my first game against the Wizards. I [came] in and could feel it… And those fans, even when they’re not happy, you get booed, but I understand why. … I tried to [say to myself], ‘OK, they’re right. Because we suck right now, so we’ve got to play better.’”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets are set to retain assistant coach Jay Hernandez under new head coach Jordi Fernandez, but will be parting ways with assistants Will Weaver and Ronnie Burrell, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
  • A pair of beloved former Raptors championship-era teammates, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, are set to square off against one another for the first team in an impending matchup between the former’s Knicks and the latter’s Pacers, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “Yeah, it’ll be weird,” Anunoby said this weekend. “I never played against him. He’s always been my teammate, so it’ll be weird, but it’ll be cool, I’m sure. He’s looking forward to it, too.”
  • The NBA has revealed its full schedule for the Celtics’ second-round series against the Cavaliers. Game 1 will tip off on Tuesday, in Boston, at 6 p.m. CT via TNT. They’ll meet again for Game 2 on Thursday, at the same time, on ESPN. The series will move to Cleveland for Game 3 on Saturday, and will start a bit later, at 7:30 p.m. CT, on ABC. A start time for Monday’s Game 4 has yet to be announced.

Sixers Rumors: Maxey, Reed, Offseason Targets, Harris, Hield, Oubre

While the Sixers are disappointed by how quickly their playoff run ended this spring, there are reasons for optimism going forward. For one, guard Tyrese Maxey showed this season that he’s an impact player capable of becoming a legitimate second star alongside center Joel Embiid, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“He was amazing this year,” Embiid said of his teammate, per Mizell. “One of the 10 best players in the world this year. … He’s gotten so much better. I think there’s another step he can even take.”

Maxey will be a restricted free agent this summer, but that’s just a technicality — he will count against the Sixers’ cap for just $13MM until he signs his new contract. After using up their cap room, the 76ers will be able to go over the cap to lock him up to a maximum-salary deal that projects to be worth at least $35MM in 2024/25 — or up to $42.3MM if Maxey makes an All-NBA team.

Because the Sixers didn’t win a playoff series, Paul Reed‘s $7.7MM salary for ’24/25 will remain non-guaranteed, which means the club could potentially enter free agency with only Embiid’s salary ($51.4MM) and Maxey’s $13MM cap hold counting toward team salary. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), Philadelphia could have up to $64.9MM in cap room with just those two players on the books. That number would be closer to $55MM if the 76ers retain Reed and their first-round pick.

What might the Sixers do what that cap room? Sources tell Bontemps that Jrue Holiday was a top target until he signed an extension in Boston. OG Anunoby is also on their wish list, per Bontemps, though he’s considered likely to re-sign with the Knicks. Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up (Twitter video link), Brian Windhorst identified Paul George as Philadelphia’s No. 1 priority and said he thinks the team will make George a maximum-salary offer, assuming he hasn’t re-upped with the Clippers before free agency.

If no top-tier free agents are available, Daryl Morey and the Sixers figure to turn to their trade market, since they’ll have several first-round picks available to move and won’t have to send out matching salary. Windhorst mentions Heat swingman Jimmy Butler and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram as a pair of possible trade targets for the Sixers.

On the other hand, it’s not necessarily a star-or-bust summer for Philadelphia, according to Bontemps, who says one other potential path for the club would be to pursue a series of role players who complement Embiid and Maxey, like the Nuggets have done around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. In that scenario, the Sixers could explore re-signing a few of their own free agents, such as Kelly Oubre, De’Anthony Melton, Nicolas Batum, and/or Kyle Lowry. League sources expect Tobias Harris to be playing elsewhere next season though, per Bontemps.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • A reunion with Butler feels like a long shot, but David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the former Sixer is exactly the kind of “alpha” the team needs to complement Embiid and Maxey. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) suggests that he can’t imagine the Heat accepting a trade package heavy on draft assets for Butler unless they planned to flip those assets for another star.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) and Mark Deeks of HoopsHype shared their Sixers offseason previews, taking a closer look at the decisions facing the franchise.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Buddy Hield, who will be an unrestricted free agent, said that he would like to return to Philadelphia, tweets Mizell. Hield scored 20 points in 21 minutes in Game 6 on Thursday but had only scored two points and had a pair of DNP-CDs in the five playoff games before that.
  • Oubre also expressed interest in re-signing with the Sixers, suggesting that he feels like he has “unfinished business” after the first-round loss. “I just wanna be loved,” Oubre said of his priorities in free agency, according to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “I don’t know about the business side of it. I mean, I do, but I can’t tell you what I know because I represent myself right now. At the end of the day, I wanna go somewhere where they respect and they love me. It’s been nothing but love here, of course.”
  • Taking a bigger-picture view, Danny Chau of The Ringer considers what another early playoff exit means for Embiid and his legacy.

Atlantic Notes: Williams, Martin, Tatum, Brown, Nurse, Randle

Could Bulls forward Patrick Williams get a fresh start with the Raptors? The Athletic’s Eric Koreen believes Williams could be a realistic free agent target and good fit in Toronto, even though he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency. Caleb Martin, Tyus Jones and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are some of the other free agents who could fill a need on Toronto’s roster, Koreen adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jayson Tatum said that opponents’ game plans in the postseason against the Celtics put an emphasis to “pick up the pace, the pressure, be more physical, crash the glass, do all the intangible things.” Boston showed it could wreck those plans – at least against a depleted Heat team – while advancing to the second round.  “Why don’t we flip the script and be the tougher team?” Tatum told The Athletic’s Jay King. “Why don’t we crash the glass more? Why don’t we pick up the pressure on defense while still being the talented team that we are? It’ll be tough to beat us.”
  • Jaylen Brown‘s bank account benefited from the Celtics’ first-round victory. With his team reaching 49 wins and the second round of the playoffs, Brown received a $553,572 bonus, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.
  • Sixers coach Nick Nurse said that his team’s improbable late rally in Game 5 against New York on Tuesday shows the value of playing at full tilt until the finish, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “Well, I think that the main thing is that — and I know it sounds very trite — it’s 48 minutes,” Nurse said. “You have to really understand this is 48 minutes and the amount of times I was saying, ‘This is only a two-possession game.’ It felt a lot worse than that. You know what I mean?”
  • Knicks forward Julius Randle has decided to return to Creative Artists Agency for representation, The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweets. Randle left CAA for WME Sports last year.