Sixers Rumors

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Sixers, Barrett, Temple

The Raptors are among the teams trying to make the most of what has been an unusual and unprecedented pre-draft process, as assistant general manager Dan Tolzman explained to reporters on Wednesday. Tolzman estimated that there are about 50 players Toronto likes in this draft, adding that he believes the club can land a rotation-caliber player at No. 29 and potentially at No. 59 too.

“Usually there’s a lot of risers and fallers based on the draft combine, individual workouts, 3-on-3 workouts, all that kind of stuff, that isn’t happening,” Tolzman said, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. “I’d say the best way to describe it is very balanced. There’s going to be a lot of rotation-level players that come out of this draft, kind of all across the board.”

Tolzman also suggested that the lack of pre-draft workouts and other activities for prospects this year may result in some rising players being overlooked until after the draft.

“I think probably more than usual, the undrafted market is going to be huge because normally, players that maybe early on were expected to go undrafted, they worked their way into the draft picture, and those workouts and those opportunities for them to do so just didn’t happen this year,” Tolzman said. “… You’re going to see guys come out of nowhere and be contributors next year.”

A strong undrafted free agent market may benefit the Raptors, who have done very well in that area in recent years, most notably with their signing of Fred VanVleet in 2016. Toronto’s top 2019 UDFA signing, Terence Davis, earned a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team this year.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • New Sixers head coach Doc Rivers is interested in adding former Bulls assistant Roy Rogers to his staff, a league source tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Rogers spent the 2019/20 season on Jim Boylen‘s staff in Chicago, but isn’t returning to the Bulls following the hiring of Billy Donovan.
  • Multiple people in touch with Knicks decision-makers tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that they expect New York to take a player’s fit with RJ Barrett into account when considering potential roster moves this offseason.
  • Reacting to a pair of recent tidbits from John Hollinger of The Athletic, Net Income of NetsDaily considers whether the emergence of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot might dissuade the Nets from picking up Garrett Temple‘s $5MM team option for the 2020/21 campaign. Temple was a regular part of Brooklyn’s rotation last season, but struggled with his shot (.378/.329/.805) and may be expendable for tax reasons.

NBA Agents Talk Offseason, Finances, Execs, More

NBA agents are generally in agreement that the 2020 offseason will be an unusual one due to the coronavirus pandemic and its ripple effect, but they don’t all agree on what exactly the offseason will look like.

Ben Standig, Mike Vorkunov, and other writers from The Athletic conducted a survey of 20 player agents to get their thoughts on the coming offseason and state of the NBA. And while some of those agents believe financial concerns will limit player movement this fall, others believe there will still be plenty of movement — even if it doesn’t happen in free agency.

“My fear is there will be a lot of teams and ownership groups that sit out free agency,” one agent said. “… In terms of player movement, I think there will be a lot. Not just signing guys. Nobody wants to pay the tax. Everybody is going to try to clear space for 2021. I can definitely see a sizeable amount of player movement. But not a lot of dollars spent.”

One agent who spoke to The Athletic suggested that some teams will be in cost-cutting mode and, for financial reasons, may move players they wouldn’t have traded in a normal year. However, another agent believes there will still be plenty of clubs willing to spend to compete for the postseason and for a title.

“Teams want to win and they’re going to spend to win,” the agent said. “Ultimately, as we saw with Denver, there’s a lot of teams within striking distance of contention and they’re not going to be cheap. The Clippers fired a coach with two years on his deal. We’re going to be fine.”

As for how many NBA franchises will be in legitimate financial peril during the coming year, one agent is skeptical that any will actually be in trouble.

“They’re going to blow so much smoke up our a– about how bad the business model is and everything like that, but Minnesota is going to sell for $1.5 billion and it’s the worst market, as far as basketball,” the agent said. “They sold 18 years ago for $88MM and they’re going to sell for $1.5 billion? You can’t tell (me) you have a bad business.

“There’s going be revenues that are greatly reduced, but I would say to any of these teams that feel like these businesses that they can’t pour cash into to carry it through this rough spot, they should sell. Because they have opportunities. We’ll find them a buyer in a month.”

Here are a few of the other most interesting takeaways from The Athletic’s agent survey:

  • Thunder point guard Chris Paul is the highest-profile player that most agents expected to be traded this offseason, while the Sixers are considered the team most in need of a major roster move. “Philly is at the point where it’s a make or break year for just about everybody,” one agent said.
  • Of the 19 agents who weighed in on the subject, 18 said they expect Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo to remain in Milwaukee beyond his current contract.
  • LaMelo Ball comfortably received the most votes as 2020’s most intriguing draft prospect, but he’s viewed as a somewhat risky investment. “I think he has such a high ceiling but the difference from his top to bottom is the biggest of anyone in the draft,” one agent said. Another offered the following assessment: “That could go really good or really bad.”
  • One agent said he has “never heard less enthusiasm” from teams that have high picks in this year’s draft.
  • One agent speculated that centers will be hit hardest by teams’ financial limitations this offseason, since clubs are focusing on players who can defend several positions. Another said that he thinks many clubs may prioritize veterans over young prospects, since cost-conscious teams may not want to use back-of-the-roster spots on guys who won’t play at all.
  • Thunder GM Sam Presti easily received the most votes as the NBA’s “smartest” team executive, but Pat Riley of the Heat and Masai Ujiri of the Raptors got more votes when agents were asked which exec they’d want to hire if they were running a franchise.

Hofmann Considers Hypothetical Sixers Trades

Sixers Hiring Jameer Nelson As Scout, G League Exec

Former NBA point guard Jameer Nelson is poised to join the Sixers‘ front office, according to John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, who hears from sources that the 76ers are hiring Nelson as a scout and as the assistant GM of the Delaware Blue Coats, Philadelphia’s G League affiliate.

The 20th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Nelson spent 14 seasons in the NBA, averaging 11.3 PPG and 5.1 APG across 878 regular season contests, earning All-Star honors for the Magic in 2009. He last appeared in the league during the 2017/18 season, when he played a total of 50 games for the Pelicans and Pistons.

About a month before the 2019/20 season began, Nelson said he hadn’t given up on the idea of making an NBA comeback and was putting off retirement for the time being. However, after not catching on with a team over the last year, it sounds like he’s prepared to transition into the next stage of his career.

Nelson’s agreement with the Sixers will represent a homecoming of sorts for the 38-year-old. Nelson grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania and played his college ball at Saint Joseph’s before going pro.

The Sixers have been making an effort to revamp their front office around general manager Elton Brand this offseason, with Nelson’s hiring representing the latest part of that effort. The team is also bringing aboard Peter Dinwiddie as executive VP of basketball operations and Prosper Karangwa in a key scouting role.

Bontemps’ Latest: Antetokounmpo, Oladipo, VanVleet, Hawks

Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision on a supermax extension will have a wide-ranging effect on this offseason and the summer of 2021, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Several teams that are saving cap space to make a run at the two-time MVP next year would be more likely to spend right away if he accepts an offer from the Bucks. The Raptors would be more willing to spend big to keep free agent guard Fred VanVleet, while the Heat and Mavericks might look to make significant moves right away.

Bontemps has heard from multiple sources that Milwaukee won’t panic if Antetokoumpo turns down the extension. Instead of trying to trade him before he reaches free agency, the Bucks will look for roster upgrades to give him a better chance to compete for a title before he hits the open market. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Milwaukee’s ownership won’t mind adding payroll to improve, so the team could be actively seeking trades before the start of next season.

There’s more on potential offseason moves, all courtesy of Bontemps:

  • Victor Oladipo is also eligible for an extension, but it might be tricky for him and the Pacers to arrive at a mutually acceptable figure. The team can offer a new deal that starts at around $26MM — 120% of his salary for next season. However, Oladipo could potentially make much more as an unrestricted free agent in 2021 and may use the upcoming season to show that he’s fully recovered from a torn quadriceps tendon. As a small market team, Indiana might decide to seek a deal now involving Oladipo rather than risk losing him for no return, Bontemps notes. The Pacers already have Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis under long-term deals and may be wary of giving another one to Oladipo.
  • VanVleet will be the top free agent this offseason, and the Raptors are hoping to keep him without compromising any chance they have at Antetokounmpo. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reports that Toronto would like to reach a new deal that doesn’t exceed four years at $80MM. The Pistons, Knicks, and Hawks all appear to be options to maximize his value if VanVleet doesn’t mind leaving a contender for a rebuilding team.
  • Atlanta goes into free agency with the most money to spend ($42MM), giving general manager Travis Schlenk an advantage as he looks to add to his core of young talent. There aren’t any franchise players on this year’s market, but Bontemps mentions Davis Bertans, Danilo Gallinari and Joe Harris as possibilities, along with VanVleet.
  • In the wake of playoff disappointments and coaching changes, the Clippers and Sixers could both be looking for roster shakeups. According to Bontemps, L.A. may try to move Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Ivica Zubac or find sign-and trade deals involving Marcus Morris or Montrezl Harrell, while Philadelphia’s top priority is to unload Al Horford‘s contract.

Atlantic Notes: Rivers, Westbrook, TLC, Celtics

The Sixers are counting on new coach Doc Rivers to deliver more than just a better performance on the court, writes Jabari Young of CNBC. The organization’s ultimate goal is to build a new arena when its lease at the Wells Fargo Center expires in 2031. A proposal to build a new complex in the Penns Landing area of Philadelphia was rejected last month, so the team has begun exploring other sites.

Young notes that it takes about seven years to build a new facility, so the Sixers need to start thinking about funding, which could include tax money. Former NBA executive Andy Dolich told Young that everything gets easier if the team can win a title in the next few years, which would increase support in the community.

“And if you don’t have that going in, that’s dangerous,” Dolich said. “If you have that unity, now Doc and (general manager Elton Brand), more than (chief executive officer Scott O’Neil), they’ve got to deal with the chief product officer because what is most important is those feet on the court. The unity of those three has to translate to winning.”

Rivers’ mission is to create a culture that’s more conducive to success. A staff member from a rival team told Young that the Sixers lacked focus in road games and had a traveling party that was too large. He also called the front office “unorganized,” saying that there were too many executives without clearly defined roles.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks should avoid any temptation to bring in Russell Westbrook and his sizable contract, argues Tommy Beer of Forbes. A report this week stated that New York might have interest if the Rockets look to trade Westbrook, but Beer believes it would be foolish to acquire a 31-year-old who will make $41.4MM, $44.2MM and $47.1MM over the next three years.
  • Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson is a believer in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, according to a story from NetsDaily. Luwawu-Cabarrot began as a two-way player, but his role grew throughout the season. He started five of Brooklyn’s 12 games in Orlando and averaged 15.1 points while shooting 39.5% from 3-point range. “He’s got a great future and it’s really fun to watch a struggling guy end up winning in the NBA and securing a stable role, and making his mark in the league,” Atkinson said. “That’s what he did and I’m sure he’s going to have another great season next year and have a long career in this league.”
  • Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston ranks the five Celtics players most likely to not return next season, with Semi Ojeleye topping the list.

Sixers Expected To Add Peter Dinwiddie, Prosper Karangwa To Front Office

4:42pm: Dinwiddie will become the Sixers’ executive vice president of basketball operations, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).


1:40pm: Having vowed to make changes to their front office this offseason, the Sixers are expected to bring in Pacers executive Peter Dinwiddie and Magic executive Prosper Karangwa to join GM Elton Brand‘s group, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dinwiddie has been with the Pacers for nearly a decade and a half, getting his start in ticket sales before eventually transitioning to a front office role, as Scott Agness detailed in a story for The Athletic last year. He received a promotion in 2017 from VP of basketball operations to senior VP of basketball ops, and has played a key role in Indiana’s salary cap management.

Karangwa, meanwhile, joined the Magic as a scout in 2012 after spending several years playing professionally overseas. He was promoted through the department in recent years and was named Orlando’s director of scouting in 2019.

It’s not clear yet what titles Dinwiddie and Karangwa will have in the Sixers’ front office, but reports since August have indicated the team was looking at changing its front office personnel and structure.

The expectation is that Brand will retain his GM role – or receive a promotion and a new title, per Pompey – and be the primary decision-maker going forward, but there are a number of changes happening around him. Executive VP of basketball operations Alex Rucker isn’t expected to return and – as we wrote on Thursday – VP of strategy Sergi Olivia has also left the organization.

Joseph Blair, Sergi Olivia Leave Sixers

Sixers assistant coach Joseph Blair has departed Philadelphia in favor of a position on Ryan Saunders‘ staff with the Timberwolves, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Blair was previously an assistant coach with the Rockets’ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, from 2015-18 before being promoted to head coach for the 2018/19 season. Blair guided that squad to a G League title. He served on Brett Brown‘s staff with the Sixers for Brown’s final season in 2019/20.

Pompey also reports that Sergi Olivia, the vice president of strategy for the Sixers, is leaving Philadelphia’s front office to join Quin Snyder as an assistant coach on the Jazz bench. Olivia has worked for Philadelphia’s front office in some capacity since 2014. Pompey indicated that Olivia played a key role in the club’s analytics-predicated decision making.

Blair and Olivia are not the first Sixers personnel to move on from Philadelphia this season. Assistant coach Kevin Young also recently departed the Sixers for an opportunity with Monty Williams and the Suns.

The Sixers recently signed head coach Doc Rivers to a five-year contract in the hopes that he could guide All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to a title. Rivers is in the process of fleshing out his own staff. Early today, it was announced that former Kings and Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger would be joining the 76ers as an assistant.

Sixers To Hire Dave Joerger As Assistant Coach

Former Grizzlies and Kings head coach Dave Joerger has agreed to join the Sixers as an assistant on Doc Rivers‘ new staff, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Joerger, who took over as the Grizzlies’ head coach in 2013, led the team to a 147-99 (.598) regular season mark, with three consecutive playoff appearances. His time in Sacramento wasn’t quite as successful, as the Kings had a 98-148 (.398) record and no postseason berths during his three years with the club. However, it’s worth noting that his 39-43 record in 2018/19 represented the Kings’ most successful mark since 2005/06.

The Pacers interviewed Joerger for their head coaching position and Wojnarowski had reported earlier this month that he was a strong contender for the job. However, with Indiana preparing to narrow its field of candidates to three finalists, it appears Joerger didn’t make the cut.

Frank Isola first reported on Wednesday that Joerger was receiving consideration to join Rivers’ staff.

Dave Joerger Under Consideration To Join Rivers' Staff?

As things stand, Rivers has not finalized his coaching staff in Philadelphia. Derek Bodner of The Athletic looked at several candidates last week who could join Rivers on the sidelines next season. Some of the names mentioned were Tyronn Lue, Sam Cassell, Armond Hill, and Rex Kalamian.

Former Kings head coach Dave Joerger is under consideration to join Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff with the Sixers, according to Frank Isola (Twitter link). Joerger, who also coached the Grizzlies, interviewed for the Pacers’ head-coaching vacancy earlier this month.