Tyrese Maxey

Sixers Gauging Trade Interest In Harris, Thybulle, Others

The Sixers are exploring the trade market to gauge rival teams’ interest in forwards Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle, as well as guards Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton, multiple sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pompey also previously confirmed that the 76ers are considering potential trade scenarios involving the No. 23 pick and Danny Green‘s expiring contract.

As Pompey writes, Philadelphia is committed to keeping Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, and there’s an expectation James Harden will be back as well. However, the front office realizes the rest of the roster isn’t championship-caliber and is weighing possible ways to upgrade it.

As we noted on Tuesday when we previewed the Sixers’ offseason, Harris’ contract – which will pay him $37.6MM in 2022/23 – would be the team’s most logical trade chip in any major deal involving multiple veteran players. However, Harris was the third or fourth option for the Sixers and his exorbitant cap hit will likely make potential trade partners view him as a negative – or, at best, neutral – asset.

Most of the other possible trade candidates mentioned by Pompey aren’t earning significantly more than the minimum, so their salary-matching value would be limited. Korkmaz will make $5MM next season, while Thybulle is on the books for $4.4MM.

The 76ers hold a $2MM team option on Milton for ’22/23, and Pompey suggests there’s a belief around the NBA that the Sixers won’t pick it up. However, it would need to be exercised in order to make Milton trade-eligible — if it’s declined, he’d become an unrestricted free agent. I’d be surprised if that option isn’t exercised, but the fact that there’s even a question about whether or not that will happen means Milton probably isn’t a very valuable trade asset.

Korkmaz, Thybulle, and Milton were all part of Philadelphia’s regular rotation this past season, but all come with some red flags. Kokmaz made a career-worst 28.9% of his three-pointers, Thybulle failed to take a step forward as an offensive player, and Milton also saw his three-point rate dip (to 32.3%).

Sixers Rumors: Draft Pick, Maxey, Thybulle, Green, Rivers

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com has been told it’s “relatively likely” that the Nets will take advantage of their ability to defer their acquisition of the Sixers‘ first-round pick a year and will opt to acquire Philadelphia 2023 first-rounder instead of 2022’s No. 23 overall selection.

The Nets have until June 1 to finalize that decision, so nothing is set in stone yet, but the Sixers are preparing as if they’ll have this year’s No. 23 pick, says Neubeck.

Assuming the 76ers do control that pick, it could be used to add a young, inexpensive draftee to the roster or included in a trade package for a veteran. Neubeck points to Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell and Baylor’s Kendall Brown as long, switchable forwards who may be available at No. 23 and who might appeal to Philadelphia.

Here’s more from Neubeck:

  • Even if the Sixers attempt to pursue another star player this offseason, don’t expect the team to dangle guard Tyrese Maxey to make it happen, says Neubeck. “Maxey is as close to untouchable as you could be,” a source told PhillyVoice.
  • Matisse Thybulle is a more realistic trade candidate, but the Sixers won’t move him just to get off his contract, according to Neubeck, who suggests that Danny Green‘s ACL tear has made Thybulle’s defense even more important to the team. If he’s traded, expect it to be for a roster upgrade, Neubeck writes.
  • No decisions have been made yet on Green, who is expected to miss at least half of next season and whose $10MM salary for 2022/23 is non-guaranteed. Green’s $10MM would have to be partially or fully guaranteed in order for it to count for outgoing salary-matching purposes, so he seems to me more likely to be waived than traded. According to Neubeck, it’s possible that if Green is released, he could eventually return on a smaller salary.
  • There are suspicions in league coaching circles that the Lakers haven’t given up on the idea that Doc Rivers could become available for their head coaching job, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. Neubeck doesn’t dismiss that idea, but observes that the Sixers have been “remarkably consistent” in their messaging – both publicly and privately – that Rivers isn’t going anywhere.

Atlantic Notes: Reddish, Knicks, Williams, Maxey

Forward Cam Reddish has been at the Knicks’ training center over the past week and has started basketball activities, including light shooting, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Reddish, who was acquired by the Knicks from Atlanta in January, saw his season end prematurely in early March when he suffered a separated right shoulder. As a former first-round pick entering his fourth season, Reddish is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

In 15 games (14.3 MPG) with the Knicks, Reddish put up modest totals of 6.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG on .415/.258/.906 shooting.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The realistic goal for the Knicks to upgrade their roster is to put the pieces in place to trade for a top-level player, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. In terms of the draft, if the Knicks don’t move up in the lottery, Hollinger believes they ought to target Australian guard Dyson Daniels. Daniels who played in the G League has a pass-first mentality and the ability to guard multiple positions.
  • Celtics center Robert Williams is listed as questionable for Friday’s Game 6 against the Bucks, Jared Weiss tweets. Williams averaged 23.3 MPG in the first three games of the series but sat out the last two games.
  • 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.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Fine, Maxey, Harden

Joel Embiid never had any doubts about playing Friday night as long as he received medical clearance, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Embiid didn’t clear concussion protocol until Friday morning and had to wear a mask to protect his broken orbital bone, but he logged more than 36 minutes as the Sixers picked up their first win in the series with Miami.

“It was a struggle,” Embiid said, “really because of the concussion and dealing with a bunch of symptoms. But I’m glad it went away and I’m glad that I’m back. I really want to win, and I feel like we have a big chance to win it all. Obviously, we got to stay healthy and we all got to play well at the same time. … Down 2-0, I had to do really everything possible to be out there no matter, how much I was feeling. I’m just glad that we got the win.”

Embiid wasn’t dominant on offense, scoring 18 points and making 5-of-12 shots from the field, but he made a bigger difference on defense, providing a mobile rim protector that Philadelphia was lacking in the first two games.

“He’s the anchor, he knows all the coverages, and he’s talking to us,” Tyrese Maxey said. “He’s seven-foot one, he’s a big body down there, it’s hard to go in there and drive into him, and he makes it difficult for the opposing team. We really do appreciate him for that.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers were fined $50K for failing to follow the league’s reporting rules on injuries, the NBA announced (Twitter link). Embiid was listed as doubtful going into Game 3. The Suns were fined $25K last week for a similar offense involving Devin Booker.
  • After turning in a scoreless first half for the first time all season, Maxey responded with a record-setting performance in the second half, notes Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia. He made five shots without a miss, which is the most ever in franchise history for a second half in the postseason.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines the possibilities that James Harden and the Sixers have available for his next contract. Harden holds a $47.4MM player option for next season, and Leroux notes that his best financial option would be to opt in and extend the current deal, giving him potentially $270MM+ over five years. However, there are plenty of other options if Harden is willing to accept less than the maximum.

Eastern Notes: Smart, Hill, Harris, Bulls

The Celtics only have one player listed on the injury report for Game 2 against the Bucks on Tuesday but it’s a significant one. Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is questionable due to a right quad contusion, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“He’s a tough guy who’s going to try to play through things,” coach Ime Udoka said. “We’ll get him some treatment (Monday) and see how he feels tomorrow.”

Smart was already dealing with the injury entering Game 1, then took a couple of hits to that area.

It’s more than just pain tolerance. It’s tightness and restriction of movement as well,” Udoka said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks guard George Hill won’t play in Game 2, coach Mike Budenholzer told Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link) and other media members. Hill has an abdominal injury. “He was doing a vitamin, doing some individual work,” Budenholzer said. “He’s doing a little bit more in his vitamins, but not anything significant or any kind of new update.”
  • Tobias Harris is no longer the weakest link on the Sixers’ defensive unit, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic writes. Rather, teams are trying to attack other defenders while staying away from Harris. The addition of James Harden and emergence of Tyrese Maxey has reduced Harris’ offensive stats but he’s contributing at the other end. “I definitely have more energy to go and guard somebody,” Harris quipped.
  • Zach LaVine‘s unrestricted free agency and Patrick Williams‘ development are among the offseason questions looming over the Bulls, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Simmons, Smart, Maxey

The Raptors, down 3-0 in their first-round playoff series against the Sixers, need more production from star forward Pascal Siakam, but criticism of the 2020 All-Star should be nuanced, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Siakam underwhelmed during the team’s 104-101 Game 3 overtime loss on Wednesday, scoring just 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting, a far cry from the 22.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 6.5 APG he put up in the team’s two games in Philadelphia. Siakam also missed all five of his field goal attempts during the game’s second half and overtime.

Lewenberg writes that Sixers starting power forward Tobias Harris handles chief defensive duties on Siakam outside the paint, while All-Star center Joel Embiid guards him inside. Siakam has struggled to adjust to the defensive attention, but Lewenberg cautions that the 28-year-old still has room to grow, even after his six NBA seasons.

“I think for me, I just gotta stay aggressive, get to my spots and live with the results,” Siakam said. “I think that the experience from just being in the playoffs, we all learn from it. Even players that have been in the league a long time, that [have] been in many playoff games, I’m sure that there’s some series where they learn something about themselves or about their game or how they can evolve.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • In what has been a topsy-turvy kind of season for the Nets, it is perhaps fitting that the newest star player, Ben Simmons, is set to play for the first time in the fourth game of a playoff series, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Lewis observes that, should the Nets lose to the Celtics again tonight, Simmons will be rejoining the club as it faces a 3-0 deficit. Mental health issues and a desire to be traded resulted in Simmons opting to sit out while with the Sixers, prior to being traded in exchange for James Harden at the deadline. A back injury has hampered him since joining Brooklyn.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart, the newly-minted 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, hasn’t just been excellent on defense in helping Boston achieve a 2-0 series edge against the Nets, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. He is also averaging 16.0 PPG and 5.5 APG across the team’s first two playoff contests. After spending years as a combo guard, his emergence as a passer may be surprising some, but not Smart. “To hear people say I’m not a point guard or, oh my gosh, I can’t believe he’s a point guard — I was a top-six pick, as a point guard,” Smart said. “I was chosen as a point guard — for some reason. It is funny but I just continue to keep getting better, working on my game, and not really worried about everybody else.” Team president Brad Stevens praised Smart’s ability to handle plays mapped out by head coach Ime Udoka. “He’s got a lot of the qualities that really good point guards have,” Stevens said. “I think what we wanted to do this year, and Ime and his staff has done a really good job of coaching to, is we wanted to be big and versatile.”
  • Second-year Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has taken significant strides this season, and that has continued apace during the team’s first-round matchup against the Raptors. Tim Bontemps of ESPN details Maxey’s rise, noting that he put in the hours during the offseason to grow his game as a long-range shooter. “In my exit interview [last season], my goal was to get one percent better every single day,” Maxey says. “I stuck with it the entire summer.” After shooting 54.7% from the restricted area during his rookie season, Maxey converted 60.5% of his looks around the rim this year. He also saw his three-point shooting improve from making 30.1% of his 1.7 looks a night last year to 42.7% on 4 attempts this year. “I would get up, and I’d be in the gym,” Maxey said of his prep as a three-point shooter during the offseason. “First one in the gym at 6 a.m. and I’d try to make at least 700, 800 shots. And then I’d go lift and I’d come back again at 10 [a.m.] and I’m doing the same thing.”

Eastern Notes: Maxey, Wizards, Bucks, Hornets

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey shined during the team’s first playoff game against Toronto on Saturday, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com writes. Maxey finished with 38 points and four rebounds, shooting 14-of-21 from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range.

“His speed is a factor,” head coach Doc Rivers explained postgame. “We know that we have to keep using him in space. Some nights, maybe he’ll drive to pass. Tonight, it was him driving and getting to the basket and making shots.”

Maxey averaged 17.5 points per game this season, shooting 43% from deep. His emergence has allowed the Sixers to sport a “big four,” which includes James Harden, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores how the Wizards could navigate a much deeper Eastern Conference, which features several teams that have legitimate title hopes this season. Washington finished with a 35-47 record and seems committed to competing around Bradley Beal. Eastern Conference teams won more games against Western teams this season (226-224) for the first time since 2008/09.
  • Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscriber-only link) examines how the Bucks used their bye week ahead of the playoffs. Milwaukee spent time preparing for Chicago, a divisional rival who also earned a week of rest by avoiding the play-in tournament. The franchises will meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
  • Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer takes a look at what went right and wrong for the Hornets this season. Charlotte made the play-in tournament after finishing 43-39 this season, going 0-7 in overtime games.

Sixers Notes: Maxey, Embiid, Harden, Title Chances

While All-Stars Joel Embiid and James Harden will play larger roles, the contributions of second-year Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey could be an X-factor in determining the postseason ceiling for this star-studded Philadelphia club, writes Jared Dubin of FiveThirtyEight.

Maxey’s true shooting numbers have risen dramatically since Harden joined the team and Maxey shifted to off-ball duties more often, Dubin notes. His scoring averaged has increased, even as his usage and assist numbers have dropped a bit. Maxey, who has yet to be a net positive defender, will need to maximize his abilities on that end for Philadelphia to make a playoff push, Dubin adds.

There’s more out of Philly:

  • Sixers All-Star guard James Harden thinks his teammate, All-Star center Joel Embiid, is worthy of 2022 MVP honors, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN“He deserves it, man,” Harden said. “I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but I already see his mindset. He wants to win. Some guys just want numbers, but he has both. He has the mentality of winning, and he scores the ball at a high level. I think he’s prepared himself, especially coming off last year, for this year to be one of his best years.” Through 60 games for Philadelphia, Embiid is averaging 29.8 PPG, 11.3 RPG and 4.3 APG. With a 46-27 record, the Sixers are currently the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.
  • Harden continues to work through lingering left hamstring tightness, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s still not there,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “But [in] three weeks, we really feel at the time, he’ll be there at 100%.” Harden has put up solid numbers in the games he has been able to play for Philadelphia, averaging 23.0 PPG, 9.9 APG, and 7.6 RPG across 13 contests.
  • The Sixers now sit atop the Eastern Conference by percentage points over the Heat, losers of four straight. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if, record aside, Philadelphia is truly ready reach the NBA Finals this year. “Our focus is getting better every single day,” Joel Embiid reflected on the team’s development throughout the season. “We are not worried about the standings. We just want to get to a point where we know what we know we are doing at all times on the court, especially on the offensive side.”

Sixers Notes: Maxey, Millsap, Harris, Harden

Second-year Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey, who has shifted over one position to starting shooting guard since James Harden joined the lineup, is off to a hot start as part of the new-look backcourt, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The 21-year-old is averaging 24.5 PPG while shooting 66.6% from the floor in his first two games with Harden.

Now that Harden has mostly taken over ball-handling duties, Maxey is able to function more as a scorer than as a set-up man.

“He’s actually playing the position now that he’s played his whole life,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “So in some ways, he’s very comfortable playing the way he’s playing.”

For the season, his first as a full-time starter, Maxey is averaging 17.2 PPG, 4.5 APG and 3.6 RPG, all career highs.

There’s more out of the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Sixers reserve big man Paul Millsap is excited for a fresh start in Philadelphia. Millsap, a four-time All-Star, revealed that the Sixers were the first club to recruit him in free agency last summer, per Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Millsap said the deal that sent him and Harden to the Sixers from the Nets was “meant to be.” Across four games with Philadelphia, the 37-year-old is averaging 5.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 11.0 MPG.
  • After the Sixers offloaded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and future draft picks for All-NBA guard Harden and Millsap, a reduction in touches was in order for Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris. The 6’8″ vet appreciates the necessity of his new role in the club’s pecking order, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “That’s what winning basketball is all about,” Harris said of the change. In his two games played with Harden thus far, Harris has taken a total of 18 shots from the floor, averaging just 9.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.0 APG. Across 51 total games this season, Harris is averaging 18.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 3.6 APG on .479/.347/.855 shooting splits.
  • Given that Harden has just successfully forced his way off a team with apathetic on-court performances for the second time in two NBA seasons, Tommy Beer of Basketball News opines that several other star players could follow suit, as has been happening for the past few seasons.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Sixers, Knicks, Durant, Simmons

Five-time Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid admitted that he considered quitting basketball entirely during his rookie year, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid was drafted by the Sixers in 2014 with the third pick out of Kansas, but didn’t suit up for Philadelphia until the 2016/17 season. Surgeries for a navicular bone in his right foot delayed Embiid’s NBA debut for two years while he grieved the death of a family member off the court.

“You look back at my first year after the surgery,” Embiid said. “Obviously, I lost my brother at that time, too. Going back to Cameroon, I really wanted to stop playing basketball and really retire because at that point you just had surgery, and everybody is talking about ‘You’re not going to make it’ or ‘You’re never going to play in the league,’ and, obviously, the loss of my brother was big. I wanted to give up. I almost did. It was hard.”

The 28-year-old has since become one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, and is currently building a convincing MVP case with a terrific and mostly healthy season thus far. He is averaging 29.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG and 4.5 APG through 46 games this season. Embiid boasts shooting splits of .495/.369/.813.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • While the identities of four Sixers starters are fairly clear heading into the home stretch of the 2021/22 NBA season, the team has several options for the fifth starting role, per Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. With James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Embiid entrenched in the club’s starting lineup. Neubeck considers whether they’d be best complemented by the defensive attributes of Matisse Thybulle, the corner three-point shooting of Danny Green or Furkan Korkmaz, or the size advantage of Georges Niang.
  • With a 25-34 record, the Knicks face an uphill battle to even make the play-in tournament this season. Fred Katz of The Athletic wonders at what point second-year New York head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose job may be in jeopardy this summer, may opt to prioritize developing the team’s youth over less-than-meaningful victories. Katz also theorizes about the potential markets awaiting 2022 unrestricted free agent center Mitchell Robinson, and forward Cam Reddish, whom the Knicks could either opt to extend this summer or allow to reach restricted free agency next year.
  • Nets team president Sean Marks expects stars Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons to join the team on the hardwood fairly soon, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post“Depending when they go, we’ve got to see how they respond to days like [Tuesday], and we’ll go forward with this,” Marks said. “It’s probably going to be tough, to be honest, to be playing in the next three or four days. But we’ll see how it all plays out.”