Category Archives: Sixers

The Buzz Explodes Around Kawhi Leonard

_The NBA season is over and now the fun begins. Free agency and the draft Like clockwork, the first big news story has broken.

Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio and just about every team in the league would like to do a deal to get him. There is a hiccup. Trading for Kawhi now means getting a guarantee for just one season. He becomes an unrestricted free agent next season.

Sp let the games begin!

Here is why the Sixers would LOVE to land Kawhi.

  • switching defense – Kawhi would be the best on the team
  • Half court offense – something the Sixers need badly. Kawhi would become the first option
  • Outside shooting – another need – Kawhi is solid
  • playoff experience – he has been there.
  • taking some of the load off of Ben and Joel

But — here is why lots of other teams will be at the  table as well.

And what would the Sixers have to give u? Remember – whatever they give up is for just a one year guarantee. The Sixers want to give them Bayless (and the last year of his absurd contract), That will not be a great incentive to San Antonio. The Spurs may want Fultz and Saric. Ouch! Roco? The tenth pick?  Ouch!

And there is a LeBron link here. The Cavs might give a lot to pair Kawhi and LeBron (if LeBron wants to stay in Cleveland). Or the Sixers may NEED to do a deal if LeBron says it is a condition for him moving over.  to Philly. LeBron and Kawhi coming to Philly? It is a long shot, but it is also a possibility.

Stay tuned!

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Are You Ready for Next Year’s Sixers?

Not surprisingly, the Cavs could not keep up with the Warriors, and got swept. The Warriors are just a better team. So are the Rockets (with Chris Paul). And I do not think that there is much the Cavs can do about that going into next year. So what? That means LeBron will likely part ways with the Cavs and enter free agency. to win a few more rings before he retires.

So where will LeBron go? If the Lakers can also pick up Paul George from the Thunder, LeBron might be tempted to hang his hat there. George apparently wants to head to Los Angeles, so this is a real possibility. On the other hand, the Sixers look pretty attractive as well. That is pretty exciting for Sixer fans, and we are likely to find out pretty soon — just after the draft.

Why would LeBron pick the Sixers over the Lakers? As you can see below, I think the Sixers offer a more intriguing cast of players even if George goes to the Lakers.

Meanwhile, things have hardly been dull in Sixers land. Their GM, Bryan Colangelo got caught up in one of the most peculiar scandals I have heard about. It came out that Colangelo had opened at least 6 twitter accounts under phony names and was trashing his own players on them in regular tweets. Colangelo claimed his wife was the actual tweeter. Then, Colangelo’s father — whom the Sixers had been forced to hire as team “president” by NBA Commissioner -Silver — said he would bad mouth the Sixers if they fired his son. The Sixers fired his son. I would guess that good old dad will be out the door soon as well. Brett Brown steps in as temporary GM to handle the draft and off season trades.

Will losing Colangelo be a problem? I don’t think so.  In my view Bryan screwed up several important issues and did not do any amazing deals. Looking back, for example, he didn’t even try to keep Nerlens as a Joel backup, and instead he kept Jahlil Okafor dangling for an entire season for no reason. The Fultz trade?  I like Markelle, but as it turns out, the Sixers most likely could have gotten him with their 3 pick. Instead, they traded away their next year’s Sacramento pick to the Celtics. True, he did bring in Ilyasova and Belinelli midway through the season and those two gave the Sixers a major lift. But he did not initiate those deals. So, I am not unhappy to see the end of the Colangelo era in Philly.

BTW the most important offseason news so far has not been on the front page. Remember Markelle Fultz? Fultz bombed out in his first year due to a shoulder condition that ruined his shot. Fultz is now training with one of the best shot trainers in the league — Drew Hanlen. Awesome!

I am an eternal optimist. I admit that. But if Fultz gets back to his college form and LeBron comes to Philly? And Ben Simmons learns how to shoot a 3 and finish with his left hand? And the Sixers pick up a decent player at 10 in the draft like Mikal Bridges? And  Jonah Bolden comes over from European play? And the Sixers re-sign JJ Redick?

Consider this starting five

  • Ben Simmons
  • Joel Embiid
  • Markelle Fultz
  • LeBron James
  • Dario Saric

And coming off the bench?

  • JJ Redick
  • Esan Ilyasova
  • Robert Covington
  • Jonah Bolden
  • TJ McConnell
  • Mikal Bridges (as the ten pick)
  • Richaun Holmes
  • Justin Anderson
  • Marco Belinelli (perhaps)

And of course, TLC and  Furkan if they can make a step up in the off season. I like it! LeBron moves off ball and beomes the Sixers first option on offense. The Sixers get outside shooting from all five starters! LeBron, Joel, and Markelle can create their own offense (a major weakness of last year’s team). Joel and Saric and LeBron dominate the boards. And the above plays monster defense (no JJ weak link).

You  can go small ball with Ilyasova and Roco in for Joel and Dario. And you have lots of talent on the bench.

I am getting excited already!

If You Were the Sixers GM … Would You Take Smith at 10?

If you were the Sixers GM, you might notice that two of your elite players — Simmons and Fultz — are struggling with their outside shooting. Simmons never picked up the skill set. Fultz had it but lost it due to shoulder injury.  Both must perform better next season for the Sixers to contend. Everyone knows that.

In this draft, the Sixers pick tenth. There is a player that will probably be available who has outstanding athletic skills. A guy who at 6’9″ can guard almost any position. He is Zhaire Smith. And if Smith could shoot, he would go much higher in the draft. But alas, there are questions about whether he will be able to shoot from the outside at the NBA level. From the above Liberty Ballers link

… There is no doubt that Smith’s questionable fit offensively makes him a very risky pick, especially this early. But if Bryan Colangelo and company believe so strongly in Smith’s talent level and upside that they decide it’s worth the risk, they will take him with no hesitation. One thing is clear, though: if Bryan Colangelo really does want Zhaire Smith with the tenth pick, the Sixers need to have complete confidence in their ability to help him develop into a good three-point shooter. It is his swing skill- the difference between him becoming a contributing role player and becoming a high-level starter on a championship team. Let’s hope that for once, the Sixers can properly diagnose a 19-year old’s shooting ability.

My first thought is Smith is just what the Sixers don’t need. Another dude with a broken jumper. Don’t we have enough of these already? Then a second thought pops up. If I were the Sixers GM, I would be looking for the best shooting COACH in the world. Someone who could turn Simmons and Fultz and perhaps Smith into decent 3 point shooters.

And consider this — if the Sixers take Smith, a lineup with Simmons, Embiid, Smith and Roco would be amazing even if your grandmother was the fifth defender. Another reason for Redick to hang around. And if LeBron comes over, Smith would be under less pressure to develop quickly.  After a few years, Smith could look like a Jaylen Brown does now for the Celtics.

What do you think?

Sixers Lore: The Understatement of the Year

The consensus is that the Sixers need one last piece to push the team over the hump so that it can contend for the NBA championship. That would be an elite NBA wing who can score and defend.

Errr … so who is out there? This comment about the potential value to the Sixers of adding LeBron is the understatement of the year .

… for a Philly team that ranked last in the league in turnovers and struggled mightily to generate consistent offense in a five-game conference semifinal loss to the Celtics, adding one of the best passers and most unstoppable scorers of all time seems helpful.

Indeed, it would seem to be helpful. But as the author points out, the Sixers might not go that route.

If the Sixers don’t connect on a huge swing for James, they can use their cap space (which maxes out at just over $30 million but will probably be closer to $24 million) to grab some quality vets on one-year deals. Wayne Ellington, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Joe Harris would fill out the wings nicely.

From there, they can roll into the summer of 2019 with oodles of cash for Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard or the restricted free agents from the draft class of 2015.

So what would you do?  A lot depends on two factors (1) how long can LeBron play at the level he is now?, and (2) can he push the Sixers over the hump and win a championship while he still has that magic?

The worst case scenario (which is not all that bad) is that the Sixers bring in LeBron but Ben and Joel and Markelle are still too young to deliver a championship in LeBron’s final pro years..

My take — I think the Boston spanking gave Ben and Joel a very clear off season learning agenda. They can see what they need to  master for next year and they will work on that stuff. Joel will upgrade his offense at the elbow and in the post. Ben will learn how to shoot from the outside to hit at least 30% from 3 and finish with his left hand. And with LeBron, that will be enough to win it all — if the Sixers can retain enough role players to fill out the roster.

What do you think?

BTW,, following the trade rumors is one of the best ways to get more deeply into “who is who” in the NBA. Very cool stuff!

 

Man Bun Gets Dunked on!

You might expect that after the Celtics eliminated the Sixers in the NBA playoffs, that Joel Embiid would cool it.

Forget it.

Joel is on vacation in the Bahamas and tweeting about his Celtic opposite number,  Aaron Baynes

Man bun is in NBA just to get dunked on

Ouch! It is true that Embiid threw one down over Baynes in Game 4 (see link fro video). It is also true that Baynes actually made some 3’s, so he was not totally useless on the court.

Things are already heating up for next season!

Whither Kawhi? To the Sixers? Perhaps!

Kawhi Leonard has made it pretty clear that he wants out of San Antonio. But where will he go?  The  trade rumors re already starting to heat up, even though we will not hear about a deal until July.

The main contenders are the Celtics, Lakers and Sixers. Of these three, the Celtics have the most to offer. But for the Celitcs to pull the trigger, they would probably have to part with Kyrie and others. Hmmm … the Lakers are not a great option, except that they are located in LA. And the Sixers? Brett Brown knows Kawhi and Kawhi might crave the opportunity to play with Joel and Ben.

And what if the Sixers get both LeBron and Kawhi?

Yikes! The Sixers would go from a team that has no one on one offense to a team loaded with one on one offensive potential.  And if Ben stays and develops a jump shot? OOOOO!

Sixers Lore: So Just Who is Jonah Bolden?

We saw Jonah play summer ball with Markelle last year and he was impressive. He then went over to play in the European leagues and had a great season. The word is that he is heading back over the pond to join the Sixers next year.

So what does the dude bring? Jonah is 6’10” with a 7’2″ wingspan  and great athleticism. He  brings defense inside the pain, rebounding and he can run the floor. His  outside shot? Needs a bit of work, but has potential

Here are videos. And stop drooling!

Jonah will be ocmpeting with Ersan (if indeed Ersan sticks around) for a role off the bench at backup wing and small ball center.  He is a better defender in the paint, but as of yet does not have the soft touch that Ersan has. Errr … one wonders where that soft touch of Ersan’s disappeared to in the Celtics series!!!!!

Bottom line — this does not solve all of the Sixers offseason issues. They still need a big name elite wing. And if initial indications are to be believed, they will do allthey can to land one – preferably LeBron.  Brett said this

“For the first time since I’ve been here, there is tremendous clarity on what we have,” head coach Brett Brown told reporters after the Sixers were eliminated in the second round. “We don’t have to turn this into calculus—it’s quite clear [what type of player the club should pursue].”

hint, hint! Nudge, nudge!

But we won’t know more about that until July. In the meantime, the Sixers hopefully will pick up one o f the Bridges with their number 10 pick. More wings!