76ers

Let's make a deal: Sixers should trade with Celtics for No. 1 pick

Let's make a deal: Sixers should trade with Celtics for No. 1 pick

And just like that, the Sixers could end up with the No. 1 pick for the second year in a row, this time with an unexpected twist.

The Celtics seemed locked in on Markelle Fultz at the coveted first selection they acquired from the Nets in an epic steal on draft night of 2013. On Friday night, however, that changed when multiple reports emerged on the Celtics' interest in swapping the No. 1 pick with the Sixers in exchange for the No. 3 and other assets (see story). The Vertical reported that could possibly include the 2018 unprotected first-round pick from the Lakers.

This level of a move is very surprising since Fultz has been projected as such a promising talent. Taking a closer look, it would be a strong deal for both sides.

The Sixers have said there are multiple players they are looking at for No. 3. The choice at No. 1 is far more clear than weighing the pros and cons of top-10 prospects that could potentially complement the young core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Fultz could play alongside Simmons in the backcourt and give the Sixers the offensive burst they have been missing. Last season, the Washington product averaged 23.2 points (47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three), 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds. The Sixers will need a guard who can play on and off the ball when Simmons is running the point, and Fultz's numbers are staggering. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, he fights his way to the glass and is a reliable passer.

The Sixers would have to give up a serious package of picks, but after all those trades in which they acquired a first-rounder here, a second-rounder there, they have plenty of assets to offer. They could cash in on their future first-round selections now if they feel they will be more valuable than in the future.

And it's no secret the Celtics like to make deals to land more picks.

So why would the Celitcs pull off a trade that seems so beneficial to the Sixers? Well, they wouldn't be doing this as a friendly favor.

Yes, Fultz is a fit for their system and could help in their quest to dethrone the Cavaliers in the East. He also could be the successor to Isaiah Thomas if the C's don't re-sign the 5-9 point guard.

This deal would be about so much more than rookies. The Celtics could take these picks and package them in a future deal to acquire a big-name player that takes them to the next level faster than Fultz would.

Danny Ainge is no stranger to a draft deal. In 2007, he acquired Ray Allen from the SuperSonics in a trade for the No. 5 pick. Four years ago, he shipped out the beloved Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to start a new chapter that very quickly turned into conference contention. Ainge and the Celtics have been stockpiling assets for years now, each time thinking steps ahead of how they can translate into a viable piece down the road.

The Sixers and Celtics are in two different places in their development. The Sixers could solidify their core for the future with the addition of Fultz and set them up for years to come. The Celtics would further the success of their veteran team and give them the assets and salary flexibility to acquire impact players to make an immediate difference while this window opportunity is open.

The excitement of the draft could happen sooner than June 22.

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers' first home game is Friday night, and if their season opener in Washington, D.C., was any indication of the fans’ excitement level, the Wells Fargo Center will be rowdy. 

Sixers fans traveled to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday and started a “Trust the Process” chant less than a minute into the game, much to the dismay of the Wizards crowd.

That enthusiasm and loyalty was not lost on the players. They are ready to feed off the vibe at the Wells Fargo Center when they host the Celtics. 

“First of all, Philly fans are passionate and I love that about them,” Joel Embiid said. “Just me going out there, playing hard and making plays just to get them off their seat and cheer and yell and just go crazy, I just love that type of atmosphere. It gets me going, too.”

Some players block out the noise from the stands, especially if they aren’t hitting their shots. Embiid, though, wants to hear the support and repay it on the court. 

“If I miss foul shots and then they’re cheering, I know that the next play I’ve got to do better,” he said. “I’ve got to make a crazy block or I’ve got to make a crazy play to get them going. Then that gets me going too because I love the excitement. Since I’ve been in Philly, I’ve embraced it and I just love it.”

The players don’t want the fans to hold back, either. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has played in intense game environments overseas and welcomes the high energy in Philadelphia. 

“Here, whenever you go in the street, people call your name, cheer for you,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “During the game, it gets you going. The crazier they are, the better you feel and the better you’re going to play. It’s the best thing.”

Brett Brown always has emphasized the responsibility he feels to give the crowd a quality product. He reiterated that doing his job well is on his mind every game. For the first time in his tenure, Brown can debut a roster constructed with direction and a foundation.

“I’m confident and comfortable with what we’ve built, that we can deliver this year’s team to a court knowing that the base is there, there are people we really like and see as part of the future,” he said. 

Fans at the home opener will receive a t-shirt with caricatures of Brown, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric on it. 

 

The team also is launching the PhilaFanGram camera system that fans can use to take photos with a specially-designed Sixers-themed filter. 

Back-to-backs for Embiid?
Embiid is awaiting word from the medical staff to hear if he will be cleared for back-to-back games. Following Friday's game against the Celtics, the Sixers travel to Toronto the play the Raptors on Saturday. 

"Yesterday I played and my body feels great today," Embiid said. "My knee feels amazing. I feel like if I had to play today, I feel like I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready."

Embiid was held out of consecutive games last season. 

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

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USA Today Images

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

MIAMI — Brooklyn's Jeremy Lin was horrified to see what happened to Gordon Hayward, whose season almost certainly ended in a most disturbing fashion five minutes into the Celtics' season-opener.

A night later, Lin met a similar fate.

Here's some of what should be celebrated from the opening nights of the NBA season: Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 37-point game, Cleveland's LeBron James was one assist away from a triple-double, Houston beat Golden State on the Warriors' ring night and Miami's Hassan Whiteside went for 26 points and 22 rebounds.

It all seems overshadowed by injuries.

No, this is not the start the NBA wanted.

"It's tough watching that happen to anybody in the NBA," said Golden State guard Shaun Livingston, whose horrific knee injury from 2007 -- so bad that doctors originally thought he could lose his leg -- was compared to the grotesque nature of Hayward's injury Tuesday night. "It's all a brotherhood. You want to see guys succeed."

Many members of the brotherhood are ailing, none causing bigger shock waves than Hayward.

San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard hasn't played yet this season because of a quadriceps injury. The Warriors sent Draymond Green to get an MRI on an aching knee, which had knocked him out early in their season opener. Houston's Chris Paul missed a game at Sacramento on Wednesday with knee pain. Cleveland's Isaiah Thomas won't be back until January, at least, while recovering from a hip injury.

And those guys, along with Hayward, are just the hurting All-Stars from last season.

"There's no doubt we'll get him back to be better than he was before," said Mark Bartelstein, Hayward's agent.

Lin's injury was nowhere near as visibly horrifying as Hayward's, but the end result was the same -- a bad landing at Indiana on Wednesday left him in tears and saying, "I'm done, I'm done."

His personal diagnosis was officially confirmed Thursday morning: Lin ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee, the Nets said.

"We feel awful that the injury will cost him the season," Nets general manager Sean Marks said.

Plenty of other teams are missing key players and would-be starters.

Among them: Utah's Dante Exum may miss the whole season with a dislocated left shoulder, Miami's Rodney McGruder had surgery on a stress fracture in his leg, Phoenix's Brandon Knight blew his knee out in the summer, San Antonio's Tony Parker (leg) is still several weeks from returning, Indiana's Glenn Robinson III (ankle) may miss half the season and Milwaukee's Jabari Parker (knee) has months of rehab work left.

"You worry about guys getting nicked up," Memphis forward Brandan Wright said. "Lot of big injuries ... You want to just take care of your guys."

Hayward had surgery Wednesday night and is likely to miss the remainder of the season, after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in Boston's opener at Cleveland.

Livingston had no interest in seeing the replay of Hayward's injury. He knows the road that awaits the Boston star.

"I'm not watching the video, but I've seen the pictures," Livingston said. "Prayers go out to him. It's going to be a long road back for him but if he puts his mind to it, is a man of faith, keeps good people around him ... it's going to be a long rehab for him but he's very capable of coming back and being the same player."