76ers

Report: Nerlens Noel likely to get max contract offer in free agency

Report: Nerlens Noel likely to get max contract offer in free agency

Former Sixers big man Nerlens Noel could be getting paid — big-time — this summer in free agency. 
 
According to DallasBasketball.com, multiple teams are willing to offer up a max contract when the Mavericks' center becomes a restricted free agent. 
 
Talk of Noel attracting a max deal, which could be worth well over $100 million, doesn’t come as a surprise. The Sixers were aware Noel could garner far more than they wanted to spend. They weren’t going to dish out starter's money to a player who had a backup role on the team, especially not when Joel Embiid’s payday is on the horizon. 

The Sixers had two options: Keep Noel on the roster for the remainder of the season as a sixth man and potentially lose him to a bigger deal this summer with nothing to show for it, or cut ties at the deadline and get something in return. 

The Sixers went the latter route. They traded Noel to the Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut (who they bought out), and a 2017 top-18 protected pick that conveyed to a pair of second-round picks.  

"The situation with Nerlens, him being an RFA certainly affected how people approached that type of player," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said after the trade. "It was more or less the case that concern with how that contract might look in the future was a concern and (caused) apprehension."

The Mavericks were pleased with Noel’s performance the remainder of the season. He averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 22.0 minutes in 22 games (12 starts) for the Mavs. 

Noel’s size and athleticism will draw teams to him in free agency. He just turned 23 years old in April and has years of potential to be effective, especially in an uptempo system (think: lobs). 

Noel isn’t the only former Sixer looking to cash in as a free agent this offseason. 

Remember Dewayne Dedmon? He suited up in 11 games for the Sixers on a pair of 10-day contracts during the 2013-14 season. Dedmon played this season for the Spurs, averaging 5.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 76 games (37 starts). He made a name for himself in his fourth year and has decided to decline his $3 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent, according to The Vertical

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND — Trevor Booker made his transition to the Sixers look easy in his first 20 minutes with his new team.

The veteran forward was a highlight of the Sixers’ 105-98 loss to the Cavaliers (see observations). He came in off the bench and gave the Sixers just what they expected when they acquired him Thursday from the Nets in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. 

“What we just saw is an accurate snapshot of what he is,” Brown said. “He’s high energy. He’s got a big motor. There’s a level of maturity and toughness that we need.”

The Sixers were shorthanded in the frontcourt without Joel Embiid, who was not with the team because of his back-to-back restriction. (Embiid will play Sunday in New Orleans.) Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes were picking up the playing time, but both got in early foul trouble.

Booker was ready to go. He scored 12 points (4 for 6 from the field) and pulled down eight rebounds. Booker found himself at the right place at the right time, being a target for his teammates at the hoop.

“I think just going out there and playing with energy," Booker said, "finding easy baskets like that around the rim, those are things I have to do to get myself going and to help this team out.”

Booker is already forming chemistry with Ben Simmons, which could develop into a backcourt-frontcourt punch. Brown is excited for the younger players to share the court with the eighth-year veteran. 

“He’s a beast,” Simmons said. “I love playing with him so far. He’s a hard-working guy, he runs the floor, knows how to play the game, spaces the floor. He’s a good player.”

Booker echoed of Simmons, “He’s a tremendous passer, tremendous overall player. I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with him.”

Booker barely has had a second to catch his breath since the trade. He was in Mexico City with the Nets when he received the news. Booker estimates he got an hour of sleep Thursday night. He had to take an early morning connecting flight that eventually got him back to Brooklyn and then to Philadelphia for a physical. In a whirlwind of travel, he flew with the team Friday to Cleveland.

Still, he managed to look well rested and equally well prepared in his Sixers debut.

“Trevor can play on any team in the league,” JJ Redick said. “He’s easy to play with. He plays hard, he screens, he knows who he is, he stars in his role on a consistent basis. We’re lucky to have him.”

Sixers unsure if or how long Robert Covington (back) will be out

Sixers unsure if or how long Robert Covington (back) will be out

CLEVELAND — The Sixers are waiting to learn more about Robert Covington’s scary back injury suffered late in Saturday’s loss to the Cavaliers (see observations).

Covington suffered a lower back contusion after he tumbled out of bounds and over the courtside seats by the Cavs' bench attempting to save a possession with 1:08 remaining. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop off from the court to the area where he landed in Quicken Loans Arena. Covington hit his lower back on a metal object when he fell. He gingerly walked off the court with the help of teammates.

His status for Sunday’s game against the Pelicans in New Orleans — and beyond that — will be determined. Covington will be with the team in New Orleans, but the Sixers are unsure if he'll play.

“I can’t assume anything,” Brett Brown said. “I don’t know. It would seem so.”

Because of the location of the fall and its distance away from the court, many of Covington’s teammates didn’t notice what happened at first. Once JJ Redick realized, he stood by Covington as he was tended to by the Sixers' medical staff.

“It’s scary to see your teammate like that,” Redick said. “They said he fell on his back. I wanted to make sure he’s walking and not in too much pain. But I just wish the best for him and hope he’s OK.”

The fall occurred while the Sixers were chasing the Cavaliers’ lead and trailed by only three. It is not uncommon for Covington to make a hustle play in that scenario, or really at any point in the game. He ranks fourth in the league in total deflections (83), behind only Paul George, Thaddeus Young and Andre Drummond. Covington is second on the Sixers in loose balls recovered.

“I was just shocked because I didn’t know he was down,” Ben Simmons said. “I just spoke to him, so hoping he’s good.”

If Covington cannot play Sunday, the Sixers will have to fill an offensive and defensive gap in the starting lineup.

Covington is averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals this season.