Philadelphia Sixers

Sixers players react to Gordon Hayward's horrific leg injury

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Sixers players react to Gordon Hayward's horrific leg injury

You absolutely hate to see it.

That's how the sports world felt Tuesday night when Celtics small forward Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome leg injury during the NBA opener against the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.

The injury, which is graphic, can be seen here. Hayward has been diagnosed with a fractured left ankle.

Instantly, an outpouring of support spread across the NBA.

Here is some reaction from Sixers players:

Eagles rookie Sidney Jones knows about tough injuries. He's recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

And the terrible injury produced some powerful scenes and images.

Exploring the Sixers' 3 options to back up Joel Embiid

Exploring the Sixers' 3 options to back up Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid will be restricted to less than 20 minutes per game early in the season, that much is known (see story). How Brett Brown fills the remainder of the minutes at the center position remains to be seen.

Brown has three healthy big men he can play behind Embiid: Amir Johnson, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric. Richaun Holmes, an early candidate for backup minutes, is sidelined by a fractured wrist.

“Even without Richaun, you like the depth and versatility, the variety that is available to me at the five,” Brown said Tuesday. 

Each player is unique in their skill sets and experience levels. There’s the proven veteran in Johnson, the undersized center in Saric, and the sometime-starter-sometime-reserve-sometime-DNP in Okafor. 

Let’s take a look at Brown’s options and why he may lean toward one player over another. 

Okafor
Okafor finds himself in another season of uncertainty. The third-year Sixer still doesn’t have a consistent role in the rotation. In the past, his biggest opportunity for minutes has come when Embiid is out for the entire game. Could the slimmed-down Okafor return to the starting lineup when Embiid doesn’t play? The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games of the season on Saturday. 

Brown on Okafor 
“[His role is] evolving … it’s always fluid. There are times we’ll assess Joel, say, in a back-to-back situation that might free something up. We have one in Toronto coming up. … We all respect his attitude and we respect his body. I think he’s had a good preseason.”

Johnson
The 30-year-old Johnson gives the Sixers a veteran presence and assuring presence on the court. He started in 77 of his 80 games for the Celtics last season and will be an in-game leader for younger players like Markelle Fultz in the second unit. 

Brown on Johnson
“He started for a really good team last year. He’s been in the league for a while. He’s a great pickup. Bryan (Colangelo) did a really great job of signing him. He’s good people.” 

Saric
At 6-foot-10, 223 pounds, Saric is the most unlikely candidate of the three backups. Brown has seen enough from Saric in the NBA and internationally, though, to feel confident in shifting him from the four to the five. Saric showed he can hold his own against traditional bigs when he shot 5 for 8 against the Nets in the preseason. 

Brown on Saric
“He’s stronger than you think. He’s been used to guarding behind people over in Europe on switch outs with four-five pick-and-rolls. … He gives up some weight, he gives up some height. But the trade-off might be he pulls them out and makes threes like he did against (Timofey) Mozgov. You weigh it all up. It’s a little bit unconventional but it is there in our arsenal if we choose to go there.”

Jacob Pullen's contract converted to 2-way deal as Sixers make series of roster moves

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Jacob Pullen's contract converted to 2-way deal as Sixers make series of roster moves

UPDATED: 6:35 p.m.

The Sixers made a series of moves to shape their roster five days before the start of the regular season.

The team converted the contract of point guard Jacob Pullen to a two-way deal. In this new contract created by the league for this season, Pullen will play for the Delaware 87ers in the G League and can spend a maximum of 45 days with the Sixers (excluding time with the Sixers before the Sevens’ training camp). Each NBA team can sign two players to this deal. The Sixers previously inked James Michael McAdoo to one.

Pullen came to Sixers' training camp with a lengthy international resume. He averaged 2.8 points and 1.0 assists in 6.8 minutes in four games during the preseason.

“He's been an A-plus teammate, A-plus worker, no back down,” Brett Brown said of Pullen Friday (see story). “I think all those things have made him a really professional addition to our roster.”

The Sixers also waived six players: guards Andrew Andrews and James Blackmon Jr., forwards Kris Humphries, Marc Loving and James Webb III and center Emeka Okafor.

Initially, Humphries seemed like he had a chance to break into the roster. At 32, he could bring a veteran presence to the bench. He was physical in early practices and the scrimmage at the Palestra, looking like someone who could push his younger teammates competitively. Humphries, though, scored three points in as many preseason games and did not make an impact on the court.

Okafor was attempting an NBA comeback with the Sixers. He suffered a herniated cervical disc in 2013 and had not played in the league since then. The veteran was a long shot to make the team, but the Sixers needed depth at the center position because of the restrictions on Joel Embiid and later the wrist injury of Richaun Holmes. The 35-year-old Okafor will play in the G League for the 87ers, according to a report from ESPN's Ian Begley.

Blackmon Jr. had been with the Sixers since their minicamp in June. He played for their summer league teams as well. Blackmon Jr. averaged 3.0 points in 5.6 minutes over four preseason games.

Webb III is a familiar face within the organization. He went through Sixers training camp last year and played for the 87ers last season. Webb averaged 13.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in 34.8 minutes before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in March.

Andrews, a guard, averaged 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for Best Balikesir Basketbol Kulubu of the Turkish Basketball Super League last season. He played four years at Washington, the same school as Markelle Fultz.

The forward Loving went undrafted out of Ohio State this summer. He played four seasons of collegiate basketball and averaged 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds as a senior.

The Sixers open the regular season Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. against the Wizards.