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2019 NBA free agent targets: Could Patrick Beverley or Malcolm Brogdon fit with the Sixers?

2019 NBA free agent targets: Could Patrick Beverley or Malcolm Brogdon fit with the Sixers?

The Sixers have plenty of housekeeping to do with just four players on their roster — plus first-round pick Matisse Thybulle — but they may need some outside help as well.

We begin our free agency targets by looking at possible point guard options. With Ben Simmons clearly entrenched in the starting role, we won’t be looking at the big names like Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell.

These five players would fit nicely in a bench role or perhaps starting next to Simmons.

Patrick Beverley

Beverley will become a fan favorite most likely immediately. The 30-year-old guard is a defensive maven whose best skill is getting under his opponents’ skin. In addition to that, Beverley has become an elite three-point shooter. He’s shot nearly 40 percent on over four attempts a game over the last four seasons. Beverley likely won’t come cheap, but if you’re unable to bring back only one — or neither — of Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris, he’d make a ton of sense. He’s not necessarily a true point guard offensively, but with his ability to shoot, he’d slot in quite nicely next to Simmons.

Malcolm Brogdon

This one is a little tricky because Brogdon is a restricted free agent and there is no doubt Milwaukee would love to re-sign him. The issue is that the Bucks are dealing with their own cap issues after giving Eric Bledsoe an extension and with starters Khris Middleton and Robin Lopez about to hit the open market. Brogdon is just a complete player. His shooting numbers were elite last season as part of the 50/40/90 club. He can rebound, he can pass, he doesn’t turn the ball over and is a strong defender. He’s the perfect kind of complementary player for the Sixers — if they can afford him — and you’d be taking away from one of your main competitors.

Cory Joseph

If you look just at Joseph’s numbers, you might wonder why he’s on this list. He’s not much of a scorer and his three-point shooting has been pretty volatile during his NBA career. With that said, he’s an excellent defender. Think about how much the Sixers struggled during the season with scoring guards and in the pick-and-roll. Joseph can be the guy who sticks Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie. He’s an upgrade over T.J. McConnell defensively and he’ll at least take open looks. Joseph spent his first two seasons in San Antonio while Brett Brown was in charge of player development, so there’s a connection there.

Trey Burke

While Burke will likely never live up to his status as a top-10 pick, there’s still an intriguing NBA skill set there. He’s a shot creator, something the Sixers could use, and his three-point shooting has been above average over his last three NBA seasons (37 percent). His size and defense will be a concern, but you’d hope the presence of Simmons could help mitigate that. Burke is still just 26 so there’s also a reasonable chance he improves — especially when surrounded by better players. 

Delon Wright

Wright is a tier below some of these other names, but he’s interesting. A first-round pick in 2015, Wright spent the first 3 ½ seasons of his career in Toronto before going to Memphis in the Marc Gasol trade. His shooting has been pretty up and down, but he can score thanks to his ability to change speeds. He has great size at 6-foot-5 and is a decent passer and rebounder. Defensively, he’s long and versatile and is active in passing lanes. He’s restricted so Memphis can match offers, but how much do they want to spend on a guard with Ja Morant now in the fold?

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Brett Brown calls out Sixers' turnover problem: 'Until we fix this, this is a house built on sand'

Brett Brown calls out Sixers' turnover problem: 'Until we fix this, this is a house built on sand'

Brett Brown has been asked about turnovers many times during his six-plus years as head coach of the Sixers. They are a concern, he has acknowledged often. 

“Our turnovers continue to haunt us and we can’t let it go,” he said in December of 2016.

“It is on me, and it keeps us up late at night,” he admitted a little over a year later.

On March 13, 2018, Brown said of the Sixers’ turnover woes, “As a team, we have to get better. Some of it I have to own.”

So, in one sense, what Brown had to say Sunday night about the Sixers’ turnovers shouldn’t be shocking. He hasn’t shirked away from this problem. And, for the most part, it’s been an issue that’s gnawed at the Sixers throughout his tenure. The team has finished either 29th or 30th in turnovers in the NBA every season under Brown besides last year, when they were 25th. After recording 20 turnovers Sunday in a 114-106 win over the Hornets, the 6-3 Sixers are last in the league with 18.8 turnovers per game. But Brown’s comments Sunday were perhaps as impassioned as we’ve heard him on the subject.

This is what I tell the team: Until we can fix this, this is a house built on sand. It is fool’s gold. And we have to find a discipline and a better way to control that. Because the turnovers in the first half, some of them were live ball, a lot of them were just getting things batted out of our hands. We can’t fool ourselves — this is a problem. This is a problem. And we need to own it. I’m the head coach, I’ve gotta find a way to fix it. There needs to be a level of accountability with the players. And that’s that. It’s not anything that we take lightly — we don’t dismiss it. The times are over when you’re looking at some of the young guys and you can justify it. You can’t do that anymore. It’s time that we get better at that. And the players know it. They understand it. But we better fix it.

Like in years past, there are a variety of reasons the Sixers have committed this volume of turnovers. Joel Embiid inflated the number by coughing it up eight times in the Mile High City. There are two new starters in Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris, and some new players coming off the bench. As Brown said, though, youth is no longer a good excuse. 

“That’s definitely our biggest flaw right now,” Richardson said. “I think sometimes we get careless. And I think sometimes we get too unselfish, too. On possessions where you get a decent look and pass it up and then we end up turning it over. It’s like, could we really have gotten a better look at it? But I think that’s a good problem to have. I think we’ve just gotta watch the film and figure out what we’re doing wrong outside of that.”

It’s possible to turn the ball over a lot and still go far as a team. Last year, Monty Williams — at the time an assistant with the Sixers, now the head coach of the Suns — noted that “being in the top five or even the top 10 in turnovers does not guarantee you success.” 

The Sixers have mitigated some of their turnovers by being the best offensive rebounding team in the league. They’re also forcing 16.8 turnovers per game, over four more than they did in 2018-19. The turnovers hurt, but perhaps not as badly as they would for a team also losing possessions in those other categories. 

“That’s been our biggest thing this year,” Tobias Harris said. “A lot of them have just come from — like myself today, I had two travels in the beginning. We’re going to find each other and our spots and how we want to play, things we can do to execute better. If we can just limit to half of those, protect the ball a little bit better, I think that will help us out a whole lot.”

Cutting their turnovers in half would lead the Sixers to be the best in the league at taking care of the ball, so that’s likely not a realistic goal. But Harris’ overall point is fair. It’s not this simple, but if the Sixers could, in each game, eliminate an unforced turnover, an excessively unselfish turnover, and a “new guys getting used to each other” turnover, that would go a long way. 

The NBA started officially recording turnovers in the 1977-78 season. No team has both led the league in turnovers and won an NBA title since then. 

“I think a lot of them were guys mean[ing] well and trying to make certain reads,” Horford said. “We’re just not necessarily clicking how we need to be. Maybe some plays are there … we’re just getting to know each other. Also, we have to be more conscious about taking care of the ball. I believe that as the season goes on, we’ll be fine.”

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Sixers' Josh Richardson opens up about mental health: 'It's tough to dig yourself out of that hole'

Sixers' Josh Richardson opens up about mental health: 'It's tough to dig yourself out of that hole'

After being traded from the Miami Heat to the Sixers this summer, Josh Richardson admitted he was in a "hole" with his mental health.

“It’s one of those things you constantly have to think about," Richardson said. "You have to consciously stay on your mental health, because if you don’t, you can look up and you’re depressed or you’re just not in the right state of mind. I’ve seen guys succumb to that. It’s tough to dig yourself out of that hole. I was there, to be honest. I was there this summer for a while. I got a therapist and I’ve been trying to work that out."

In an open interview, which you can watch above, Richardson discussed the challenges of being diligent about mental health in the highly competitive environment of the NBA, and explained why he tries to “embrace the negative.”

NBC Sports Regional Networks has launched a multi-platform campaign on mental health and men's health, HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, for the month of November. You can find more information about the initiative here

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