76ers

2020 NBA trade deadline: What's next for Sixers after trade for Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III?

2020 NBA trade deadline: What's next for Sixers after trade for Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III?

Updated: 12 p.m.

In case you missed it, the Sixers on early Thursday morning acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for three second-round picks, a team source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia.

GM Elton Brand did well to address needs for shot creation, shot making and bench scoring without surrendering much of value.

But with Burks and Robinson coming aboard and the Sixers’ roster already full at 15 players — not including their two two-way players — other moves must be made to clear space. Given that they didn’t use their better assets, another upgrade isn’t out of the question. There’s also the Norvel Pelle situation to consider.

As the 3 p.m. deadline draws closer, here’s some of the fallout from the trade:

Somebody has to go

Before the deal can become official, the Sixers will have to make another move or two to clear two roster spots. Instead of just waiving players, Brand will likely hold out to see if he can get some form of value.

The candidates seem obvious. Kyle O’Quinn, Raul Neto and Trey Burke are all on veteran minimum deals and have seen their roles fluctuate from spot minutes to non-existent.

Those three players are not at shootaround with the team, according to reporters in Milwaukee.

As Pelle emerged, Brett Brown elected to play him over the veteran O’Quinn. It’s not that O’Quinn has necessarily played poorly this season. Pelle is just a better fit for today’s modern NBA as a rim-running center that will block shots and catch lobs. O’Quinn might have appeal to someone — say a team like the Rockets, who don’t have a center other than 37-year-old Tyson Chandler right now.

Neto and Burke have been used intermittently all season. Burke appears to be the more valuable player to the Sixers with his ability to create off the dribble. It’s hard to imagine either player factoring into the playoff rotation because of their defensive limitations. Brown used Josh Richardson as a backup one earlier this season and may go back to that on the rare occasion Ben Simmons leaves the floor in the playoffs.

Realistically, the Sixers would do well to recoup a late second-round pick for any of these players.

The assets left

There were multiple reports that said the Sixers’ lack of assets could be a problem. That makes what Brand did in getting Burks and Robinson more impressive. Still, the better assets the Sixers actually do have remain.

Zhaire Smith, a 2018 first-round pick, is still just 20 years old. He hasn’t played consistently at the NBA level, but perhaps another team will see an opportunity to buy low on a super athletic guard that could turn into a 3-and-D type. His cap hit is also in a sweet spot for a trade.

Jonah Bolden fits into a similar realm. He showed flashes last season playing as a backup five but is better suited as an NBA four. He’s an NBA player — how good of one, nobody knows. He just turned 24 and also has 3-and-D potential for a future team.

As far as draft picks, the Sixers very likely don’t have a first-round pick in 2020 because of the Tobias Harris trade last season. Per the Stepien Rule, which states you cannot trade first-round picks in consecutive seasons, they can’t move their 2021 pick. The best the Sixers can offer is their 2022 first-rounder.

They also still have all their premium second-round picks, including the Atlanta Hawks’ in 2020.

What about Pelle?

When a player is on a two-way deal, they’re allowed 45 days to spend with their NBA team. Pelle has reached that number and is stashed in Delaware. The Sixers would have to open a third roster spot to accommodate Pelle.

The team made the decision to keep Pelle in the G League largely because they wanted to maintain flexibility through the trade deadline, per a team source. With 3 p.m. quickly approaching, we could get more clarity on Pelle’s situation.

Tune in to the NBA Trade Deadline Show on the NBC Sports MyTeams app Thursday at 2:30 for analysis of all the important moves around the NBA.

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2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

Though they’re calling “seeding games,” the Sixers’ primary concern in the contests leading up to the playoffs is not seeding.

“How do you go into the playoffs … how can you go into that date feeling like we’re the best we can be?” Brett Brown said on July 12. “Worrying too much about moving up because you could play this team or avoid that team, I stay away from that.” 

Through three games at Disney World, Brown wishes the Sixers were playing at a higher level. The team has gone 2-1, but that record includes a fourth quarter in which the Sixers allowed the Pacers to score 46 points, a game-saving shot from Shake Milton vs. the Spurs and a win over the 24-44 Wizards that was tight until the end. Ben Simmons exited Wednesday’s game against Washington early with a left knee injury

It’s been slower coming than I would’ve thought,” Brown said Wednesday. “I liked our practices, I thought … the preseason games you saw at times a dominant defense. We’ve started these three games, I think, very inconsistently. I think we do some good things offensively, defensively, and then you see head-scratching stuff. It hasn’t gone as quickly as I had hoped. But I see where I think it can end. 

“We’re still figuring out some things with how we’re playing the team and Shake (Milton) coming in and so on. But I think, for the most part, we’re trending in the right direction, just not as quickly as I wished.

Here's where the Sixers sit in the Eastern Conference: 

3. Boston Celtics 45-23 GB: 9 
4. Miami Heat 43-25 GB: 11
5. Indiana Pacers 42-26 GB: 12
6. Sixers 41-27 GB: 13 

Boston technically still has a chance to surpass the Raptors for the No. 2 seed and the Sixers aren’t eliminated from contention for the No. 3 seed, but both outcomes are very improbable. Kemba Walker sat out the latter half of a back-to-back Wednesday, a 149-115 Celtics win over the Nets, as the All-Star guard works through a left knee issue. After playing Toronto on Friday night, the Celtics will face Orlando, Memphis and Washington.

The current No. 4 and No. 5 seeds play each other twice in the remaining seeding games, which should be interesting. The Heat’s other opponents are the Bucks, Suns and Thunder, while the Pacers’ are the Suns, Lakers and Rockets. Before the NBA’s hiatus, Miami was 2-0 against Indiana. In case you were curious, T.J. Warren hasn’t dropped off much after his 53-point performance vs. the Sixers. He leads all scorers at Disney World with 39.7 points per game. 

Despite having the sixth-easiest strength of schedule, the Sixers don’t have great odds of rising. Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report gives them a 72.8 percent chance at the No. 6 seed, 23.0 percent at No. 5 and just 4.1 percent at No. 4. Those probabilities are intuitive when you consider the Sixers have lost their season series vs. the Heat and Pacers. 

The Celtics are the Sixers’ most likely first-round opponent at the moment by a good margin, which would potentially leave the Sixers a path of Boston-Toronto-Milwaukee. One could make the argument that such a road is best for the Sixers, since the team won its season series over Boston, 3-1, and wouldn’t have to face the top-seeded Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals, but nothing’s going to be easy for a No. 6 seed. 

We analyzed the Celtics, Heat and Pacers as possible first-round opponents for the Sixers here

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons reportedly had clean MRI on left knee

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons reportedly had clean MRI on left knee

When Ben Simmons flexed his left leg after lobbing a pass for Al Horford and immediately headed off the floor Wednesday during the Sixers’ win over the Wizards, it was logical to be concerned. But, according to a report, Simmons’ knee injury is not as severe as one might have feared watching him walk toward the locker room. 

An MRI on Simmons’ knee was clean and he’s expected to be day-to-day, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. It's worth noting this is not an official update from the Sixers, who Brett Brown said postgame he expected to issue an announcement soon about Simmons' status. 

The 24-year-old recovered from a nerve impingement in his lower back over the NBA’s hiatus, and he felt strong and explosive heading into the league’s restart. He’s now serving as the Sixers’ starting point forward, an adjustment Brown thinks he’s approached well.

“I do feel like Ben has been amazing,” Brown said before Wednesday’s game, “in regards to just being mature on ‘Put me wherever you think I can best help the team.’ At times maybe he hasn’t gotten a touch the way he needs to get a touch, sometimes — which was easier when he was always the primary ball carrier. And so I applaud him tremendously on being a great teammate, trying to accept a new type of ecosystem that we’re trying to use him in.”

Simmons looked for his shot often in Wednesday’s game, though with little success. He missed an open corner three-pointer in the first quarter, his first legitimate regular-season try from long distance since Dec. 7, and made 2 of 10 field goals overall in 23 minutes. 

If Simmons misses any games, Brown will have a few options for reshuffling his starting lineup. There’s a case to be made for just about every member of the current rotation, which Brown cut down to nine players on Wednesday. Al Horford could slide into the frontcourt if Brown wants to work on the Horford-Joel Embiid pairing, which has a plus-15.6 net rating in 40 minutes together at Disney World after being the Sixers’ worst regular duo pre-hiatus.

Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Glenn Robinson III have all started games this year, though Robinson is dealing with an injury himself, having missed the team's first three seeding games with a left hip pointer. Perhaps Brown could go with Alec Burks if he’s looking for an extra ball handler and more time to evaluate his potential backup point guard in the playoffs.

The main takeaway here, however, is not the potential ripple effects on the Sixers' seeding game rotation. Rather, it's that a player the team will surely need to have available in order to make a deep playoff run reportedly has avoided a serious injury.

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