76ers

4 realistic trade destinations for Markelle Fultz if Sixers forced to move on

4 realistic trade destinations for Markelle Fultz if Sixers forced to move on

For the sake of Markelle Fultz and the Sixers, the hope has to be their relationship can be mended.

It’s been reported by the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey that teams inquiring about Fultz would like for the second-year guard to acknowledge that his shooting woes are mental and that he is physically healthy. Will he do it? It’s hard to stay. 

If this situation has become untenable, which teams could realistically target Fultz? What could the Sixers expect in return?

Here are four somewhat realistic possibilities.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns are probably the trade partner that makes the most sense. In the same article, Pompey mentioned Phoenix as a destination that has some level of interest in Fultz. There are really only two players that could make it work.

Veteran Trevor Ariza would offer a great defensive option that can also provide solid shooting. The 33-year-old’s $15-million cap hit could be an obstacle and might make him more of a buyout option in the coming months. He also can’t be moved until Dec. 15 because he was just signed this summer.

A swap for Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in 2017, would basically be both teams hoping a change of scenery could help these once highly-touted prospects. Perhaps Jackson, regarded as a hard-nosed, two-way player coming out of Kansas, could learn a thing or two from Jimmy Butler.

Orlando Magic

The Magic could certainly use a young guard but the pieces may not line up. Terrence Ross is a solid bench wing on an expiring deal that’s having a career year. He’d provide elite three-point shooting and better defense on the wing than what the Sixers currently have.

I’ve seen Nikola Vucevic mentioned as an option but that seems superfluous. Vucevic might be an All-Star. He should be able to land a starting role for a decent team.

Washington Wizards

We’ll get this out of the way first: I don’t think the Sixers have enough ammo to get Bradley Beal. They’d have to offer something like Fultz, Wilson Chandler, Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s 2021 unprotected first-round pick … and that’s likely not enough. There are teams around the league that could make a more attractive offer. 

Perhaps a trade for a few of the Wizards’ bench pieces makes more sense. Something like Fultz and Amir Johnson for Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jeff Green. If Washington is truly committed to blowing things up, it’s not crazy. Though I do struggle to see Fultz’s fit with a pretty much immovable John Wall.

Brooklyn Nets

There’s been nothing linking Fultz to Brooklyn but it could be an intriguing fit. D’Angelo Russell is playing very well. The Lakers gave up on him after two seasons and he’s beginning to flourish. 

Perhaps Brooklyn could see a similar situation in Fultz. If Fultz ever reaches his potential, he and Russell could be dangerous. Then again, taking on another ball-dominant guard may not be what the Nets are looking for.

If Brooklyn does have a level of interest, I’d love Spencer Dinwiddie here. He’s a backup point guard that can get his own shot and is shooting a career-high 38 percent from three. You’d likely have to eat a contract like Jared Dudley’s — whom the Sixers would likely try to buyout immediately — to make the deal work.

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2020 NBA return plan: Adam Silver says NBA is in '1st inning,' explains COVID-19 precautions

2020 NBA return plan: Adam Silver says NBA is in '1st inning,' explains COVID-19 precautions

In an appearance Thursday night on "The NBA on TNT," commissioner Adam Silver emphasized that the NBA still has several important concerns it must address before resuming the 2019-20 season.

While the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a 22-team plan to finish the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, beginning on July 31, Silver framed that vote as the first of many steps.

“It’s been a very difficult process,” he said. “And I should say, to mix sporting metaphors, we’ve got a long way to go here. We’re really in the equivalent of the first inning.” 

Silver explained why the NBA felt comfortable proposing a plan now after first suspending the season on March 11, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Of course we’ve always been looking for whether or not there is an appropriate and safe way that we can resume basketball,” Silver said, “and knowing that we’re going to be living with this virus for a while. … We’ve been exploring with the players whether there can be a new normal here.”

He singled out Hornets chairman Michael Jordan as an advocate for maintaining as typical a conclusion to the season as possible. The 22-team plan includes eight “seeding games” and the possibility of a play-in tournament if the eighth and ninth seeds finish within four games of each other. The postseason, however, would follow a traditional format, with 16 teams and four best-of-seven series to determine a champion.

Jordan “felt it was very important, after we established the 16 teams, to not be gimmicky,” Silver said. 

What’s next for the NBA? First, the league must secure approval from the National Basketball Players Association. The NBPA is set to meet Friday, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, and it sounds like the Players Association may have reservations about certain aspects of the league’s plan. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski she was “surprised” to see a tentative date of Nov. 10 to start training camps for the 2020-21 season. Oct. 12 would be the last possible date for Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals under the owners-approved plan.

“We’ve had extensive discussions with the Players Association,” Silver said, “but we haven’t finished those negotiations.”

Silver outlined some of the precautions the league might enact to minimize coronavirus-related risk, but he acknowledged there are still unanswered questions. He said players would need to maintain physical distancing protocols, even when away from the court. There may also be more stringent safety measures for older coaches and personnel more susceptible to COVID-19. 

“Obviously the most significant changes from when we shut down are we’re playing without fans, we’re playing in a central location, we’re playing on a campus where the players are going to remain there throughout the competition,” he said. “The players are going to be tested … most likely daily.”

“… Certain coaches may not have to be the bench coach. They may have to maintain social distancing protocols … but when it comes to actual play, we may not want them that close to players, in order to protect (the coaches). Those are all issues we’re working through.”

If the NBA does ultimately travel to Disney World, what are the contingencies if players, coaches or other team staffers test positive for the coronavirus? When asked specifically by Charles Barkley if a positive test in the playoffs would force a team to withdraw, Silver said, “we don’t believe we would need to.”

He said the league’s current belief, based on discussions with NBA health consultants and public health officials in Florida, is that it would be possible to contain a player, trace his contacts and allow a team to proceed because of daily testing. 

That’s one question of many Silver seems aware he’ll need a satisfactory response for if the NBA is indeed going to proceed with this season under very unusual circumstances. 

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Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant randomly bought a minority stake in the Philadelphia Union

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USA Today Sports Images/MLS.com

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant randomly bought a minority stake in the Philadelphia Union

Strange but true: Kevin Durant now owns (part of) the Philadelphia Union.

The NBA megastar reportedly purchased a minority stake in Philly's pro soccer team this week, according to the Sports Business Journal, worth somewhere between 1% and 5%.

Whether Durant purchased the stake himself, or through his Thirty Five Ventures umbrella company, is unclear, according to the SBJ.

Durant was seen meeting with Union ownership this past December, raising eyebrows after the Maryland native tried on more than one occassion to buy a stake in the MLS's D.C. United, according to the SBJ.

I'll say it: Durant buying a stake in the Union feels ... super random? 

Trying to buy a stake in D.C. United makes plenty of sense for Durant. He's very proud of his DMV upbringing, so latching on to the local soccer team, in a league that still has plenty of room to grow, is a smart business move with explainable roots.

But Durant opting for the Union, after being turned down by United, is just odd. (Of course, he's no stranger to opting for an easier path.)

Durant joins former teammate and Houston Rockets guard James Harden among the MLS's notable NBA athlete minority owners. Harden holds a minority stake in the league's Houston Dynamo, along with the NWSL's Houston Dash. 

I wonder if we'll see Durant hanging around Chester real casual, before heading over to the newly-named Subaru Park.

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