Simmons has personal, team goals snatched away

Simmons has personal, team goals snatched away


CHICAGO — It appeared Ben Simmons was just putting the finishing touches on his fourth career triple-double after a span midway through the fourth quarter when he showed off all facets of his versatile game.

Simmons and the 76ers looked to have to everything in control Monday in Chicago when they overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to build a nine-point lead with 5:51 left in the fourth quarter.

Simmons, who sparked a 13-2 fourth-quarter run, took a page out of the absent Joel Embiid's book by staring down Paul Zipser after a layup to give the Sixers a two-point lead with 7:52 remaining. Simmons then blocked Justin Holiday's shot to set up a three-pointer by Jerryd Bayless, and capped it off with another layup over Bobby Portis to extend the lead to seven. 

Simmons also gave Portis the stare-down treatment while heading into a Chicago timeout. After a pair of Bulls free throws, Simmons grabbed an offensive rebound to set up a four-point play for Bayless to give the Sixers that nine-point advantage.

Simmons’ silent trash talk was ultimately premature. Despite being unofficially credited with a triple-double, following the game his stats were altered as he finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in a 117-115 loss after Chicago put together a late 16-2 run (see observations). The loss dropped the Sixers below .500 (14-15) for the first time since Oct. 30.

Simmons had a chance to tie or get the Sixers a win, but he missed a contested layup with 0.5 seconds left on the clock (see highlights).

“I tried to get to the rim and draw a foul, but it's hard to get a foul in the final quarter of a game like that,” Simmons said. “They're not going to call anything like that. It was a chance to win, but it didn't happen.”

The Sixers had no answer for Nikola Mirotic and Kris Dunn down the stretch as the Chicago Bulls extended their improbable winning streak to six games.

The Bulls are undefeated with Mirotic in the lineup. He got knocked out by Portis in a preseason practice, and the Bulls have won all six games since his return.

Dario Saric tried to keep the 76ers in the game with 27 points and six rebounds (see highlights).

Saric made a three-pointer with 39.4 seconds left to get the game within two, but Simmons couldn't capitalize after a defensive stop.

Saric scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, and was involved in what could've been a flagrant foul when he was pounded by Portis on a layup attempt with 3:49 left.

“I thought it was, and I asked for a review,” 76ers head coach Brett Brown said. “They said that Dario already had the ball at the free throw line and it was too late. But we'll see it in the light of day. It was my gut feel that it was. I'll be very disappointed if I go back and see the tape and I feel like I'm right.”

The Sixers were limited without Embiid, who sat out the first game of a back-to-back set. Trevor Booker and Furkan Korkmaz also missed game. Korkmaz is out indefinitely with a left foot injury and Booker missed the game after spraining his left ankle on Friday. 

That trio of players joined Justin Anderson and Markelle Fultz on the shelf for this matchup, which left the Sixers severely shorthanded.

Despite the lack of bodies, seven of the nine Sixers that took the court scored in double figures. 

Even with balanced effort, Brown was still in awe of Simmons’ all-around performance in the defeat.

"To think he can put up his signature on an NBA game like he does with so much room for improvement in some skill areas is exciting,” Brown said.

Source: Sixers will acquire Mike Muscala, send away Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson in 3-team trade

Source: Sixers will acquire Mike Muscala, send away Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson in 3-team trade

The Sixers were involved in a trade with Carmelo Anthony.

Exhale, Sixers fans, Anthony is not coming here. Instead, Anthony is being shipped to the Hawks — who will likely waive the veteran forward — with a 2022 protected first-round pick for point guard Dennis Schroder, according to a report Thursday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Sixers in turn will send Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Thunder and Justin Anderson to the Hawks to acquire Atlanta’s Mike Muscala, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the Sixers' side of the deal.

The move makes sense for the Sixers on a couple fronts. After missing out on Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica, who reportedly agreed to a deal with the team and then backed out, Brett Brown gets a player with a similar skill set in Muscala. The former Bucknell star has great size (6-foot-11, 240 pounds) and the ability to shoot (37.8 percent from three for his career).

It also makes sense from a roster standpoint. The team had a bit of a logjam on the wing and had 16 players for 15 roster spots. By losing two players and getting only one back, the Sixers are now at 15 players under contract. That also includes Jerryd Bayless, who will likely be bought out or stretched, but does not include 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden or 2018 second-round pick Shake Milton.

Muscala had a career year for the lowly Hawks. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes a game — all career marks. He also hit 37.1 percent of his threes on 3.2 attempts. A second-round pick by the Mavericks in 2013, Muscala has spent all five of his NBA seasons in Atlanta.

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Sixers fans need to relax about team's offseason

Sixers fans need to relax about team's offseason

Here’s a brief message that some Sixers fans can use right now: relax.

Remember that you have a team with two budding superstars that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals just last season and should only be headed upward from here.

Sure, there’s going to be some level of disappointment when Brett Brown proclaimed the Sixers were going “star hunting” this summer only to come up empty on the free-agent market outside of re-signing their own players.

But, more than anything, how things transpired for the Sixers over the past few weeks should let you know that much more goes into landing a free agent than simply basketball.

Look at the first major domino to fall in free agency, Paul George. The five-time All-Star didn’t hesitate to make his decision and announced he was rejoining the Oklahoma City Thunder at a Russell Westbrook party shortly after midnight on July 1.

Despite the Sixers being in the mix for George, the Thunder always had the upper hand. The Thunder had George in the fold for a full year after acquiring him from Indiana last summer and used every day to convince him OKC was the right place to move forward.

“They honestly check the boxes where I needed those boxes to be checked from what a player wants and needs out of a front office, out of a medical group, out of teammates, out of coaching staff,” George said during exit interviews. “I mean, honestly, they can't say it anymore [than] that. They checked the boxes on what needs to be checked.”

Even with George on the market, the Sixers always had their top focus on the biggest available fish in the game: LeBron James. They even secured a meeting with James’ camp, albeit only with agent Rich Paul and not the three-time champion himself. 

Still, the Sixers, with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid leading the way, were serious contenders for James as Paul confirmed.

"The teams that he looked at, he looked at for guys like Ben Simmons,” Paul, who is also Simmons’ agent, said on NBA TV during a summer league game. “There's a reason why he looked at Philadelphia, but ultimately he chose the Lakers.”

And what ultimately made James join the Lakers, no matter what his representatives say to the contrary, had little to do with basketball. James has turned himself into an entertainment mogul, so who better to learn from than Magic Johnson? 

After all, King James reportedly already had dinner in Los Angeles last week with Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio

We all love Philadelphia, but those types of Hollywood power brokers aren’t exactly making reservations for restaurants on Broad Street.

So the Sixers swung and missed on George for familiarity and James for off-court opportunities. 

Perhaps you can swallow missing out on two of the game’s best players, but now role players are spurning the franchise too? That’s enough to push a Sixers fan over the edge … until you dig a little bit deeper.

Nemanja Bjelica had his qualifying offer with the Minnesota Timberwolves rescinded and immediately jumped to the best situation for him when he agreed to a one-year deal with the Sixers. 

However, Bjelica informed the team he was backing out of the deal and returning to Europe. That was until fellow Serbian and Kings general manager, Vlade Divac, came calling. Now the two sides are apparently deep in discussion on a multiyear contract.

Once you push through the initial wave of confusion, you find out that Bjelica simply didn’t want to move his family to Philadelphia for a year and be back on the hunt next summer. He was seeking what most of us do in a new job, which is stability. 

While that may seem a bit unreasonable for an NBA reserve big man, you can’t blame a guy for trying. And now it appears he may find some of what he desired in Sacramento.

Back here in Philadelphia, the Sixers are surely second-guessing what happened to their star hunt this offseason. While it came up empty-handed, the Sixers — and their fans — have to understand that so much more factors into securing a free agent than what actually takes place on the court and is not an red flag on the franchise.

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