76ers

How Clippers reportedly landing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George impacts Sixers

How Clippers reportedly landing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George impacts Sixers

This has arguably been the craziest offseason in NBA history with so many stars changing places and shifting the balance of power.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more nuts, Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers said hold our beers.

In the wee hours Saturday, it was reported that the Finals MVP Leonard will sign a four-year max deal with the Clippers.

But wait, that’s not all …

L.A. also swung a deal for MVP finalist Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder “for a record-setting collection of draft choices,” per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This comes just a year after George signed a max deal with the Thunder.

So how does all this affect the Sixers? Well, good news, bad news.

The good news is that with Leonard out West and Kevin Durant likely not playing for the Nets this season, the Sixers have as good a chance as anyone to come out of the East. The bad news … well …

There are two legitimate juggernauts in the Western Conference with the pairings of Leonard and George and LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers (see story). And let’s not forget about the Warriors or the Rockets, who’ve run things in the conference the last couple years.

There is a path for the Sixers to become the best team in the East, though.

The Bucks will still be tough with the league’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Despite losing Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee did well to bring back Brook Lopez and George Hill and sign guys like Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez. While it lacks the star power of others, it looks to be the deepest team in the league.

Brooklyn, though much more formidable than it was a year ago now with Kyrie Irving, will not quite be at the upper echelon of the conference with Durant’s Achilles injury and uncertain timetable. The Celtics are a bit of wild card. They signed Kemba Walker, who should flourish in Boston, but lost Irving, and more importantly Al Horford. The Raptors went on a historic run last season, but without Leonard, it’s difficult to see them repeating that journey. They’re still dangerous, but not quite like they were.

The Sixers still have plenty to sort out. Will the starting five feature enough shooting and scoring? Will Tobias Harris continue to improve and look more like the Clippers version? Will Horford and Joel Embiid be a good fit? And the most important question of all: Will Embiid and Ben Simmons be motivated by last year’s playoff defeat and make the necessary improvements to join the NBA’s elite?

With Leonard heading out to Hollywood, the East is truly up for grabs. The Sixers should have as good, if not better, chance than anyone to take it.

But beating one of the West teams in the Finals? That would be a tall order.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

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NBC Sports Philadelphia/YouTube

Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick go back and forth about JJ Redick's comments about the importance of team dinners, five Sixers landing on SI's top 100, and Joel Embiid saying he has lost 25 pounds.

• Discussing nuggets about Jimmy Butler and the quadruple doink from JJ Redick's appearance on the Lowe Post.

• Sports Illustrated's Top 100 for 2020 came out. The rankings are mostly fair but the guys have one gripe.

• Joel Embiid said he lost 25 pounds ... but he clearly didn't lose his sense of humor.

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JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

Sixers fans are generally excited about the team's new roster construction heading into the 2019-2020 season, but there's no doubt the sharp shooting of JJ Redick will be missed.

Redick took his talents down to the bayou and will suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. Redick joined ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe on Lowe's podcast this week to talk about his new opportunity. They also reflected a bit on his time with the Sixers and the tough loss to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the playoffs after four bounces of a Kawhi Leonard desperation shot.

Redick is open about the fact that the decision to move on to New Orleans was partly financial.

"I never got the sense that [the Sixers] didn't want to bring me back. Unfortunately, it came down to a little bit of economics," Redick said.

Jimmy Butler's decision to move on to the Miami Heat obviously precipitated that move. Redick speaks highly of Butler regardless of his decision.

"I love Jimmy. I would play with Jimmy again," Redick said. "He is in the upper tier of two-way players and in the upper tier of offensive players in the NBA, period."

So Redick has moved on to New Orleans, but it's tough not to think back to what could have been. There was a point in the Toronto series where Redick believed the Sixers were capable of winning the NBA championship last season.

"Joel [Embiid] and I spent some time together after the season and we talked about it. It was Game 4 [against Toronto] for us. We lost that game and I felt like, for most of that game, we had control, not just that game but that series. We had a chance to go up 3-1. That was the opportunity that we missed. You lose that game and it's 2-2 and you've got to win 2 out of 3 against Toronto, and that's a tough task."

One other interesting nugget from Redick's time in Philly was his sharing that he believed they didn't do enough team dinners on the road.

"I wish, I've tried, I wish, the team meal on the road is huge. I think it's huge. We didn't do it enough last year in Philly. We tried. It wasn't enough. Some of that, look, nobody wants to be forced to go to dinner. It's got to be real and authentic."

Some other choice quotes from the pod below.

On Ben Simmons getting a jumper.

"Ben works. He worked all of last offseason. I witnessed him during the season get his shots up after practice every day. I think he'll be able to shoot at some point. A lot of it is confidence. He can shoot a high enough clip when he's shooting spot shots that it should translate to shooting threes in a game. The video that went viral, looks to me like he's shooting with some confidence there."

Lowe also asked Redick about the dagger shot in Toronto.

"I was on the bench," Redick said. "I sort of had that perfect angle 'cause as soon as the ball had come inbounds, I sort of walked onto the baseline. Not on the court, but onto the baseline so I could get a straight-on view of the action. My memory may be a little jogged but my arms were crossed, I was watching the ball bounce around the rim, and it went in. I'm not sure I had any initial reaction, I think it was just shock. Part of you wants to walk off the floor and punch a wall and the other part of you, if I'm the Raptors, I'd want to dap up the people that I had just played a seven-game series against. I stayed on the court and talked to Kyle, Marc, Kawhi, Danny and those guys. Told them I hope they win a championship and walked off. Then you get back to the locker room and you see the emotion, I was obviously feeling emotional, then Joel started crying. Those are the sorts of moments that you don't forget. As much as you don't forget the shot, the aftermath of moments like that, you just don't forget. There's just a lot of raw emotion."

You can listen to Redick's entire conversation with Zach Lowe right here.

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