76ers

JJ Redick reportedly agrees to deal with Pelicans

JJ Redick reportedly agrees to deal with Pelicans

The morning after the Sixers’ loss to the Raptors in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, JJ Redick said he’d love to return to the Sixers and end his career in Philadelphia.

That’s not going to happen. Redick agreed to a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported. 

Redick recognized that he was “a bit lower down the totem pole” for the Sixers entering a hectic offseason.

In his two seasons with the Sixers, the 35-year-old averaged 17.6 points per game and shot 40.7 percent from three-point range. Outside of his long distance shooting, Redick’s nonstop off-ball movement and two-man game with Joel Embiid evolved into integral parts of the Sixers’ offense. 

Though NBA players tend to decline by their mid-30s, Redick’s 18.1 points per game last season were a career high. However, his three-point shooting percentage has dropped in each of the last four seasons.

Defense was a greater concern with Redick, although he performed well in his postseason matchups against Joe Harris and Danny Green. 

There are several options on the free-agent market to replace some of Redick's outside shooting, with Green among them. 

We looked last week at five potential targets on the wing for the Sixers.

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Sixers assistant athletic trainer Pascual Guerrero discusses superstitious players, flying toenails

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Image courtesy of Pascual Guerrero

Sixers assistant athletic trainer Pascual Guerrero discusses superstitious players, flying toenails

As National Athletic Training Month comes to a close, we got to know Sixers assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist Pascual Guerrero, who’s been with the organization since November 2016.

Guerrero received his BS/MS in athletic training and sports science from Long Island University, graduating in 2009, but started his career in the NFL as an intern for the Detroit Lions, where he spent two summers. As Guerrero saw the way that his field was evolving, he continued his education at Stony Brook University, receiving his doctorate in physical therapy.

Guerrero also went on to intern for the New York Knicks before landing a job in Major League Soccer, where he worked for two seasons.

From taping ankles to drawing ice baths to tracking practice participation and injuries, there’s no days off when you’re a part of an NBA training staff, and there’s no place he’d rather be.  

Here is our Q&A:

When someone asks you what your job entails, what do you tell them?

“So, we're not just ankle tapers … whether it’s pregame, postgame, pre and post-practice, we are working on the players’ bodies, taking them through activation exercises to get their body ready to play basketball, stretching them out as part of their cool down. It’s hydration (getting bottles of water ready), making ice bags, making ice foot baths.

“Home teams also take care of the referees, so that's another one of my duties, is checking in on the refs and making sure they are all sorted with pre and postgame needs.

“But it’s also helping out with bags and luggage on road trips. For example, waiting for our luggage truck to arrive in every city, and getting everything ready in our designated treatment room)

“There are administrative duties, too. For example, the NBA has an electronic medical record system, which we use to track things from practice participation to game participation and logging injuries. 

“We keep stock of inventory, whether it’s tape, medications, braces, rehab equipment, you name it. There is no limit to what we get for the players. I mean, anything, even earwax removal Q-tips …”

(As Guerrero and I continued our conversation, there were several other duties that started to come up, like arm sleeves. Did you know that the arm sleeves players wear during a game all have to be color-coordinated? No player can wear a different colored arm sleeve than another player. Guerrero says Tobias Harris has been the primary go-to for choosing the arm sleeve colors for particular games this season.) 

“I’ll generally have a feel for what [arm sleeve] they prefer given the jersey color. But sometimes they flip it on me, right before the pregame meeting, and it's a scramble to get them all together!”

(Image courtesy of Pascual Guerrero) 

Because you mentioned the ankle taping — how many rolls of tape do you go through?

“We go through anywhere from 24 to 28 rolls of tape in any given pregame, either at home or on the road, and that’s just of one kind of tape, not counting all of the other adjunct tapes that we use.”

And what about during the actual game? Sometimes I’ve seen you (but usually head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson) running a clipboard out to head coach Brett Brown? 

“You will see a lot of the head athletic trainers carry a little notepad with them, and they're taking notes, or you see them talk to the assistant coaches. What they are doing is keeping track of timeouts and fouls during the game. It’s kind of like another quick checks and balances system, so that when a coach asks about when the next timeout is, or how many fouls do we have, etc., we can get the information out quickly to him.

“During the game, I'm usually in the tunnel, managing the bench for whatever they need — maybe it’s a hot pack or ice pack — or if the visiting team needs something, whether it’s a doctor or assistance with getting imaging done at the arena, I’m there, ready to help.”

Favorite part about your job?

“The day-to-day interaction with the guys. We see them day in and day out, we spend so much time with them, and even with our fellow colleagues in the athlete care department. It's one big family. And the thing is, we go through things together. Obviously everyone experiences the ups and downs of the season differently, but at the end of the day, we always have to remember that we're here for those 16-17 guys on the roster.

"As long as they are taken care of, in any which way that that might be, from a nice little quick banter in the morning in the athletic training room, or when you’re rehabbing someone back from an injury, getting them over that hump. It's that connection and that interaction with the players that, for me, makes it all worth it.

“And the physical nature of it, being able to get my hands on somebody and take them through a process where they are in pain and helping them realize that they’re either able to move in a very safe way, or that you're there to comfort them and help them get through that period to assure them that everything will return back to what it was. Being able to help them through that.”

Do you have off days?

“Nope. We break days into two categories — game days and non-game days — and there’s always work to be done.”

What do you think one of the biggest misconceptions about your job is?

“I’m taking this back to my athletic training program director … we are not “trainers” — the term is certified athletic trainer. We are athletic trainers. We're not personal trainers, even though we do have knowledge in strength training and conditioning players, and we do apply that in conjunction and in collaboration with our performance staff.”

Are guys particular with how they get taped or what they do before games?

“They are. Some guys don't like a lot of tape, some guys wear braces. Certain guys like to get taped at a certain time on the clock and they are very religious about their routine, even to the point where they prefer a certain table in the athletic training room at the Wells Fargo Center, and it's understood that if they show up in the room at a certain time and their table is taken by a rookie ... let’s just say it better be cleared in a heartbeat!

“One former Sixer preferred the left side table, but he had to shift to the opposite side of the room for a particular game. Well, he had such a horrible game that he literally came in the next time and was like, ‘That is my table.’ Done deal. So, no matter what, that table was always ready for him.

“And even with this team, certain guys are very particular about which tables they use. Some guys prefer to get taped and then get treatment and vice versa. Everyone's different, and when you get a batch of new guys, whether it be via trade or signings at the start of the year, it's like learning a whole new routine.”

Do you have a favorite memory with the Sixers?

“One of the neatest ones for my family was on Sixers family day, and the first year that my parents attended, Joel [Embiid] said hello to my parents and took a picture with them. I’ll never forget, because there's this picture of my mom, and I think I took it right before she actually started to smile, but Jo has his hand on her and she has a hand on his and you literally just see her, at 4-foot-9, smiling at him.”

(Image courtesy of Pascual Guerrero)

Biggest piece of advice for someone looking to do what you do?

“My biggest piece of advice is get your feet wet, getting yourself out there and just applying and getting to know people. Networking. I was fortunate enough that I was able to get an internship in the NFL early on, as an undergraduate, and just made the most of it.

“During my first internship year at the Knicks, I checked in with the visiting team — it just so happened to be the Sixers. I introduced myself to the head athletic trainer, Kevin Johnson, who, in case you didn’t know, is still here! It just so happened that my previous boss at the Detroit Lions was a good friend of KJ’s. I am thankful for those early connections, which helped pave the way to now work alongside KJ, one of the most accomplished athletic trainers in the league today.

“And volunteering. I made it a habit to take advantage of any opportunity that came my way.

“That’s the wonderful thing about this profession, is that it allows you to work across many different settings. It's not just basketball. It's not just professional sports. I’ve treated anyone from your high school kid, helping them get back to the pitch or baseball field, to your elderly grandmother who had a hip replacement or a knee replacement and just wanted to be able to walk up and down her stairs without a problem. Different motivations, but it's still the same.”

Do you have a funny story you can leave us with?

“Well, KJ cuts the players’ toenails. He started it as a safety procedure, because apparently some of the guys cut themselves pretty bad. (It's well known that people go to KJ for anything foot-related). Jo was on the taping table. KJ’s cutting his big toenail and these things are flying left and right. I'm literally talking and KJ cuts a toenail and that thing flew and hit me right here (points finger to the left side of his mouth) and Jo was laughing, dying, cracking up.”

That must’ve been a giant toenail …



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Joel Embiid stars, Russell Westbrook struggles in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Rockets

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NBCSP

Joel Embiid stars, Russell Westbrook struggles in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Rockets

Give virtual Russell Westbrook credit for one thing — he never stopped shooting.

Westbrook put up 28 shots Tuesday night in NBC Sports Philadelphia’s NBA2K simulation of the Sixers’ game vs. the Rockets, missing 22 of them in a 72-47 Houston loss (eight-minute quarters). 

Here are a few observations on the Sixers’ 2K win: 

Not Westbrook’s night 

Westbrook’s 21.4 percent mark from the field was his worst a Rocket. Shake Milton guarded him well, sagging off and encouraging Westbrook to shoot while also not allowing him to accelerate on drives toward the rim.

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni left Westbrook in for the bitter end of the blowout, apparently not concerned with giving one of his best players a little rest. 

Coming up big 

Though it took the Sixers a few minutes to get comfortable with the Rockets’ style, Houston was always going to be vulnerable against Joel Embiid and Al Horford. The Rockets don’t play a true center, which meant players like P.J. Tucker and Austin Rivers were guarding Embiid. He took advantage, scoring 24 points (22 in the paint).

Horford was effective down low, too. He hit his first four shots and had the Wells Fargo Center crowd very much on his side.

There was even a Horford Fathead visible in the stands early in the second quarter.

Thybulle is not a point guard 

It’s nitpicking in a game in which the Sixers were very strong across the board, but 2K Brett Brown’s insistence on using Matisse Thybulle as a backup point guard remains perplexing.

Sure, the Sixers don’t exactly have an excess of capable ball handlers with Ben Simmons injured, but Josh Richardson, Alec Burks and  Furkan Korkmaz would seem to be better suited for that job.

Thybulle's defense was excellent, as usual. 

What’s up with the blimp? 

Sixers fans were obviously very excited during the action, enjoying Embiid’s dunks and Westbrook’s woes. They were generally quiet during timeouts, however, which is one reason why we couldn’t help but notice that a large Sixers blimp — seemingly close to the size of an entire section of fans — floated around during breaks in the action. The blimp is certainly a curious addition to the game presentation experience. 

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