76ers

LeBron James 'thought long and hard' about playing with Sixers' Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

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LeBron James 'thought long and hard' about playing with Sixers' Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

LeBron James seriously considered signing with the Sixers in free agency before deciding to join the Lakers, he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols.

But ultimately, the allure of trying to bring a historically great franchise like the Lakers back to the top drew him to Los Angeles.

Nichols asked James why he chose the Lakers over "going to a team that was closer to winning a championship now." Here's his full response:

I definitely thought long and hard about the possibilities of lining up alongside Ben [Simmons] and [Joel] Embiid, or lining up alongside [James] Harden and Chris [Paul]. I felt like at this point in my career, the ultimate for me — just like when I went to Miami, everyone kind of looks at me joining a super team. I think Miami was [47-35] the year before I joined the team. You look at the Lakers’ record. So I like the challenge of being able to help a team get to some places they haven’t been in a while, and obviously the Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in a few years, but the Lakers’ organization and historical franchise matches up there with all the greats. You can look at the Cowboys, you can look at the Patriots, you can look at Manchester United, the Boston Celtics — these are like historical franchises, and for me to be a part of that, it’s a great moment for not only me but also my family, and the history of basketball in general.

There's a lot to break down there. First of all, it's noteworthy that Simmons and Embiid are the first two names James mentioned. It's an indication that the Sixers were, indeed, serious contenders.

James' response also acknowledges that he sees the Sixers as close to winning a championship, and he's aware he could have immediately boosted their chances of a title.

It's also clear that building up a lesser team and joining a "historical franchise" were two things James highly valued. While that makes sense, it's odd to think that the Sixers might have been a more attractive destination for James if they were still in the earlier stages of "The Process." And, if James likes "the challenge of being able to help a team get to some places they haven’t been in a while," that absolutely would have been there with the Sixers, who haven't made the Finals since 2001 and last won it all in 1983.

James' examples of "historical franchises" definitely wouldn't be teams on any Philadelphia sports fan's list ... the Cowboys, Patriots and Celtics are not exactly the most loved teams in this city.

But for James, joining a team with a prestigious past was important. While the idea of playing with young stars like Simmons and Embiid was attractive to him, the Sixers just didn't meet all his criteria. 

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Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: What already has team seeing red?

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: What already has team seeing red?

CAMDEN, N.J. — NBA courts measure out 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. 

For the Sixers, they’re making sure to use every inch. 

One of the courts at the team’s training complex had all four corners marked with red boxes per the request of head coach Brett Brown.

“If you look at our court there are four distinct markings on the court that I have anointed things that are important to me. That’s one of them,” Brown said after Day 1 of training camp Saturday.

Brown explained the boxes are displayed as a reminder for players. Offensively, it’s to let them know someone must be in both corners in the first three to five seconds of the shot clock to jump-start the squad’s motion. On the defensive side, it serves as a hint to close out on shooters. 

“Whether it’s defensive reasons or offensive reasons, those four spots, for me, have a reason,” Brown said. “We game-ify, we chart it, we talk about it, take the notes, film, success or failure. That’s how I communicate with the guys. It’s one of four floor spots that are important to me.”

Hello again
Forgive Emeka Okafor if he’s a little bit off at the moment. It’s been a wild week.

The veteran big man was released Wednesday by the New Orleans Pelicans. He quickly landed a new deal with the Sixers and arrived in Philadelphia on … well, we’re still not sure.

“I found out Wednesday. I got here Friday,” an uncertain Okafor said. “Thursday or Friday. I’m all screwed up right now.”

Either way, Okafor was in uniform and went through practice Saturday as he tries to extend his career again.

Work to do
Talk to Landry Shamet for any amount of time and you would think he’s a fringe player trying to stay in the league, not a first-round rookie. 

He often mentions areas that need improvement, mainly his body and ball-handling.

But no one would dare add long-range shooting to that list of question marks. The Wichita State product connected on 43.7 percent of his threes while in school.

Now he’s getting a masters-level education in jump shooting.

Quotables
“Of course we can accomplish it. This team is young, talented. Maybe a championship will not come this year, maybe next year. But I think this team has potential to show up on the court, enjoy and play tough both ways and win the games. Ben (Simmons), Joel (Embiid), Rob (Covington), T.J. (McConnell), Markelle (Fultz), the new guys – I think everybody’s excited about this season.”

- Dario Saric on goal of reaching the NBA Finals

“Let’s face it, my situation and our situation over the years that I’ve been here is kind of unique. Elton (Brand) and I are going to do this together. Elton’s gonna do what I read that he has said and what has been articulated to me. He’s the general manager of the team and he’s going to go do his thing. I’m going to coach basketball. I like how it’s played out.”

- Brown on Brand being named general manager

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Brett Brown states Sixers' goal for new season: 'We want to play in the NBA Finals'

Brett Brown states Sixers' goal for new season: 'We want to play in the NBA Finals'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown gave the Sixers a chance to digest their first team meal Friday and get a good night of sleep before announcing his hopes for the 2018-19 season.

“We want to play in the NBA Finals,” Brown said of what he shared with the players right before Saturday’s practice to open training camp. “We could have played in the NBA Finals. I understand the magnitude of that statement, but I stand by it and I own it. 

“It’s our goal to go play in an NBA Final. It’s a respect of championship habits. It’s a respect of each other. There are a lot of pieces that clearly have to be involved for us to achieve such a high goal but that’s our goal.”

Sure, the bar for every head coach entering a new season should be playing for a championship. But Brown truly believes it and knows his roster is one of precious few around the league with the weapons to potentially pull it off.

So does that mean the Sixers will now get ahead of themselves and start thinking about the postseason long before that deserves to be a thought in their minds? Not exactly, although the joy of getting back to that point a season ago and the pain of their exit are emotions they want to carry forward.

Brown laid out what needs to happen for the Sixers to make him look like a prophet, namely good health, attention to detail and a bit of luck to help navigate through the top dogs in the Eastern Conference of Boston and Toronto.

Still, more than anything else, the head coach made it clear that the guys must maintain a day-by-day approach.

Dare we say the Sixers still have to trust the process?

“I feel like the lessons we all learned from the playoffs last year will put us in better shape,” Brown said. “As you’ve heard me say, trying to start where we ended. You recognize the things that you need work on. You recognize the things, just the atmosphere that the playoffs bring. And you better deal with that from October, September to incrementally set the table for trying to achieve the goal that I just shared with you all.”

With 11 players back from last season’s team and hungry to take the next step in the overall progression, Brown didn’t have to do much convincing in the locker room.

“I think we have two of the best players in the NBA, a group of guys around them whose skills complement them,” JJ Redick said. “Hopefully we’ll find out next spring what we learned about the playoffs last year. I think if you just have the expectation that young players can make leaps playing in their second year, in their fourth year, that we should be one of a handful of teams in the East that have a chance of playing in the Finals.”

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