76ers

Markelle Fultz has big night against the Lakers

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Markelle Fultz has big night against the Lakers

There was a reason the Sixers traded up for the right to draft Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick.

Those skills were on full display Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Fultz recorded his second career triple-double (21 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) in leading the Magic to a victory over LeBron James and the Lakers.

While the three-point shot still hasn’t quite come around for Fultz, he showed a lot of the same abilities he did during his brief time with the Sixers.

He’s good at creating his own shot.

He has nice touch around the rim.

He can change speeds and stop on a dime.

Fultz certainly had his issues here, but there’s no denying the 21-year-old is immensely gifted. While you could drive yourself crazy playing the "what if?" game, Fultz’s trade to Orlando could be what was best for everyone.

It’s also fair to point out that this hasn’t been the normal output for Fultz. Coming into the night, Fultz was averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds a game.

But if he continues to produce like he did Wednesday, it’ll make Magic GM John Hammond look like a genius.

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Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford suspended for unfiltered, colorful rant

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Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford suspended for unfiltered, colorful rant

After serving as an assistant coach with the Delaware Blue Coats last season, 31-year-old Chase Buford was hired as the head coach of the Wisconsin Herd, who will play the Blue Coats on Tuesday and Thursday. 

Buford will not be coaching in those games, since he’s suspended for Wisconsin’s next two contests. The rant below, courtesy of WFRV-TV’s Ryan Rodig, is why: 

Buford’s request to tag the G League and make sure they saw his comments — along with him labeling a referee a ‘f---ing clown’ — makes the suspension unsurprising. The suspension is officially for a "direct and extended public attack on the integrity and credibility of the game officials,” the G League announced.

On Sunday night, Buford issued an apology.

You likely will not see or hear that level of unfiltered, colorful anger from a head coach for a while.

In Buford’s first head coaching gig, he’s led the Herd to a 28-9 record, the best mark in the G League. 

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It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

Updated: 6:32 p.m. 

Ben Simmons is still being evaluated for a lower back injury, a team spokesperson said Monday night before the Sixers’ game vs. the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixers and Simmons’ representation are working together to decide a course of action, the spokesperson said.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons “is expected to be sidelined for an undetermined period of time” and that “Simmons' injury will have longer-term implications than simply the 76ers' upcoming road trip.”

Head coach Brett Brown said he was unsure how long the injury would sideline Simmons. The 23-year-old sustained the injury at practice Wednesday going up for a rebound, according to Brown, and irritated it in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “And it really is like how long is a piece of string — who knows? Who knows? … Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out.”

However, it sounded as if Brown was preparing for his two-time All-Star point guard to be out for a while. He framed the situation as one the Sixers can cope with if other players take advantage of the chance to play expanded roles.

There’s 25 games left. … It’s an eternity,” he said. “Just keep going back to the end game. What’s the bottom line? I’ll say it again — if you get their health and their spirit, it’s got a chance to equal form. … And it’s all about landing the plane. And so with 25 games left, we’ve taken a hit with Ben. 

"I do see it this way. I’m not spinning it. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and something will emerge. And we need something to emerge. It’s not like we were all saying, ‘Oh, here it is, it’s anointed.’ It wasn’t that. So, I think we’re going to learn something and find something. If this was six games out, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. When it’s 25 games out, it is, with all my heart, what I think. That’s what I said to the team, that’s what I really think and that’s what I’m going to try to pull off.

Who specifically will take over ball handling duties? Brown said it “will be done by committee” for the time being, and he named a few players who he expects to be in that mix. Monday night, the team will start Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. 

“The candidates could be Raul Neto or [Furkan Korkmaz] or Alec Burks or J-Rich, Shake," he said. "So, you have capable people that aren’t traditional point guards but have the ability to get the ball up the floor. Then at that point, you’re probably going to have to be in something that has motion and continuity instead of just giving Chris Paul the ball and saying, ‘Go to work’ out of a pick-and-roll, as an example.”

Regardless of Brown’s attitude, the tangible impact of not having Simmons for an extended period would clearly be significant. He leads the league in steals, has assisted on the most three-pointers and is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player.

Though there’s no definitive timeline currently, the loss of all those attributes would no doubt be difficult to overcome.

“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”

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