76ers

NBA free agency: Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris among long list of Sixers to discuss priorities

NBA free agency: Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris among long list of Sixers to discuss priorities

CAMDEN, N.J. — There were three very different versions of the Sixers this season. The first, you may recall, featured Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and Robert Covington in the starting lineup.

With eight unrestricted free agents and two players with player options (James Ennis and Jimmy Butler), the Sixers will likely look very different again to start the 2019-20 season.

Here’s what the unrestricted free agents had to say at exit interviews Monday and an early look at whether they may return to the Sixers. We’ll include Butler in this group, given he practically confirmed he won’t be picking up his player option when he said, “Hopefully I’ll get a max contract anywhere I choose to go.”

Jimmy Butler  

What he said 
“You always want to be able to win, I think that’s key for sure. You’re looking at coaches, you’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes into it. For me, as long as I got my people with me, they’re happy, they’re smiling and we’re waking up knowing we're getting to work in an environment where we’re having fun ... but I’m a long ways away from that. I’m not too focused on that right now.”

Will he be back?
The Sixers, because they have Butler’s Bird rights, can exceed the salary cap to re-sign Butler and are the only team that can offer him a five-year, $190 million deal — although Butler insisted Monday that he thinks he “has more than enough money now from my first deal.” Regardless, the Sixers may very well have to pay that much — or close to it — given how Butler boosted his stock with his excellent playoff performance. We’ll delve more into the pros and cons of signing Butler to a lucrative, long-term deal later, but for now, let’s simply say it’s a massive decision for the Sixers. 

Tobias Harris 

What he said
“There's only so many players that are super stable in the NBA, let's just be upfront with that. For me honestly, style of play is a huge thing. Culture. A chance to be able to win. Just being in the playoffs here and getting that feeling and seeing how bad that loss felt.”

Will he be back?
Like with Butler, Harris is eligible for a max contract and the Sixers have his Bird rights. Whereas a significant part of the risk in signing the 29-year-old Butler to a max deal would be a possible decline in his health and value, an investment in the 26-year-old Harris would signal the Sixers feel his best basketball is ahead of him. 

JJ Redick 

What he said 
“Obviously I recognize I’m a little bit down the totem pole here. I had to wait around last summer as well. I would love to be back with the Sixers. I’d love to finish my career here and all that. But again, you don’t know how it’s going to play out. I’m mature enough to recognize that the Sixers have other priorities, just as they did last summer.”

Will he be back? 
Redick is cognizant of where he fits in the big picture. This time last year, he acknowledged that “numbers can get tricky,” but the numbers worked for him to return to the Sixers for a second season. Though Redick will be 35 years old at the start of next season, his shooting and perpetual off-ball movement would still be welcome on the Sixers. Yes, Redick won’t be nearly as high a priority as Butler or Harris, but you’d think Elton Brand will try to make the numbers fit again.

Mike Scott

What he said
“I told Brett [Brown] and E.B. that I enjoyed my time here. Of course I would want to play here on a team and be coached by Brett, and E.B. being around everybody. We all know how the NBA works. We all know how signings and free agency works. I’ll talk to my agent. He’ll talk to E.B. We’ll work some things out. But for the most part, I love being here. It felt like it gave me a jolt back into my career.”

Will he be back?
Again, the dominoes of Butler and Harris will likely play a role in Scott’s offseason fate, but the versatile, veteran bench player returning would make a lot of sense. In just 37 games, Scott inspired a cult following, tattoos and all, making an instant connection with Philly fans. He said Monday he felt “like I was one of them.” 

T.J. McConnell

What he said 
“Obviously we have a lot of free agents on this team. There’s just the feeling of the unknown. I don’t have an answer for you. I obviously would love to be here. I have so much love for this city, the fans, the organization. Being here is something that I would really like to happen.”

Will he be back? 
McConnell’s chances of returning increase significantly if Butler, the team’s de facto second-unit point guard, goes elsewhere. If Butler is back, the Sixers would have no apparent on-court need for McConnell, as much as they love his mentorship of younger players and unfailingly positive attitude.

Boban Marjanovic, Greg Monroe, Amir Johnson

What they said
All three big men had good things to say about the Sixers’ organization and their teammates. Marjanovic was grateful for the immediate support he received, saying, “I really enjoy being one of the fans’ favorites. … When I hear [the fans], your blood gets warmer and you’re in the game and ready to go.” 

Will they be back?
Marjanovic and Monroe both had nice moments in the playoffs, but the Sixers were unable to find a capable backup for Joel Embiid. The Sixers will be searching for a backup big man in free agency and, should they find a decent one, all three of these players will likely be gone.

Furkan Korkmaz 

What he said 
“It was a hard season for me because I was the first guy to ask to be traded and then six or seven players left and I stayed all season. … I’m really confident about [free agency.] I know that I’m going to get the opportunity."

Will he be back?
The Sixers declined Korkmaz’s third-year option in the fall. The 21-year-old Turkish guard has wanted a fresh start, and now he’ll have that chance. 

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Sixers to host Blue X White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware

Sixers to host Blue X White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware

In what’s become a tradition, the Sixers will host their annual Blue X White Scrimmage on Oct. 5.

Your first chance to see the new-look squad will come at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware, home of the team’s G-League affiliate, the Blue Coats.

In years past, it’s also been an opportunity for the fans to see the players in a more laid-back setting. The players that have been here have enjoyed participating.

They’re great. Our players get it,” team president Chris Heck said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Our players understand how important Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley is to the 76ers and they’re excited to get the season started. We open training camp on Oct. 1, and this will be the first chance for anyone in the area to see our players play in what we think will be a very exciting and winning season for the 76ers.

There are an awful lot of new players to see, including two-fifths of the starting lineup with Al Horford and Josh Richardson coming on board. It will also be the fans' first chance to see rookie first-round pick Matisse Thybulle and veteran pickups Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke and Raul Neto live as Sixers.

Part of the reason for the move to Delaware is to accommodate the demand for tickets. The 161,000-square-foot-complex held its first Blue Coats game on Jan. 23, and has also held Cardi B and O.A.R. concerts, plus large-scale corporate events and local high school graduations, in addition to youth camps and weekly academies for basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball.

As the team has continued to improve, the need for more space has heightened.

It has grown in the sense where it’s harder and harder to provide as many seats to the demand that’s out there,” Heck said. “It was really important for us to move it down to Delaware this year because our fan base in the first state is so strong and so close to Philadelphia as well. This is the perfect opportunity to re-launch the Fieldhouse, by bringing Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and the likes of all our team, including Brett Brown, back down to Delaware to launch our season.

The event is definitely fan- and family-focused. It will have an entire fan zone that will feature inflatable games, face painters, balloon artists and additional carnival games. Fans can also participate in an NBA-style combine. They can also win prizes from Chick-fil-A and TruMark Financial, receive free haircuts for their kids by Maestro’s Classic and register their children ages 4 to 14 for the 76ers Kids Club, presented by Five Below.

The Fieldhouse features indoor and outdoor, multi-purpose artificial turf fields, Titus Strength and Condition Center and Nemours Center for Sports Medicine.

If you’re looking to score tickets, you must sign up for the SixthMan Fan newsletter. More information on how to secure tickets will be communicated through the SixthMan Fan newsletter in the coming days. Both Sixers’ and Blue Coats’ season ticket members will receive access to a presale featuring a limited amount of free tickets. 

The Sixers are expecting a game-like atmosphere.

I think it will be exactly what it’s like during any of our games and any time our players are a part of the community — which will be loud and fun and energized and positive,” Heck said. “That’s why I think this city and the Delaware Valley as a whole has embraced the 76ers so much over the last several years. We are a team that represents the community and that’s fun.



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The legacy of Charles Barkley is present in Sixers' quest for title

The legacy of Charles Barkley is present in Sixers' quest for title

CAMDEN, N.J. —  With Charles Barkley having a statue unveiled on Legends Walk at the team’s practice facility Friday, there were plenty of living legends in attendance.

Former teammates like 2019 Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Jones and the ever-present World B. Free were there. Barkley’s first NBA coach and Hall of Fame player Billy Cunningham was on hand to say a few words. 

The craziest may have been a story about Barkley almost not even being a Sixer.

When we were getting ready to draft, it was probably the best draft I can ever remember," Cunningham said. "It was Michael Jordan, [Hakeem] Olajuwon, Sam Perkins, etc. And [then-Sixers owner] Harold [Katz] loved Charles Barkley. But the story before that was we had the No. 1 pick from the Clippers and a week or 10 days before that — Bill Fitch was the coach of Houston and the reason you have the lottery today is because of this — they dumped every game, which allowed them to get Olajuwon. So Charles, you might not have been sitting here if they didn't dump those games. We might have had Olajuwon or Michael Jordan here.

The next person to speak was current Sixers head coach Brett Brown, who has plenty of experience with … well ...

I can't believe that Coach Fitch dumped games to get high draft picks. Can you believe that, somebody, to get high draft picks, dumping games? I don't know what you're talking about.

After the laughter quieted down, Brown spoke frankly about Barkley’s legacy. Brown mentioned Barkley’s impact on his current team as it came out the other side of The Process.

While the idea of the Sixers getting to draft Jordan or Olajuwon would’ve been incredible, who knows if their careers would’ve wound up the same. Barkley landed in Philly and there may not have been a better place for him or a better player for the city of Philadelphia.

Barkley was fearless, both on and off the court. He never backed down from a challenge on the floor and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind off it. 

Fierce competitor — the attitude he played with, the hustle, it screamed out Philly. It is Philly,” Sixers general manager Elton Brand said. “And your DNA is still currently in this team today. When I'm thinking of team building, I'm thinking of heart. Players that don't back down, that are fierce. A player that's going to be selfless and try to win. So when I pursue a championship this season, you're still here — your DNA is still in this organization and in this current team.

Paul Hudrick

Brand, like Barkley, was considered undersized for the power forward position at 6-foot-8. All Brand did was get drafted No. 1 overall, win Rookie of the Year, become a two-time All-Star and have a 17-year career. At 6-foot-6, Barkley became a Hall of Famer and was one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game.

All of that started for Barkley in Philly as he played alongside Julius Erving and Moses Malone. Barkley credits Malone with helping mentor him and forcing the man affectionately known as the Round Mound of Rebound to lose weight. 

Barkley’s hope is that the Sixers are doing that now with holding Joel Embiid accountable for his health. He also hopes that people in the organization are doing that for Ben Simmons, who Barkley said is "going to be one of the best to ever do it" if he improves his shot the way he saw Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan did.

Barkley still loves his former team and believes they’re a legitimate championship contender with their two young All-Stars leading the way.

The Sixers have everything. I put a lot of faith in Ben and Joel. Listen, let's be realistic, and you guys know this — the Sixers were probably a bounce of the basketball from being the champs last year. … Now, they're on everybody's radar. Joel was crying after the game, which let me know, hey, we all cry after games like that. But now I gotta get better. I love the addition of Al Horford. I love the addition of Josh Richardson. The Sixers got everything in place. Everything in place.

Part of the foundation Brand and Brown have built is based on the rich history of the franchise. Sure, other teams may have more titles but what the Sixers have is nothing to gloss over. This is the franchise of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Cunningham, Dr. J, Moses, Maurice Cheeks, Jones, Barkley and Allen Iverson.

None of that is lost on Brown.

The statues that you see, I use often with our players to have a look at what you pass as you enter our practice facility. To be able to come into our practice facility and look up and see the banners that this organization has had the privilege of calling a 76er is truly breathtaking for me. Some of the people in the room — Doc's not here, Wilt has passed, A.I. — you can keep going. You go to many programs and you're just not having that history right in front of you. We appreciate, maybe more than you know, your legacy and what your brought to this organization.

Barkley talked about how all of the coaches and players that helped him from the projects in Leeds, Alabama, all the way to Houston, deserve credit.

Your life isn't just about you. Every player, coach from Leeds High School, Auburn, eight years with the 76ers, four years with Phoenix, four years in Houston — every coach and player I've ever played with gets a little piece of this sculpture.

And with Barkley’s legacy still present with the Sixers, a piece of a championship would be his as well.

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