76ers

NBA free agency rumors: Is Al Horford Plan B if Tobias Harris walks?

NBA free agency rumors: Is Al Horford Plan B if Tobias Harris walks?

Even with all the speculation and rumors, the overwhelming sense from NBA reporters around the country is that the Sixers will be aggressive in trying to #RunItBack.

But every team needs a Plan B and beyond.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe was on JJ Redick’s podcast and mentioned that he believes the Sixers starting five will be “Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, and Player X who I don’t know. Not Tobias Harris.” It makes sense if you buy into the whispers that Harris would like a bigger role. On several teams, he could be the No. 2 option offensively.

This might help explain the Sixers’ interest in soon-to-be former Celtic Al Horford. Horford declined his player option with Boston and is seeking a longer-term deal. The Sixers’ interest was reported earlier and yet again on Friday. The number that’s been put out there is four years for $112 million. That might be a little steep for a 33-year-old. His fit with the Sixers makes sense as a guy that can play with and back up Joel Embiid and do both at a pretty high level. Either way, Horford’s departure will hurt the Celtics on both ends of the floor.

We’ve mentioned other power forwards the team could target, such as Paul Millsap and Rudy Gay. Millsap is older so he would represent a cheaper option, but an upgrade defensively over Harris. He’s also used to not being a primary option on offense so he should be able to embrace his role here. Gay would be one of the cheaper options as a starting four. He shot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three last season, both career highs. While his defense did improve under Gregg Popovich, he’d be a downgrade there.

Even if you’re a Ben Simmons detractor, you have to acknowledge that his versatility on defense gives the team’s starting five plenty of options. Even if Harris walks, the Sixers don’t necessarily have to replace him with a traditional four. They could go after a wing or guard and make it work.

They could look into building a bully defensively and signing defensive maven and known pest Patrick Beverley. Beverley won’t come cheap, but he’d fit in very nicely next to Simmons thanks to his ability to shoot the three at an elite clip. 

The wing market is flush with players that could help in the shooting department. Terrence Ross, Danny Green and Reggie Bullock are all starting-caliber players that can shoot the three at a high clip.

While the Sixers’ best option is still likely bringing Harris back, they’ll have options if he walks.

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Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday night in a conversation with TNT’s Ernie Johnson that the league will make no decisions on the state of its season in the month of April.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Throughout his discussion with Johnson, Silver emphasized that there are too many unknowns for it to be wise to take definitive action at this stage.

Shortly after Silver’s remarks, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported the NBA was in the exploratory phase of assessing blood-testing devices for the coronavirus that could deliver results within 15 minutes. 

When we initially shut down … there was a notion of 30 days before there was any of the widespread view at that point that our country would, in essence, be entirely shut down over the next several weeks," Silver said. "And so the fact is, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then. Just as I listen to the public health experts and the people that are advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we had thought at that point, and it therefore may peak earlier. What that means in terms of our ability to come back at some point in late spring or summer is still unknown to me. 

And essentially what I’ve told my folks over the past week is that we should just accept, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions. I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be. But at least I do know, I think just to settle everyone down a little, it doesn’t mean internally … that we aren’t looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season. But I think it honestly is just too early, given what’s happening right now, to be able to project or predict where we’ll be in a few weeks.

Silver was asked by Johnson if a resumed season would pick up in the playoffs, with the remaining regular-season games canceled. If the season had continued as normal, the final regular-season games would have taken place on Sunday. 

“Honestly, we haven’t made any decisions,” he said. “In a perfect world, yes, we would try to finish the regular season in some form and then move on to the playoffs. … What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is we just have too little information to make those sort of projections.” 

He touched on a few of the reported options on the table for the league, including a postseason at a single site such as Las Vegas, and indicated the NBA has indeed considered several of those possibilities.

“There’s been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament,” Silver said. “Again, we’re in listening mode right now. We’ve been contacted by many of those jurisdictions [about] what our level of interest is and we’ve talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again, there’s too much unknown right now.” 

Silver also addressed how the NBA might change in future seasons. He indicated arenas may need to institute physical distancing policies. 

“I’m hoping, at least, that those are short-term issues where we might have to put in effect some sort of social distancing when people first come back to arenas,” he said. “I think a lot of that is specific to this virus and when there might be a vaccine, and if there’s an interim period, even when we’re back to work, where there’s not a vaccine yet — there’s concern about a second wave, what will we need to do?

"But I also have tremendous belief in this country. What’s amazing about Americans not only is their resilience, but the spirit of innovation. … I think we’re going to see a new approach to a lot of these problems.”

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Ben Simmons not-so-subtly hinted at a Sixers trade target over the weekend

Ben Simmons not-so-subtly hinted at a Sixers trade target over the weekend

We've reached the second calendar month of the NBA's hiatus, and Sixers star Ben Simmons is still chatting basketball while streaming his Call of Duty matches on Twitch.

In March, Simmons talked about his views on the best defenders in the league - a list, I'll note, which should include Simmons himself. Over the first weekend of April, Simmons was reading the chat on his stream when he decided to choose a very... interesting comment to read aloud:

Hmm. 

I wonder why Simmons decided to read that comment, out of the hundreds he sees during a stream, and then remind us that he's just reading the comments.

At least one commenter in the chat called out "tampering!", but it's not tampering if you're just reading ideas from other people!

In reality, of course, this is just Simmons joking around with the basketball world. He knows fans (and writers) are glued to things like Twitch streams and Instagram feeds without actual basketball to talk about, so he peppered in a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge joke for us to get fired up about.

Still, it makes you wonder...

Booker would probably be a great fit on today's Sixers team. He's a two-guard who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and create his own shot at will, and he's played point guard in the past, which would help keep the offense running when Simmons checks out. Booker's defense being an afterthought isn't much a problem, considering the Sixers are loaded with great defenders.

The real problem for the Sixers would be acquiring, and affording, Booker. He's in the first year of a five-year max contract with the Suns, so waiting for his contract to end isn't viable. And his deal brings a cap hit of $27 million this year, and climbs each year, all the way up to $36 million by the last year of his contract in 2023-24, when Joel Embiid turns 30.

If the Sixers were somehow able to convince the Suns to take one of Al Horford or Tobias Harris off their hands in exchange for Booker - along with other valuable assets headed to Phoenix, of course - it might be possible to balance a payroll with minimum contract players and young, affordable talent around a core of Embiid, Simmons, and Booker.

But I can't imagine the Suns would jettison their only superstar, who is somehow still just 23 years old, unless they decide to blow it up in the next year or two. So instead we're left dreaming, and making trades in NBA 2K20, and waiting for Simmons' next dispatch.

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