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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Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

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Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

Updated: 2:27 p.m.

The 2019-20 Delaware Blue Coats are shaping up to be a fascinating team.

The Sixers are signing and then waiving Terry Harris, Shizz Alston Jr., Julian Washburn, Jared Brownridge and Xavier Munford with the purpose of adding them to the Blue Coats. Harris' deal is an Exhibit 9 contract.

Terry Harris is the younger brother of Sixers forward Tobias Harris, whom the team re-signed to a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. Terry played for the Sixers this year in summer league and scored nine points in three games. The 6-foot-6 wing worked out with the Sixers in June and said "it would be a blessing" to play with Tobias for the first time since eighth grade. As a redshirt senior at North Carolina A&T, Terry averaged 8.1 points per game and shot 41.1 percent from three-point range. Outside shooting is his trademark skill.

Alston grew up in Philadelphia and attended The Haverford School before going to Temple, where he played for four years. The point guard had an excellent senior season, leading Temple to a 23-10 record and averaging 19.7 points and 5.0 assists per game. Like Harris, he had a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. Alston played with the Indiana Pacers in summer league and scored 24 points across three contests.

The 6-foot-8 Washburn has 136 career games of experience in the G League, including 38 last season between the Austin Spurs and Memphis Hustle. He signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies in January and appeared in 18 NBA games last year, averaging 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds. Washburn was part of the trade between the Grizzlies and Warriors in July involving Andre Iguodala, and was later waived by Golden State.

Brownridge, who played his college ball at Santa Clara, played 49 games (27 starts) with the Blue Coats last season. He led the G-League in threes made with 187.

Munford spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd. He's also played in China and Spain after his collegiate career at Rhode Island ended.

In addition to Washburn, Alston, Harris, Brownridge and Munford, 7-foot-3 Christ Koumadje, Saint Joseph's product Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith are candidates for the Blue Coats this season. Those three players were part of the Sixers' preseason roster and will be waived (see story).

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Sixers waive Christ Koumadje, Haywood Highsmith and Isaiah Miles

Sixers waive Christ Koumadje, Haywood Highsmith and Isaiah Miles

Updated: 2:17 p.m.

The Sixers have waived Christ Koumadje, Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith. Those moves leave the team with its regular-season roster of 15 players, with Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle on two-way contracts.

Because Koumadje, Miles and Highsmith signed Exhibit 10 contracts this summer, they can be incentivized to join the Delaware Blue Coats. Under the terms of an Exhibit 10 deal, a player who is waived can receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if he signs with the team's G-League affiliate and stays there for at least 60 days. 

Koumadje played four years of college basketball at Florida State and stands 7-foot-3 without shoes. He’s seeking to become the first NBA player from the country of Chad. Senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said in June at a pre-draft workout featuring Koumadje that the big man is agile for his size, which Koumadje attributed to playing soccer and running before fully focusing on basketball.

Koumadje has been seen working on his game with 7-foot-2 player development specialist Roy Hibbert. He said at media day that the Sixers’ player development staff has been helping him develop some of the finer points of his offensive game, such as non-dunk finishes near the basket and ball handling.

A 6-foot-4 wing, Highsmith played in 46 games for the Blue Coats last season, averaging 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He also played in five games for the Sixers, with the team converting his contract to a two-way deal in January. Highsmith, who was waived by the team this summer to free up the two-way spot used on Pelle before signing his Exhibit 10 deal, played at Division II Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

Miles played his college basketball much closer to the Wells Fargo Center, at Saint Joseph’s, and is, like Highsmith, a native of Baltimore, Maryland. The 25-year-old was on the Sixers’ summer league teams in 2017-18 and 2018-19, and last played for Limoges CSP in France’s Pro-A league.

Based on what we saw in the preseason, below is a rough, projected depth chart by position. The backup point guard picture isn't yet clear, while several of the players at the shooting guard and small forward spots are interchangeable:

Point guard

Starter: Ben Simmons

Depth: Josh Richardson, Raul Neto/Trey Burke, Shake Milton

Shooting guard

Starter: Josh Richardson

Depth: Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith, Marial Shayok (Two-way player)

Small forward

Starter: Tobias Harris

Depth: James Ennis, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz

Power forward

Starter: Al Horford 

Depth: Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, Jonah Bolden 

Center

Starter: Joel Embiid

Depth: Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle (Two-way player) 

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