76ers

NBA trade rumors: How Anthony Davis' trade request affects Sixers

NBA trade rumors: How Anthony Davis' trade request affects Sixers

Updated: 3:38 p.m. 

With the trade deadline a little over a week away, one of the best players in the league could be on the block.

Star big man Anthony Davis has informed the Pelicans he will not sign an extension and has requested a trade, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Davis to the Sixers is not likely. New Orleans would almost certainly ask for Ben Simmons, who, like Davis, is represented by agent Rich Paul. Simmons is eligible for a max extension this summer and it’s hard to imagine he would sign one with the Pelicans given Paul is trying to get Davis out of there.

According to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, the Sixers currently have "no plans to pursue a deal."

If there were a scenario in which you could keep Simmons and acquire Davis, the fit wouldn’t be ideal. Having a pair of star big men doesn’t seem like the best move in 2019. Plus, you’ve seen the difficulty in incorporating Jimmy Butler offensively at times. Imagine trying to integrate Davis next to Joel Embiid — though defensively that lineup would be a juggernaut.

Ruling out the Sixers, the two most likely destinations are the Lakers and Celtics. The good news for the Sixers is the timing here. Boston can’t make a deal for Davis before July because of the “Rose Rule.”

In short, the “Rose Rule” allows players coming off their rookie contracts that have made either two All-Star teams, two All-NBA teams or won an MVP to earn 30 percent of their team’s salary cap instead of the standard 25 percent on their next deal. The part of the rule that hurts the Celtics is that a team is only allowed to trade for one player that fits this criteria. So until Kyrie Irving becomes a free agent in July — or in the unlikely scenario Irving signs an extension now — Boston won’t be able to trade for Davis.

It’s fair to note that New Orleans would be wise to wait until the Celtics can get involved. Boston has better draft picks and better young players than Los Angeles. Then again, the timing could be seen as Davis wanting to play with LeBron James and the Lakers. Basically Rich Paul has given L.A. a head start and that doesn’t seem like an accident.

Bringing it back to the Sixers, this could mean the Pelicans will be open for business on players that could be of interest. While a reunion with Jrue Holiday is unlikely, a player like Elfrid Payton could make sense.

To start, he’s on a cheap, expiring contract which should be appealing to the Sixers. Payton would be a significant upgrade defensively over T.J. McConnell. He’s also been better (35 percent) and more willing (1.9 attempts per game) on threes. He’s not a star, but he’s a good depth piece and he likely wouldn’t cost much. Plus, it would just be hilarious to reacquire Payton, who was a part of one of Sam Hinkie’s most famous trades.

While Davis to the Sixers is extremely unlikely, wherever the All-NBA big goes will affect them — and likely the landscape of the entire NBA.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

'Tired as s---' Jimmy Butler plays closer, seals the deal vs. Celtics

'Tired as s---' Jimmy Butler plays closer, seals the deal vs. Celtics

It was just a couple weeks ago that everyone was questioning Jimmy Butler’s role in the Sixers’ offense.

Why is he deferring so much? Does he not fit into the system? Has he lost a step?

Well, so much for all of that.

Butler’s role as the team’s closer was never more evident than in the Sixers’ 118-115 win over the rival Celtics (see observations).

The four-time All-Star put the team on his back, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including a dagger jumper with 5.5 seconds left. He helped the Sixers conquer their Boston demons while showing just what he brings to the team’s elite starting unit.

“They put the ball in my hands in the fourth and tell me to make plays and make shots,” Butler said. “I think as of late I’ve been a doing good job of that, but that could be anybody to tell you the truth. As many weapons as we have on this team, anybody could get the hot hand, anybody could put the ball in the basket — it’s just the last few nights it’s been me.”

All this begs the question: Why can’t Butler do this through the first three quarters?

Butler was just 2 of 9 for seven points as the Sixers managed to cut a 15-point deficit to five entering the fourth quarter. Having just played 38 minutes in Charlotte on the first night of a back-to-back, Butler offered a pretty simple explanation for why he couldn’t get going early Wednesday.

I was tired as s---. I’m not even going to lie to you. That back-to-back got me. And we didn’t have [Joel Embiid] last night either. So quarters one through three I was trying, it wasn’t going my way, but we won, so I don’t care about quarters one through three.

While it’s certainly fair for Butler to blame fatigue, there is probably a better analytical explanation.

When the Sixers’ offense is going, there’s a focus on pace and space. Brett Brown’s system is predicated on player and ball movement. Even on a poor shooting night, the Sixers had more assists than the Celtics despite 11 fewer made field goals.

Butler is a player that excels in iso and pick-and-roll situations. While that may not fit perfectly into what the Sixers do offensively, in grind-it-out games like Wednesday against Boston and Sunday in Milwaukee, it’s necessary.

Before Butler’s arrival, there was no player Brown could turn to and just say, “Go get me a bucket.” 

Butler is that guy.

I don't think his demeanor changes. I think he's more comfortable in that static set where we're playing at a slower pace,” JJ Redick said. “There's a real value in having someone who's capable of making plays against a set defense, somebody who can shoot over the top of guys and really take advantage of mismatches. I don't know that you want to play that way for four quarters, but certainly at times going down the stretch, there's value in that.

While Butler sealed the deal, it was Joel Embiid who willed the Sixers back into the game in the third quarter (see story). Embiid dominated and kept the Sixers afloat until it was time for Butler to play the closer role.

And that wasn’t an accident.

“We talked about it before the game,” Embiid said. “I told him that I needed him tonight, that I needed this win and he told me to get him to the fourth and he was going to take over. That’s all I tried to do and obviously in the fourth, he’s our best closer. [We’ve] got to put the ball in his hands in the fourth and I’m going to do my thing whenever I have the ball, but that was my job tonight and he showed up and in the fourth he was fantastic.”

Embiid sets ‘em up, Butler knocks ‘em down.

Sounds like a hell of a plan.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

 

How long has Joel Embiid been trolling Marcus Smart? Look at his first Instagram post ever

How long has Joel Embiid been trolling Marcus Smart? Look at his first Instagram post ever

It turns out, Joel Embiid has been trolling Marcus Smart for way longer than we think. Even back into their college days. This trolling scheme has been five years in the making, in fact.

In honor of March Madness kicking off today, we’re going to bring you back to Embiid’s college days and his very first interaction on Instagram that cemented his legendary status as the GOAT of social media trolling. 

His very first Instagram post, which features him dunking on Marcus Smart in January of 2014. What a time. Here it is, in all it’s glory.

Guess Embiid really did invest in some real estate in Smart’s head, about five years ago and Smart has not forgotten about it. 

That much is clear, as tensions during the Celtics-Sixers game escalated to the point where Smart shoved Embiid from behind in what the center called a ‘”cheap shot” later in postgame. Smart was ejected from Wells Fargo Center for this incident. 

 

Bet he was thinking about that Instagram caption from 2014, which has aged so very well. 

So Smart, how much is the rent? Embiid will probably tell you it’s free.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers