Sixers managing partner Josh Harris discusses LeBron James meeting, general manager search and more

Sixers managing partner Josh Harris discusses LeBron James meeting, general manager search and more

“It’s been really insane.”

Those were the first words Sixers managing partner Josh Harris used Wednesday to describe the team’s offseason. It’s hard to disagree with him.

Speaking Wednesday with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool, Harris discussed why he’s encouraged by the team's getting a meeting with LeBron James’ representatives, what he’s looking for in his next general manager, and more.

On the significance of the Sixers being the only team James’ representatives met with besides the Lakers
“It’s a big deal. LeBron obviously carries a lot of weight and certainly people were pretty focused on the Sixers anyway and the strength of our program, but certainly it underscores that. Other potential free agents, trade partners, they notice. Obviously re-signing JJ [Redick] and Amir [Johnson] and adding Wilson [Chandler] and [Nemanja] Bjelica allowed us to strengthen our team. So I think we’re going to get better next year, certainly in the regular season and then advance further in the playoffs. We’re one of the three teams in the East — Toronto, Boston and us, certainly with LeBron going to the West. We’re going to be here for a long time and we’re focused on winning a championship for the city, like we’ve been saying.”

While James didn’t actually personally talk with the Sixers, you can understand why Harris would tout the meeting as a success for the organization despite James signing with the Lakers. His comment about the Sixers' being “one of the three teams in the East” is also interesting — the Bucks, Pacers and Wizards might have something to say about that. But there’s no denying that, with James in Los Angeles, the Sixers have a legitimate chance at an Eastern Conference title. 

On the experience of being in a meeting for a high-profile free agent like James
“It was great, it was exciting. We’re focused on it going forward; next year we have a lot of cap space. Philly is a great free-agent destination right now with our two young stars, Ben [Simmons] and Joel [Embiid], Markelle [Fultz] hopefully our third star — we’ll see  — Dario [Saric], [Robert] Covington, JJ Redick and the culture that Brett Brown’s built, the new gym in Camden, Philly is a great city. And people are focused on where we are. There’s a bunch of free agents next year. Clearly we have the trade market we’re working on. I think that we’re going to have a lot of opportunities and keep focusing on how to make our team better.”

Harris is correct that there will be plenty of free agents on the market next year, including Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler and Kevin Love. And with the contracts of Redick, Johnson, Chandler and Blejica all up after this season, the Sixers will have plenty of cap space next offseason as things stand. Of course, as Harris says, their current focus is on "the trade market" and the big name that reportedly remains available, Kawhi Leonard.

On the search for the Sixers’ next general manager
“We’re just getting focused on it now, given everything with free agency and the draft, and also the other GMs are in the same place. We’re looking for the right person. One of the things that [former president of basketball operations] Bryan Colangelo did really well was, we built a great staff, whether it be [vice president of basketball operations and chief of staff] Ned Cohen or [vice president of analytics and strategy] Alex Rucker or [vice president of player personnel] Marc Eversley or [Delaware Blue Coats general manger] Elton Brand, we have a lot of great people. It’s very consensus-oriented, there’s a lot of people in the dialogue, and we want to make sure we find the right fit for that. It’s not going to be easy. My guess is it’s going to take awhile. And we’re obviously focused on doing it as quickly as possible, but at the same time I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations — it could take a little while. So we’re just starting that.”

Harris clearly hasn’t had a great sense of urgency in finding a new general manager, and it continues to sound like he isn’t in a hurry. The timing of the Colangelo scandal couldn’t have been much worse for the Sixers. Rushing to hire someone before the start of the draft or free agency would probably not have been a smart move, especially given how much Harris and the Sixers value the team element of front-office decision-making. 

Monday, The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported that Harris would prefer to hire someone with previous GM experience. In those comments, Harris also used the phrase “consensus-oriented,” as he did Wednesday, so it appears that finding a candidate who can work well as part of a group is definitely a priority.

But the bottom line is, as trade talks with the Spurs reportedly continue for Leonard, Brett Brown is still the man in charge.

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Ever wonder why Allen Iverson is called 'The Answer'?

Ever wonder why Allen Iverson is called 'The Answer'?

Some might have called him “Bubba Chuck.” Others simply “A.I.”

But the nickname that stands out above all others when talking about Allen Iverson is “The Answer.”

Ever wonder how Iverson got the nickname? The origins are still a bit unclear.

We all know Iverson for his signature cornrows and tattoos, but when Iverson arrived in Philadelphia, he had one tattoo: A bulldog with “The Answer” written above it. Iverson’s original sneaker with Reebok was called “The Question.” Each subsequent sneaker was called “The Answer.”

In 2003, Iverson was actually sued over the use of the nickname by Jamil Blackmon, a family friend from Virginia. Blackmon claimed that he gave Iverson the nickname in 1994 and the two had reached an agreement on Blackmon’s pay out for any money the nickname netted Iverson.

Putting together the pieces, the answer may be as simple as Iverson being “The Answer” to the Sixers’ and NBA’s problems.

For more on Iverson’s nickname and why play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff never called him it, check out the video above.

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2020 NBA mock draft: Trading up for Kira Lewis Jr. in this Sixers-only mock draft

2020 NBA mock draft: Trading up for Kira Lewis Jr. in this Sixers-only mock draft

It looks like we’ll be waiting a while for the NBA draft, which was originally scheduled for June 25. The New York Times' Marc Stein reported that some teams now expect the draft to be held in September. For the time being, we’ll continue to consider possibilities for the Sixers, who would have picks No. 22, 34, 36, 49 and 59.

In this Sixers-only mock draft, the team moves up in the first round to take a point guard and selects a combo guard early in the second. 

16. TRADE — Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama 

We have the Sixers trading No. 22 and 34 to the Timberwolves for No. 16. With Lewis, it feels obligatory to list his sophomore averages: 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Those per game stats are slightly inflated because he played 37.6 minutes a night, but they’re impressive nonetheless.

The Sixers might think about Lewis as a trade-up option primarily because of his ability as a shot creator. While he sometimes played a loose style at Alabama, turning it over 3.5 times per contest last season, he has a natural talent for sizing up a defender and blowing past him. He is extremely fast, which makes him a threat in the open court and also means he doesn’t need to gain a tremendous edge on his man with a dribble move to beat him — a sliver of space is often enough. 

When he gets into the paint, however, Lewis isn’t the most reliable finisher. At 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, his size makes life more difficult for him around the rim. His weight is likely a larger concern defensively, although Lewis is capable of working over ball screens — something he’d be asked to do often in the Sixers’ scheme — and his speed is an asset when he’s trailing the play or jolting into a passing lane.

Lewis’ shooting numbers are positive, too — 36.6 percent from three-point range and 80.2 percent from the foul line — though he has a low release point he might have to tweak for the NBA. He just turned 19 years old in April and will need to add muscle, but with Lewis’ college production, it’s not as if the Sixers would be banking purely on potential.

36. (via New York) — Jared Butler, G, Baylor 

Butler’s game matches the Sixers’ needs well. He’s an advanced ball handler, full of behind-the-back, between-the-legs and spin moves, and confident in the pick-and-roll. While he’d be undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Butler is dangerous both on and off the ball. He hit 38.1 percent of his three-point attempts this season on 6.7 attempts per game. 

In the NBA, it’ll be interesting to see if Butler is able to guard multiple positions effectively. He has a sturdy build, is a good lateral mover and had 2.2 steals per 40 minutes for a Baylor team that finished 26-4, all of which is encouraging. 

TRADE — No. 49 for Memphis’ 2021-second round pick and cash considerations 

The Sixers have been very willing to sell second-round picks in recent years, and with the team projected to be in the luxury tax, it would not be remotely shocking if they did it again. In this deal, they’re at least getting back a future pick in addition to the cash. 

59. (via Lakers) — Killian Tillie, C, Gonzaga 

Tillie endured a slew of injuries at Gonzaga, which is one reason he might be available this late in the draft. The 6-foot-10 Frenchman has a lot of skill for his size and shot 44.4 percent from three-point range in college. He has real stretch four/stretch five potential in the NBA, especially with his ability as a passer. 

For the Sixers, his diverse skill set would have to be intriguing here. They don’t have any young backup big men on the roster, and Tillie has the tools to be a productive rotation player — if he stays healthy. That caveat would be worth accepting with the 59th pick. 

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