76ers

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Wilson Chandler still 'a ways away' from return

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Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Wilson Chandler still 'a ways away' from return

CAMDEN, N.J. — Don’t expect to see Wilson Chandler in the Sixers’ lineup anytime soon.

Head coach Brett Brown said Thursday that Chandler, one the Sixers’ new additions, is “a ways away” from returning to the court after suffering a left hamstring strain in the preseason opener vs. Melbourne United on Sep. 28. 

On Sep. 30, Chandler described the injury as a “fluke situation” that occurred on a play when his foot was awkwardly positioned as he chased his man around the screen. 

Brown said the Sixers are taking a conservative approach with Chandler.

“We don’t need to rush him back into doing anything,” Brown said. “When his body says he’s ready to play, that’s when he’ll play. There’s no timeline on it from that perspective. I do think, backpedal or fast forward from that Melbourne game, look at a month (out), and I bet you’re probably close.”

A month out from the date of Chandler’s injury would be Oct. 28. At that point, the Sixers would have played six regular-season games.

A new GM 

With Elton Brand making the step up from G League GM to Sixers’ general manager, the Delaware Blue Coats filled Brand’s old job on Thursday, hiring Matt Lilly as interim general manager.

Lilly was promoted from his previous role as Blue Coats’ director of basketball operations and scouting.

Lilly’s focus is on having the Blue Coats serve as an effective pipeline for the Sixers.

“Our goal mainly is to have the guys in our program at the start of the year grow throughout the year and be in a better place at the end of it,” he said. “In addition to that, we’d love to win some basketball games. We’re looking for our first playoff berth here in Delaware. We’re really developmental-focused and also looking forward to win some games.”

'Can this continue?'

One of the NBA’s primary points of emphasis for officials this season is having tighter enforcement when defenders restrict movement, both in the post and on the perimeter.

If you watched the Sixers play in the preseason, you were already well aware of that. Whistles are being blown with much greater regularity for minimal off-ball grappling or fighting for position in the post. 

The Sixers committed 119 fouls in their four preseason games. 

Whether this level of zealous officiating will persist throughout the season remains to be seen. 

“Can this continue? It will for a while,” Brown said. “Is this sustainable and will it be called the same way in May?”

Brown gave a sly smile and left the question open.

“Either way, we’re going to play toward how they call the games,” Ben Simmons said. “If they call it a certain way, we’re going to post up and get to the rim and cut — do what we usually do. It favors our team, the way we play. I don’t mind. No matter how they call the game, we’re going to adjust.”

On Friday, Havertown, Pa. native and longtime former NBA official, Joey Crawford, will visit the Sixers to further explain the new points of emphasis to the coaches and players.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Matisse Thybulle might already be the sixth man

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Sixers Talk podcast: Matisse Thybulle might already be the sixth man

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss the amount of games they expect Joel Embiid to play, Ben Simmons' self-awareness and Matisse Thybulle already surpassing expectations.

• Will Embiid set a career high in games played with his new load management plan? The guys make a friendly wager.

• Simmons gave arguably the most thoughtful quote he's ever given.

• Is Thybulle already the Sixers' sixth best player?

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.

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Sixers pick up Zhaire Smith's third-year option, make clear call to bank on his further development

Sixers pick up Zhaire Smith's third-year option, make clear call to bank on his further development

Zhaire Smith's role with the Sixers isn't yet clear for this season, but the 20-year-old guard has a future with the team.

General manager Elton Brand confirmed that Wednesday. The team announced it has exercised Smith's third-year option for the 2020-21 season, worth $3.2 million

The Sixers acquired Smith and the Miami Heat's 2021 first-round pick last year in a draft-night trade with the Phoenix Suns, who received Mikal Bridges. Smith played in six regular-season games his rookie year, averaging 6.7 points and and 2.2 rebounds per game, but that's far from the whole story. Smith broke his foot in August, then suffered a severe allergic reaction and subsequent complications that led to him losing over 35 pounds. Over time, Smith regained his standout athleticism and rebuilt his jump shot after changing his form to compensate for his loss of strength (see story).

Head coach Brett Brown described Smith during training camp as a "pogo stick" and has praised his talent for on-ball defense, comparing him on multiple occasions to Avery Bradley. However, Smith has not been part of the Sixers' rotation during the preseason. Brown has acknowledged that development is a great priority for the Sixers with Smith than immediate contribution, especially after everything he went through as a rookie. The emergence of rookie Matisse Thybulle and solid play of Shake Milton during the preseason are further reasons why Smith hasn't been playing with the Sixers' regulars. Smith played the entire fourth quarter Tuesday night of the Sixers' 106-86 win over the Pistons and had seven points and three rebounds.

"It's just a process, so I'm not worried about it," he said. "As long as we get the win, it doesn't matter."

Given the potential the Sixers saw in Smith — and continue to see — it never seemed plausible that they would decline his third-year option.

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