76ers

Sixers react to Rockets GM Daryl Morey's comments about situation in Hong Kong

Sixers react to Rockets GM Daryl Morey's comments about situation in Hong Kong

The Sixers on Tuesday will take on the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association in their first game of the preseason.

Normally this wouldn’t be of much note outside of looking for Ben Simmons to take a jumper or Joel Embiid’s health. 

But with the recent tweet of Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and the reaction since, it takes on a slightly different feel.

Morey on Friday tweeted out "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." Hong Kong has seen protests that have become violent in nature in opposition to a proposed extradition law. Morey subsequently deleted his tweet and he offered an explanation for his actions.

The Sixers didn’t offer up much on the subject Monday other than to acknowledge that they enjoyed their trip to China last season for a pair of preseason games and that they’re still looking forward to their game against the Loong-Lions Tuesday.

“The game will go on as planned,” Sixers senior VP of communications Dave Sholler said after practice. “First and foremost, we played in China last year and it was an incredible experience for our team and organization. We felt that support all of last year into this year. We love our fans there, the passion, the intensity they have for our sport. And I think most importantly, the game of basketball possesses an incredible power to bring people together. And as we play the Lions tomorrow, that’s what it’s about — it’s about that incredible platform basketball has provided to bring people together.”

Head coach Brett Brown gave a similar response when asked about the current situation with playing a team from China.

The team didn’t offer any comment specifically on Morey’s tweet or the subsequent reaction by the league, but Brown did offer something.

“[The league's response] did surprise me a little bit, but it's really all I feel personally I want to say about the matter,” Brown said. “I understand what's gone on since the comments. And I will just repeat, it's an easy few sentences, we had a great time in China and they just love basketball. … And that's my stance on it, and tomorrow night. And I hear your social question, but it's not my place to comment on that right now.”

When pressed about how he would approach a player that wanted to express themselves politically or socially in general, Brown didn’t elaborate much.

“I'm gonna let you down because I don't really have anything more to say,” Brown said. “I think people can do what they choose to do. You know, they're big boys, they can handle it however they choose to and I genuinely mean that, and that's how I would handle it.”

Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and Kyle O'Quinn all spoke after Brown. None of them took a stance on the issue, saying they didn't feel informed enough on the matter to do so.

The NBA has become a league where players and executives have felt comfortable expressing themselves regarding social and political issues. That’s why some thought the league’s stance was a bit peculiar in that they seemed to be apologizing on behalf of Morey and put their economic relationship with China ahead of allowing a GM to speak their mind.

Commissioner Adam Silver clarified that he supported Morey even if he didn’t agree with his point of view.

"I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear ... that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression,” Silver said to Kyodo News in Tokyo.

This doesn’t seem like a situation that will be cleared up or swept under the rug any time soon.

And the Sixers are likely not done answering questions about it as they gear up for their first preseason game.

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How the Sixers are trying to help Tobias Harris snap out of it

How the Sixers are trying to help Tobias Harris snap out of it

They say that shooters shoot.

Tobias Harris has been shooting plenty — they just haven’t been going down.

After going 0 for 11 from three on Tuesday night against the Cavs, Harris went 0 for 3 and 3 of 13 overall in the Sixers’ loss to the Magic in Orlando Wednesday (see observations).

The last three Harris hit was in the first quarter of the Sixers’ loss in Phoenix on Nov. 4. He’s missed his last 23 attempts since.

When Harris was acquired from the Clippers last season, he was shooting 43.4 percent from downtown in a healthy sample size.

So what the heck is going on?

“I'm not making shots, I'm not in a rhythm,” Harris said to reporters postgame. “That's it. Obviously, it's easier said than done but I'm going to find my rhythm and once I do those shots are going to be there and they're going to be able to be made. Until then, I'll watch film and see the looks I can get, see the easy ones I can get to, but when they're not going for me, get to the free throw line. 

“In the fourth quarter I thought that was two questionable whistles, a travel and offensive [foul]. So those are two turnovers that kind of affected our fourth quarter. But I just gotta find a rhythm. That's it.”

On top of missing, Harris just looks indecisive. During early parts of the season, he appeared to be passing up open shots. In his pregame availability before Tuesday’s win, Brett Brown made a point to talk about needing Harris to have a scorer’s mentality.

Over the last two games, Harris seems like he doesn’t know when to shoot the basketball. After shooting so poorly from the outside against Cleveland, in Orlando he appeared to just get caught in between while trying to drive to the basket more.

It just seems like Harris is in his own head.

“I think it's just human nature,” Brown said. “He wants to please, he wants to shoot the ball, he wants to score, we need him to score.”

Harris is an easy target for fan ire. GM Elton Brand gave up an awful lot to get him before last year’s trade deadline. During the summer, the Sixers gave Harris a five-year, $180 million deal — the richest in franchise history.

But to his credit, Harris hasn’t made any excuses. He faced the music Wednesday night after not playing well and not feeling well.

Brown mentioned Tuesday that Harris had been dealing with an illness. Harris didn’t want to take the easy way out and attribute that to anything.

“When I get out there and play, I'm playing,” Harris said. “I'm under the weather, yeah, but if I get out there and play, I believe I can go.”

Forget the big contract and disappointing start for a second — Harris is a worker. He’s worked on his game tirelessly to rise to the level he did last season in L.A. During the offseason, he stepped up as a leader that all of his teammates are eager and willing to follow. He’s been depended upon by the young players and veterans alike.

Now, it may be Harris who needs their support.

“Tobias has had great looks and he's a great player, great shooter,” Ben Simmons said. “I mean, at times, everybody gets down when they're not playing their best game. They know that they can do better. But he's one of those guys. He's always positive. And we all believe in him.”

The Sixers’ road trip continues Friday with a date with the Thunder. Oklahoma City is the site of Harris’ finest game as a Sixer. On Feb. 28 of last year, Harris poured in 32 points and led a tough road win without Joel Embiid.

Maybe the memory of that game will spark something in Harris.

If that doesn't work, what else can you really say?

“Keep shooting,” Brown said. “Don't listen to any of you guys. Don't read anything. Keep shooting.”

After all, shooters shoot.

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Sixers Talk podcast: What is going on with Tobias Harris?

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NBC Sports Philadelphia/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: What is going on with Tobias Harris?

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Tobias Harris' struggles continuing, Ben Simmons' unwillingness to shoot the ball, and why Matisse Thybulle isn't seeing more playing time.

• Another rough night for Harris. What the heck is going on?

• Simmons was strong, but still refuses to shoot the basketball outside the paint.

• Should Thybulle be getting more minutes?

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