76ers

Who should be the Sixers' 5th starter?

Who should be the Sixers' 5th starter?

After Al Horford came off the bench Tuesday for the first time since 2007, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick ask: Who should be the Sixers’ fifth starter? 

Hudrick 

With the way Brett Brown had been talking over the past week or so, it seemed like a change to the starting five was coming. Horford’s fit in the starting lineup has been clunky and the 33-year-old hasn’t been able to space the floor like GM Elton Brand hoped (32.7 percent from three).

In the first game of what could be a permanent change, Brown elected to go with Furkan Korkmaz, who was coming off back-to-back 30-point performances. Korkmaz had earned the opportunity, but if Horford comes off the bench for good, the guy I’d like to see start is Glenn Robinson III.

Robinson started the second half against the Clippers and was solid on both ends. His movement without the ball and ability from three makes him an ideal fit offensively. His ability to move his feet and be switchable on the perimeter makes the Sixers’ starting unit more dynamic defensively.

Korkmaz and Alec Burks seem like better options as instant offense off the bench. Rookie Matisse Thybulle could also be an option, but Robinson has proven to be a more reliable shooter.

Levick 

Thybulle is one possibility. The Sixers are 8-2 when he starts, a stat that catches one’s attention. Of course, that’s not a huge sample size, and there are other factors to consider. Thybulle has shot the ball poorly as a starter — 9 of 40 from three-point range — and been a negative offensively overall. When Thybulle has started, lineups with him have a 78 offensive rating. The idea of him guarding top offensive threats is appealing, but he doesn’t have to start to be given opportunities to do that. 

Korkmaz has shown he can explode off the bench. There’s no need to start him and compromise your defense at the beginning of the game.  

Burks seems best suited to being a spark for the second unit.

I’d also lean toward Robinson, who started 48 games this year with the Warriors. Steve Kerr often trusted Robinson to guard the opposition’s best player. Though Kerr didn’t have many great options for that job, Robinson appears capable of handling most starting-caliber NBA wings defensively. He also does his best work off the ball — curling around screens, cutting, sprinting to the corners in transition — which should fit well on the Sixers next to Ben Simmons.



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NBA rumors: Insider has a couple of trade targets in mind for Sixers

NBA rumors: Insider has a couple of trade targets in mind for Sixers

The Sixers’ substantial commitments to Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons limit their options moving forward.

However, NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh does have a couple of trade targets in mind for the team this offseason.

He thinks Nets wing Joe Harris, the NBA’s leader in three-point percentage last season, should be a player of interest. 

Harris will be an unrestricted free agent and the Nets will have his Bird Rights, which means they’ll be able to go over the salary cap to re-sign him.

The Nets could orchestrate a complicated Joe Harris sign-and-trade to get him to Philly but it would likely require Philly giving up an asset like Matisse Thybulle in the deal,” Haberstroh writes. “It’s hard to see the pathway to get a Harris-(Tobias) Harris swap (Tobias makes $34.3 million next season), but the Sixers should at the very least kick the tires on what it’d take to acquire the best free agent shooter on the 2020 market. 

For as elite a shooter as Joe Harris is, that does not sound like a good deal from the Sixers’ perspective — at all. Tobias Harris, in the first year of a five-year, $180 million contract, has averaged 19.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He’s not an All-Star, but he’s a well above-average player who also helps bind the team together with his leadership. Thybulle is a talented young defender potentially under team control through the 2022-2023 season. The Sixers could use more shooting but this particular idea, in our view, is not the right way to acquire it.

The other name Haberstroh raises is veteran Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica.

If Bjelica hadn’t made a last-minute reversal in 2018 free agency, he'd be on the Sixers right now,” he writes. “Bjelica is due $7.2 million next season and the Kings have an interesting offseason ahead with Bogdan Bogdanovic being a restricted free agent. Trading for Philly’s (Josh) Richardson could be a fallback option if Bogie’s pricetag gets too high for Sacramento’s liking.

Engaging with the Kings would certainly make sense. Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield are two other players it would be logical to consider.

Richardson is under contract for 2020-21 and then has an $11.6 million player option the following season. While he hasn’t fit as well as the Sixers hoped in his first season here, his perimeter defense remains valuable. One imagines the Sixers could get a better return for him than a 32-year-old stretch four. 

You can read Haberstroh’s full piece on the Sixers, including some of the major questions facing the team heading into the playoffs, here

And, if you’re interested in more national discussion on the Sixers, Haberstroh and ESPN’s Pablo Torre discussed the team on the latest episode of The Habershow podcast. Torre still believes in the potential of the Simmons-Embiid duo and finds watching Horford play on the Sixers “infuriating.”

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Sixers Talk podcast: Ready or not, here come the Celtics

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Sixers Talk podcast: Ready or not, here come the Celtics

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast, we discuss our concern over Joel Embiid's health, the OKC pick conveying, the first-round matchup vs. the Celtics and much more.

(0:52) — Short night (and negative X-rays) for Joel Embiid.
(9:00) — Thanks to Mike Muscala, the Sixers have a first-round pick.
(13:37) — What will Brett Brown do with the rotation?
(27:26) — Pressure on Brown coaching against Brad Stevens, Celtics.
(39:47) — Confidence in pairing of Shake Milton and Josh Richardson?

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