76ers

Sixers' training camp roster should be set after team signs Haywood Highsmith to Exhibit 10 contract

Sixers' training camp roster should be set after team signs Haywood Highsmith to Exhibit 10 contract

With training camp set to begin Tuesday, the Sixers’ roster seems to be set.

The team announced Wednesday that they’ve signed Haywood Highsmith to a contract. It’s an Exhibit 10 deal for Highsmith, a team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia. By signing Highsmith, the Sixers now have 20 players under contract, the maximum a team can have in training camp. 

Highsmith is the third player the Sixers have signed to an Exhibit 10 contract this summer, along with Christ Koumadje and Isaiah Miles. Under the terms of an Exhibit 10 deal, upon a player being waived he can receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if he signs with a team’s G-League affiliate and stays with them for at least 60 days.

Exhibit 10 contracts can also be converted to two-way deals, although that likely won’t happen for Highsmith, Koumadje or Miles because the Sixers’ two two-way spots are full with Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle. The bottom line is Highsmith, Koumadje and Miles can be incentivized to join the Delaware Blue Coats.

The Sixers had waived Highsmith on June 24, preferring to give his two-way spot to Pelle, an athletic center and selection to the G League's All-Defensive Team. Highsmith did play for the Sixers’ summer league team this year and posted 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

The 6-foot-7 Highsmith impressed last season for the Blue Coats with his athleticism and defensive versatility, earning a two-way deal. He played in 46 games for Delaware and averaged 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. A product of Division II Wheeling Jesuit, Highsmith made his NBA debut on Jan. 8. On a whirlwind day, he signed a two-way contract, played in the Blue Coats’ win over Raptors 905 and became the 26th player to ever play in a G League and NBA game in the same day, draining his first jumper during the Sixers’ win over the Wizards (see story). He played in four more NBA games and saw minimal meaningful playing time.

“My game has always been translatable to the NBA game, I think I just had to develop more in a few areas,” the 22-year-old said before his first NBA action. “Just develop more, just keep working. I’m versatile, 6-7, can switch onto people, shoot the three — that’s a pretty good game for an NBA player. I knew it was there, just needed to take a couple more steps.”

Below is a rough overview of the Sixers’ training camp depth chart, position by position. You’ll see a few names at multiple positions to reflect their versatility:

Point guard 

Starter: Ben Simmons
Depth: Raul Neto, Trey Burke, Josh Richardson, Shake Milton 

Shooting guard

Starter: Josh Richardson
Depth: Zhaire Smith, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Marial Shayok (two-way contract)


Small forward

Starter: Tobias Harris
Depth: James Ennis, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Haywood Highsmith (Exhibit 10 contract)

Power forward

Starter: Al Horford
Depth: Mike Scott, Tobias Harris, Jonah Bolden, Isaiah Miles (Exhibit 10 contract)

Center

Starter: Joel Embiid
Depth: Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle (two-way contract), Christ Koumadje (Exhibit 10 contract)

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It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

Updated: Tuesday, 5:09 p.m.

We now have a diagnosis on Ben Simmons' injury. Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia (see story). Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news.

Speaking before the Sixers' win Monday night over the Hawks, head coach Brett Brown was unsure how long the injury would sideline Simmons. The 23-year-old sustained the injury at practice Wednesday going up for a rebound, according to Brown, and irritated it in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “And it really is like how long is a piece of string — who knows? Who knows? … Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out.”

However, it sounded as if Brown was preparing for his two-time All-Star point guard to be out for a while. He framed the situation as one the Sixers can cope with if other players take advantage of the chance to play expanded roles.

There’s 25 games left. … It’s an eternity,” he said. “Just keep going back to the end game. What’s the bottom line? I’ll say it again — if you get their health and their spirit, it’s got a chance to equal form. … And it’s all about landing the plane. And so with 25 games left, we’ve taken a hit with Ben. 

"I do see it this way. I’m not spinning it. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and something will emerge. And we need something to emerge. It’s not like we were all saying, ‘Oh, here it is, it’s anointed.’ It wasn’t that. So, I think we’re going to learn something and find something. If this was six games out, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. When it’s 25 games out, it is, with all my heart, what I think. That’s what I said to the team, that’s what I really think and that’s what I’m going to try to pull off.

Who specifically will take over ball handling duties? Brown said it “will be done by committee” for the time being, and he named a few players who he expects to be in that mix. Monday night, the team started Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. 

“The candidates could be Raul Neto or [Furkan Korkmaz] or Alec Burks or J-Rich, Shake," he said. "So, you have capable people that aren’t traditional point guards but have the ability to get the ball up the floor. Then at that point, you’re probably going to have to be in something that has motion and continuity instead of just giving Chris Paul the ball and saying, ‘Go to work’ out of a pick-and-roll, as an example.”

Regardless of Brown’s attitude, the tangible impact of not having Simmons will clearly be significant. He leads the league in steals, has assisted on the most three-pointers and is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player.

The loss of all those attributes will no doubt be difficult to overcome.

“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement in lower back

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement in lower back

Ben Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Simmons will undergo daily treatment. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports “there's little expectation that [Simmons would] be ready to return to lineup that soon,” and says “doctors are hopeful treatment can drive improvement, but Sixers are preparing to play without him." 

According to head coach Brett Brown, Simmons was first injured at the team’s practice last Wednesday. The 23-year-old All-Star missed the team’s first game after the All-Star break, a win Thursday over the Nets. 

“It was a play where he went up for a rebound and I looked over and he left the court, and went and got treatment,” Brown said Thursday. “And it has played out as it has played out. We don’t believe it’s anything too significant.”

Simmons sat out the Sixers’ game vs. the Nets on Thursday and played Saturday in Milwaukee. He appeared to be in discomfort after drawing a foul in the first quarter on the Bucks’ Brook Lopez. The 23-year-old stayed in the game to make 1 of 2 free throws, then exited when Matisse Thybulle committed a foul to create a stoppage of play and ensure Simmons could return to the locker room.

Ahead of the game against the Bucks, Simmons had averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds and a league-best 2.2 steals. He’d played 36.3 minutes per game, most on the Sixers and third-highest in the NBA ahead of Saturday’s games. 

Brown talked before the Sixers’ win Monday over the Hawks as if he was prepared for a long-term absence. He said the team would split up ball handling responsibilities by committee, with Shake Milton, Josh Richardson and Alec Burks among the possible candidates. Milton started on Monday. 

The 36-22 Sixers are fifth in the Eastern Conference and play the Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Cleveland. 

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