76ers

Streaming: Josh Harris, Elton Brand, Brett Brown press conferences

Streaming: Josh Harris, Elton Brand, Brett Brown press conferences

This morning from Camden, the Sixers held press conferences to address their decision to keep Brown and will look ahead to a long offseason. 

First, managing partner Josh Harris and GM Elton Brand held a 30-minute press conference and then Brett Brown went for about 40 minutes. 

Here were some takeaways from Harris and Brand

And some takeaways from Brown

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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Ben Simmons' self-awareness came through at practice Wednesday

Ben Simmons' self-awareness came through at practice Wednesday

There has just been a different vibe to Ben Simmons coming into the 2019-20 season.

No, I’m not talking about his quotes about falling back in love with the game. And no, I’m not talking about him launching and swishing a three in the Sixers’ first preseason game.

He’s always been confident in his game — at least he’s always expressed it. There’s just a different aura around him. There’s a maturity that the 23-year-old is exuding that we haven’t quite seen before.

When asked after practice about why doesn’t feel like he needs to improve as a shooter in order for the Sixers to reach their goals, he gave arguably the most articulate and thoughtful response of his professional career.

It's not that I don't need to do it, it's something that I'm working towards getting better as a player, as you would do as a writer — everybody works to get better. Or him behind the camera — he wasn't the best the first day he started. And that's just my game. I'm confident that I'm not a great shooter. I'm getting better, though. But it's a game. There's five people on the court. I lack something that I'm not as great at but other areas I'm very great at. I run the floor as well as anybody. I'm physical, I can rebound the ball. As a 6-10 point guard, I can guard one through five. So that's just one thing that's coming into my game which I'm excited about. I love getting better. I love spending time in the gym and building confidence.

It’s no secret that in years past Simmons hasn’t always been the most forthright or talkative player on the team. He generally gave short answers and appeared like he just wanted to get the media availability over with.

He has spoken to the media more than ever during training camp and coming into the preseason. He’s focused more on becoming a leader and wanting to make sure his bevy of new teammates are up to speed on the team’s terminology and concepts.

While Simmons' newfound clarity came before his team’s roster overhaul, bringing in players like Al Horford and Josh Richardson certainly hasn’t hurt.

“I think prior to everybody getting in, everybody signing, I already felt that,” Simmons said. “That's just based off me putting in that work and being in the gym every day. With the addition of the new guys, it helps. We got a great team with guys want to be here every day, guys enjoy being around each other and just want to play.”

The Sixers' goals are as lofty as they come. They want to win a championship. Nobody around the team has been shy about saying it. 

Certainly not this version of Ben Simmons.

“I feel like everybody is very motivated,” Simmons said. “Al leaving Boston and Josh coming from Miami, the rooks coming in, Matisse [Thybulle] has been killing it. Guys just have a chip on the shoulder and I feel like guys want to be better and win a championship. And that's the level we're at. I think we have a great team.”

After all the talk about his shot and his role being lessened in the playoffs, does he have a chip on his shoulder?

“Nah. Not at all.”

And yeah, he can still be a little snarky when he wants to be.

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