76ers

What Sixers sold to LeBron James was never going to matter

What Sixers sold to LeBron James was never going to matter

What would have been the Hollywood ending to the Sixers’ movie, almost certainly to be named “The Process,” ends with the would-be main character literally running to Hollywood?

You can’t make this stuff up.

LeBron James’ Decision 3.0 is officially over and it didn’t end with a royal procession on its way to Philadelphia. James opted for a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Sixers appeared to be serious contenders, and with good reason. The franchise has a pair of young studs in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the relatively easy ability to create max cap space and the aggressive mentality to continue chasing a Kawhi Leonard trade. Throw in the chance to stay in the familiar Eastern Conference and play for a storied franchise (James has frequently counted Julius Erving and Allen Iverson among his favorite all-time players), and the Sixers would have appeared to be near the top of the list.

That’s surely what the organization had to be thinking just hours earlier when it managed to secure the lone publicized free-agent meeting with James’ camp, as a contingent went to L.A. to talk to his agent Rich Paul.

We can suspect forever what was said by managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer during the meeting, but it never really mattered. James already had his mind made up and his Klutch Sports Group representatives were just doing due diligence at that point.

After all, have you ever interviewed for a new job with the company’s bosses and didn’t bother to show up? Yeah, me neither.

As good as the Sixers made themselves look on the free-agent scale, Philadelphia just isn’t home and was never going to be for the three-time NBA champion.

Of course, “the kid from Akron” called Northeast Ohio home for most of his life. However, he’s outgrown that from a basketball perspective (Cleveland Cavaliers have three NBA Finals losses to the Golden State Warriors in the last four years) and a business standpoint.

James’ media ventures that include everything from product endorsements to running his own production company take place in Los Angeles. And who better to learn from and help position yourself for a life after hoops than Lakers president Magic Johnson?

On top of that, L.A. has become base for the entire James family in recent years. The family has two homes in California and James’ oldest son, LeBron James Jr., has long been rumored to be taking his own talents to basketball powerhouse Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, California.

It all adds up to James bypassing the Sixers for the land of purple and gold. And that’s OK. The Sixers still have a bright future, even brighter now that he’s made the trek out West.

But here’s to hoping the Sixers somehow meet the Lakers in the Finals for the movie’s sequel “Process That.”

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Furkan Korkmaz sparks sudden blaze, then leaps over logic

Furkan Korkmaz sparks sudden blaze, then leaps over logic

There came a point Friday night during Furkan Korkmaz’s career-best 24-point performance when everyone at Wells Fargo Center seemed to collectively shrug and say, “Sure. Why not?”

Korkmaz had already flashed his trademark skill, hitting four three-pointers in under two minutes during a sudden blaze at the end of the third quarter.

With a little less than seven minutes to go in the Sixers’ 100-89 win, he stared down Bulls center Cristiano Felicio. The 22-year-old then crossed Felicio over, blew past him, dunked and let out an exultant scream. 

“At that time of the game, I was really feeling it,” Korkmaz said. “I got that confidence. When I saw the open lane, I just took off. I was also not expecting that, but I just dunked it. That was a good moment.”

Korkmaz wasn’t done, though. He missed a well-earned heat check on the Sixers’ next possession, but dropped in a floater shortly after. And, just to confirm that it was indeed his night, he took a charge on Bulls star Zach LaVine. 

Which play did he enjoy more?

“It’s a tough question, but I think I would say the dunk,” Korkmaz said honestly.

This isn’t the first time Korkmaz has changed a game this season with his shotmaking. He had nine key fourth-quarter points Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, blew up the Bucks’ zone in the third quarter on Christmas and made the game-winning three on Nov. 2 in Portland.

The Sixers declined Korkmaz’s third-year option last year, then let him sit on the free-agent market until July 25. Though they billed him as a young, promising player, their actions suggested Korkmaz was not a prominent part of their plans. He appeared to be on the fringe of the rotation.

Brett Brown hasn’t passed up many chances to laud Korkmaz, and he had a great opportunity Friday.

It’s really quite a — to say it's incredible would be too dramatic — but it's a heck of a story, isn't it? Just where he was and where he is. For us to see him — and he's young, can't forget his birth certificate — for us to see him come in and do JJ [Redick]-like stuff and have that type of a bomber, that was different. … We ran probably, I don't know, five plays in a row going to him. 

“I had flashbacks of JJ. We jumped into JJ's package and he changed the game. He gave us a spark and whether it was a three ball — I don't remember JJ dunking like that … but the long shot and just like bam, bam, bam — quick points, buckets — fueled our defense.

While Korkmaz deserves credit for translating his hypothetical value as a shooter into real contributions this year — he’s made 71 threes, tied with Tobias Harris for most on the team, and converted 39 percent — he will probably not maintain Friday's euphoric high. 

He’s devoted time and energy to improving his defense, but the question of whether he’ll be able to hold his own in the playoffs remains open and valid. If he’s not sinking shots, his impact tends to not be positive. Any moves the Sixers make before the Feb. 6 trade deadline could shift his role, too.

But, for the time being, he is playing with an apparently limitless self-belief.

“As a player you just need to get that confidence,” he said. “When you start to feel good on the court and also your teammates see that, your coaching staff sees that — I think today everybody saw that I was feeling it — and I knew that I had to shoot those looks. I just take the open shots, that’s all I do.”

Brown is clearly relishing in Korkmaz’s success.

“He's quality people,” Brown said. “He's a genuine person and you're proud of that, too. Good things happen to good people ... He's put in the time and to his credit, he came in and changed the landscape of an NBA game. And he did it quite emphatically. It wasn't like it was swept under the carpet. He did it where ESPN and all of us and his teammates, probably more importantly, felt his success.”

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Furkan Korkmaz, Al Horford building a budding bromance

Furkan Korkmaz, Al Horford building a budding bromance

Sometimes, new teammates just seem to click. For one reason or another, guys gravitate towards one another.

For the Sixers, a budding bromance seems to be brewing between veteran Al Horford and youngster Furkan Korkmaz.

After Korkmaz had a monster game, scoring a career-high 24 points in the Sixers’ win over the Bulls Friday, Horford couldn’t help but gush over the Turkish wing.

He’s just great,” Horford said to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters postgame. “He continues to get better, his confidence continues to grow. He’s a guy that’s a big piece for us. He’s figuring it out and as the season goes on, you can just see the improvement.

Then he took to Twitter to show even more love.

To which Korkmaz endearingly responded.

The play in the picture was this dunk off a drive which got Korkmaz to 22 points.

This isn’t the first time the pair have shown a kinship. After Korkmaz hit a few big shots on Christmas day against the Bucks, Horford was effusive in his praise. And when Korkmaz hit the game-winner in Portland, he credited the 33-year-old Horford.

I knew that Al (Horford) was going to set a good pick and try to get me open to make the shot. … I was wide open. I just let it fly, and I made it. That was also a huge comeback from double digits (down). Horford, I think, made a lot of shots.

While their bromance is alive and well, Ben Simmons also took to Twitter to celebrate his teammate’s big night.

Tobias Harris also retweeted that post.

Safe to say, the Sixers are pretty Furkan happy right now.

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