76ers

What the Sixers still need and what's still out there in NBA free agency

What the Sixers still need and what's still out there in NBA free agency

Updated: 12:47 p.m.

Just a couple days into free agency, we have a pretty clear picture of the Sixers’ roster.

Tobias Harris and Mike Scott are running it back. Al Horford, Josh Richardson and Kyle O’Quinn are the newcomers. Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick are headed south.

But the Sixers still have some work to do. The minimum for an NBA roster is 13 players — 12 active, one inactive. The Sixers currently have 10 when factoring all the reported deals and first-round pick Matisse Thybulle. 

That does not include 2018 second-round pick and two-way player Shake Milton, who could have his contract converted at any point. The team will sign big man Norvel Pelle to a two-way deal. It’s possible 2019 second-round pick Marial Shayok could then take Milton’s vacated two-way spot.

As of now, they have three roster spots to fill and roughly $2.2 million to spend, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. If they do wind up converting Milton’s deal, that leaves the team with two spots to fill and a little less to spend.

Their most pressing need is a backup point guard — preferably one that can shoot. The pickings are slim, but here are five players that could fit those criteria.

Quinn Cook

Cook is a restricted free agent, but it would be awfully hard for the Warriors to match any deal. The 26-year-old guard is likely the best fit on this list because of his shot. He’s hit 41.8 percent from three for his career. Though he doesn’t play a ton of minutes, it’s still impressive that he’s never shot below 40 percent in any of his three NBA seasons. His fit is also perfect in that he can play off the ball with Ben Simmons on the floor and back up the All-Star point guard as well. Cook is skinny and defense will be an issue.

Trey Burke

If Cook is the best fit, Burke is definitely right behind him. He is more of a ball-dominant player, but his ability to create his own shot and navigate the pick-and-roll could attract the Sixers. He’s a microwave scorer that can get hot on any given night. He might not be as good a fit as Cook next to Simmons, but Burke has shot 37.4 percent from three over his last three seasons. He also could have issues defensively because he’s undersized. 

Raul Neto

Neto was recently waived by the Jazz to make room for Mike Conley. The 27-year-old isn’t the most explosive —  he fits more into the category of crafty. His shot has been up and down in his NBA career. He shot over 40 percent from three in 2017-18, but that number fell to 33.3 percent this season. The two biggest knocks on Neto are his size on defense and some injury issues. He’s clearly in a tier below Cook and Burke.

Shelvin Mack

Mack was a Sixer for four games back in 2012-13. The veteran guard has been well traveled since. What Mack has on all the players on this list is experience and size. He’s 29 and stands 6-foot-3. Defense isn’t his calling card, but, again, he’s likely better than anyone on this list. His shot isn’t great. He’s more of a traditional point guard and not an ideal fit next to Simmons. Mack could be worth a flyer on a veteran minimum deal.

T.J. McConnell

McConnell is still out there and he’s one of Brett Brown’s favorites. If the Sixers can’t find a clear cut upgrade on the market, perhaps they bring back McConnell and wait for a trade opportunity.

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Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid (left ankle) out against Suns; Ben Simmons has surgery

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid (left ankle) out against Suns; Ben Simmons has surgery

The Sixers’ injury update on Monday was a long one. 

Joel Embiid is out for Tuesday’s game against the Suns with the left ankle injury he sustained in the first quarter Sunday vs. the Blazers. He’ll be undergoing treatment and evaluation at the team’s practice Monday night.

Brett Brown wasn’t sure if Embiid would play Wednesday vs. the Raptors, but he expects the three-time All-Star to appear again before the postseason and indicated he doesn't view the injury as serious. The Sixers’ last seeding contest has been officially assigned for Friday at 9 p.m. against the Rockets. 

“I do expect him to,” Brown said. “That’s just one man’s opinion. Nobody’s doing cartwheels over, ‘It’s something severe,’ one. Two, I do believe it would be good for him to play before the playoffs begin.”

Josh Richardson, who scored 34 points against Portland, will rest Tuesday. Tobias Harris is questionable with right ankle soreness and Al Horford is questionable with left knee soreness. Harris hasn’t missed a game this season, while Horford said in July, “I probably wasn’t where I wanted to be” physically earlier in the season but felt “in a much better place” after being able to rest during the NBA’s hiatus. 

The length of the injury report is not surprising after Brown on Sunday seemed receptive when asked about possibly restricting minutes for key players in the team’s final three seeding games.

“I think it’s true ... where you want an honest sort of medical assessment of anything that equals a potential problem — you just want to avoid (it),” he said. “And landing the plane and entering the playoffs from this vision line of a bubble and time off and tiptoeing on pins and needles where you don’t want people to get injured, and then still find a rhythm, that’s a slippery slope. 

“You mentioned Jo. I think the question extends to people like Al Horford, as an example. Making sure Tobias is in a place where we can manage his minutes going forward and still find that balance of trying to compete and find a rhythm.”

Ben Simmons was the other player on Monday’s report. 

The 24-year-old had successful surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, the team said, performed by Dr. Chris Dodson from Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. He’ll begin rehabilitation in Philadelphia immediately and will have a post-operative evaluation in approximately two weeks. 

Mike Scott, who missed the Sixers’ first three seeding games with right knee soreness, said he’s feeling well now. He saw time as a small-ball center against the Trail Blazers, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds, and will likely assume a key role on Tuesday.

“Just a little swelling,” he said of his knee. “Had to get it drained, so it was kind of holding me down a little bit, but it feels better now. Got it drained, so feeling a lot better.”

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Sixers Talk podcast: A lot more questions than answers right now

getty-joel-embiid-injury.jpg
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Sixers Talk podcast: A lot more questions than answers right now

On this edition of the Sixers Talk podcast, we discuss the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, whether the All-Star duo should stay together and much more.

(0:32) — Embiid suffers an injury and Lillard drops 51.
(9:16) — Don't expect a deep playoff run.
(14:30) — More pressure on Shake Milton or Josh Richardson going forward?
(21:41) — Will Brett Brown get a pass if the Sixers don't succeed?
(34:39) — Here we go with the trading Embiid or Simmons talk again.

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