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.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers vs. Cavs: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Cavs: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Before they have a chance to get one back on the defending champion Raptors Sunday night, the Sixers have a game to play Saturday at Wells Fargo Center.

Here are the essentials for the matchup between the 15-7 Sixers and 5-16 Cavs.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center 
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

It’s not rest this time

Joel Embiid has yet to have a “rest” game since saying load management is “BS.”

He’s out Saturday with a left hip contusion. A team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Embiid reported discomfort after the Sixers’ 119-113 loss Thursday to the Wizards and is being treated for the injury.

Embiid had played in 11 straight games since sitting the last game of a back-to-back on Nov. 13 in Orlando. 

After tonight, he’ll have played in 18 of the Sixers’ first 23 games, and 30.4 minutes per night. He played every one of the team’s first 23 games last year, averaging 34.6 minutes. 

Missing the ‘dot connector’ 

Before the season, Brett Brown called Josh Richardson the “mortar” for the Sixers. On Nov. 20, he labeled him a “dot connector.” 

The Sixers have managed a 5-1 mark in games Richardson has missed — he’s out again Saturday with right hamstring tightness — but they’ve been much worse with him off the floor. The team has a plus-10.6 net rating with Richardson on the court, minus-0.6 with him off it.

Much of that can be attributed to him being paired with Embiid, who has similar on-off numbers and tends to boost the net ratings of whoever he’s playing with, but that disparity does suggest Richardson’s value. 

At a minimum, splitting up the Richardson-Embiid pairing has hurt the Sixers. 

Drama with the Cavs 

Three anonymous players were quoted in a story in The Athletic by Shams Charania and Joe Vardon about new Cavs head coach John Beilein. The players voiced their frustration with, among other things, the former Michigan coach’s emphasis on fundamentals and extended film sessions. And, according to the report, “all the team’s screens, cuts, and pivots are named after wild animals. A curl is a 'polar bear' in John Beilein's system.” That reportedly hasn’t resonated with a few of the Cavs’ veteran players.

Several players then responded to the report and spoke out in support of Beilein, including Tristan Thompson. 

“Y’all better find them names ‘cause I’ll pull up on ‘em right now,” Thompson told reporters. “You can’t do that s---. At the end of the day if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that Chatty Patty s--- going on. That s--- is whack to me.”

That wasn’t the only notable news involving the Cavs on Friday. The team is prepared to listen to offers for Kevin Love, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The five-time All-Star missed Cleveland's 93-87 loss Friday to the Magic because of an illness. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson out for Saturday's game vs. Cavs

Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson out for Saturday's game vs. Cavs

The Sixers will be down two starters Saturday night when they return to Wells Fargo Center to play the Cavs.

Josh Richardson will miss his fifth consecutive game with right hamstring tightness, while Joel Embiid is out with a left hip contusion.

A team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Embiid reported discomfort after the Sixers' 119-113 loss to the Wizards on Thursday night and is being treated for the injury.

Embiid had 26 points, 21 rebounds and eight turnovers Thursday.

Richardson and the Sixers have been cautious with his hamstring. He told reporters in Washington, D.C., that this is the first hamstring injury he's dealt with and admitted that it's been a frustrating process.

“A hamstring is one of those things where you can think that you’re fine and then you take a wrong step and it’s a week or two-week setback," he said. "I don’t really want to get into that whole cycle. ... It’s just one of those things where I just don’t really know where I’m at most of the time. It always feels like I’m tiptoeing, trying not to do too much.”

The Sixers' preferred starting five of Embiid, Richardson, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford have played just 102 minutes together this season, posting a plus-21.3 net rating. 

Furkan Korkmaz has started the past four games in place of Richardson. Without Embiid, the Sixers will need to plug in another spot starter and perhaps search for further big man depth. Kyle O'Quinn hasn't played since Nov. 23, but he might be called upon vs. Cleveland.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers