76ers

Why Sixers' trade of Markelle Fultz to Magic was a smart move

Why Sixers' trade of Markelle Fultz to Magic was a smart move

Fifteen or so minutes before the NBA trade deadline, just when you started to think the Sixers might have decided to keep Markelle Fultz and trust that the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft would one day be back on a basketball court and resemble the dynamic, smooth-shooting player he was at the University of Washington, the news broke.

The Sixers were trading Fultz to the Orlando Magic, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. In return, they’re receiving Jonathon Simmons, a 2020 protected first-round pick from Oklahoma City, and a 2019 second-round selection, the most favorable from Cleveland, Houston or Orlando, a team source confirmed (see story). 

Once you get past the pervasive weirdness of Fultz’s tenure in Philadelphia, the diagnoses of what was wrong with him, and the shaky cell phone videos of his shaky jumper, it’s apparent that general manager Elton Brand made a smart deal in trading Fultz to Orlando.

With his trade Wednesday for Tobias Harris, Brand clarified the Sixers’ window. He’s building the Sixers to win now, while he knows that his Big 4 of Harris, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will be around. The future beyond this season is uncertain for the Sixers.

Fittingly, no future is more murky than Fultz’s. His present isn’t especially clear either. Since he played his last game for the Sixers on Nov. 19, 2018, the only official, definitive update from the Sixers on Fultz was that he had been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Everything else has been speculative. He may very well forge a good NBA career for himself, but it made little sense for Brand to bargain that he’d do so in Philadelphia.

Simmons is a wing renowned for his defense, a quality the Sixers have been desperately searching for off the bench. James Ennis, whom the Sixers acquired Thursday in a deal with the Rockets (see story), is a decent all-around option who can knock down three-point shots (36.1 percent for his career). Both present much more immediate value than Fultz — his current value, sitting on the bench in street clothes, is zero. 

Before the Harris trade, the notion that the Sixers should remain patient with Fultz and hope he would eventually morph back into the player they drafted made some sense. You could reasonably envision a scenario in which Fultz's physical therapy did the trick, he rediscovered his shot, and the Sixers regretted letting him go in a win-now move.

That logic doesn’t apply to this situation, or to the trade Brand made. By securing the two draft picks, Brand didn’t abandon the Sixers’ future. And by adding Simmons, he made a team that now has legitimate championship aspirations better.

Regardless of how Fultz’s highly unusual NBA journey develops, Brand made a good deal. While it doesn’t appear likely, it’s still possible Fultz makes an incredible recovery and becomes an All-Star. That won’t matter to the Sixers if this trade helps them win a title. 

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Jim Lynam has tales on when Moses Malone stunned him, Julius Erving’s class, relationship with Maurice Cheeks

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AP Images/David Zalubowski

Jim Lynam has tales on when Moses Malone stunned him, Julius Erving’s class, relationship with Maurice Cheeks

If you’d like in-depth, entertaining insight into some of the great players and moments in Philadelphia basketball history, Jim Lynam is the right person to talk to.

Now an analyst with NBC Sports Philadelphia, Lynam played and coached at St. Joe’s, served as a head coach, assistant coach and general manager throughout the years with the Sixers, and has developed close relationships with a slew of Hall of Famers. He joined Paul Hudrick and Danny Pommells on the latest Sixers Talk podcast and had plenty of stories to tell about Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks and Julius Erving.

Lynam's first experience with the late Malone was in 1985, when he joined the Sixers as an assistant coach after a stint with the Clippers. 

Moses, in my mind, was going through the motions,” Lynam said on the podcast. "And I personally was concerned, maybe after three or four days. … Is Moses all right? Is he hurt? Does he always start like this? They were almost, to a man, dismissive of my thoughts, from [head coach] Matty [Guokas] right up to Harold Katz, the owner. So, this went on for the entire preseason. Moses was beyond desperate. And I’m now really concerned. This guy was key to our team if we’re going to be legit. 

“Well, we open the season in New York against rookie Patrick Ewing, and all the fanfare. Moses gave Patrick Ewing 38 [points] and 24 [rebounds]. It was the first sweat that he broke. And he put Patrick Ewing in the basket probably about six times. So it was a real eye-opener for me.

The official box score says Malone had 35 points and 13 rebounds, but it must have felt like 38 and 24 to a coach getting his first exposure to Malone's Hall of Fame talent. 

“The public persona of Moses was really quite different than who the real guy was,” Lynam said. “He was really one of the best. He was genuine, no nonsense, come to do his work every day. A person of few words, yes, but when he spoke, all heads turned.”

Lynam has a vivid memory from that same year of an incident that showed him Erving’s character. He recalled a mob of fans swarming around Erving after a preseason game, eager for his autograph.

“As we’re walking down this corridor with people all over the place, a fan barges out with a pad and a pen, and obviously somewhat inebriated,” he said. “The first cop takes exception. … Doc’s trying to take care of the fan. ‘Sure, sure I’ll sign.’ And there’s this cop literally with a stick. To see Doc defuse that — he takes cares of the fan. ‘Fine, my man, ‘ he says, ‘but we’ve gotta go.’

"The fan’s ecstatic because he got the autograph. [Erving] turns to the cop, and I could see in the cop’s eyes, he’s irate. Puts his arm out to the cop and he kind of gives him a side embrace, and he says, ‘Thanks, my man, I appreciated that.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was like watching somebody walk on water. He defused what could’ve been a split skull and a near-riot in a matter of seconds, that’s how good he was.” 

Erving was the first of his kind, according to Lynam.

“Playing above the rim, playing in the stratosphere — he brought the game up there,” he said. “He was the first one, because he did it with a combination of spectacular and graceful.”

From 2001-2005, Lynam coached under Cheeks, who hired him to be an assistant on his staff with the Trail Blazers. One quality Lynam admired in Cheeks as a player was “the game was never too big for him.”

“That’s a huge compliment that I would pay a player because, for a lot of good players, the game can get too big,” he said. “Charles Barkley used to tell me, ‘Coach, you’ve gotta be careful who you set that last shot up for.’ Obviously he said it one night when I didn’t set it up for him. But Charles is right. Not everyone relishes having to take, or looks forward to taking, the shot that’s going to decide the game one way or the other. In that light, Cheeks was as good as there was."

You can listen to the full podcast below, which also includes a story from August of 1989 that involves Lynam frantically searching through the city of Philadelphia, looking to tell Cheeks he’d been traded.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



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Sixers smother Wizards in rare road win in NBA2K simulation

Sixers smother Wizards in rare road win in NBA2K simulation

If only the real Sixers were as good on the road as the NBA2K version.

The Sixers smothered the Wizards in a 64-50 win during an NBA 2K20 simulation Friday night.

A 17-0 run to start the fourth quarter pushed the Sixers’ lead from five to 22 and essentially sealed the victory.

Perhaps Washington’s mascot — who basically looks like Gonzo from the Muppets with a gut and a wizard hat on — rollerblading on the court at halftime affected the hardwood.

Here are observations from the win:

Bully ball defense

Bradley Beal got off to a scorching start, scoring all 11 of the Wizards’ first-quarter points. After that, it was tough sledding for Beal and the Wizards.

The star guard had just one point in the second and two in the third. By the time Beal hit a three with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Sixers had already gone on a 17-0 run and put the game away.

Embiid quiet again

For some reason, the Sixers don’t get the ball to their best player in this video game. It makes zero sense. Embiid did appear to be playing banged up. He kept flexing his shoulder and had a little medical symbol pop up next to him. Embiid scored one basket with 16.9 seconds left in the first half. That’s it. He did challenge a ton of shots at the rim.

On the other hand, Ian Mahinmi was the Wizards’ best player and played really well … which is something. Mahinmi, who has one of the worst contracts in the NBA, would not normally be the type of big who takes it to Embiid, but in this simulation, it was Mahinmi’s night.

Sixers would take this Harris and Horford in real life

Yet again, Horford was strong in this simulation. He was great on both ends, punishing rookie Rui Hachimura in the post offensively and defensively. Though the mighty Mahinmi did take it to Horford on a couple possessions. 

Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson were also big in this one. Harris, who was the 2K Player of the Game, posted a double-double while Richardson put the clamps down on Beal. Both players played a big part in the fourth-quarter run.


A night to forget for Neto

In a surprise move, virtual Brett Brown decided to go with seldom-used Raul Neto as his backup point guard. It did not go well. Neto missed his first four shots, which all seemed of the forced variety. Brown had seen enough and went to Richardson as his backup one.

Brown gave Neto a second chance in the second half and the veteran point guard rewarded him. Neto came up with a steal on former Sixer Ish Smith and finished on the other end in the third.

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