76ers

Wilson Chandler impressed with Sixers, ready to help them win

Wilson Chandler impressed with Sixers, ready to help them win

Wilson Chandler knows his new team quite well. 

His former team lost to them twice last season and the veteran combo forward came away impressed.

“I’m a fan of the whole team in general,” Chandler said Tuesday on a conference call. “I was telling one of my old teammates in Denver after we played them, ‘Man, these guys play f------ hard.’”

Chandler, acquired in a trade with the Nuggets last week, wasn’t just impressed with the Sixers’ hustle. He spoke glowingly of the franchise’s two young stars — Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He also singled out JJ Redick, Dario Saric and Robert Covington as players he’s looking forward to joining.

He didn’t drop a “Trust the Process” during the call but did come to the defense of former GM Sam Hinkie’s strategy and where it’s gotten the current team.

“First of all, I think the organization deserves more credit,” he said. “They had a couple years where a lot of people were giving them s--- about ‘what are they doing?’ and all that stuff, but they’ve done a great job putting a team together. They have two young stars … I think Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are future stars. In my eyes, they’re really good right now but they’re future stars and I see big things for both of them and big things in general. They did a good job putting a lot of good, young talent together.”

The trade that brought Chandler here was strictly a financial move for the cap-strapped Nuggets. His acquisition also offers the Sixers flexibility. Since they absorbed his salary, he can be traded — say, to maybe San Antonio — immediately. His deal is also expiring, freeing up the Sixers to enter the free agency fray yet again next offseason.

With that said, Chandler brings plenty to the table if he remains with the Sixers. He provides more NBA experience to the team’s young core. He offers versatility, with the ability to play the three and the four. He’s also considered a solid defender, something the Sixers lacked off their bench in their series loss to the Celtics.

Chandler appears to be fully embracing everything about his new squad — from his new head coach Brett Brown to the role he could wind up playing. Whether it’s off the bench or as a starter, on the offensive end or on defense, Chandler just wants to help the Sixers win. 

“Me personally, I’m not worried about coming off the bench or starting,” Chandler said. “I’ve done both in my career. I’ve come off the bench more than I started. I’m not opposed to that at all. I just want to win. I’m just glad to be back on a playoff team. I’m looking forward to pushing them as far as I can.”

Chandler has been in the league since 2007 and has only played in 11 playoff games. He hasn’t been to the postseason since 2013. Given the Sixers’ current roster, the chances are excellent that Chandler will change that trend.

But making the playoffs alone won’t satisfy him.

“In my opinion, I think this team is built to make a run at the title,” Chandler said. “I think that’s my expectation and I think that’s everybody’s. It should be.”

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Sixers will begin phased reopening of practice facility Wednesday

Sixers will begin phased reopening of practice facility Wednesday

The Sixers will begin a phased reopening of their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, on Wednesday for voluntary, individual workouts, the team announced.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday that professional sports teams in New Jersey are now permitted to resume training and competition, which opened the door for the Sixers.

NBA teams had been allowed to hold individual workouts for players beginning on May 8 with strict restrictions in place. Because of coronavirus-related restrictions imposed in New Jersey, the Sixers hadn’t been among the teams holding workouts. However, general manager Elton Brand did say that Ben Simmons had been allowed to use the team’s practice facility to do rehab work for a nerve impingement in his lower back.

“Ben and others have been given permission to use our facility,” Brand said on May 5. “It’s essential that they have the proper equipment to workout and rehab, so he’s been doing that ever since the first week. We were able to get him access there. Joel Embiid’s been working out. He’s conditioning, he’s focused, he’s asking about when his trainer can come in, when he can get on the court.

"So I wouldn’t bet against him. He’s going to be ready and ramped up. Tobias [Harris] is a similar situation. He’s been getting treatment on and off. Most of our players are in market, by the way. Tobias is in market and he’s been getting treatment also.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported last week that teams expect the league to issue guidelines around June 1 on recalling players who have left their markets, and for workouts to expand around the same time.

The NBA announced Saturday that it is engaged in “exploratory conversations” about resuming the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in late July. The season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

On May 15, head coach Brett Brown said he thought a three-week ramp-up period would likely be sufficient before returning to play. 

“The notion of how the players come in influences kind of everything,” Brown said. “The three-week thing I think can be achieved as long as the fitness base of the players coming in is at the standard that I’m saying,” he said. “With that … I feel comfortable that we could go play basketball again.”

Though the team's facility reopening for individual workouts is not a massive step, it does appear that the NBA is moving toward a resumption. Wojnarowski has reported that, "barring something unforeseen," the widespread expectation is that commissioner Adam Silver will clear a return in June. 

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2020 NBA free agency: 6 bigs the Sixers could target this offseason

2020 NBA free agency: 6 bigs the Sixers could target this offseason

Another big man may not be high on the priority list for the Sixers this offseason, but a lot can change between when/if the season resumes and when next season starts.

Will the Sixers try to move Al Horford’s contract? Does the team trust Norvel Pelle to take on a bigger role next season? Would Kyle O’Quinn consider returning after he reportedly asked to be waived?

Here are six bigs that could fit the Sixers in free agency depending on how everything shakes out.

Marc Gasol

Gasol is most known around these parts for being a thorn in Joel Embiid’s side. A former Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol is big, smart and physical — a combination that has caused Embiid serious difficulty. He’s not the offensive player he was in his prime, but he can still shoot it (40.2 percent from three), pass it (3.4 assists) and is an excellent screen setter.

At 35, it will be interesting see what kind of offers Gasol will get. The only scenario in which the Sixers would likely be able to make it work is if they successfully trade Horford and his massive contract. Is it worth taking a shot on Gasol with the team’s mid-level exception? With the Sixers having other pressing needs, it’s a tough call. Gasol would make an excellent Embiid backup and mentor.

Aron Baynes

Baynes had a solid run in Boston and was having a strong season in Monty Williams’ system in Phoenix. The Sixers were the first team to experience Baynes’ evolution as a three-point shooter in the 2018 playoffs. He was hitting 35 percent on over four attempts a game before the 2019-20 season was suspended. He also has proven to be a solid post defender and screen setter.

This is going to be all about what Baynes’ preferences are. If he wants to get paid like a starting center, the Sixers aren’t the team for him. If he’s willing to accept a backup role to Embiid on a lesser deal, there’s a possibility. It seems more likely Baynes could find a better situation, but he’d be a solid option for the Sixers if he can’t.

Alex Len

Len hasn’t lived up to the status of being the fifth overall pick, but he’s become a solid rotational NBA big. His career numbers per 36 minutes are solid: 14.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks. Though he struggled to hit threes this season, he’s had some success for a big (33 percent for his career).

Still just 26, there could be a team that views Len as having a higher ceiling. Being so young, he also could value playing time and money over being a reserve on a contender. Like Baynes, if he can’t find a better situation, the Sixers could do worse in a backup center.

Noah Vonleh

Vonleh is another top-10 pick that hasn’t quite panned out but has shown he can be a serviceable NBA player. After a strong campaign for the Knicks in 2018-19, Vonleh had a tough year for the Timberwolves. He was eventually shipped to the Nuggets in that crazy four-team deal ahead of the trade deadline.

Signing Vonleh would be similar to when the Sixers signed O’Quinn this past offseason. He won’t have a definitive role but could be a nice insurance policy if there are injuries and Pelle struggles. Though he’s only 24, the price shouldn’t be high given his struggles in Minnesota this season.

Dario Saric

If you’re reading this, you should know all about this guy. Saric hasn’t been the same player since he was dealt to the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. Still, he’s played a solid role for Williams in Phoenix. Saric has flashed the combination of skill and grit he did here, but his lack of athleticism has limited him.

Saric is a true four. Though you could get away with using Saric as a small-ball five in certain lineups, you wouldn’t want him back there for an extended period of time with a true NBA center. Saric did love his time here and played the best basketball of his NBA career. He's a restricted free agent so the Suns would likely have to rescind his rights for the Sixers to have a chance. If the price is right, you can’t rule out a reunion.

Markieff Morris

The Philly native was having a good year in Detroit before being bought out and signing with the Lakers. He’s struggled with his shot during his eight-game stint in L.A. but was hitting just below 40 percent of his threes with the Pistons. Morris plays with an edge and could bring that physical style and attitude back home.

Morris could be repetitive with Mike Scott already signed for next season. Though Scott struggled this year, he’d come on a bit before the season was suspended and looked more like the player we saw during last year's playoff run.

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