76ers

Bryan Colangelo: 'Everyone's trying to poach a big man from us'

Bryan Colangelo: 'Everyone's trying to poach a big man from us'

Bryan Colangelo gets it — having Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid all on the roster to start next year wouldn't be the best situation. But Sixers fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing he's not going to trade one of them just for the heck of it.

In an interview with Sirius XM NBA Radio on Tuesday, Colangelo was candid about the Sixers' crowded frontcourt, but said there's plenty of interest from around the league in trading for one of their centers.

“We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do with everybody, and when you look at the calls that are coming in, quite frankly, everyone’s trying to poach a big man from us,” he said.

So other teams are obviously interested. He added, though, that he's not exactly comfortable having all three guys on the roster going into next season.

"So when I say in a playful way I’m not comfortable, I think we can be a better basketball team if we could distribute that talent better, and maybe take one of those assets and address other needs on the roster," Colangelo said. "But I think right now, it’s best to say we like all of them, we want to see if we can make the most out of each of them in terms of their contributions to this team. But at the end of the day, the reality says probably one has to go at some point, but only if the deal is right.”

The Sixers' frontcourt gets even more crowded with Dario Saric finally set to sign with the Sixers on Friday, a source told CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato. With the addition of Saric, they'll have eight players under contract who are at least 6-foot-9, plus Jerami Grant (6-foot-8), who can play both small and power forward. It would be hard to get all of those guys meaningful minutes if they all are on the roster for the regular season.

Also, Colangelo addressed Okafor's Twitter rant in which he complained about "sources" claiming he was unhappy in Philadelphia.

“I told Jahlil this morning at practice, I said, ‘Listen, I love the way you handled it the other day, so-called sources.' I blasted the same guy because I was a little concerned about these unknown sources that are saying we’re out shopping him," Colangelo said. "It’s completely untrue, and I would tell you that we have to listen, it’s part of my job. I have to make this roster better, I have to make this basketball team better. But to classify it or characterize it as shopping him, that’s not the case at all.”

Sixers squeak by Wizards after Ben Simmons exits early with left knee injury

Sixers squeak by Wizards after Ben Simmons exits early with left knee injury

Updated: 8:27 p.m. 

The importance of the Sixers’ 107-98 win over the Wizards on Wednesday pales in comparison to Ben Simmons’ status. 

The two-time All-Star suffered a left knee injury in the third quarter and did not return. Joel Embiid (30 points, 11 rebounds) led the way for the Sixers, who improved to 41-27 and next face the Magic on Friday night. His dunk with 19.3 seconds to go finally sealed the victory over the 24-44 Wizards. 

Here are observations on the game: 

Simmons’ early exit 

Simmons (eight points on 2 for 10 shooting, six rebounds, four assists) headed to the locker room in the middle of the third period. He flexed his left leg after throwing a pass for Al Horford and immediately headed off the floor. 

That injury clearly casts a shadow on the game for the Sixers given Simmons’ obvious, immense value as a versatile offensive piece and excellent defender. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Simmons has no swelling or pain in his left knee and that “early indications … are encouraging.”

"I’m sure the club will make some announcement about Ben’s departure from the floor soon," Brett Brown said after the game. "But as far as knowing more than that, I really don’t. I’m obviously very curious to hear what that news is.”

Inconsistent (but better) defense 

As far as Brown is concerned, the explanation for most of the Sixers’ defensive issues in their first two seeding games is simple. 

“When we choose to play defense on a more repetitive, regular basis — not (just) the third period and don’t pay attention to the first half, as an example — when we get that disposition, that physicality, I think things are going to connect,” he said before the game.

The collective effort and focus was solid in the first quarter against the Wizards but lapsed at times afterwards. Shake Milton was beaten off the dribble on several occasions in the first half. Tobias Harris ceded an offensive rebound to Troy Brown Jr. early in the third quarter, and Brown laid it in to tie the game at 58 apiece during a 23-11 Wizards run to begin the third period. Overall, the Sixers are playing below their potential defensively and will pay in the playoffs if they don’t elevate their level. 

Simmons, of course, is a main reason why the team’s defensive ceiling seemed so high entering this season. 

Trimming the rotation 

Brown decided to cut his rotation from 10 players to nine against the Wizards, leaving Raul Neto out. Mike Scott (right knee soreness) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) remained sidelined. 

The Sixers’ head coach acknowledged there are still rotation-related questions he’s assessing ahead of the playoffs. 

“I think the desire to play 10 initially, I don’t regret,” he said pregame. “I’ve admitted I’m trying to learn stuff and keep the team’s spirit at a place that I think ends up important. I do think that it has been difficult to find real minutes for 10 players — it’s just so much that can go around. … Ultimately, you get to the playoffs, it’s certainly going to be nine.” 

Alec Burks was the sole backup point guard and also played on the wing in a lineup alongside Simmons, Harris, Horford and Josh Richardson. He had nine points, two assists and no turnovers in 19:34, with his playing time extended because of Simmons’ injury.

He knows what’s coming 

All of the double teams Embiid is encountering come as no surprise to the big man.

“I’ve just gotta keep on getting better because I know that every single game I’m going to get doubled,” he said Monday night, “so I’ve gotta just figure that out … and create shots for my teammates. If I’m open and I’ve got a duck-in, just go out and do it. But other than that, just try to make sure defenders attract a lot of attention, just for my teammates.”

Washington’s double teams were predictably frequent and aggressive, and Embiid again handled them reasonably well. With the exception of one first-quarter play where he turned toward the baseline on a fadeaway jumper attempt straight into Isaac Bonga, he took what the defense presented to him. 

And, when the Wizards couldn’t send an extra body, he recognized his advantage and went straight to work. 

Milton (14 points, four assists) and Richardson (15 points, three assists) helped Embiid out by hitting a couple of jumpers down the stretch. 

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Ben Simmons forced to leave game vs. Wizards with injury

Ben Simmons forced to leave game vs. Wizards with injury

The Sixers haven’t gotten off a great start in Disney World and an injury to one of their All-Stars won’t help matters.

Ben Simmons left Wednesday’s game against the Wizards with a left knee injury and did not return, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters. Simmons appeared to favor the leg on an entry pass to Al Horford late in the third quarter.

Simmons could be seen walking gingerly to the locker room for further examination. A few moments later, we saw GM Elton Brand walk into the locker room.

There is some positive news, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The 24-year-old has had a tough start in the NBA’s official return but is integral to the Sixers’ possible playoff success. Simmons is one of the most dangerous players in the NBA in transition and is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

We’ll have more updates on Simmons’ injury as they’re provided.

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