If not Noel, Sixers wanted Bennett or Oladipo


If not Noel, Sixers wanted Bennett or Oladipo

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Everywhere you turn at the Amway Arena during NBA Summer League play, there are conversations taking place in hushed voices off in the corners of the practice gym. General managers are talking to agents; coaches are talking to other coaches; writers are talking to anyone who will give them a scoop.

And one NBA front-office source shared a tidbit about the Sixers and draft night. The deal with New Orleans was in place days before the draft rolled around.

Three names would have supposedly gotten the deal done: Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo and Nerlens Noel. Bennett went first to the Cavaliers. Oladipo was selected second by Orlando, and fortunately for the Sixers, Noel was still on the board when the Pelicans picked at No. 6.

What is interesting about the draftees they liked is that all three play a different position. Noel is a center, Bennett a power forward, and Oladipo a shooting guard. It seems unlikely that acquiring Bennett or Oladipo would have done anything to stop the Sixers selecting Michael Carter-Williams at No. 11.

This gives insight into the workings of the draft and how deals get done on that night -- it hardly happens in a five-minute window. Plans and contingency plans are mapped out in advance.

Sam Hinkie is definitely a thinker and a planner and his thoroughness has impressed his boss in the brief time he has been on the job.

“My first impression is he is fantastic,” owner Joshua Harris said. “My first impression was we were getting a super smart, hardworking, very focused, world-class GM, and that is exactly what we got. I like to say I was playing checkers and he is playing chess. He is thinking about five moves ahead, so I am learning a lot about basketball from interacting with him.”

Just as he was in 2012, Harris was in the war room on draft night when the Sixers made that trade with New Orleans and later acquired Carter-Williams, Arsalan Kezemi and two future second-round picks.

“I got down there early afternoon and was there until two in the morning,” Harris said. “I was there because when it comes to very significant decisions like some of those that were made on draft night, I am going to be around and focused.”

Another topic drifting in and out of conversations this week is the Sixers' head coaching vacancy. Have the Sixers hired a coach yet? When are the Sixers going to hire a coach? Those phrases have been heard time and again.

The coaching fraternity is tight, whether we are talking about head coaches or assistants, and the summer league is where they get to enjoy each other’s company and share ideas or just friendly conversation.

One member of that coaching fraternity confirmed that Dave Fizdale -- Miami's assistant coach said to be on the Sixers head coach radar -- has not been contacted by the organization.

If anyone has been contacted to fill that position remains a mystery.

Where is Nancy Drew when I need her?

Summer League schedule
The Sixers had a closed practice Tuesday. They were not scheduled to play a game but will resume playing Wednesday at 1 p.m. when they take on Oklahoma City.

By the numbers: Sixers' wild overtime win over Nets

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By the numbers: Sixers' wild overtime win over Nets

The 76ers’ 112-104 overtime win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night kept the team’s momentum rolling as they aim to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff race. 

A look into the numbers tells a deeper story: Yet another singular performance from All-Star Joel Embiid, a hard-earned win despite napping for nearly one-third of the game, and a dominant defensive display in the extra period. 

JoJo does it again

Embiid carried the mail throughout the win, finishing with 39 points and 16 rebounds. It was his fourth career game reaching those numbers in a game. 

According to basketball-reference.com, only Wilt Chamberlain (35) and Charles Barkley (6) have reached those numbers more times in their Sixers careers. 

He earned nearly half of his points from the free throw line, making 18-of-19 in the game. Elias Sports Bureau found six games in which a starting center made at least 18 free throws, and missed one or fewer. Embiid’s name appears twice on that list. He made 20-of-21 FT in a 118-115 win over the Celtics last March 20.

Sixers put down the controller

After taking a 22-6 lead on a Tobias Harris layup with 5:45 left in the first quarter, the Sixers apparently thought the game was over. Over the next 14:36 of game time, they were outscored by the Nets 44-8! That made a 16-point lead into a 20-point deficit. Elias Sports Bureau says that dating back to the start of the 1997-98 season, no team has won a game in which it allowed a 44-8 run.

Slamming it shut in OT

The Sixers stopped messing around with enough time to make up the deficit and force overtime. The Nets managed just a single point in the extra five minutes. This was the third time in Sixers team history that they allowed one point or fewer in an overtime period.

They will look to add more nuggets to the record book Saturday night in Milwaukee when they take on the 47-8 Bucks.

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More on the Sixers

Let's just watch that sick Joel Embiid Euro step over and over

Let's just watch that sick Joel Embiid Euro step over and over

Thursday night's Sixers win in South Philadelphia had all the highs and lows of their season to date.

Brett Brown's boys came out with guns blazing, torching the Nets out of the gate and looking like the world beaters we know they can be. Then Al Horford took the court and the Sixers flipped the switch in the wrong direction -- whatever you do, don't look at the stats in this tweet. The Nets' 40-8 run in the first half was truly astounding. How does a championship contender allow that to happen?

This 76ers team is nothing if not inconsistent.

There's plenty to still worry about with this team. But Thursday night showed that Joel Embiid can absolutely dominate and takeover a game, carrying the rest of his teammates to victory. Coach Brown has talked about Embiid's ability to bully this team to victory, but it's still a pleasure to watch when it actually happens.

Embiid has been talking about having fun and we all know the cure for that problem: winning.

Which got me thinking. Is there a player in any sport in Philadelphia whose mood dictates the mood of the entire city more than Joel Embiid's? 

When Embiid blocked Wilson Chandler as the clock expired in regulation to send the game to overtime, you could feel the electric energy in the entire arena. And fans at home on their couches across the Philly area felt it too.

It felt good to see Embiid having fun, team on his back and all.

But it's the Euro step that really got the fans out of their seats. It was beautiful.

The lowkey best part about it may have been after Embiid made the bucket and was heading back on defense and he showed off the footwork again. Big dude's just having fun out there.

You love to see it.