76ers

Nothing off table for Bryan Colangelo, Sixers during draft

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Nothing off table for Bryan Colangelo, Sixers during draft

CHICAGO -- As the Sixers build the team in a new direction, no player is untradeable. The same goes for draft picks.

The Sixers could hold as many as four first-round picks next month. They have a 26.9 percent chance at getting No. 1, mathematically cannot fall lower than fourth, and could acquire the Lakers’ pick if it drops below third. Picks 24 and 26 already are solidified.

Since the Sixers have to change the course of the roster that finished 10-72 last season, they are not ruling out moving their top picks to do so.

“I think that we have to say everything’s on the table,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday at the NBA Draft Combine, his first with the Sixers. “We’re just not good enough right now as a team to hold anything back.”

The 2016 draft order will be revealed next Tuesday at the lottery. Then the Sixers can begin weighing their options and getting a sense of interest around the market. Other teams already know the pieces on the roster, including the abundance of bigs, and the addition of a pick (or picks) could attract those eyeing an incoming rookie.

“With so much flexibility we’re a team that everybody wants to talk to because we’ve got good, young, developing pieces, we’ve got draft picks, and those assets are equal value,” Colangelo said. “And value and options and alternatives equal conversation and sometimes stimulates that activity.”

But even if the Sixers receiving enticing offers, they are not going to rush into a move just to make one. Colangelo wants to take a step-by-step approach to revamping this team and would rather wait than jump on a trade that will not bolster the Sixers to where they want to get. There is a big difference between becoming a playoff team that sneaks in at the eighth spot and becoming a contender.

“We need to make sure that any decision that’s made, whether it’s existing players being traded or any picks that are being traded or thought to be traded, we need to do it in a proven and pragmatic way,” Colangelo said. “We want to build this thing the right way.

“We’ve talked about not racing out to the middle and getting stuck. We’ve talked about taking incremental steps and that theme is going to be consistent throughout this whole process. It’s not just this week and the next few weeks leading up to the draft, it’s going to be over several years that we’re going to be taking these steps. Now if the right opportunity comes along that we can utilize that flexibility that we want to maintain and that situation intact, I think that we will contemplate if the right situation comes forward.”

Colangelo and the Sixers will continue their interview process this weekend and begin workouts next week. As they meet with prospects, they are only a few days away from finding out who they can target, and possibly what assets they could trade.

“It’s a big day on Tuesday,” Colangelo said. “We’re going to know where we are. No matter how it comes out, we’re at least going to know where we stand and what we have to play with respect to building this team.”

Sixers Talk podcast: Bring on the Bucks!

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NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Bring on the Bucks!

On this edition of Sixers Talk, Paul Hudrick and Amy Fadool discuss Joel Embiid dominating, Alec Burks being a spark off the bench, and Saturday's huge matchup against the Bucks.

• Sixers win a weird one in their first game after the All-Star break (1:07)

• Alec Burks gives the Sixers exactly what they need (9:18)

• Al Horford's new role (12:55)

• Joel Embiid vs Giannis Antetokounmpo (25:08)

• Ben Simmons' defense has allowed the Sixers to really compete against the Bucks (29:42)

• Sixers' three-point shooting percentage against Milwaukee (32:32).

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With Joel Embiid-Al Horford pairing, Brett Brown has more important decisions ahead

With Joel Embiid-Al Horford pairing, Brett Brown has more important decisions ahead

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have 24 two-man lineups that have played at least 400 minutes together this season. The Al Horford-Joel Embiid pairing has the worst net rating of them all, by a margin of 2.9 points.

It’s an important statistic and an obvious reason why it made sense for the Sixers to remove Horford from their starting lineup. Horford played only nine minutes with Embiid on Feb. 11 against the Clippers, seven minutes Thursday night vs. the Nets. Before that, the pair had averaged 14.3 minutes per game together. 

Is Brett Brown’s goal simply to minimize the time those two share the floor? 

At times when you see that number to be low, it will be driven because the matchups just, in my opinion, didn't allow it," he said Friday. "It's just a stone cold small-ball game. Some of it will be driven out of performance and my gut feel, but I feel like a large portion of it will be driven out of just the matchups that we have on the floor. 

“It is my hope that you see that number in a healthy way. It's still the desire to have those two guys play quality basketball and coexist whenever that is required. But I feel like the number that I was saying should be judged based on matchups. You're going to see if it's a tiny number, I'll be shocked if it's not driven completely because the game is really small.”

The Nets did indeed use ultra-small lineups against the Sixers, with 6-foot-8 Wilson Chandler seeing time at center. Horford also played poorly. He was a minus-26 in 18:33 which, though an extreme number, did not seem to be an outrageously inaccurate reflection of his performance. 

Putting Horford on the floor with Embiid at the end of the game would have been illogical — doing so would have removed a ball handler like Alec Burks or Shake Milton or forced Brown to take out Tobias Harris (22 points, 12 rebounds). Essentially, Brown would have been trying to insert an ill-fitting piece and using a lineup that made little sense in the circumstances. 

Still, one can understand the instinct to involve Horford as much as possible. The Sixers gave him a lucrative four-year contract this season with the idea that he could both back up Embiid and play next to him. To abandon one half of that equation could be viewed as admitting a costly mistake, even in the context of Horford still having value as an improvement over the team’s backup centers last year and as Embiid insurance.

Brown doesn’t see Horford as a lost cause and was insistent Friday that the five-time All-Star is still an important player for the Sixers. 

“There's a human side of this that I take a lot of pride in, figuring that side out as as best I can,” he said. “Relationships and communication rule our sort of worlds. … He's a prideful man, he's got a history that he has, he has been rewarded with the contract that he has, and just keeping it very straight, very clean, very quick, and this is how I see it, this is why I see it this way, and not being apologetic about it. … He knows that I am aware of it all. And I believe that things will settle. 

“We have seen the history of Al Horford, and all of us would be very naive to think that some of his signing wasn't driven to where we think we want to be in April, May and we hope June. Just progress out, look ahead to see the matchups. … I think the communication and how I speak to Al is for me driven with those sort of core tenants in mind that I try to stick to.”

Horford is shooting 32.4 percent from three-point range, his worst mark since 2014-15, and 33.1 percent on wide-open threes. A hopeful look at history would suggest those numbers will improve. 

He’s also accepted a bench role without any fuss, saying Wednesday, “It’s what the team needs right now, and that’s what we’re doing.”

There is certainly evidence to support the notion he can excel at a job that includes a few less minutes alongside Embiid but still has him featuring in late-game lineups, especially against teams like the Bucks. 

Brown will continue to track the success and regularity of the Embiid-Horford duo. Though he and the Sixers will be looking for signs of improvement, it’s feasible that he’ll eventually be best served by further decreasing the playing time of his original frontcourt. 

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