Miami Heat

'Jimmy is my brother' — Joel Embiid laments Butler leaving for Miami

'Jimmy is my brother' — Joel Embiid laments Butler leaving for Miami

If you’re a Sixers fans that misses Jimmy Butler, you’re not alone.

Butler had developed a close bond with Joel Embiid. The duo was perfect on the court in the sense that Embiid consistently got off to hot starts and Butler came up clutch in the fourth quarter.

Off the court, they also developed a strong connection. Embiid mentioned on media day the impact of losing Butler and JJ Redick, another player Embiid grew close to.

“Obviously everybody had a great relationship,” Embiid said. “I'm going to miss those three guys, especially JJ and Jimmy. JJ was my guy. Jimmy is my brother, we still talk a lot. I'm going to miss them a lot. 

“I don't think anything changes. But now we have more time. Last year we had a little time to get to know each other, and it started off rough. And that is my fault, too. I've gotta be a better leader. But this year, we've got a whole year to figure it out."

In an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN's The Jump, Embiid said he would've liked to see Butler return:

Much has been made of who the Sixers’ go-to guy in the fourth quarter will be with Butler gone. Could Tobias Harris be the type of player that can fill that role? Will Ben Simmons, if he’s a equipped with a respectable jump shot, develop a closer-type mentality?

The easy answer — and one that Brett Brown has pointed to — is Embiid. Embiid is the most difficult player to defend on the Sixers because of his size and skill. But it is difficult for post players to fill that role.

That’s why Embiid has been trying to advance his skill set even further.

“This year, I feel like they're going to make everybody shoot the ball,” Embiid said. “Going into the summer, after I found out that I was losing both of them – especially because I also knew these guys were going to need me to take over. You've gotta be more than a post player. You've gotta be able to do other things, because it's easy for other teams to send double teams when you're just posting up, back to the basket. You gotta be able to attack off the dribble, you've gotta be able to shoot off the dribble.”

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Josh Richardson bonds with Al Horford, wants to 'kill the Heat'

Josh Richardson bonds with Al Horford, wants to 'kill the Heat'

During the quietest part of the NBA offseason, one of the newest Sixers is enjoying one of his favorite non-basketball sports.

Josh Richardson, an avid soccer fan, was in Miami for the Barcelona-Napoli match and spoke to Chris Fischer of NBC6 South Florida.

It sounds like Richardson, acquired in the sign-and-trade deal involving Jimmy Butler, is looking forward to taking on his former team.

“Honestly, when I come back here, I want to kill the Heat,” Richardson said. “I want to beat them by 20. That’s just how I’m built. If I was on the Heat, I would want to beat Philly by 50 because that’s just how the rivalry, how are teams went.”

The former second-round pick out of Tennessee got to spend time with another SEC alum in Florida’s Al Horford. The newest Sixers starters had lunch together in Atlanta and apparently hit it off.

“From one lunch I could tell how mature he is, how much he wants to win and that’s all I can really ask for,” Richardson said.

For more from the interview with Richardson, check out the video above.

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The skinny on Josh Richardson from those that covered him

The skinny on Josh Richardson from those that covered him

How much do you really know about Josh Richardson? 

From his strengths and weaknesses to his potential fit and off-the-court hobbies, I caught up with those that covered him closely during his time with the Miami Heat, and there were several themes that stood out.

(*An asterisk denotes someone that’s covered Richardson, but requested anonymity.)

Good person

Above all else, every single person I talked to raved about what a great person the Sixers are getting in Richardson. The terms “great personality,” “nicest guy in the world,” “unbelievable guy,” were being doled out left and right.

“Josh is wide-eyed and everything is great to him. Just a good guy from [Oklahoma City] who is down to earth and is going to be everything you want in someone like that.”*

“There’s also a whimsical side to him, a silly side to him.”*

Two-way player

When you ask anyone about Richardson’s game, the first word that comes to mind is his defense. “He’s a great two-way player, who doesn’t defensively do it with the physicality that Jimmy (Butler) does it, but he does it with quickness, with steals, deflections, playing passing lanes, plus a very good plus wingspan …”*

One person told me that by, essentially, replacing Butler with Richardson, the Sixers haven’t lost anything defensively. “Great with steals, great team defender, and he probably still has a little bit in his ceiling to reach.”*

“Every time I did a story on Josh and I talked to people around the league, they mentioned him as one of the best two-way players in the league, just because he plays on both ends and he was a bargain on that contract,” Shandel Richardson of The Athletic said.

Fit in Miami

There was a very common theme that repeatedly surfaced regarding Richardson’s fit in Miami. According to multiple people who covered Richardson, the sentiment was that Richardson was, in essence, given the opportunity to be the alpha dog in Miami, but ‘it’s simply not a part of who Josh is.’*

“It was kind of unfortunate that he got thrust into a role this year, where he was kind of put as the go-to guy, and maybe he wasn’t ready for that role yet,” Shandel Richardson said. “People kind of looked down upon him about that. He’s still got a lot of room to grow, only 25 years old. I think he’s just a player that needs a little more time, that’s all.”

And that brings us to what you really want to know, his fit in Philly …

“Great fit.” “Perfect fit in Philly.” “He’s the kind of player who’s great for a team in a playoff race.” These were the kinds of phrases I heard over and over again.

Unlike in Miami, Richardson won’t be expected to be the leading scorer in Philadelphia.

“I think it’s a good fit, because Philly has other players that can score the ball, and he’s not going to go out and take 20-25 shots a game. Josh isn’t a guy that has to do that, but he felt like he was kind of pressing last year, because he was in that role,” Shandel Richardson explained. “You can slide Josh in and he can score off the ball and he’s a great defender. He fits in with those guys well and I think that’s why Philly went after him.”

This sentiment rang true with every person I contacted that covered Richardson.

 “I love the fit there for this reason: Josh Richardson was given a chance at the start of last season when Miami didn’t make the trade with Minnesota (for Butler) to be the alpha. And, by the end of the season, Dwayne Wade took that role because it’s simply not part of who Josh is. Josh Richardson is the perfect third or fourth wheel. I don’t know where he fits in with Tobias, but he’ll let Embiid get his, Simmons gets his, and then he’ll be the other guy willing to do any of the dirty work.”

“The Sixers are getting a player who is high effort, high energy, very good defender. His offensive game can be streaky, but when he’s on a roll, he’s on a roll. He can be a very effective mid-range and three-point shooter. I think he’s a perfect fit for the Sixers.” – Barry Jackson, Miami Herald

“I think he’s the kind of player who’s great for a team in a playoff race, because he’ll support you, play the two, play the three, and he’s played a bunch of point guard also. He played PG in his final year at Tennessee, so he certainly has that in him.”*

Areas to grow

Smarter plays (and specifically a propensity to dribble out of bounds) and better shot selection did come up quite bit as areas for improvement.

Bonus nuggets

He loves to DJ on the side, loves alternative rock music, grew up in a military household and still does charity work in Oklahoma.

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