The Sixers were significantly shorthanded for their first practices of the 2020-21 season.
Tyrese Maxey and Mike Scott have not been with the team after receiving positive COVID-19 test results, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Before talking about his roster, head coach Doc Rivers wanted to know whether he was permitted to discuss the Sixers’ trade with the Thunder that will send Al Horford to Oklahoma City and bring Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson to Philadelphia. As The Athletic’s Derek Bodner reported, center Vincent Poirier will also be heading to the Sixers, a league source confirmed. Poirier, a 27-year-old French center, appeared in 22 games last season for the Celtics and averaged 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in limited minutes.
A Sixers public relations official informed Rivers that the trade will be done Tuesday. This is because Green’s contract couldn’t be aggregated after he was dealt from the Lakers to the Thunder, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted.
“Tomorrow,” Rivers said. “So those guys haven’t been here either. So we have quite a few guys out. I think our numbers are 13 right now, which is really low.
“I will say this: It’s actually been very effective, too, because what happens in camp a lot is you have 19, 20 guys, and guys don’t get enough reps. I will tell you that Ben (Simmons) and Joel (Embiid) are saying they’re getting a lot of reps right now. And I think it’s good. ... I asked the guys to raise their hands: ‘Who has played in a pickup game since the bubble?’ It was two. Think about that. That’s so abnormal from the normal start of the season where guys have a month before where they’re training. That told me a lot.”
Thirteen players indeed is a very small number for a NBA training camp. The Sixers also announced Monday night that they waived Lamine Diane and Justin Robinson, which gives them the necessary roster space to execute the trade with the Thunder.
Diane, a rangy forward and two-time Big West Player of the Year at Cal State Northridge, signed an Exhibit 10 contract, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The same is true for Robinson, a point guard who played for the Delaware Blue Coats last season, according to multiple reports. Exhibit 10 contracts enable teams to incentivize players to join their G-League affiliates.
Rivers explained that the Sixers are doing their best to virtually acclimate Maxey to the NBA.
“He watches the practice through Zoom,” Rivers said. “After the practice, he gets with one of our assistant coaches and they try to walk him through the practice again. So at least visually, he’s seeing it twice. Trying to show him the spots that he would be in. I’m hoping he’s that type of learner. Some guys can’t learn through just video, so we’ll see that when we get our hands on him.”
The shorthanded situation has presented more opportunities for those like Justin Anderson who are hoping to earn a regular-season roster spot.
“Yeah, we’re seven people short but it doesn’t feel like it,” Anderson said. “Guys are just willing to go out there and compete. Obviously you’re feeling it sometimes when you’re gassed after going down and back a few times and you don’t have a sub. But for basketball players, we don’t really want that anyway; we don’t want someone to come in and sub us out anyway. So it’s to our advantage a lot of times, but it’s also helping us get in shape. We’re competing really hard, we’re practicing hard, we’re trying to keep the level of practice at high intensity to create game-like situations.
“I think guys are just so excited to be back and be playing basketball with one another that we don’t even recognize it. But we can’t wait for those seven guys to be back and be a part of it, especially guys that we know are going to help us. Those guys are coming along soon, from what we hear, but in the meantime we just have to give up ourselves and practice as hard as we can ... in the short window that we have to practice.”
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