Jonah Bolden

Sixers complete trade for Mike Muscala, sign Jonah Bolden

Sixers complete trade for Mike Muscala, sign Jonah Bolden

For a team without a full-time GM, the Sixers have been awfully busy.

The team on Wednesday announced the trade for Hawks big man Mike Muscala and the signing of 2016 second-round pick Jonah Bolden. As part of a three-team deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to Atlanta, the Sixers sent swingmen Justin Anderson to the Hawks and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Thunder.

In Muscala, the Sixers get a stretch big that can help mitigate Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica backing out of his agreement to sign with the team. A five-year veteran out of Bucknell, Muscala has shot 38 percent from three in 243 NBA games.

“Mike Muscala joins our program at a fantastic stage of his career,” head coach and interim GM Brett Brown said in a statement. “He has enjoyed some NBA success and his upside in the future is extremely bright. 

“We will use him both as a backup five and, at times, a power forward. His ability to shoot the ball and the energy with which he plays will help our basketball team.”

Anderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot are first-round picks — Anderson by the Mavericks, Luwawu-Cabarrot by the Sixers — that haven’t quite panned out. 

Anderson, acquired in the Nerlens Noel trade, has provided physical defense but has been inconsistent with his jumper. Luwawu-Cabarrot flashed at the end of his rookie season but struggled with injuries and inconsistency as well last season.

With the Sixers, Anderson averaged just 16.7 minutes, scoring 7.1 points a game in 62 games. Luwawu-Cabarrot played in 121 games with the team but averaged just 6.1 points in 16.5 minutes per contest.

“We thank both Timmy Luwawu and Justin Anderson for their contributions in growing the 76ers strong culture,” Brown said. “They are fantastic people, extremely dedicated NBA players and will be missed. I believe their new situations will afford them the opportunity to find themselves and give them every chance to stay and grow in the NBA.”

Brown and company have always preached patience but were obviously ready to cut ties with two young players in Anderson (24) and Luwawu-Cabarrot (23).

The Sixers have been patient with Bolden since they drafted the Australian in 2017. The 22-year-old spent a season at UCLA before opting to play overseas. The Sixers stashed Bolden this past season with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. 

Bolden’s shot hasn’t come along like maybe the team had hoped, but he’s impressed by being an active and versatile defender.

“We have been following Jonah Bolden for a while and are very excited to bring him into our program as a young, up-and-coming prospect,” Brown said. “He experienced positive growth and development last season at Maccabi Tel Aviv, a team led by Neven Spahija, who is a friend of our program and an excellent coach. 

“Jonah’s style of play is that of a modern-day player and we’re thrilled to grow our team with him.”

There may be more moves coming with Jerryd Bayless still on the roster. The Sixers are likely to buyout or stretch his deal if they’re unable to trade him.

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Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Sixers’ roster has suddenly turned into musical chairs over the past few days.

In are Mike Muscala and Jonah Bolden. Out are Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Richaun Holmes.

Not exactly earth-shattering moves, but moves nonetheless.

Of course, all of those changes were directed at the Sixers’ bench. That’s because the team already has one of the best starting rotations in the entire NBA. The Sixers’ five-man combination of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid was plus-21.4 points per 100 possessions in 600 minutes of action together last season.

The reserves were a different story. The Sixers’ bench was among the league’s worst scoring-wise in 2017-18 before buyout veterans Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova pumped life into the group. With that duo on the squad, the Sixers posted a 20-3 record to close out the regular season and made quick work of the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Those results changed against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Sixers’ bench was exposed defensively and smothered on offense in the five-game series.

“I’ve said on record, and I’ll say it again, I believe that anything that kind of matters, you’re probably going to bump into the Celtics,” Brett Brown said during the Sixers’ exit interviews. “So they’re always going to be sort of on our mind in relation to how do you compete with them?”

Competing with the Celtics and beating them are two very different things.

Did the Sixers’ tinkering with their bench put them any closer to knocking off their longtime rival? That’s a tough one to answer right now.

Despite shipping away Anderson, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Holmes, you can argue that the Sixers’ second unit will still be more athletic next season. A fully healthy Markelle Fultz will likely start out as the sixth man, and we know he’s got some incredible bounce to his game. Zhaire Smith already gave a glimpse of what type of athlete he is during summer league. And while 31 years old, Wilson Chandler can still rise up to throw it down.

Defensively is where that athleticism should really shine for the latter two. The rookie Smith has continually said defense is his best skill as he was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team during his lone season at Texas Tech. Chandler possesses the ability to defend both forward spots and takes pride on that end of the floor.

Meanwhile, Muscala and Bolden aren't anywhere near leapers of Holmes' caliber. However, they are still bigger bodies that have the ability to move their feet to keep up with their man. That’s in addition to known hustlers T.J. McConnell and Amir Johnson putting forth their maximum effort guarding opponents.

But is that enough when a healthy Celtics team gets its projected roster back and rolls out a reserve lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes?

If the Sixers are unable to contain Boston’s talented starters and deep reserve blend, they might really run into problems trying to keep pace with offense of their own now that they lack a serious three-point threat outside of Redick. Belinelli and Ilyasova, who both departed moments into free agency, gave the team a one-two punch off the bench that could drain shots from anywhere. Now the only serviceable shooter in a backup role is the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Muscala (a career 37.8 percent shooter from long range). Kyle Korver, anyone?

The bench reset was necessary if the Sixers planned on getting to the next level. Is it enough to put them on the same level as the Celtics or will they remain green with envy?

We’ll see.

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Sixers trade Richaun Holmes to Suns; Jonah Bolden inks 4-year contract, source confirms

Sixers trade Richaun Holmes to Suns; Jonah Bolden inks 4-year contract, source confirms

The Sixers are not quite done making moves this offseason.

The team on Friday sent big man Richaun Holmes to the Suns for cash considerations. The Sixers also signed 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden to a four-year deal, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the trade and Bolden's signing.

With these moves, the Sixers’ roster remains at 15 players, but that could change if the team finds a way to rid themselves of Jerryd Bayless’ contract — say, in a trade with Cleveland (see story).

The writing has been on the wall for Holmes. Now entering his fourth year, the 2015 second-round pick struggled to find a role in Brett Brown’s rotation last season with a healthy Joel Embiid and veteran Amir Johnson in the fold. While he offered energy, athleticism and weakside rim protection off the bench, Holmes lacked discipline defensively, something Brown hasn’t tolerated during his tenure.

Bolden will essentially take Holmes’ spot on the roster as a developmental big. With quicker feet defensively, Bolden has more versatility to guard fours. While his summer league performance was underwhelming offensively, Bolden did impress defensively, especially against No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton. It’s important to note that the third and fourth years of Bolden’s deal are not guaranteed, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

Drafted by the Sixers out of Bowling Green State, Holmes flashed at times but was only able to get into 48 games this season, averaging 15.5 minutes a contest. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 156 career games with the Sixers.

A native Australian, Bolden attended UCLA for one year before heading overseas to play for FMP Beograd of the Adriatic League. As a draft and stash this past season, Bolden played for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and tested his skills in the EuroLeague. He averaged 7.2 points and six rebounds in 20.8 minutes a game. He’s shown flashes of a jump shot but shot just 31 percent from three this season abroad and 24 percent in summer league action.

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