Toronto Raptors

NBA summer league: Marial Shayok a player worth watching, impressive effort from Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle, more from Sixers' win over Raptors

NBA summer league: Marial Shayok a player worth watching, impressive effort from Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle, more from Sixers' win over Raptors

The Sixers are finished with competitive basketball for a while. 

The team wrapped up their summer league slate Friday with a 108-102 win over the Toronto Raptors in a consolation game at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, ending with a 2-3 record.

Here are observations from the win: 

• Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle both continued to make eye-catching plays. Smith sniffed out a dribble handoff and plucked away a steal early in the first quarter, while Thybulle swished his first jumper, a spot-up three from the left corner. 

Though Thybulle did commit several classic “rookie mistakes” Friday, including catching the ball out of bounds and fouling a jump shooter on an overeager closeout, the tools are there for Smith and Thybulle to be members of the Sixers’ regular rotation. 

Thybulle had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists Friday and Smith posted nine points and three steals. Both shot 3 for 6 from the floor. 

The intensity level in a summer league consolation game is going to be less than in a regular season contest — it’s only natural. That said, you have to like that Smith and Thybulle clearly took pride in competing. Smith was still leaping in the air to contend for offensive rebounds late in the third quarter, treating a July afternoon in Las Vegas like something approximating a meaningful game. The two love to play and are going to push for opportunities when the games count.

• For the second straight game, Shake Milton was sidelined by an ankle injury. Milton’s first summer league campaign was disappointing. He played in three games before sustaining his injury and shot 6 for 36.

The Sixers won’t be too deterred by Milton’s shooting struggles — the four-year deal they gave him indicates as much. They would have loved for him to average 30-plus points per game and make a strong, early case for backup point guard minutes, but it’s unlikely the summer league was ever going to have a large impact on Milton’s future with the team. 

• Two-way player Marial Shayok is going to be a player worth following this season.

The rookie played point guard for a stretch during the second quarter Friday, at one point snaking around a screen from Christ Koumadje, blocking off his man with his body and knocking down a mid-range jumper.

Following a timeout, the 23-year-old then stroked a three-pointer from the left wing before strolling down the court for an easy dunk off a steal. 

The 6-foot-6 Shayok had 14 points on 6 for 11 shooting Friday.

He seems best suited for the wing at the NBA level, but the freedom to play different positions and have the ball in his hands should help Shayok when he’s with the Delaware Blue Coats and head coach Connor Johnson. In all likelihood, that same flexibility to expand his game and experiment with new skills wouldn’t have existed for Shayok if the Sixers placed him on the regular active roster immediately. 

• PJ Dozier and Haywood Highsmith each shot the ball well after struggling with their jumpers during the Sixers’ first four games of summer league. 

Highsmith had 16 points on 6 for 11 shooting. Dozier hit 8 of 14 shots for 22 points, showcasing his fluid scoring abilities. He also tallied seven assists. 

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2019 NBA free agency rumors: Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler teaming up with Clippers 'increasingly possible,' per report

2019 NBA free agency rumors: Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler teaming up with Clippers 'increasingly possible,' per report

There’s good news and bad news, Sixers fans.

The good news is that Kawhi Leonard is reportedly “interested” in teaming up with Jimmy Butler. The bad news is it wouldn’t be with the Sixers.

The idea of Leonard and Butler joining forces on the Los Angeles Clippers is “increasingly possible,” per the Athletic’s Sam Amick.

The Clippers would have to move the contract of Danilo Gallinari, who has just one more season left on his deal at $22.6 million. That would open up two max slots for L.A. to sign both Leonard and Butler.

It actually does make sense for both players. Leonard would be back on the West Coast and playing for a likely Hall of Fame coach. Butler does have an affinity for Los Angeles and Glenn Rivers is the kind of coach that would seem to be able to foster a relationship with the four-time All-Star. Leonard and Butler would form a pretty formidable duo on the wings, especially on the defensive end.

Nothing has changed from the Sixers’ perspective. Amick notes that Butler is still a “priority” for the Sixers along with the Rockets, who are reportedly attempting to target Butler in a sign-and-trade. Despite Houston’s interest, the Sixers are still expected to be “aggressive” and feel “confident” in their ability to re-sign Butler and Tobias Harris.

It’s also fair to mention that none of the reports surrounding Butler have involved Butler’s desires or intentions — which seems to be a fairly big part of any of the aforementioned scenarios. 

NBA teams are allowed to start talking to free agents on Sunday at 6 p.m. The Sixers have an awful lot of work to do with just four players under contract plus first-round pick Matisse Thybulle and two-way player Shake Milton.

Stay tuned.

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Kawhi Leonard could reportedly take free-agent visit with Sixers

Kawhi Leonard could reportedly take free-agent visit with Sixers

The 2019 NBA draft was pretty uneventful for Sixers fans.

They traded away pick No. 33 to make sure they got Washington’s Matisse Thybulle at pick No. 20. They also traded away pick No. 34 to Atlanta for No. 57 and two future seconds and No. 42 and Jonathon Simmons to Washington for cash considerations.

The most exciting thing that happened was during the draft broadcast. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said the Sixers “may very well” get a meeting with reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

This is … something. If there’s an opportunity to get into a meeting with Leonard, Elton Brand and company absolutely have to take it. Even if the Sixers let Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris walk, the core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Leonard is absolutely a championship contender. Really any team with Leonard is a championship contender.

Woj did mention that the Clippers and Raptors are “at the front of the line.” He almost mentioned that Knicks and the Nets could get meetings as well.

And that’s where it gets complicated. If the Sixers take a big swing and wait on Leonard to make a decision, Butler and Harris could take their talents elsewhere.

It’s a double-edged sword. You get a meeting with arguably the best player in the world, but you risk losing the opportunity to #RunItBack if you don't sign him.

Stay tuned, Sixers fans. This offseason could get weird.

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