When Jimmy Butler departed from Philadelphia last summer in the sign and trade that sent Josh Richardson to Philly, there was a ton of outrage from 76ers fans, as expected. I’ll even admit that I was guilty of some hate as well. Sixers fans felt betrayed by the player they had come to know and love over those 9 months or so. Immediately, Butler was called out for leaving a “winning situation” for a Miami team that was not expected to be a contender. Many fans predicted them to not even make the playoffs, while I predicted a low seed and first-round exit. Now, Butler is one game away from heading to the NBA Finals, defeating the number one seed Milwaukee Bucks, and currently up 3-2 against the Celtics, who swept the Sixers in the first round. Miami not only finished as a higher seed than the Sixers in the regular season, but Jimmy Butler was an All Star and was named to All-NBA 3rd team. He averaged 19.9 points, career highs in rebounds and assists in 6.7 and 6.0, and 1.8 steals on 58.5 TS%. Meanwhile, the Sixers got a disappointing season (an understatement) from Al Horford. Brett Brown, who is suspected to be a big reason for Butler’s departure, was just fired. Although the Heat got surprise seasons from Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson, Butler arguably had a better season than any Sixers player. His clutch ability and jump shooting was a problem in the regular season, but it has come back in the playoffs. Now to the main point of the article, Sixers fans owe Jimmy an apology. Many wanted him back, including me, but as soon as he left, Sixers fans called him out and claimed that paying him would’ve been a bad move. They were clearly wrong, and the Sixers’ front office and ownership are at fault. For whatever reason, they believed that not giving Jimmy the 5th year and keeping Brett were both more important than running it back, which was a very possible scenario. Butler chose what he believed was the best place for him to win and live with his family, as he recently had a child. He didn’t owe anything to Philadelphia, and when they chose not to reward him for being the best player during the playoff run that ended in a buzzer-beating loss to the NBA champions, he made his decision. Getting rid of him is the biggest mistake that arguably any Philly sports team has made in recent memory, or even of all time. Good luck Jimmy, and go Heat.
A recent report came out regarding the Sixers coaching search, and regarding free agent coach Mike D’Antoni who was linked to the Sixers before. Insiders believe the Sixers may want to hire D’Antoni because they think James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who D’Antoni used to coach, would be willing to sign or trade to come to the Sixers. There are many insiders who think D’Antoni is the frontrunner for a head coach because of this. In this article, we will be diving into why this is a bad idea.
- Mike D’Antoni
Reportedly, the main factor Mike is the frontrunner is because of this rumor. No matter who the player is, we shouldn’t sign a coach just to get a player unless it is a 100% done deal. D’Antoni wouldn’t be a bad coach, but there is speculation that since he runs a small-ball offense, Joel Embiid might be traded for shooters to fit his offense, which is not a good idea either. The Sixers should hire a coach that can discipline our players, be a leader, and have a solid game plan on both sides of the floor for our stars. If we truly do hire D’Antoni just to possibly acquire Harden, then he could be the wrong fit and not cooperate well with the team.
2. James Harden
I love James Harden, and personally think he is the best offensive player in the league. But he will be 33 when he becomes a free agent and might be a liability because of his age. Also, trading Embiid or Simmons for him would defeat the whole purpose of trading for him. Now onto the important part, his gameplay. As we all know, James Harden is an amazing shooter and scorer, but usually needs the ball in his hands to perform well and contribute to the team. However, Joel needs the ball to succeed as well and isn’t a good off-ball player yet. Harden might interfere with the little chemistry Ben and Joel already has, which would again defeat the whole purpose of acquiring him in the first place. All in all, I do NOT think hiring D’Antoni because of a “rumor” that James Harden would come to Philly. Thanks for reading!
After the Houston Rockets lost game 5 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday to officially end the Rockets’ season, Mike D’Antoni stated “my wife Laurel and I announce that our incredible journey in Houston has ended for now and that we’ll be moving to a new chapter”. Since giving this statement to ESPN, there have been rumors that the Philadelphia 76ers have been eyeing Mike D’Antoni as a potential replacement as head coach after the firing of Brett Brown.
Mike D’Antoni has been the coach of a few teams including the Denver Nuggets as an assistant coach and as a head coach, Phoenix Suns as an assistant coach and as a head coach, head coach of the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers and he was also the associate head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2015-2016 season. He spent 4 years with the Houston Rockets while winning Coach of the year in 2017. He also had won Coach of the year in 2005 with the Phoenix Suns.
For the past four seasons in Houston, Mike D’Antoni has worked on getting the offense to spread out and use pick and rolls a lot while shooting a lot of three pointers, he lets James Harden isolate and create space for himself with his dribbling skills then Harden knocks down the three pointer. The Philadelphia 76ers could try the with Shake Milton or Josh Richardson and with Embiid and Horford setting screens.
If the 76ers hire Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach, they’ll need to make some changes to the roster, Mike D’Antoni works best with shooters on the court. He spreads the shooters around the court with a high pick and roll with a point guard and a big man, a duo of Shake Milton or Josh Richardson and Joel Embiid or Al Horford would be great. Joel Embiid will have to work on his pace if the 76ers want to make this happen. Mike D’Antoni could be a great fit or he may not be a great fit. In my opinion, the 76ers should either hire D’Antoni or Jay Wright.
This past Wednesday, the NBA announced the All-NBA teams, and Ben Simmons was selected to the All-NBA 3rd team, which is well-deserved on his part. However, Joel Embiid was nowhere to be found. In this article, I will be giving my thoughts on these two selections.
First of all, huge props to Ben Simmons for getting the recognition he deserves. Simmons has elevated his defense to an elite level this year, and has improved tremendously. This was very well-deserved, and it’s only going to get better from here. Simmons is only 24 years old, and has so much to play for. This is Simmons’ first All-NBA selection, and the future is most definitely bright.
Secondly, Joel Embiid. Embiid not making it can be depicted in many ways. He was definitely deserving off it, but there was some other factors into him missing the cut. For example, Joel played a limited amount of games this season, which I’m sure played a part. Statistically, Embiid did have a down year. However, no matter these downfalls, you would think a undeniable top three center in the NBA would make at least the All-NBA 3rd team. Rudy Gobert presumambly took the spot Embiid would’ve had this year, and there’s a trending argument that Embiid should’ve taken the spot, despite his struggles this year. Gobert, a multiple-time Defensive Player of the Year, is a top center and the league that has had run-ins with Embiid before. Hopefully Joel can have a bounce-back year next year and defy the odds.
The 76ers have had reported interest in Buddy Hield for a few months now, and Buddy has also been at odds with Kings management. The Kings famously took forever to give him an extension, and when they finally gave it to him, it was much lower than expected. Kings coach Luke Walton (the NBA’s worst coach in my opinion) benched Hield this season for no apparent reason as well. Hield in my opinion should be the 76ers’ prime trade target along with Chris Paul, and let’s talk about why.
Why the 76ers Should Target Buddy Buckets
Buddy Hield would fill the shooting void left by J.J. Redick, and he would also add much needed shot creating, especially in the clutch. He can be deadly on and off the ball. Over his 4 year career, he is averaging 15.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG while shooting 44.1% from the field, 41.1% from 3 on 6.7 attempts per game, and 86.6% from the line. 78.2% of his 3s in his career have been assisted on, and this is why the fit with Ben Simmons would be perfect. Simmons has led the league in 3 pointers assisted on in multiple seasons. Hield would also be a great fit with Joel Embiid, as he can be a ball handler in multiple lineups. Hield is being paid $23,500,000 on average over the next 4 seasons, and the contract descends in value.
Will the Kings Accept a Sixers Package?
Trade rumors around Hield have been really quiet, and only the Sixers have been connected. An ideal package for the Sixers for Hield would be built around Al Horford, draft picks, and a throw in like Zhaire Smith. However, this seems really thin and young players like Matisse Thybulle or Shake Milton could be put in. Even Josh Richardson could be included. This seems like a terrible move from a Kings standpoint, and it is, but the Kings are historically poor in terms of decision making. They also have been at odds with Hield all season long, and if there are not many suitors, the Kings could easily settle for the Sixers package. Horford is still a veteran mentor who they had interest in last offseason. Young players and picks are also always valuable to a team like the Kings.
As I previously stated in my first article, the Sixers have little to no flexibility in terms of free agency, and their best bet is looking into the trade market. Chris Paul and Buddy Hield are their top options in my opinion. Both would improve their shooting and play in the clutch, and both fit fantastically with the Sixers’ franchise cornerstones. The Sixers are unfortunately going to have to rely on the interests of the Kings, Thunder, and other potential suitors if they want to get these deals done.
This season, the Philadelphia 76ers have a first round pick and 4 second round picks. The 21st pick in the 1st round from the Thunder, the 34th pick in the 2nd round from the hawks, the 36th pick in the 2nd round from the knicks, the 49th pick in the 2nd round and the 58th pick in the second round via Orlando.
For the 21st pick, the sixers either need a big man that can shoot or a shooting guard. As the pick isn’t early in the draft, their safe bet is to go for a shooting guard. Some of the best guard’s project around the 21st pick are Josh Green and Kira Lewis but there are some players that would be a reach like Nico Mannion, RJ Hampton and Cole Anthony.
Between Josh Green and Kira Lewis, I would really like to see the 76ers draft Kira Lewis, I think that Lewis is a better all around player, being a more efficient and better scorer and having the ability to create plays.
Although, if the 76ers really do need another big man to replace Al Horford, they could go win 6’10 big man, Jalen Smith. Smith averaged 16,11 and 1 on 37% from behind the 3 point, these type of numbers on the nba court and he would be a great addition to the 76ers.
The 76ers have never necessarily been ‘great’ when it comes to the drafting. There’s a plethora of moments where they would’ve loved a second shot at it and times where they wouldn’t have it any other way. Here, I will be grading the 76ers last 10 1st-round picks starting from the 2009 draft.
’09 Draft Class | Pick 17 | Jrue Holiday | A
In 2009, the 76ers drafted Jrue Holiday with the 17th pick in the draft. This pick gets a solid A in my books. Let me explain:
Let’s start with looking at Holiday’s statistics with the Sixers. Offensively, Holiday didn’t seem like anything too special. He averaged 13.3 points, and shot pretty efficiently, about 44% from the field, 37.6% from three, and about 78% from the free throw line. Holiday was a scary defensive presence, averaging almost 1.5 steals. He had less than 1.5 blocks, but what more can you ask from a 6’3 guard?
Holiday’s time in Philadelphia came to an abrupt end. The All-Star point guard was packaged with the 42nd pick to acquire the rights of the No. 6 overall pick. The 76ers spent that pick on Nerleans Noel. This trade was a horrible decision by Hinkie. Noel was already being discomforted by a knee injury which is why he fell down to the 6th pick in the first place. On the other hand, Holiday has been proving why trading him away was the wrong move. From the 2013 season up till now, he’s been averaging 17.2 points. Holiday’s been shooting about 46% from the field, 35.3% from three, and just over 78% on free throws. His three point percentage was down by 2%, but we also have to consider the fact that he’s played 3 more seasons with the Pelicans than he had with the 76ers at this point; Holiday has been extremely consistent. He continued to average 1.5 steals in New Orleans, and Holiday’s block totals seemed to improve, averaging 0.63 blocks with the Pelicans.
The reason I included Holday’s post-76ers stats is to show how consistent he stayed, and how he improved in some areas. Holiday could have been such a good player for us, but instead we decided to trade him too early. The point is, he was a solid option for the 76ers at pick 17, and we were definitely lucky to have the opportunity to draft him.
10′ Draft Class | Pick 2 | Evan Turner | C
Statistically, Evan Turner played some of his best years of his career with the 76ers. He played his first three seasons with the 76ers, played 27 games for the Indiana Pacers (he was included in a trade that sent him to the Pacers), and ended up back on the 76ers for the remainder of the 2013 season (he played 54 games for the 76ers after getting traded back). The problem was, Turner didn’t have the production any team would expect from a No. 2 overall pick.
In his time with the Sixers, Turner averaged just about 12 points and shot the ball inefficiently; about 43% from the field, less than 30% from three, and roughly 76% from the free throw line. Turner was mediocre defensively, averaging 0.775 steals and 0.2 blocks.
You might be wondering, “Turner put up some ok numbers. Why is this a C?” Well, you must not know some of the players the 76ers passed up in the 2010 draft, and they are quite eye-opening. These players include Gordon Hayward, DeMarcus Cousins, and the biggest eye-opener of them all, Paul George. What could have been…
I could have easily made this grade much lower considering the better players the 76ers passed up, but Turner wasn’t horrible with the 76ers, and there have been much worse 2nd overall picks in the past.
’11 Draft Class | Pick 16 | Nikola Vucevic | B+
Vucevic had a very small sample size in Philly. He only played one season in Philadelphia (appearing in 51 games), before being included in a mega-deal that offseason; it was a four-team trade that had the 76ers acquiring Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Magic, trading Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, and sending Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, and a 2018 1st-round pick to the Magic. So there isn’t a lot to go off of, but we can definitely look at how he does after his time in Philadelphia to get a better understanding of what he could’ve been with the 76ers.
Vucevic didn’t get a lot of playing time and this impacted his production negatively. He averaged 5.5 points, only 0.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Looking back, his shooting percentage from the field was at a career low with the Sixers (45%). He shot 37.5% from three. Vucevic’s free throw shooting was by far the worst of his career in Philadelphia (52.9%). He averaged less than a block and steal.
Once traded, Vucevic seemed like a totally different player. Since the 2012 season (first year with Magic) up to now, Vucevic has averaged 31.55 minutes a game. He’s averaged roughly 17 points, 2.76 assists, and just under 11 rebounds. In addition, Vucevic has improved his shooting from the field and free throw line drastically; 49.96% from the field and roughly 75% from the free throw line. He also averaged 0.95 blocks (4 seasons with 1+ blocks) and 0.91 steals (4 seasons with 1+ steals).
Doug Collins should have given Vucevic more playing time. If he did, the Andrew Bynum mega-deal might’ve never happened. If Doug Collins elected to give Vucevic more time, that could’ve changed the course of NBA history, and this grade.
’12 Draft Class | Pick 15 | Maurice Harkless | N/A
The 76ers drafted Maurice Harkless with the 15th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but he was included in the Andrew Bynum mega-deal that offseason (like I mentioned earlier); he didn’t play a single minute for the 76ers. Therefore, this pick is not graded.
’13 Draft Class | Pick 11 | Michael Carter-Williams | C
Michael Carter-Williams always seemed to succeed when he played in Philadelphia. The 76ers drafted MCW in 2013 and was involved in a 3 team trade before the 2014-2015 season. The trade was between the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and Philadelphia 76ers, and it included Brandon Knight & Kendall Marshall to Phoenix, MCW, Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis to Milwaukee, and a draft pick to Philadelphia. This was after MCW came off an amazing rookie season. He was traded back to Philadelphia later that year.
In his rookie season, MCW played 70 games (averaged 34.5 minutes per game), and put up good numbers. Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, and and 6.2 rebounds. He wasn’t very efficient, shooting 40.5% from the field, 26.4% from three, and 70.3% from the free throw line. He also averaged about 2 steals. He had a problem with turning the ball over, averaging almost 4 turnovers (3.5).
When he was traded to the Bucks (he only played 25 games with them), he didn’t look as good as he did on the Sixers. His points dipped to 14.1, his assists dipped to 5.6, and his rebounds dipped to 4. His field goal percentage went up to 42.9%, his three point percentage dipped to 14.3%, and he shot 78% from the free throw line. He looked a bit better when he got traded back to the 76ers that season (he played 41 games with them). His points per game went up to 15, he averaged 7.4 assists, and got back up to 6.2 rebounds. He looked better overall, but his percentages took a bit of a beating; 38% from the field, 25.6% from three, and his free throw percentage went down to 64.3%.
MCW had his struggles, but was still a decent player for the 76ers. His grade might seem low for the production he put up. Although I agree, several people might’ve not known this; MCW was picked at pick 11, and four picks later, Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks. So yes, MCW was not bad in a 76ers uniform, they passed up Giannis Antetokounmpo. That speaks for itself.
This wraps up the first part of the grades!
According to Sam Amick, the 76ers are among the teams that have interest in trading for Chris Paul this offseason. The Bucks and Lakers have reported interest as well. If this was a year ago, I would’ve opposed a trade for Chris Paul. However, let’s take a look at why the 76ers should make it happen, and if they’ll be able to.
Why the 76ers Should Target CP3
Chris Paul is coming off his first healthy season since 2015-16, where he made his last All Star appearance before this year as well. In 70 regular season games, he averaged 31.5 MPG, 17.6 PPG, 5 RPG, 6.7 APG, and 1.6 SPG while shooting 48.9% from the field, 36.5% from 3, and 90.7% from the line. He led an OKC team that many thought would be bottom feeders to the playoffs, where they just lost in 7 games to the Rockets. In the playoffs he averaged 37.3 MPG, 21.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.6 SPG shooting 49.1% from the field, 37.2% from 3, and 88.5% from the line. He was also the leader in points in the clutch this season, on fantastic efficiency. We saw guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schröder benefit from playing with Cp3. Now imagine the impact he’d have as a mentor on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They both could learn so much about the game itself from him and it could change their mentalities. Paul also would fit seamlessly with the two Sixers stars. He’d provide an actual option to go to in the clutch, and he’d be lethal in the pick and roll with Joel. Ideally the Sixers would trade Tobias Harris, a young player, and picks to get Paul. It would be sad to see Tobias and Tisse/Milton go, but I think that this trade would put the Sixers back into contention in the East. If Paul declines, his contract is still better than Harris’. Harris has 4 years left on his max deal, while Cp3 has 2 years left including a player option.
Will the Thunder Accept a Sixers Package?
It is unclear how willing the Thunder are to part ways with Paul. It does make a lot of sense tho, as it is unlikely that they make any improvements with Gallinari heading to free agency. Paul is also at his peak trade value, not only did he have an amazing season but he also holds a player option in 2021-22. A Sixers package may make the most sense for Sam Presti. The Lakers and Bucks lack young assets and picks, and the Lakers do not have the salaries to match. Plus, they’ll also be focusing on the impending free agency of Anthony Davis, who’s likely to stay. With that being said, a package of Tobias, Milton/Thybulle, and picks might be the best option for the Thunder. Tobias is much better when he has the ball in his hands, and can be a key player for years to come as OKC isn’t much of a free agent destination. Milton or Thybulle would be fantastic young pieces, imagine perimeter stars trying to score on Dort and Thybulle. And the picks would already build onto their massive stash of draft capital.
A Chris Paul trade is the Sixers’ best option this offseason. It would put them right back into contention and help develop Embiid and Simmons. However, it is unclear how willing both sides would be to get a deal done.
In high school, Matisse Thybulle averaged 6.5 points per game, 2.2 steals per game, 1.6 blocks per game on 35% from behind the three point line, he was doing great for a high school player but needed to step up if he wanted to play in college and the NBA.
He chose to go to Washington for college and played a major part to the Huskies’ defense, leading the pac-12 in steals per game in his sophomore, junior and senior year while leading the whole NCAA in steals per game in his senior year with an astonishing 3.5 steals per game. His career 2.5 steals per game lead him to the 3rd highest steals per game average in the history of the Pac-12 and is 1st in all time steals of the Pac-12.
Matisse Thybulle was also a 2 time all Pac-12 defensive team member and a 2 time Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Along with his defense, he a good career from behind the arc, shooting 36% from 3 over his career.
In 2016, the Los Angeles Clippers traded their 2019 first round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies, later that year, the same draft pick from the Clippers was traded to the Boston Celtics. About 3 years later, Matisse Thybulle was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 20th pick in the 2019 NBA draft, he wasn’t a Celtic for long, the day after the draft, he was traded to Philadelphia for Carson Edwards, who was selected with the 33rd pick in the 2019 NBA draft by Philadelphia) and Ty Jerome (Drafted with the 24th pick in the 2019 NBA draft by Philadelphia and was later traded to Phoenix).
Over his rookie season, Matisse Thybulle proved to be one of the best steals of the draft, putting up 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.5 steals and almost a block a game on under 20 minutes a game. He also shot a good 36% from behind the arc which is promising for the rookie. I want to see Thybulle play his career in Philadelphia and I think if he works as hard as he has this season, he can be the next best 3 and D player.
Last offseason we saw the 76ers make acquisitions such as Al Horford and Josh Richardson, and also retaining Tobias Harris. This year, the 76ers have limited flexibility. According to Spotrac, the NBA salary cap is estimated to be at around $115M in 20-21, up from $109M. However, there is no telling on how COVID-19 will affect the cap. Either way, the 76ers will not be able to do much. They have the 2nd highest payroll in the league for next season at $147.42M, trailing only Golden State. Let’s take a look at the roster, specifically which contracts are able to be moved or are locks to stay.
76ers GM Elton Brand recently dismissed any trade rumors regarding Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, “Well, I’m looking to complement them better. They’re 24 and 26 years old, respectively. You try to make that fit, as long as you can. They want to be here. They want to be with our organization. And I see them here for a long, long time.” Simmons and Embiid are pretty much the only locks to stay on the roster next season. Embiid is set to make $29,542,010 next season, with 2 years left on his deal after. Simmons is going to make $29,250,000, the first season of his 5 year rookie max extension. This amount would increase if Simmons is named to an All-NBA team for this past season, but not a drastic amount that would change anything for Philly.
It’s fair to say that Al Horford and Tobias Harris have 2 of the worst contracts in the NBA. Although Tobias got paid his market value, in hindsight it was never the right move to trade for him. As for Horford, his massive decrease in production, efficiency, and defensive ability has made his contract look like a joke. Tobias will make $34,358,850, his 2nd of 5 years on his new deal. Horford will go into the 2nd year of his contract, making $27,500,000. It is really hard to see many teams willing to take on either one of these contracts, not only due to performance and lack of cap space, but also due to the eventual consequences of COVID-19. I would definitely be ok with trading Horford, but I’d give Tobias another chance. Josh Richardson may need to be moved to facilitate a trade for either players. He is making $10,865,952 next season, leading up to a player option in 21-22.
The final 6 players on the roster for next season are Mike Scott, Zhaire Smith, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and Norvel Pelle. Marial Shayok also is under a 2 way deal. Scott is making around $5M on a one year deal, while Thybulle and Smith are making $2.7M and $3.2M respectively. Milton, Furkan, and Pelle are all making under $2M. These players are the most traceable contracts on the roster, especially Milton, who at 24 years old is making roughly $5.6M over the next 3 seasons with a team option in the final year. It’s very likely that Richardson, Thybulle, or Milton will have to be included in a Horford deal.
Free Agency Outlook
The Sixers have 4 roster spots open this offseason and one two way spot. They also have Kyle O’Quinn, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Raul Neto, and Ryan Broekhoff hitting free agency. It’s likely that their first round pick will fill a spot, and one of their 2nd round picks will fill the remaining 2 way slot, with the rest being sold. That leaves 3 roster spots, and the Sixers will only have a $6M exception and minimum contracts. I’d personally like to see Burks back on the exception, and any of GR3, O’Quinn, and Neto back.
The Sixers are in no man’s land in terms of cap space for next season. Barring any trades, they do not have much flexibility with their roster, and it will be extremely hard to create cap space. Elton Brand has his work cut out for him as he’ll need to right the front offices’ wrongs.