May 19, 2017
The NBA playoffs are still going on, but with the offseason having already started for 26 teams, rumors about the impending draft and free agency period are already in full gear.
Let’s go over how some of the bigger rumors affect the Sixers.
With the Sixers sitting at the third pick, I guess the first question we need to ask is if we’re 110 percent sure that Markelle Fultz gets drafted No. 1 by the Boston Celtics and Lonzo Ball goes No. 2 to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. That’s what everyone seems to assume, anyway.
Fultz is fairly close to the consensus No. 1 overall player in this draft. With Fultz potentially heading to Bahhhston after the Celtics get swept by LeBron, your first thought is what that would mean for Isaiah Thomas. IT4 is that team’s heart but he’s also a 2018 free agent Danny Ainge really might not want to commit long-term money to.
In potentially comes Fultz, the top overall pick, who could replace Thomas, the former last pick in the draft. As fate would have it, these guys are friends due to the University of Washington connection. Thomas told reporters this week that Fultz has asked him about the Celtics culture, and that he believes the two could play together:
"He asks questions; I answer them," Thomas said. "He's a good friend of mine. If it happens, we'll figure out how to play together. If not, we'll go from there."
As for the Lakers, what LaVar Ball wants certainly isn’t a rumor. Los Angeles sure likes Lonzo too, but according to Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers also want to see another point guard:
Will be interesting to see if the Big Baller Brand Camp agrees to a head to head matchup w/De'Aaron Fox, considering how the last one went.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 17, 2017
LaVar predictions aside, Lakers have an interesting choice at 2. There are definitely people in the org who admire Josh Jackson & Fox too— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 17, 2017
I don’t need any inside information to tell you there is a better chance of me getting drafted than Lonzo Ball agreeing to a head-to-head workout with De’Aaron Fox.
What about the Celtics or Lakers trading the pick, though? At the deadline back in February, Boston was in constant trade rumors for Indiana’s Paul George and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler with their two Brooklyn picks. While I’m sure Ainge was closer than close to a deal (which he’ll tell you!), watching LeBron and the Cavs makes me think holding off was the right move.
Meanwhile, George seems so set on Los Angeles that he isn’t even trying to hide it on late-night talk shows. Good luck with that one, Indiana!
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and Lakers will probably keep their picks. Here is what he said on recent podcast with Givony and Chris Mannix:
“I think in this NBA landscape, it’s really hard to trade a Top-2, Top-3 pick. Financially, you’ve got cost control over those players for seven years, to flip that guy for a max player, you got to believe you’re getting a really, really good player there.
“It’s very, very unlikely they trade other of those picks, whether it’s going to be Fultz and then Lonzo Ball potentially number two.”
Woj went on to say that Boston (Gordon Hayward) and Los Angeles (George) aren’t compelled to give up any assets when they’ll be able to simply sign a marquee free agent. Neither of those players earned All-NBA status this season, which means that there is less of an incentive for them to stay in their current spots.
In summary, what does this all mean for the Sixers? A couple of things:
1. Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball will likely be off the board when they’re on the clock draft night.
2. If the Lakers decide to wait until George hits free agency in 2018, that would be good news in terms of the Sixers receiving the Lakers’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick. The Lakers can be as good as they want to be after next season.
"I don't think we're going to be a major player this year. I'm looking forward to next summer." - Magic Johnson on free agency— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) May 17, 2017
On that very same podcast, Woj floated another pretty interesting free-agent name in connection with your Philadelphia 76ers: Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick.
“They need shooting desperately on that team and that’s why I think J.J. Redick from the Clippers is a significant target for them. They have the cap space to go out and pay him what’s going to be market value. Brooklyn, the Knicks are teams who have interest in Redick, we’ll see how far they’re willing to pay.
“The reasons they wanted Manu Ginobili last summer… they wanted Manu to come in and be a mentor, be a veteran and teach these young guys about winning, about all of the things that a guy Manu brings. J.J. Redick brings all of those things and if they lose him in L.A., it’s more about his shooting that the kind of player he’s become. He impacts a locker room.”
Redick would obviously be a great fit here in Philly next to Ben Simmons. He shoots 40+ percent from deep, doesn’t need the ball while constantly running off screens, and is a smart enough team defender that he can maximize whatever he has left on that end of the floor.
And like Woj said, the veteran leadership thing.
The team I have seen attached to Redick in trade rumors is the Nets, but if the money is similar and Redick can afford to be away from his Brooklyn penthouse, the two basketball situations aren’t really close. That said, one benefit of the Nets signing veterans like Redick is that the Celtics 2018 first-round pick via Brooklyn would be worsened.
The Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner is reporting that Redick is seeking $18-20 million per season. The years are obviously crucial, but the idea of a Redick-Covington-Jackson-Simmons-Embiid starting lineup would be pretty interesting.
If I also remember correctly, Redick has been critical of The Process in the past on his (excellent) podcast. It would be ironic if he joined a core of players that are a product of the Sixers rebuilding efforts.
• According to Tom Moore, Sixers owner Josh Harris, when he wasn't thanking Sam Hinkie, said the other night that the Sixers will be willing to pay the luxury tax:
"We want to be smart and intelligent about it, but, look, we want to win," Harris said. "If we're put in a position to be able to win and get great players, we'll do it."• The Kyle Lowry rumors were so two weeks ago, but Masai Ujiri commented on his soon-to-be expensive point guard on Toronto radio:
Masai says speculation that Lowry wants out is coming from same people that said DeRozan would go to Lakers. "Every year its the same thing"— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 18, 2017
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann
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