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January 09, 2017

Sixers Mailbag: Simmons return, re-signing Covington, and Lowry’s free agency

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We touched on the Sixers working out a bunch of point guards this morning, and it seems as if they have come to a decision for their 15th roster spot: Chasson Randle.

Randle, who went undrafted in 2015, plays for the Westchester Knicks and is 10th in the D-League in scoring with 20.7 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

And with that bit of news out of the way, onto the mailbag!

The Sixers won’t offer any timeline on a potential Ben Simmons return, so there’s nothing concrete to go on there. If I had to guess, he’ll be ready to play by that point. Simmons still isn’t doing too much right now, but the fact that he’s on the court and taking part in a few drills leads you to believe he should be ready to play in a month.

Derek Bodner brought up a very good point on our latest episode of Sixers Beat, though: What if Simmons is finally ready to go on, say, February 8th against the Spurs — I’m assuming the Sixers want the top overall pick to debut at home — which means that there would only be five games until the all-star break? Do they really want Simmons to get into the swing of things only for there to be an eight-day layoff at the all-star break?

The Sixers host Washington for the first game coming out of that break, which might end up being the target date. Regardless, it will be an interesting question for the sports science department to answer.

Let’s handle these one by one…

1.    At least in the short term, T.J. McConnell deserves to keep the starting job. I like Sergio Rodriguez’s shooting better next to Joel Embiid in theory, but McConnell has the offense running better (still below average, but for the Sixers that qualifies as an improvement) over the past week.

2.    I haven’t minded Point Sauce, although my guess is that it won’t work out long term. Nik Stauskas has definitely stepped up to the plate for a Sixers team in desperate need of ball-handling, but just from watching it over the past few games, I like Stauskas as a secondary playmaker better.

Speaking of Stauskas, he was excellent yesterday with Rodriguez back in the fold:

3.    Not a CBA expert, but just from reading up on the subject, I don’t believe that the “Chandler Parsons rule” applies to Covington. From a RealGM piece a few years ago:

Any player other than those taken in the first round with less than four years experience will be a Restricted Free Agent when they are not under contract unless the team holding their rights renounces them.

That is what the Rockets did with Parsons, even if they eventually chose not to match Dallas’ offer sheet. In this case, it would be prudent to decline Covington’s option on the final year of his Hinkie Special and make him a restricted free agent this summer. If the Sixers value Covington, that way you would have the right of first refusal on his next contract instead of letting him hit unrestricted free agency.

Unfortunately for the Sixers, Covington played seven games in Houston back in 2013-14. So, with four years of experience, that rule doesn’t apply to “Rock.”

Beyond one (and Markelle Fultz, I assume), I still think you’re looking for the best talent. The good news is that, with a bunch of guards and wings projected to go in the Top-10 of this draft, there are a lot of good potential fits for the Sixers.

As for Lonzo Ball specifically, I do feel like the Sixers are a team that he could potentially target as a solid spot-up shooter (which plays well next to Simmons) and a low-post threat in Embiid. Ball is an extremely tricky player to scout because it’s hard to think of any comparisons, but yeah, there is a chance they have the personnel to cover up his deficiencies.

It’s hard to say. With all things JoJo, I think this season is primarily about letting him work through everything and finding that proper balance.

This possibility was brought up in a few places recently, specifically by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst in a podcast with Zach Lowe. I love pretty much everything about Kyle Lowry, from the Cardinal Dougherty and Villanova roots, to the incredible toughness he plays with, to how much he has seemingly matured over the years in the NBA. And make no mistake, he’s every bit of a Top-12 player that can fit well next to Simmons with his improved three-point shooting. There are obvious the Colangelo hometown connections, which will lead to some speculation.

That said, I would have to pass simply because of the timeline. Lowry will be 31 in a couple of months, and you’re going to need to pay him near-max money. The purpose of signing Lowry is to make you more competitive for the first few years of that deal, but as we all know, the Sixers still have a ways to go.

(*Robert Herjavec voice*) And for that reason, I’m out.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann