Sixers stay put in lottery, have 11th pick in draft


Sixers stay put in lottery, have 11th pick in draft

NEW YORK -- No one from the Sixers’ camp was too excited about showing up at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square for the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night.

After all, who wants to go to the prom designed specifically for the guys without dates?

Worse, the mood at the swanky midtown hotel was one of resignation. An invitation to the NBA draft lottery is the ultimate proof that the season was a bust. For the Sixers, who were perfectly mediocre in 2012-13, the trip to New York was doubly frustrating. Not only did the team have virtually no chance in grabbing one of the top three picks in next month’s draft, but they also were all but assured to lock into where they finished the season.

So with the ping-pong balls working against them and the odds too fat to deny, the Sixers will have the No. 11 overall pick in the June draft.

The Sixers had a 90.74 percent chance to get the 11th pick, compared to .80 percent chance to win the lottery, a .95 percent chance to get the second pick and a 1.15 percent chance for the No. 3 pick.

Maybe they would have been better off buying a Powerball ticket …

Or making the playoffs.

“We had a small probability of being super happy and a small probability of being slightly sad,” Sixers’ managing owner Josh Harris said. “We’re neither. We’re right where we were expected to be.”

Nevertheless, one item on the Sixers’ summertime to-do list has been checked off. Now that the team knows where it will be picking in the draft, it can prepare for which player it wants to take. That should be a whole lot easier than some of the seemingly more important tasks.

After hiring Sam Hinkie to be the president and general manager, the Sixers need to hire a new coach. They also need to develop a plan for free agency and decide whether or not Andrew Bynum fits into the team’s future plans.

So at the loser’s prom, the Sixers took a step.

“I don’t want to comment on Bynum specifically, but it’s all interrelated,” Harris said. “Over the next weeks and months we’re going to get more articulate about our strategy. Sam has been here for a week and he’ll be speaking about our basketball strategy. It’s all interrelated. All of this stuff has to be focused on building a winner. Every decision you make has multiple affects on every other decision.”

Still, Harris is in no hurry to hire a basketball coach. Though the draft is next month and free agency begins shortly after that, followed by summer league and then training camp, the Sixers are being very deliberate in the search for Doug Collins’ successor.

“It’s an important decision,” Harris said. “If you get the right coach really fast, that’s better. But at the end of the day, you want the right coach. We’re not putting a deadline on it. It doesn't work to your advantage because the reality is we have a lot of talented coaches on the staff right now. Some of them have been head coaches, so we’re trying to get the right coach, not to get a coach quickly.”

Hinkie is running the show when it comes to hiring the new coach. He is also putting together the plan in regard to what to do in the draft and everything else that follows.

That’s a lot of work for a team that has a lot of needs, but Harris will lean heavily on Hinkie.

“I feel great with Sam’s hand at the helm of this thing,” Harris said. “We’re very like-minded, he’s very smart and he’s always working. I get texts from him at one in the morning and six in the morning. He’s all over it, and I feel good that we’re going to make good decisions.”

Of course, those decisions should have one minor goal at the fore. And that’s to never return to the NBA Draft Lottery any time soon.

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here:

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

In a preseason full of unexpected turns, the Sixers' final cuts were as anticipated.

The Sixers on Monday waived guards Cat Barber, Dionte Christmas, Brandon Paul and forwards Shawn Long and James Webb III to trim their regular-season roster to 15. 

Long, Paul and Webb had been with the Sixers since summer league. Barber signed with the team for training camp. Philadelphia native Christmas was the newest addition. He joined the Sixers the day of the deadline (see story)

The Sixers own the D-League rights to Barber, Christmas, Long and Webb. They are expected to land with the affiliate Delaware 87ers. 

Paul’s D-League rights are owned by the Cavaliers. He has received interest from other NBA teams, according to a source, and has not discussed playing in the Development League. 

Long appeared in each of the Sixers' preseason games. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Webb posted 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in six games. 

Paul averaged 7.3 points (36.4 percent from three) and 2.3 rebounds in four games. Barber was sidelined during the preseason by a right hand/wrist injury. He played two games, averaging 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. 

Christmas, 30, had planned to play this season in Greece and decided on Sunday to sign with the Sixers instead of returning overseas. 

The Sixers waived 17-year veteran Elton Brand last weekend after he announced his intention to retire. 

Here's the Sixers' complete roster:

2016-17 Sixers
Robert Covington, SF, 6-9/215
Joel Embiid, C, 7-2/250
Jerami Grant, F, 6-8/210
Gerald Henderson, G, 6-5/215
Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10/245
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F, 6-6/205
T.J. McConnell, PG, 6-2/200
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11/275
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, 6-3/176
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/223
Nik Stauskas, G, 6-6/205
Hollis Thompson, G/F, 6-8/206

Inactive list
Jerryd Bayless, PG, 6-3/200
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, 6-11/228
Ben Simmons, F, 6-10/240