Philadelphia 76ers

Best-case scenario for Sixers? No. 1 pick and nothing else

Best-case scenario for Sixers? No. 1 pick and nothing else

The Sixers may finally see the result of Sam Hinkie's trade of former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.

If the Lakers' pick falls outside of the top three on Tuesday, it will convey to the Sixers. So, obviously, Philly fans should want the Sixers (or the Kings) to land the No. 1 overall pick and for L.A. to fall outside the top three, right?

Maybe not.

There's no doubt this is a deep draft class. Washington guard Markelle Fultz seems well on his way to being the No. 1 overall pick. He'll be followed by UCLA's Lonzo Ball, who's as electrifying as his dad LaVar is ridiculous. Then there's Kansas' athletic swingman Josh Jackson, Kentucky's dynamic guard duo of De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, and don't forget about polished Duke forward Jayson Tatum.

If the Sixers were to land any two of these players, they'd be in pretty good shape. They certainly wouldn't complain. But it's not the team's best case scenario.

Landing Fultz and having the Lakers' pick not convey would be ideal. In this scenario, they land Fultz, who would fit the current roster perfectly. Fultz is a point guard by trade, but could easily play off the ball. He shot 41 percent from three (52 of 126) and 38 percent on his catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Fultz's ability as a ball handler could also be a huge help for Ben Simmons as he attempts to play point guard next season. If Fultz and Simmons were to share that load, it could help both players as they transition into the NBA. It could also be a whole lot of fun to watch. And imagine a pick-and-roll with Fultz and Joel Embiid. How do opposing teams defend that?

The Lakers have been dreadful the last two seasons. Dreadful enough to hold on to their pick last season and perhaps again this year. But next year, that pick becomes unprotected. Meaning if the Lakers win the draft lottery next season, the Sixers will have the No. 1 pick.

There has been plenty of speculation that the Lakers and Pacers swingman Paul George have a mutual interest. There's a fear the Lakers will improve too much with the addition of George and the pick the Sixers would obtain will not be as valuable.

But how much better will they really be? 

To acquire George, they'll have to pay. There's a chance the Pacers could ask for whatever pick the Lakers get Tuesday night. The Lakers may also have to give up some of their valuable young pieces like Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell or Brandon Ingram. Couple that with the Lakers' cap situation (they signed Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng to horrendous contracts last offseason) and what kind of team surrounds George?

So if the Sixers get the No. 1 pick this season and land Fultz, they could then be in a position to land young phenom Michael Porter or Spanish shooting guard Luka Doncic next year. Having the Lakers' pick still in their back pocket also gives Bryan Colangelo more ammo to pull the trigger on a possible trade. After (hopefully) seeing Embiid, Simmons and this year's pick on the court together, the team will be in a better position to see where a talented veteran could fit into the nucleus.

It would be instant gratification to have the Lakers' pick convey Tuesday night. But it's better for the team long term to have more ping-pong balls in 2018.

NBA Notes: Underdog Isaiah Thomas now facing biggest challenge of career

NBA Notes: Underdog Isaiah Thomas now facing biggest challenge of career

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas' basketball journey is littered with decision-makers who have underestimated the diminutive guard.

He was selected last in the 2011 NBA draft coming out of Washington, and when he arrived in Boston he looked only to be a role player for the storied franchise. Thomas has had to prove his worth with every stop.

Now, following the biggest slight of his NBA career, he'll have to do it again.

All eyes will be watching how he rebounds after Tuesday's blockbuster trade . The Celtics sent the two-time All-Star packing from a franchise and city that he'd embraced with every ounce of his 5-foot-9 frame. He's now bound for Cleveland in exchange for a bigger star -- and what the Celtics believe is a better point guard for them -- in Kyrie Irving.

For all the praise Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge showered on Thomas in explaining what he's meant to the Celtics, the organization took Irving -- a four-time All-Star, Olympic and NBA champion -- over the scrappy underdog who's just beginning to build his resume (see full story).

Celtics: Irving switches to No. 11 with new team
BOSTON -- Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce's No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

Spurs: Undrafted Perrantes signs contract
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs have signed guard London Perrantes.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed Wednesday

The 22-year-old Perrantes wasn't drafted out of Virginia this year but made summer league appearances for the Miami Heat in Las Vegas and Orlando.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 10 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1.5 steals in the MGM Resorts Summer League. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals in Orlando summer league action.

Perrantes set school career records at Virginia with 138 games and 4,425 minutes. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3 rebounds during his senior season. He made 40.9 percent of his career 3-point attempts (211 of 516).

Clippers: Team reportedly close to deal with Winger as GM
LOS ANGELES -- The expansion of the Los Angeles Clippers' front office isn't done yet.

After removing Doc Rivers' title as president of basketball operations earlier this month, the team has reached an agreement with Oklahoma City's Michael Winger to become their general manager, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Winger will replace Dave Wohl, who is staying with the team as a special adviser, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced publicly.

Winger had been an assistant GM and team counsel for the Thunder for the last seven years. Previously, the 37-year-old executive worked for the Cavaliers (see full story).

How are Sixers impacted by Cavaliers-Celtics blockbuster trade?

How are Sixers impacted by Cavaliers-Celtics blockbuster trade?

The Celtics and Cavaliers pulled off a blockbuster trade to swap point guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas (among other pieces), a deal that still positions both teams at the top of the Eastern Conference (see story)

So what does it mean for the Sixers?

In the short term, probably not much. The Celtics and Cavs are likely to finish first and second in the East and contend for a shot at the NBA Finals in the upcoming season. If the Sixers make the playoffs (a very realistic possibility if everyone stays healthy), both teams would be daunting opponents to upset.

The following season, though, is when things could get interesting. The Cavaliers will have two huge questions to address next summer and how they answer them will affect the rest of the East.

Thomas is entering the final year of his contract. He has said he believes he should garner a max deal. Will the Cavs pay up for Thomas, who will be 29 years old then, is currently coming off a hip injury and bases his game on speed and athleticism? Or will his time in Cleveland be brief? 

Then there’s LeBron James and his player option for the 2018-19 season. There’s no certainty James will remain in Cleveland after a rocky summer with front-office changes and a changing landscape of competition around the league. If the Cavs can’t get past the Celtics — or any other team for that matter — will he stay or seek a title elsewhere?

If the Cavs were to lose one or both players next offseason, that could open up the Eastern Conference and create an opportunity for teams on the rise, like the Sixers, to move up in the standings. 

The Sixers have maintained a measured, strategic approach to reconstructing the roster and stayed away from rushing into lengthy contracts just for the sake of spending cap space. An ideal situation for the Sixers is to be on an upward trend while others currently ahead of them are on the decline or rebuilding.

The Cavaliers also received a highly-coveted asset in the 2018 unprotected Nets pick from the Celtics, which actually could end up being the most valuable piece in this trade. Even if Thomas were to decide to sign with another team, the Cavs still could draft a top prospect to build with for the future. Or, they could include the pick in a trade and depending where it goes could impact the East or the West. 

Even though the Celtics parted ways with the Nets’ pick, they still have the 2018 protected Lakers’ pick they acquired from the Sixers in June as part of the trade up to No. 1 in the draft for Markelle Fultz. 

For years, moves among playoff teams in the East didn't have much of an impact on the Sixers. Now as they enter a new phase with a foundation in place to be competitive, a trade between the Celtics and the Cavaliers could affect their position in the standings in the future.