Sixers have reached 'a fork in the road' with multitude of options this offseason

Sixers have reached 'a fork in the road' with multitude of options this offseason

Options. The Sixers have plenty of options when they look to build their roster this offseason.

With the third overall pick, four second rounders and an abundance of cap space, the Sixers have the flexibility to take several different avenues to constructing the 2017-18 team.

“We have a few paths to go here,” Colangelo said. “It's a little bit of a fork in the road, if you will. We can speed things up by signing a key free agent, we'll see how that plays out … As we approach trades, free agency, we're going to be looking at everything and all those options.

"It's not that we're choosing a path, we haven't signed anyone yet. There are no agreements in place. There are no decisions in that regard. We're evaluating the free-agent class right now. We're evaluating the draft class right now. We're just excited that we're in a position to add talent one way or the other. With cap space, with the draft, with all the things that we have in front of us, we have good tools. We have good developing talent behind us.”

Possible draft picks
Backcourt or wing? There is a variety of players projected at the third spot. 

The Sixers need depth on the perimeter. Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum would fill that role. Both are athletic two-way players, the multi-faceted skillset Brett Brown emphasizes. They had nearly identical scoring and rebounding averages their freshman seasons, with Jackson getting the edge on shooting percentage. Jackson posted 16.3 points (51.3 percent from the field) and 7.4 rebounds compared to Tatum’s 16.8 points (45.2 percent from the field) and 7.3 rebounds (see Kane's mock draft).

Should the Sixers go with a guard, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox has said he would feel comfortable playing off the ball. Fox already interviewed with the Sixers at the draft combine in Chicago, where he explained how he would be a fit with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (see story).  Fox averaged 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists this past season.

Fox, however, isn't known for his shooting, and that's a clear need for the Sixers. If they went that route, Fox's Kentucky teammate Malik Monk is an obvious choice (see story)

Possible trade pieces
The Sixers remain open to trading Jahlil Okafor after coming close to making a deal at the deadline. Colangelo has said a trade would have to work for all parties involved, and if they didn’t find one, the Sixers will welcome Okafor back for his third season. With all their draft picks, the Sixers have assets they could use in a package deal involving Okafor.

Nik Stauskas stands out for a different reason. Expiring contracts are appealing to teams on the other end. Stauskas is entering the final year of his deal worth $3.8 million. (He has a qualifying offer of $5.1 million for 2018-19). He boosted his trade value this past season by averaging career-highs in three-point shooting (36.8 percent), scoring (9.5 points), rebounding (2.8) and assists (2.4). 

Possible key free-agent targets
JJ Redick is exactly what the Sixers need moving forward: a knockdown shooter who can provide veteran, playoff-tested leadership (see story). Redick, who turns 33 in June, will be entering his 12th season, which is not a concern when looking at the lengthy careers of shooters such as Jamal Crawford and Ray Allen. He shot 42.9 percent from three, 44.5 percent from the field and 89.1 percent from the line this past season while averaging 15.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Redick would fill that glaring offensive void at the two spot. 

Looking at another guard, we discussed Kyle Lowry a few weeks back when he opted out of his contract with the Raptors (see story). While I don’t see Lowry as the best fit for the Sixers given where he is at in his career and where the Sixers are in their development, I do expect the Sixers to explore this option. Lowry is a reliable team leader with All-Star and postseason experience on his 11-year resume. Last season he averaged 22.4 points (41.2 percent from three), 7.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds. 

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

BOSTON -- It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

"The closeout game is always the hardest.and Boston is going to make it even harder," said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night -- particularly on the defensive end -- is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday (see full story).

NBA: Charlotte awarded 2019 All-Star Game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA All-Star game will be coming to Charlotte in 2019, two years after the city was to host the event.

The NBA announced Wednesday the game will be played at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The All-Star game had been set for Charlotte last February, but the NBA moved the game to New Orleans because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release that while he understands the concerns of those who say the repeal of the HB2 law didn't go far enough, "the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law."

The All-Star weekend festivities in Charlotte are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019.

Bucks: GM search opening up after Hammond exit
Boasting a budding star and an impressive roster of young talent, the Milwaukee Bucks are opening up their search for a new general manager to lead them into contention in the Eastern Conference.

After longtime GM John Hammond left to join friend Jeff Weltman in the Orlando Magic front office, the Bucks are bringing in respected league executive Rod Thorn to help with the search for a replacement, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bucks were not publicly discussing their search.

Assistant GM Justin Zanik was believed to be the heir apparent to Hammond when he left the Utah Jazz to join the Bucks. Zanik, a promising young executive who was an agent before spending three years under Dennis Lindsey in Utah, will get the opportunity to interview for the position, but outside candidates will also be considered. ESPN first reported the details of Milwaukee's search.

The job figures to be an attractive one for prospective executives. Giannis Antetokounmpo enjoyed a breakout season this year, earning a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and cementing himself as a franchise player.

Milwaukee also has Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker to go with Jabari Parker, a former No. 2 overall pick who is recovering from his second torn ACL.

The Bucks are building a new arena and have enjoyed a revival in the city under new owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens and coach Jason Kidd.

Whether it is Zanik or someone else, it will be a critical hire to help the Bucks move from a team that lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs to one that is ready to challenge the Cavaliers and Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference (see full story).

Lakers: Celebrity trainer Peterson hired
LOS ANGELES -- A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers' new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Former University of Kansas basketball player Josh Jackson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor traffic violation for backing into a car and driving away.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jackson entered his plea Tuesday in Lawrence Municipal Court to striking an unattended vehicle. Two other charges, inattentive driving and improper backing, were dismissed.

Jackson, who is expected to be a top draft pick in next month's NBA draft, will be on probation for six months and must pay a $250 fine. If he violates his probation, Jackson would have to serve 30 days in jail.

Coach Bill Self suspended Jackson for the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament because of the incident.

The 6-foot-8 Jackson has now resolved two cases that had dogged him during his lone year at Kansas. He earlier reached a diversion agreement that requires him to attend anger management classes, write a letter of apology and refrain from using alcohol or recreational drugs for a year for his confrontation with a Jayhawks women's basketball player last year.

Jackson had pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage after he argued with McKenzie Calvert on Dec. 9 outside a bar in Lawrence. He signed the diversion agreement on April 26.