Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers' workout resembles Villanova practice with Josh Hart, others — pep band excluded

Sixers' workout resembles Villanova practice with Josh Hart, others — pep band excluded

CAMDEN, N.J. – No, the Sixers did not import Villanova’s pep band for the workout the team staged for potential draftees Thursday morning at its practice facility.

But they could have.

Three of the six players who took part – Josh Hart, Darryl Reynolds and Dylan Ennis – spent all or part of their collegiate careers playing for the Wildcats.

Also, Jay Wright looked on. And former 'Nova assistant Billy Lange has been part of the Sixers’ staff for a while now.

All of which was “very weird,” in the estimation of Reynolds, a willowy 6-foot-9 forward taking part in his first workout for an NBA team.

“But it was comfortable,” he said, “and I’m glad that my first one was with some guys that I knew, some familiar faces.”

Three other guys – Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, Davidson guard Jack Gibbs and French forward Tidjan Keita – also participated. 

Of the six, Brooks and Hart have the highest profiles. Brooks was the Pac-12 Player of the Year, while Hart earned the same honor in the Big East and also took home the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s top small forward.

Hart was shaking his head afterward about the way he shot the ball (see story), while the 6-foot-7 Brooks nailed one jumper after another.

“It raised my competitiveness when we played three-on-three,” Brooks said. “I just took shots I practiced, and they were falling today. There’s great players out there, who raised their intensity. That’s what I love.”

Brooks averaged 16.1 points while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 40.1 percent from 3-point range for the Ducks, who went 33-6 and lost by a point to North Carolina in the national semifinals. The Sixers are the 12th team to invite him in for a workout, but he said he is none the worse for the wear.

“I always find a way to pick myself up when the competitiveness starts, and try to give my best, every time I come out and play,” he said. “I love the game, so regardless if my legs are tired or I’m feeling some kinks or something … somehow, some way I get past it and play.”

Ennis, a 6-foot-2 guard who has been Brooks’ teammate at Oregon the last two years, participated in his ninth workout. He and Brooks became the third and fourth Ducks to audition for the Sixers, following Joey Bell and Tyler Dorsey.

Ennis began his collegiate career at Rice, then spent the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons at Villanova. He followed that by taking the graduate-transfer route to Oregon, in hopes of improving his stock as a point guard.

But he hit another detour when he broke a foot and missed all but two games of the 2015-16 season, as his former teammates were winning a national championship. After petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility he averaged 10.9 points in 2016-17 for the Ducks, shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from the arc.

Now 25, he is certainly well-seasoned, and he showed in the sliver of the workout open to the media that he is vocal.

And, he said, “I’m gritty. Anything you ask me to do, I’m going to go do.”

That was a common refrain on this day – not exactly a surprise, given that this was a de facto job interview for fringe prospects.

Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad who averaged 4.5 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Wildcats this past season, said he wanted to show that he was “going to compete and do everything.”

And Brooks believes he is a “high-motor guys can fit in a lot of places” – that with the Sixers he could provide scoring off the bench, “just feeding off (Joel) Embiid and (Jahlil) Okafor and those guys.”

But Thursday morning’s session was more of a Villanova feeding frenzy – pep band not included.

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.