If not Noel, Sixers wanted Bennett or Oladipo

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If not Noel, Sixers wanted Bennett or Oladipo

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Everywhere you turn at the Amway Arena during NBA Summer League play, there are conversations taking place in hushed voices off in the corners of the practice gym. General managers are talking to agents; coaches are talking to other coaches; writers are talking to anyone who will give them a scoop.

And one NBA front-office source shared a tidbit about the Sixers and draft night. The deal with New Orleans was in place days before the draft rolled around.

Three names would have supposedly gotten the deal done: Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo and Nerlens Noel. Bennett went first to the Cavaliers. Oladipo was selected second by Orlando, and fortunately for the Sixers, Noel was still on the board when the Pelicans picked at No. 6.

What is interesting about the draftees they liked is that all three play a different position. Noel is a center, Bennett a power forward, and Oladipo a shooting guard. It seems unlikely that acquiring Bennett or Oladipo would have done anything to stop the Sixers selecting Michael Carter-Williams at No. 11.

This gives insight into the workings of the draft and how deals get done on that night -- it hardly happens in a five-minute window. Plans and contingency plans are mapped out in advance.

Sam Hinkie is definitely a thinker and a planner and his thoroughness has impressed his boss in the brief time he has been on the job.

“My first impression is he is fantastic,” owner Joshua Harris said. “My first impression was we were getting a super smart, hardworking, very focused, world-class GM, and that is exactly what we got. I like to say I was playing checkers and he is playing chess. He is thinking about five moves ahead, so I am learning a lot about basketball from interacting with him.”

Just as he was in 2012, Harris was in the war room on draft night when the Sixers made that trade with New Orleans and later acquired Carter-Williams, Arsalan Kezemi and two future second-round picks.

“I got down there early afternoon and was there until two in the morning,” Harris said. “I was there because when it comes to very significant decisions like some of those that were made on draft night, I am going to be around and focused.”

Another topic drifting in and out of conversations this week is the Sixers' head coaching vacancy. Have the Sixers hired a coach yet? When are the Sixers going to hire a coach? Those phrases have been heard time and again.

The coaching fraternity is tight, whether we are talking about head coaches or assistants, and the summer league is where they get to enjoy each other’s company and share ideas or just friendly conversation.

One member of that coaching fraternity confirmed that Dave Fizdale -- Miami's assistant coach said to be on the Sixers head coach radar -- has not been contacted by the organization.

If anyone has been contacted to fill that position remains a mystery.

Where is Nancy Drew when I need her?

Summer League schedule
The Sixers had a closed practice Tuesday. They were not scheduled to play a game but will resume playing Wednesday at 1 p.m. when they take on Oklahoma City.

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid's return, signing Kyle Lowry?

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid's return, signing Kyle Lowry?

This week I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses.

If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don't see it on here, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

Both players are planning to return to the court during the offseason.

Joel Embiid recently said he intends to be ready for opening night and to play all 82 games next season. That would mean he has a lot of work to do before then. Embiid, who underwent knee surgery in March, has been pleased with his rehab and is scheduled for another scan. He has not been jumping and plans to be cleared for 5-on-5 this summer.

"Every day I go in and do some rehab on my knee, on my whole body basically," Embiid said last week at the draft lottery. "Then [I] get on the court, shoot a little bit flat-footed, and then lift. After lifting, I go in the pool and [on the] treadmill and then start running in the pool. Usually, I'm there for about four, five hours every day."

Covington underwent surgery for a right meniscus tear in mid-April. He actually began his rehab before the procedure, which doctors told him could cut down on his recovery time. Following the surgery, the Sixers announced Covington was expected to "resume basketball activities" this summer.

Training camp is still months away. The players will be closely watched during that period before their availability and minutes are determined for the start of the season.

Rye.

And for the non-question, I'll give that a reply too. I see this point of view: draft a young small forward and bring in an experienced guard. I could envision an opposite scenario, though.

The Sixers could bolster their perimeter play through free agency or a trade. They lacked depth at small forward last season. A player with years on his résumé could fill that void faster than a rookie who will need time to develop into an NBA player.

As for Lowry, there's no question he can improve any NBA team. As I noted a few weeks ago, he is at a different stage in his career than the Sixers are in their progress. The Sixers also have Jerryd Bayless on the books to provide that veteran leadership to Ben Simmons as he learns how to play the one spot.

If I had to go with adding experience at one position or the other, I'd lean toward small forward over point guard.

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

It never happened between Magic Johnson's Lakers and Larry Bird's Celtics. Same for Michael Jordan and Karl Malone or Jerry West and Bill Russell.

While there have been 14 rematches in NBA Finals history, this year's meeting between LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors will be the first trilogy in league history.

After the Warriors beat the Cavs for their first title in 40 years in 2015, Cleveland got revenge last season with a comeback from 3-1 down to give the city its first major championship since 1964. Now they meet for the rubber match starting June 1 in Oakland.

While this may be unprecedented in the NBA, it has happened once before in the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball with matchups that included some of those sports' biggest stars.

There was Babe Ruth vs. Frankie Frisch in the 1920s and then a pair of memorable three-peat matchups in the 1950s featuring Otto Graham against Bobby Layne in the NFL and Gordie Howe against Maurice Richard in the NHL.

Warriors: Durant once team’s 2nd choice
Truth be told, Golden State's former coach wasn't sure the Warriors needed Kevin Durant.

The Warriors were already small-ball sensations, capable of piling up the points with their daring drives and sizzling shooting. So rather than add another scorer, Don Nelson figured Golden State might be better off getting a dominant man in the middle to shore up the defense in the 2007 NBA draft.

Nelson thought the Warriors needed Greg Oden.

That was 10 years ago, leading up to the heavily hyped draft in which the Oden-Durant debate raged throughout basketball. And now, as Durant leads the league's most potent team into the NBA Finals while Oden is long gone from the NBA spotlight, it's easy to forget that a lot of people agreed with Nelson.

"I think everyone felt that there were two players there that were going to be prominent players, but one thing you can't count on is injuries," Warriors executive Jerry West said. "So Greg really never had a chance to have a career, where Kevin's obviously been more than advertised."

Celtics: Thomas unsure if he’ll need surgery
Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas wanted to keep playing in the Eastern Conference finals, but team doctors and officials convinced him he needed to shut down his season for his long-term health.

"They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what's more important," Thomas said Friday, a day after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. "But I definitely wasn't trying to hear that at that point in time."

Thomas injured the hip in March and aggravated it in the second-round series against Washington. He played three halves against the Cavaliers before limping off the court in the middle of Game 2.

The Celtics lost that game by 44 points to fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, then announced the next day that Thomas was done for the season. Still, they beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland the next game before falling easily in Games 4 and 5.

"Eastern Conference finals, that's the biggest stage I've ever been on," Thomas said at the team's practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. "To not be able to go back out there in that second half and continue that series was painful. Like it hurt me."

Speaking for the first time since the end of his season, Thomas said he might need surgery but it's "not the No. 1 option right now." He will have to wait for more tests until the swelling goes down, he said (see full story).