What do Justin Anderson, Tiago Splitter bring to Sixers?

What do Justin Anderson, Tiago Splitter bring to Sixers?

Justin Anderson and Tiago Splitter arrived in Philadelphia on Friday for their first game with the team. Anderson, in fact, got there just a few hours before tipoff Friday after missing the bag check-in window on his first flight and experiencing a delay on his second one.

The Sixers project them to have very different roles -- one as a veteran voice and the other as a versatile contributor. 

Justin Anderson
Anderson was just getting over the departure of his veteran teammate, Deron Williams, when he was informed he, too, was leaving the Mavs. Anderson had met with the Sixers during the pre-draft process and left a memorable mark on Brett Brown.

"When I interviewed him a few years ago, he was polished, he was articulate, he was Virginia, he was tough," Brown said.

Anderson was impressed by Brown's mentioning parts of their meeting when the coach called him after the trade.  

"When I found it was here, I was very excited because it's a young organization that wants to get out and play hard, play fast and try to make change and try to turn things around," Anderson said. "I want to blend right in like a chameleon."

The 6-foot-6 Anderson played point guard through power forward on the Mavericks. Brown envisions him sliding into a backup four spot behind Dario Saric at times. Brown said Anderson will need to work on his shot, but considers him to be "developable."

"Just tough, hard play," Anderson said of his game. "Offensively, being able to shoot the ball, space the floor. Being able to use my athleticism, get to the rim, get fouled. Defensively, just being able to rotate, block shots, guard best player, take on challenges and do whatever I can."

Tiago Splitter
Splitter has been sidelined all season after undergoing hip surgery one year ago Saturday. He still is dealing with what he describes as "muscle imbalance" including his calves. Splitter had been participating in full practices with the Hawks prior to the trade and would like to return this season.

In the meantime, Splitter can share his title-winning experience with the younger Sixers. He captured a title with the Spurs while Brown was on the coaching staff.

"I know what a team needs to be championship caliber," Splitter said. "I'm not saying I'm going to come here and change anything now; I'm just going to see what I see and help the young guys to develop into great players. There are a lot of great players here already. You guys have seen how the team is playing some nights here, it’s unbelievable. They just have to do that every night on a consistent basis. I hope I can help them, they can help me also get back on the court."

Splitter could share some of his fundamentals with the bigs.

"He's just a blue-collar workhorse that is an elite screener, an elite roller," Brown said. "I know in my Spurs days with him, he was as good as we had coached on the assist from the roll."

Splitter’s time with the Sixers most likely will be brief. His contract expires this and the Sixers will try to help him get healthy to approach the free agent market.

"As far as long term, him fitting in and being part of something, I don’t see that at this date," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. "But once again, it's certainly something that we'll look at if he happens to fit. I think his anticipation, though, is just landing somewhere, getting the chance to finish out the season, showing that he's healthy and then setting himself up for an opportunity to play somewhere next year."

What about Bogut?
Andrew Bogut was included in the trade from the Mavericks with Anderson. The veteran center will not be with the Sixers for at least a week, according to Colangelo, and may not come to Philadelphia at all.

"He's got some personal things that he's dealing with at home, family-related," Colangelo said. "There's a possibility that he'll want to go play somewhere in the playoffs. In order to accomplish that, that would take some sort of a buyout."

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Nerlens Noel was essentially the beginning of The Process.

Acquired in a draft day trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, Noel was the last player remaining of those who were on the team when Brett Brown took over as head coach of the Sixers. Drafted No. 6 overall out of Kentucky, Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season recovering from a torn ACL.

That gave Brown the opportunity to work closely with Noel, most notably on his shot.

"Personally, I spent a lot of time with him," Brown said pregame Friday. "To have a whole year where you could help grow his shot. And talk about a total rebuild."

Noel on Thursday was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a top-18 protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. The return doesn't seem great, but there are larger factors at play.

Noel is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. With the emergence of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the roster, the center position was (and still is, frankly) crowded. The chances of the Sixers' retaining Noel weren't great. Especially if a team had signed him to an exorbitant offer sheet.

Brown was naturally close to Noel, but understands the business side of the decision.

"I'm happy for him in my heart of hearts," Brown said. "[The Mavericks] have brought him in to grow him to try to be a starting center. That does equal a commensurate paycheck. He will be rewarded if that's the way it plays out.

"That wasn't gonna happen here. It wasn't gonna happen here. And so when you really study salary caps, really study design of teams and really study how to grow a program so you're not caught positionally, it was gonna be hard to allocate that amount of money to a five spot."

Brown got some more tough news when he learned No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons won't play this season. A scan taken Thursday revealed that Simmons' Jones fracture, suffered in early October on the last day of training camp, has not fully healed (see story).

Brown, being the consummate optimist, brought up his experience with Noel in is his rookie season of how a player can still develop despite not getting on the court.

"I'm disappointed for lots of reasons that he isn't going to be able to play," Brown said. "I played text tag with him as he was going to the scan. I felt like when your wife is having a baby, pacing around, wondering, 'What's gonna happen? What's the result of the scan? What's it gonna be? What's it gonna be?' I don't mean to get too dramatic, but there's a level of anxiety that you wonder, 'What is the result gonna say?' And when it came back with the result, it caught me off guard. It really wasn't something personally I was expecting."

Sixers president of basketball operation Bryan Colangelo addressed the media Friday to disclose the news on Simmons. He also explained his thinking behind the Noel trade, which mostly hinged on Noel's impending restricted free-agent status (see story).

Brown was sad to see one of his original developmental projects go, but understood the business side of the decision.                     

"I thought he did a really good job," Brown said of Colangelo's press conference. "That is the truth. So it's connected with emotion and reality that we say goodbye to Nerlens."

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor is still a Sixer.

He's not a New Orleans Pelican or a Portland Trail Blazer or a Dallas Maverick. He's not going back home to Chicago or to Indiana to play with Paul George. He's in Philly for at least the next 26 games and he's ready to get to work.

"I was happy that the trade deadline was over with and I knew where I'd be finishing the rest of the season," Okafor said. "After the past couple weeks I couldn't wait until 3 o'clock yesterday would pass, which means I wouldn't have to worry about where I would be and have to deal with all the trade rumors.

"It's a sigh of relief. I'm glad it's over with. I'm still a Sixer so I'm excited about playing tonight."

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo on Friday spoke at length about the team's future. He's said he's planning to build around the team's "transformational players" in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

He also addressed the deal that sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas for a protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. With all of the rumors swirling around Okafor, there wasn't much chatter around Noel.

The biggest reason for Noel's departure is his contract. Noel is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He's a desirable player in today's NBA as a big that can run the floor and offer elite rim protection. Okafor can't become a restricted free agent until 2019.

Colangelo said there was a market for Okafor, but he just couldn't find the right deal.

"The market dictates what’s there and interestingly given our situation with the multiple talented bigs I think it's safe to say people view us as a place to come if they are looking for a big," Colangelo said. "Several bigs were out there and available on the market. A trade went down early. (Jusuf) Nurkic going to Portland. There was some conversation with Jahlil early, some advanced discussions to the point we pulled him out of a game situation just because there was so much at stake given the terms of a proposed transaction."

It seems like Okafor has been on the trade block since the day he was drafted third overall in 2015. With Embiid's emerging as a star and Noel's being the team's longest-tenured big, it had been difficult to see Okafor's long-term fit with the Sixers.

To Okafor's credit, he's taken it all in stride. As Colangelo alluded to, he had "advanced" talks on a deal that would send Okafor to Portland. The talks got serious enough to where Okafor was held out of a win over the Heat and began the handshaking ritual of a player on the move. He was also held out of the next game in Charlotte.

Through all of it, Okafor wasn't bitter. He just quietly kept working.

"I never looked at me being shopped as a negative thing," Okafor said. "It's just part of the business... I am here so there are no hard feelings or anything like that. No, not at all.

"I never felt disconnected from the team. When I wasn't traveling with the team I was still here in the facility with [Embiid and Simmons]. I was never just at home alone or anything like that. I was still with the team. Some of the coaches would stay back so I always felt connected with the Sixers."

Okafor will get his first action of the second half of the season tonight against the Wizards. He's been dealing with knee soreness, a result of a surgery to repair a torn meniscus last March. He said Friday afternoon that he's feeling healthy after the All-Star Break and the Rising Stars Challenge.

After all the speculation and rumors, Okafor just wants to play basketball.

"I think it's something a lot of players in the NBA have to deal with," he said. "We're all basketball players. We want to play well for ourselves and for our team.

"Whatever happens in a few months, we'll see what happens then. Right now I'm just worried about playing these last 26 games and playing well for the city and playing well for the team. "