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#pounditFriday, May 7, 2021

Articles tagged: Philadelphia 76ers

Tyrese Maxey earns respect with gutsy performance for shorthanded Sixers

Tyrese Maxey

Tyrese Maxey is a rookie, but he played like anything but one when his team needed him this weekend.

The Philadelphia 76ers were severely shorthanded for their game against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Seth Curry tested postive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. That led to Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and Vincent Poirier being forced out as well due to health and safety protocols. Star players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were also subsequently held out due to injury. They joined Furkan Korkmaz and Terrance Ferguson, both of whom already had existing injuries. Mike Scott was also injured but dressed so the Sixers could meet the eight-player minimum for the game to proceed.

Suddenly forced into heavy minutes along with the other healthy Sixers, the 20-year-old Maxey responded with the performance of his life. He erupted for 39 points on 18-for-33 from the field. Maxey also chipped in with seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals while logging a team-high 44 minutes.

While the Nuggets predictably won by a 115-103 final margin, the fact that was even that close was a testament to Maxey’s gutsy showing. That earned the ex-Kentucky star some major respect from the basketball community.

Maxey fell to the No. 21 pick in last year’s draft, but he definitely outplayed that billing on Saturday. In fact, it was reminiscent of the courageous performance by this fellow pro athlete not too long ago.

Seth Curry tests positive for COVID-19 as Sixers have to quarantine

Seth Curry

The Philadelphia 76ers will be in quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test for one of their players.

Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19, he and the team learned on Thursday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says the team learned of the positive test near the start of their game on Thursday at Brooklyn. Curry went into an isolation room immediately and left separately from the team.

The Sixers lost the game 122-109 while playing without Curry. Brooklyn interestingly got the win without either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. Irving missed the game for personal reasons, while Durant is out due to quarantine rules.

The Sixers will stay in New York overnight and begin contact tracing on Friday morning, Woj says.

The NBA announced on Thursday that they have had four positive COVID-19 tests since Dec. 30. Curry is third on the team with 17.0 points per game this season.

Ben Simmons says Sixers can be ‘scary’ team

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers began their season with a win over the Washington Wizards, and they are hoping that is a sign of things to come under new head coach Doc Rivers. While he admits there were some rough moments, Ben Simmons believes the Sixers have enormous potential.

Simmons, who scored 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the 113-107 win, acknowledged after the game that the 76ers were a bit “unorganized.” He also said he thinks they’re going to be a problem for the rest of the league when they find their rhythm.

“We can be a scary team once we start clicking and executing plays,” Simmons said, per Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. “There’s spurts where we look great and spurts we looked a little unorganized. That just comes with time.”

Joel Embiid had 29 points and 14 rebounds, reminding us of how dominant he can be when healthy. Rivers tried out some different combinations of lineups and got mixed results, and there is likely going to be an experimental period under the new coach.

There’s no question the Sixers are one of the most talented teams in the NBA, which is why they brought in Doc Rivers. There have been rumors that Simmons could be on the trade block, but those can be put to rest for now. If Rivers can get the most out of him, Embiid and the rest of the team, anything short of a deep playoff run would be a surprise.

Daryl Morey shoots down Ben Simmons trade rumors

Ben Simmons

Daryl Morey wasted no time shooting down Ben Simmons trade rumors.

ESPN reported on Thursday that the Philadelphia 76ers have shown a willingness to include Simmons in trade talks with the Houston Rockets surrounding James Harden. However, they said those talks haven’t gone anywhere.

Not long after news of the trade report came out, Morey responded.

“We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future,” Morey said, via Shams Charania.

Morey was recently hired to head the 76ers’ basketball operations. It’s in his interest to shoot down the rumors. One, saying that sends the message to Houston that Philly won’t be a pushover in trade talks. Two, and more importantly, it could help comfort Simmons, who might not like being included in the rumors.

Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick by Philly in 2016 and is entering his fourth season of playing in the league (he missed his rookie season due to injury). Many around the league are still waiting for him to develop into the dominant two-way player many envisioned when he came out of LSU.

As for the trade talks, we know just how much Morey loves Harden, so it’s no surprise he’s trying to get his man.

Brad Stevens appreciates 76ers piping in this specific crowd noise chant

Brad Stevens

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have a rivalry that spans back many decades, and arena workers at the Wells Fargo Center weren’t about to let the pandemic spoil that on Tuesday night.

While there were no fans in attendance for the preseason game between the Celtics and Sixers, the visiting team still had to deal with “you suck!” chants. Boston coach Brad Stevens spoke after the game about the feel of playing in an empty arena, and he applauded the 76ers for piping in some very specific crowd noise that gave the game an authentic feel.

The Celtics swept the Sixers in the playoffs this past season and beat them 4-1 back in 2018, so the rivalry has been fairly lopsided in recent years. It has still given us some entertaining moments, however, so kudos to Philly for trying to keep that going during an unprecedented time.

Watching teams play in empty or mostly empty arenas is going to be strange, but players should be accustomed to it by now. Mark Cuban recently revealed how much money teams stand to lose without fans, so hopefully things return to normal before the end of the season.

Report: James Harden told Rockets he is open to 76ers trade

James Harden

James Harden has not reported to training camp with the Houston Rockets and seems intent on being traded. If the team decides to fulfill his request, the Philadelphia 76ers are at or near the top of the former MVP’s wish list.

Harden informed the Rockets before the start of training camp that he would be open to a trade to the Sixers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon. He also said there would be other teams that fit his criteria, though it’s unclear which teams those are.

It was previously reported that Harden wants a trade to the Nets, but he pivoted to the 76ers after there was no traction in talks between Houston and Brooklyn. The Rockets have had no significant talks with Philly, either.

Former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is now in charge of basketball operations in Philly, and he and Harden have a close relationship. Morey took out a full-page ad thanking the Rockets after he parted ways with them, and the ad focused a lot on Harden.

If the Rockets do trade Harden, ESPN reports that they are looking for a package that includes “a young franchise cornerstone and a bundle of first-round picks and/or talented players on rookie contracts.” They would almost certainly want Ben Simmons in any deal with the 76ers, and indications have been that Morey is not open to parting with him.

Harden was not present for Houston’s first official practice on Sunday, and head coach Stephen Silas appears to be running out of patience with him. We seemed to get confirmation that Harden wants to be traded with some remarks his mother met on social media.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Dwight Howard has message for 76ers after winning title

Dwight Howard

Now that Dwight Howard knows what it’s like to win an NBA title, he wants to guide the Philadelphia 76ers to the same destination.

Fresh off a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard said he wants to do the same for the Sixers. One thing he emphasized was sacrifice and not caring about stats in order to succeed.

“Winning the championship was everything, and it made me realize I could have the best stats in the world and it don’t mean nothing,” Howard said Wednesday, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Because here it was, I won a championship and there was games where I didn’t score a bucket, or get a field goal, or get minutes in a game. What really matters is just holding up that trophy.

“That would be my message to everybody on the team: What are you willing to give up to get that trophy? Sometimes you got to give up everything. Sometimes your role and what’s required of you [is] to give up the things you want to do the most.”

Howard had very limited duty for the Lakers in the playoffs. He only averaged 15.7 minutes per game, with 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in that span. He clearly feels it was worth it, and that’s the message he wants his new teammates to absorb.

Ultimately, things got a bit strange between Howard and the Lakers at the end. The Sixers will hope that is to their benefit.

76ers the team to watch for James Harden?

James Harden

There have been numerous reports this week that James Harden is focused on trying to force his way to the Brooklyn Nets, but the Philadelphia 76ers may actually be the more likely landing spot.

Harden supposedly wants to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but ex-NBA player and current analyst Brian Scalabrine said Tuesday that the talk of Harden going to the Nets is “smoke and mirrors.” Scalabrine, and many others, believe the 76ers are the team to watch.

If he does wind up in Brooklyn, Harden would not be the first NBA superstar to force a trade to the team of his choice. However, he has less leverage than some star players before him. Harden has two years remaining on his contract, which means he would not necessarily be a one-year rental for the team that acquired him. The Rockets can, and should, send Harden to the highest bidder if they decide to move on from him.

Though he is said to be focused on the Nets, Harden is also reportedly open to a trade to Philly. That makes sense now that former Rockets GM Daryl Morey has taken over basketball operations for the 76ers. Morey took out a full-page ad thanking the Rockets after he parted ways with them, and the ad focused a lot on Harden.

One potential roadblock for a Rockets-76ers trade could be that Philadelphia is reportedly unwilling to part with a star player that Houston would likely want.

76ers reportedly not willing to trade Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of two teams that James Harden reportedly wants to play for, but they might have to give up Ben Simmons if they want to acquire the former MVP. They are apparently unwilling to do that at the moment.

Shams Charania of The Athletic expressed skepticism on Monday that the Houston Rockets will be able to work out a trade with either team Harden supposedly wants to play for — the Sixers or Brooklyn Nets. He said the Rockets are uninterested in any deal with the Nets that doesn’t include Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant. Houston would also want Simmons from the Sixers, and that’s not happening.

“Unless they’re putting in Ben Simmons, which I’m told they’re not inclined to do right now, I don’t see a deal structure that makes sense for Philly,” Charania said. “The Sixers and Nets are going to have to see if they can cobble a deal together.”

If the Rockets decide to give Harden what he wants, a trade to the Nets that includes Irving or Durant won’t make any sense. Harden has reportedly decided he wants to play for Brooklyn because he believes Houston’s championship window has closed and he can win a title with Irving and Durant. He probably wouldn’t want to play for the Nets if Irving or Durant were part of the trade.

The Rockets are said to be committed to both Harden and Russell Westbrook, but things can change in a hurry during the NBA offseason. The amount of money Harden reportedly turned down shows how bad he wants out of Houston. He may eventually get his way if he pushes hard enough.

Report: James Harden wants trade to Nets or 76ers

James Harden

Two teams continue to come up frequently when it comes to a potential James Harden trade.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Harden only wants to play for a contender. The belief is that he would prefer to be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers or Brooklyn Nets.

Charania does note that the Rockets would be comfortable keeping Harden or Westbrook into the season, even if both are unhappy.

A move to the Sixers would reunite Harden with general manager Daryl Morey, who brought him to Houston. Moving to the Nets would reunite him with former coach Mike D’Antoni, who is an assistant there. The Nets have been mentioned previously as a possible landing spot.

As one would expect, both teams already have stars. It’s not clear how the Nets would run an offense with Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant, though. The Sixers also have a ball-dominant player in Ben Simmons, but don’t quite have a guard in the mold of Harden.