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#pounditTuesday, September 22, 2020

Articles tagged: Philadelphia 76ers

76ers say fans were not ejected over Hong Kong protests

Philadelphia 76ers logo

The Philadelphia 76ers denied that they ejected fans from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for their support of Hong Kong.

The 76ers said the two fans, who were holding up “Free Hong Kong” signs, were ejected for being disruptive and getting into verbal confrontations with other fans, not for the content of their signs.

“At last evening’s game, following multiple complaints from guests and verbal confrontations with others in attendance, two individuals were warned by Wells Fargo Center staff about their continuing disruption of the fan experience,” the team said in a statement, via ESPN. “Ultimately, the decision was made by Wells Fargo Center personnel to remove the guests from the premises, which was accomplished without incident.”

The Wells Fargo Center said in its own statement that the fans were given three warnings before being ejected. The fan, Sam Wachs, said he and his wife had their pro-Hong Kong signs confiscated before being ejected after he shouted “Free Hong Kong!” in support of the pro-democracy protests ongoing there.

The preseason game took place against the Guangzhou Loong Lions, a Chinese team.

It’s the latest chapter in the NBA’s newest mess. The Chinese market and the money that comes from it are hugely important to the league, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that they’re not going to be able to tap into that market without censoring themselves to some degree about important political issues relating to China. Whether the Sixers are being honest here or not, it gives off the impression of another NBA entity more concerned with protecting its interests in China than allowing those associated with it to speak freely — the same contrast that got the NBA into trouble in the first place.

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76ers fan says he was kicked out of preseason game for supporting Hong Kong

Philadelphia 76ers logo

The NBA has found itself scrambling to somehow repair its relationship with China in the wake of Daryl Morey publicly showing support for the protests in Hong Kong, and the league may be taking measures to avoid the controversy at home in addition to overseas.

A Philadelphia 76ers fan named Sam Wachs says he and his wife were kicked out of the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night for showing support for Hong Kong during the Sixers’ preseason game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association. Wachs, who lived in Hong Kong for two years, says he and his wife were holding up signs that said “Free Hong Kong” and “Free HK.”

Arena security confiscated the signs, and Wachs says the couple was kicked out during the second quarter for yelling, “Free Hong Kong” after the signs were taken.

“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,” Wachs told NBC10 in Philly. “You know, what’s wrong with that?”

Wachs says he and his wife were sitting near the Chinese bench, but he insists they were simply expressing support for the pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong. NBC10 reached out to the 76ers for an explanation, but the team did not provide any comment.

It’s unclear if Wells Fargo Arena security decided themselves that Wachs and his wife were violating the fan code of conduct or if the NBA has issued some sort of directive. Whatever the case, we know the situation between China and the league continues to get more complicated by the day.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has expressed regret that Morey’s tweets offended so many people in China, but he said the league will not apologize for respecting the Houston Rockets GM’s right to express himself freely. The biggest names in the NBA are typically not shy in expressing their opinions about political and social justice issues, though we have already heard some disappointing responses to the China situation.

Do you support Free Speech? Do you stand with Daryl Morey? Get the shirt that says so below!

7 most improved NBA teams of the offseason

The NBA offseason was one for the ages. A crazy amount of top-end talent changed teams, either by trades or free agency decisions. Six of the 15 players to make All-NBA teams last season are now part of new franchises. The draft has passed, so have many trades, and teams are finally starting to get settled as they prepare for the upcoming season. That means we can assess which teams have improved the most entering the 2019-20 seasons.

Here are seven teams who have done the most to improve themselves over the course of the NBA offseason.

7. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers weathered Victor Oladipo’s absence fairly well last season, winning 48 games and finishing fifth in the conference. Oladipo should be back this season, and the Pacers have made moves to improve the supporting cast around him. The big move was adding restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks. Other additions like Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren will provide forward depth. With Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner already holding down the frontcourt and Oladipo expected back sometime around the start of 2020, they’ll be a formidable bunch, despite the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic.

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76ers have insane amount of money committed to their core players

Joel Embiid

If the Philadelphia 76ers fail to win a championship in the next five years or so, their fans certainly cannot blame the front office for a lack of financial commitment to the roster.

As expected, Ben Simmons agreed to a five-year, $170 million rookie max extension with the Sixers on Monday. The contract came in an offseason where Philly also shelled out $180 million over five years to keep Tobias Harris and signed Al Horford to a four-year, $109 million deal. And let’s not forget the five-year, $148 million extension Joel Embiid got prior to the 2017-18 season.

Apparently trusting “The Process” costs a lot of dough. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes, the 76ers will have well over a half-billion dollars invested in their four core players when Simmons’ extension kicks in starting in 2020-21.

With all the money they have spent, it’s hard to believe the 76ers did not offer one star player the max contract he was seeking. They clearly have a vision, however, and they feel their current roster is the one that is going to bring them a title. Their payroll says it all.

Ben Simmons agrees to max extension with 76ers

Ben Simmons

As has been widely expected, Ben Simmons has agreed to a max contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons’ agent Rich Paul told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Simmons has agreed to the five-year, $170 million max deal he was eligible for, locking him down in Philadelphia long-term.

This had been a formality for roughly two weeks and maybe even longer. Simmons is a key part of the Sixers’ future and they’ve planned around him becoming one of their go-to players.

Simmons turns 23 next week. He’s coming off a season which saw him average 17.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.1 assists as the Sixers came frustratingly close to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

76ers GM counting on Harris, Simmons to take big shots

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers watched as emotional leader Jimmy Butler departed this summer, but the team’s general manager has players in mind to fill the void.

GM Elton Brand revealed that he is expecting guard Ben Simmons and newly re-signed forward Tobias Harris to step up and fill the leadership void both on and off the court.

“We are making those bets on those perimeter players,” Brand told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on Friday. “Of course we’re going to bet on Joel [Embiid] when it’s time to bet on him.

“But I envision they will. I envision them stepping up, for sure, and rising to the occasion when it is crunch time, for sure.”

Butler was looked towards to take the big shots in close games, and he did so successfully in his brief time with Philadelphia. His departure leaves no obvious option for the Sixers in that regard, but there’s a clear confidence that Simmons and Harris can do it, or at least an expectation.

76ers hilariously screw up Jimmy Butler farewell image

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler officially left the Philadelphia 76ers for the Miami Heat on Saturday, and the Sixers sent him packing with a rather hilarious flub.

As has become customary for departing superstars, the Sixers’ official Twitter account posted an image wishing Butler farewell in his new home. There was only one problem: they messed up his last name.

Amazingly, the tweet stayed up for roughly a half hour amid a lot of derision before the team finally deleted it.

First the Sixers wouldn’t give Butler a max deal, now this. In seriousness, it’s a simple mistake to make, and typos happen to everyone. This was just a bad time for one to happen, and one would think that someone would have spotted it before it went up for everyone else to spot instead.

Ben Simmons expected to sign five-year, $170 million extension with 76ers

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers were unable to bring back Jimmy Butler on a max contract this offseason, but they have wasted no time cutting an equally massive check for another one of their players.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Sixers have offered Ben Simmons a five-year, $170 million max extension, and Simmons is expected to accept once details are sorted out.

Simmons is currently playing on a four-year, $26.6 million rookie contract and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent following next season. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game last year.

The 76ers are now committed to Simmons and Joel Embiid as their core for years to come, with Embiid currently signed through the 2022-2023 season. They also added Al Horford to their frontcourt this week, and they could be the favorites in the Eastern Conference depending upon where Kawhi Leonard ends up.

Tobias Harris remains with 76ers on five-year deal

Tobias Harris

The Philadelphia 76ers will retain at least one of their two big free agents.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, forward Tobias Harris has agreed to stay with the Sixers on a five-year, $180 million max deal.

Harris actually saves the 76ers a bit of money in taking this deal, as he could have made $190 million.

Harris was a key part of the Sixers last season after being acquired in a midseason deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 18.2 points per game during the regular season after the trade.

The 76ers’ chances of retaining their other star free agent, Jimmy Butler, are less clear. That’s a lot of money to invest in Harris, and reports indicate that Butler may be looking elsewhere. Still, keeping one of the two is huge, and ensures that Philadelphia can remain an Eastern Conference contender next season.

Ben Simmons, 76ers reportedly discussing contract extension

Ben Simmons

NBA teams were lining up to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire new players when free agency opened on Sunday, and the Philadelphia 76ers are also putting time aside to take care of one of their own.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers have begun discussing a contract extension with Ben Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul.

Simmons is currently playing on a four-year, $26.6 million rookie contract and is scheduled to become an restricted free agent following next season. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game last year. The 76ers signing him to a max contract is a matter of when, not if.