Nobody’s quite sure if and when the NBA season will resume, but one team is preparing to go straight to the playoffs exactly as things are.
Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand said the entire organization has prepared as if they will face the Boston Celtics in a playoff series when the NBA resumes.
“We are talking about the Celtics as if that could be an opponent,” Brand said, via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Brett [Brown] and his staff have also prepared for other teams in case there is a regular season and the [seeds] change. But we’ve done a deep dive.”
The Celtics would face the 76ers if the current playoff seeds held. In other words, the Sixers are preparing as if the season is finished and the playoff matchups have already been decided, even if no one knew it at the time.
This preparation may be in vain, as we’ve heard that the NBA is looking for ways to finish its season. Still, it’s not the worst idea to be ready just in case things skip straight to the playoffs.
The Philadelphia 76ers were considering the idea of asking some of their salaried employees to take a pay cut while the NBA season remains suspended, but the team has quickly reversed course.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the 76ers were meeting with their salaried employees (those making $50,000 or more per year) to discuss a possible 20 percent decrease in pay amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Only at-will employees — over $50K a year in salary — are required to accept the Sixers salary reductions. Those under contract are needed to "volunteer" to do it. https://t.co/irBrW1DNpm
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 24, 2020
Not surprisingly, the report was met with a great deal of criticism. After the 76ers were torn to shreds on social media, team owner Josh Harris issued a statement saying there will be no salary cuts. Harris apologized for considering the idea.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 24, 2020
Harris is one of the managing partners of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which is the group that owns both the Sixers and New Jersey Devils. He has an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion.
We live in an era where social media can clearly influence major decisions from powerful people, and this was yet another example of that. No NBA owner wants to have their net worth being shared all over the internet while they cut salaries during a global pandemic. With star players having pledged money to help arena workers and other team staff members during the coronavirus outbreak, we’re not sure what other reaction the 76ers thought they were going to receive.
- Philadelphia 76ers
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the NBA continues to grow.
The Philadelphia 76ers announced in a statement on Thursday that three individuals in the organization have tested positive for the coronavirus. The team adds that the tests were secured and processed privately after they received the recommendation that certain individuals, including players, coaches, and staff, be tested.
Sixers statement pic.twitter.com/wgLHGZ1Cxk
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 19, 2020
The news comes after the Denver Nuggets announced earlier in the day that they had one member of their organization test positive for the disease as well.
In their final game before the suspension of the NBA season over a week ago on Mar. 11, the Sixers played the Detroit Pistons, who had one of their players also test positive for the coronavirus.
Did the Philadelphia 76ers respond to Charles Barkley’s trash talk after their win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night? That may have been the case.
The Sixers completed a four-game road trip on Thursday with a 112-101 defeat in Milwaukee, marking their fourth loss of the road trip. Prior to the game, Charles Barkley had harsh comments for the team on TNT, calling them “soft” and mentally weak. Then the team went out and lost.
On Friday night at home, it was a different story. The Sixers got out to a big lead early and led by 33 in the third quarter against Memphis. They beat the Grizzlies 119-107.
After the game, Furkan Korkmaz, who was a monster with 34 points, got to ring the bell. He also broke the team huddle down with a “talk that s—” chant.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 8, 2020
Breaking down a huddle with something negative like “talk that s—” was weird. Is that the team’s usual battle cry? Is that a personal rallying cry for Korkmaz? It seems very plausible that the chant — and the team’s inspired play — was a response to Barkley, which would probably satisfy the outspoken analyst while also proving him right.
Charles Barkley went in on the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
The Sixers visited the Milwaukee Bucks for the first half of TNT’s doubleheader. Speaking ahead of the game on “Inside the NBA”, Barkley ripped his former team for being soft and mentally weak.
“I think they are the softest, mentally weakest team that had a bunch of talent,” Barkley said. “They are the Cleveland Browns of the NBA. They have a lot of talent, and they talk the talk, and that’s it.
“They just talk. They are weak mentally and physically.”
Prior to the season, Barkley picked the Sixers to make the Finals and now believes he got caught up in hype. At the center of his argument that the team is mentally weak is Philly’s 9-18 road record compared to their 22-2 home record. He thinks it’s much easier to win when you have the adulation and support from the home crowd but much tougher when you’re not at home, and the poor road record shows the 76ers are weak.
Barkley isn’t the only one calling the team soft; Ben Simmons said the same thing after his team’s blowout loss to the Heat this week.
Philly has been disappointing so far, but they picked up a few players from the Warriors in a trade that they’re hoping can solidify their team. They don’t seem to be in the same class as Milwaukee though, that’s for sure.
Derrick Rose has played very well in his first season with the Detroit Pistons after not generating much interest on the free agent market last summer, and it appears he is going to be a valuable trade piece as the deadline approaches.
Rose is drawing interest from multiple contending teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. Both teams are in need of point guard help down the stretch. The Los Angeles Clippers have also inquired about Rose, but those talks were described as more “exploratory” in nature.
Rose has played just 25.8 minutes per game this season and has averaged 18.3 points and 5.9 assists per game despite the somewhat limited role. Haynes reports that he recently asked the team to give him more playing time, but the remarks head coach Dwane Casey made about Rose’s workload earlier this month hold true.
With one more year and $7.6 million remaining on his contract, Rose is said to be happy in Detroit. The Pistons were only three games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference entering Monday, but Blake Griffin is likely out for the season with another injury and Detroit appears committed to being sellers. Unless they are going to try to make a playoff push, trading the 31-year-old Rose is probably the logical thing to do.
The Philadelphia 76ers seemingly wanted to keep Jimmy Butler when he became a free agent last year, but things went sour between Butler and the organization at some point.
Butler alluded to a behind-the-scenes issue with the Sixers that helped lead him to joining the Miami Heat this past offseason, but wouldn’t go into detail.
“Stuff just don’t work out. Nobody knows what really went on in Philly and we’re going to leave it that way,” Butler told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “But it was a great opportunity for me.
“Just go with your gut. You’re not dumb. All of that will come out whenever it’s time. Right now is not the time. I’m locked in with this. I’m happy, man. I’m smiling and my guys want me to be here, my organization wants me to be here, I want to be here and we’re going to ride this thing until the wheels fall off. I’m not saying Philly wasn’t great, man. We had some really good players. I talk to Joel [Embiid] damn near every f—–g day. It’s a brotherhood, man. I love that guy. I’m going to always have his back and I know he’ll always have mine.”
It’s anyone’s guess what the issue was. One thing reported at the time was that Butler wanted a five-year max and the Sixers didn’t even come close to offering it, so it could be as simple as that. Butler wants to be respected and can be a bit touchy over perceived slights, so a lot of things could have happened behind the scenes to rub the forward the wrong way.