Between the draft, injuries, and plenty of other off-court news, it's been a busy five months for the Philadelphia 76ers. Barely a week went by this summer without something noteworthy coming across the wire about the professional basketball team that plays its home games at "The Center." As we head into the 2015-16 campaign, here's a look back at the biggest stories of the offseason:
Embiid Suffers Setback
For the second consecutive year, the only time we'll see Joel Embiid on the court in uniform is at Media Day. Two months after the initial report that Embiid's foot wasn't healing as expected, the former Kansas center finally underwent surgery in mid-August. Sam Hinkie's hope (promise?) of "violence at the rim" will have to wait another season, but in the interim, the Sixers may have found another big man who will serve as their cornerstone for the future.
Sixers Snag No. 3 Pick In 2015 NBA Draft
The Philadelphia 76ers finished with the third-worst record last season (18-64), and fittingly came out of the draft lottery with the third overall pick (thanks in large part to Nerlens Noel's custom suit). The lottery itself is the least-exciting event on the NBA calendar, but that didn't stop some 500 people from going to a restaurant that specializes in chicken and beer to watch the proceedings as they unfolded. 'Merica.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers wound up the first two picks in the draft, and much of the following month was spent speculating on whether Ohio State PG D'Angelo Russell would fall to the 76ers at No. 3. On Lottery Day, we learned that only one thing was certain: If you give Pablo Torre a free T-shirt, he'll find a way to show it off on "Around the Horn."
Of course, with the Sixers being the Sixers, things can't always be peaches and cream. The live stream of the jersey debut was plagued by technical issues, and fans were quick to voice their displeasure:
We apologize for the technical difficulties with the stream. That said, we'll still be live-tweeting the unveil. Keep it here.— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) June 18, 2015
Alittle embarrassing for the @Sixers to hype up their jersey so much and then have a stream that looks like it's being recorded by a potato.— Pat Costello (@PatCostello20) June 18, 2015
The scrambled Spice channel I watched in 7th grade was better quality than this @sixers video stream.— Fantasource (@fantasource) June 18, 2015
Sixers Draft Okafor
On Draft Night, the Philadelphia 76ers selected a 6'11", 275-pound center who won an NCAA title as a freshman, and who also happened to be the runner-up in the voting for the John R. Wooden Award... and fans still had to convince themselves that Jahlil Okafor was the right pick.
With some time - and after a couple of solid Summer League performances - Sixers Nation began to warm up to Big Jah. After all, in the wake of the Embiid news, the frontcourt situation had to be addressed, and Okafor was (arguably) the best big man left on the board. But let the record show that the Okafor selection almost never came to pass.
Amazingly, the 76ers had the fortitude to rebuff the Boston Celtics' offer of Marcus Smart and the No. 16 and No. 28 picks for Nerlens Noel and the No. 3 pick. You know that guy in your fantasy league who always proposes lopsided trades? That guy is Danny Ainge.
Hot Sauce On My Burrito, Baby
The Sixers didn't exactly address their shooting guard situation in the draft, but they rebounded nicely by acquiring Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a 2018 No. 1 pick and the rights to two other first-rounders from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for a game-worn Michael Carter-Williams jersey and Lorenzo Brown's old E-ZPass transponder.
You know that guy in your fantasy league who is willing to blow up his team after every loss? That guy is Vivek Ranadive.
While Stauskas has quickly endeared himself to the Philadelphia fan base, Jason Thompson - who seemed legitimately excited to play for the team he grew up watching - was only here for 45 minutes before he was dealt to Golden State for Gerald Wallace. Wallace, meanwhile, was here for an hour before he was released by the Sixers in a move to clear roster space.
If You've Ever Played Point Guard, The Sixers Signed You This Summer
In an effort to find a playmaker to pair with their bigs, the Sixers signed ~37 point guards this summer, including Pierre Jackson, Scottie Wilbekin, Kendall Marshall and T.J. McConnell. But all of those moves only served to light a fire under another "point guard" already on their roster: Tony Wroten.
Sadly, three members of the Philadelphia 76ers family passed away this summer. Harvey Pollack - the godfather of basketball statistics - died in June at the age of 93. And in just the past month, two legendary Sixers' big men - Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone - passed away at the ages of 58 and 60, respectively. The team has plans to honor the three men in a special ceremony on Opening Night. Hopefully, the 76ers will also right a long-standing injustice and retire Malone's No. 2 jersey at some point this season.
In Other News
- Former Sixers head coach Larry Brown felt compelled to draw everyone's ire by revealing that the team had Paul Pierce rated at the No. 2 player in its draft board in 1998, but decided to draft Larry Hughes anyway because of a promise.
- Sam Hinkie stopped kicking the can for a second, and actually kicked the tires on a couple of high-profile free agents, including Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard.
- In June, we learned that the 76ers were forced to give the New Orleans Pelicans $3 million for not being completely forthright with Jrue Holiday's injury history. This came only a few days after the NBPA stated that it was investigating the Sixers for possible violations of the collective bargaining agreement. Conversely, the Sixers spent part of their summer attempting to get compensation from the Los Angeles Lakers for the whole Andrew Bynum situation.
- There were a couple of changes to the Sixers' support staff, most notably the hiring of Kevin Durant's BFF Todd Wright as one of the team's assistant coaches. KD is a free agent next season, so it'll be up to Wright to figure out how to play Durant and #FutureSixer Ben Simmons at the same time.
- For a while it looked as if Malik Rose was going to leave the Sixers for an assistant coaching job at the University of Alabama. And while that never came to fruition, Rose did eventually accept a front-office position with the Atlanta Hawks, breaking up one of the best broadcast trios - Mark, Malik and Molly - in the NBA. #BringBackSteveMix
- In yet another tease, there was a brief stretch where we thought that maybe... just maybe... Dario Saric would leave Europe and join the Sixers this year. That didn't happen. However, on the court, Saric managed to play in every basketball competition this summer with the exception of #TheTournament.
- Lil' B and/or The Based God accepted the Delaware 87ers' offer to participate in the team's local tryout. B didn't make the first session, but the door is still open for him to attend the final tryout on October 11 at Temple University.
- And finally, the Sixers remained steadfast in their crusade to never refer to their home arena by its actual name.
Happy New Year, everybody.