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Liberty Links: The Sixers really might make the playoffs next year

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The East is sure something.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers-Press Conference James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Hey guys. Anything happen in the NBA this weekend? Pretty slow news cycle, huh?

Ah, you know the drill.

The Sixers path to the Eastern Conference playoffs got way easier

To recap a few developments from this offseason

  • The Pacers sent Paul George to Oklahoma City
  • The Bulls sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota
  • Paul Millsap (who?) signed a huge deal with the Denver Nuggets, and the Hawks also sent Dwight Howard packing to Charlotte

Right out of the gate, three of the East’s playoff teams are going to be significantly worse from opening day on. Meanwhile, the Sixers are adding the consensus top prospects from each of the past two drafts, a deadeye shooter, returning an exciting young group that has a full offseason to work out together in the team’s practice facility, and oh yeah, they still have that guy Joel Embiid.

I am always, always, always on Team Caution when it comes to predicting playoffs for young/up-and-coming teams; if gambling were legal in my home state, I would have made money on the Utah Jazz not being playoff worthy in 2015-16 and the Minnesota Timberwolves underwhelming expectations last season, when some pegged them for as many as 50 wins.

But man, how do you not start to expect the Sixers to make good on Embiid’s expectations? Their competition is slowly falling by the wayside, and they just have an abundance of talent on hand to make a push for the postseason. Health will be a determining factor, as always, but if you get even 50 games out of Embiid, how do the Sixers not crack the playoffs in this group?

All of this year’s free agent signings rounded up in one place—SB Nation

A very useful tool for those of you who don’t keep reporters on mobile alert, like an insane person I do.

J.J. Redick’s One-Year Deal With 76ers Makes Sense for Everyone—Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer

If everything goes according to plan, the 76ers will make a playoff push this season, gaining valuable experience for their young core, while Redick will have set himself up for one more big contract. If things don’t work out, both sides can wash their hands after one season.

That about sums it up. I look forward to Redick bombing open looks from deep all season.

Get Carmelo Anthony out of New York

I’m not a huge Anthony fan—with the obvious caveat that Olympic Melo is an American hero—but this is ridiculous at this point. Just buy the man out.

Masai Ujiri could fix Knicks' mess, but competent moves aren't their style—Chris Mannix, The Vertical

This is where Dolan is unpredictable. He’s as likely to hire Clyde Frazier as he is Ujiri, inclined to elevate Allan Houston as he is to place a call to San Antonio’s R.C. Buford. Even reinstalling Thomas – who has lingered as a top executive with the WNBA’s Liberty – can’t be ruled out. The Jackson era is over, but the Knicks reign as the NBA’s biggest sideshow could roll along, indefinitely.

Obligatory:

J.J. Redick’s three-point shooting is exactly what the Sixers need—Rich Hofmann, Philly Voice

Redick certainly has limitations. Even though he has developed into an excellent team defender, a Redick-Fultz backcourt would not be particularly stout in 2017-18 (and that may be putting it lightly). But the Sixers already have plus defenders in Covington and Embiid in the starting lineup. What they needed was a knockdown shooter and Redick certainly is that.

Serge Ibaka is tired of the age questions

Glad he finally spoke up. Embiid took a little bit of a different approach with this stuff—you know, the whole “telling people he killed a lion” thing—but it’s a bummer guys from Africa can still get treated like they’re a bunch of savages.

The Great Emoji War of 2017

You may have heard Gordon Hayward is making the rounds in free agency. Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert weighed in.

The folks in Boston didn’t appreciate that.

Respect to Hassan Whiteside, though, for having a strong grasp of history.

The one thing we’re all rooting for here? Any outcome that fucks over Boston.

While we’re slandering Boston, tell me how my ass tastes, Danny Ainge

I caught a raft of shit from Celtics fans for this tweet:

Guess who got the last laugh, suckers?

It’s worth noting half of the jokes I lob at Ainge are tongue in cheek, and ultimately Boston is still set up pretty well. But the pick clutching is hilarious at this point, only trumped in comedic value by the people being fed information by him and not assessing it critically before reporting it.