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Liberty Ballers Mailbag: Fultz/Simmons dynamic, Richaun Holmes future and More

We answer your questions regarding the Sixers.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I think a lot of signs point toward Richaun Holmes not being a Sixer next season.

For one, he seems pretty unhappy - and I can’t blame him! I would imagine Holmes sees himself as someone who contribute to an NBA team night in and night out. Which makes racking up DNPs and garbage time minutes frustrating for him. When Joel Embiid is in front of you on the depth chart, even the most confident player has to understand why. But Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker don’t inspire the same understanding. Before considering the Sixers side of this relationship, I’m not sure Holmes or his agent want him in Philly next season.

When thinking about how the Sixers approach the Holmes situation, there’s two key players involved: Brett Brown and Bryan Colangelo.

It’s obvious that Brett Brown doesn’t trust Richaun Holmes defensively. Brown and his staff have been really good at developing players, but Richaun is almost through his 3rd season and is still block-chasing himself out of position. I think it’s fair to say Brown probably sees Holmes as replaceable.

Bryan Colangelo didn’t draft Richaun Holmes, which doesn’t mean a ton but it is possible he’s never viewed Richaun as a long term piece. If Colangelo is intent on adding a quality free agent and still maximizing cap space, Holmes seems like a top candidate for casualty. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Holmes is used as filler in an offseason trade.

Verdict: It is too early to know which way the Sixers lean on picking up Holmes’ option or not. I doubt they know. I would think their position is that they aren’t married to him, so if he needs to be moved/moved on from, he will be. But if they strike out in free agency and need to fill backend roster space, he’s cheap enough to bring back. A lot also depends on where Jonah Bolden is, as in his literal location as well as his development. You don’t need two inexperienced backup bigs struggling defensively.

As far as I can tell, a lot of the perceived “bad blood” is all in good fun and sincere competitiveness. I don’t think either of the two players have a true dislike for each other, and I believe game recognize game. It all stays basketball, and Joel will dunk Whiteside into a buyout market candidate in 2 or 3 years.

Now, if you want to talk about what a Whiteside/Embiid bout looks like? It ends with Whiteside genuinely angry as Embiid, never taking the fight serious for even a second, drags Whiteside baseline to baseline via a wedgie.

I don’t think so, and you shouldn’t either. Think about Embiid and Ben. They started after 2 years and 1 year, respectively, away from the game. And then proceeded to light the league on fire upon their arrival. I really trust that the Sixers know what they are doing in these cases, albeit failing on the fan relations aspect of it.

If you are talking about harm to the team, not the player, then maybe. I think the Sixers could desperately use an initiator of the bench that doubles as a scoring threat and the jumpers we’ve seen recently, in my opinion, are game ready.

At this point, according to the coach, the ball is in Fultz’ court as to when he returns. I’ve reversed my previous stance of 100% not seeing him again this year. I think we could see him this season, but I’m not sure in what capacity.

The Sixers find themselves in a beneficial position this offseason, which is that there aren’t a lot of teams with money to spend. Of the teams that do have money to spend, the Sixers offer what many cannot: a chance to contend.

I’m almost certain Marco Belinelli isn’t back next season. Ersan and Amir provide experience in the backup big department, and the upcoming free agent class doesn’t have a lot of those. I would think the Sixers would be interested in both depending on their market value, but there’s a good chance Jonah Bolden alleviates the need to have Amir and Ersan. Maybe one, probably not both.

As for Redick, my thought is that the Sixers would love to have him back and he would love to be back. But his market should be somewhat competitive, even though he’ll be 34 years old in June. You can never have enough shooters. If the Sixers can get a deal because of the overpay they gave Redick this season, he’ll be back and probably for more than one season.

Getting to free agents coming in, I wouldn’t expect many even on one year deals. The Sixers will pursue LeBron, and to a lesser extent, Paul George. Maybe a bench guy as well. But there’s a lot of roster space already locked up, on top of multiple draft picks and a euro stash or two. All this in addition to the fact that the 2018 free agents aren’t too enticing.

If the Sixers get LeBron, they immediately become Eastern Conference contenders. And so, I would expect the possibility of a somewhat “blockbuster” trade to solidify the team. I can’t predict who, and I’d be scared to honestly, because a lot of the potential candidates are beloved by this fanbase and I’m trying to live to see tomorrow. But again, LeBron puts you unquestionably in “win now” mode and the Sixers have the assets to obtain a 4th star behind Simmons, Embiid and LBJ to make a serious push for the title.

Woah. Lots to unpack here.

I wouldn’t say Simmons isn’t a team player for his insistence on being a point guard. He’s been asked about it a lot, and he’s probably tired of answering it. He’s more than proven his ability to initiate the offense, and playing him at power forward would be, quite frankly, a mistake.

The Sixers drafted Fultz because of his ability to play alongside Simmons. Fultz doesn’t need the ball to be effective, or at least he didn’t when the Sixers drafted him. While we hope and pray Fultz returns to form, Brett Brown is likely envisioning deploying the two in a number of ways.

First, because of Fultz’ ability to spot up and to cut to basket, there’s no issue playing him with Ben. Fultz will serve as a two guard and secondary initiator when the two are on the floor. Remember that Russell Westbrook and James Harden were a dynamic backcourt before the Thunder made the mistake of a lifetime.

The great thing about having Fultz is that Brown can stagger the minutes of Fultz and Simmons so that both players have an opportunity to run the point. Imagine starting both, and at 6 minutes, taking ‘Kelle out for a breather. Then when Simmons’ subs out at 9 minutes, ‘Kelle goes back in to run the offense. It’s beautiful and you shouldn’t be scared.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! You can do so on Twitter @Liberty_Ballers.

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