Time for a Sixers round-up of scoops, rumors, and stories. We’re halfway through the season and the Sixers sit a half a game up on the Brooklyn Nets, who just signed Blake Griffin. Two games back from Philadelphia are the Milwaukee Bucks, who just enjoyed watching their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, win the All-Star Game’s MVP award. Doc Rivers has had a terrific start to his tenure in town, coaching Joel Embiid to a career year, thus far, with improved midrange, three-point, and free-throw shooting, as well as improved passing. Ben Simmons is currently second in betting odds to hoist the Defensive Player of the Year award and Tobias Harris is playing the best ball of his career too. But of course, both of the team’s superstars were late scratches from the All-Star Game because of close contact with the same barber who recently registered a positive COVID test.
So pitter patter, lets get at’er shall we?
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons latest
First came the news bomb that rocked your Sunday morning.
The exposure occurred with Embiid and Simmons‘ personal barber who had a positive test result and is awaiting another test. Both traveled by themselves on private planes, and had no exposure to other players or people down in Atlanta bubble. https://t.co/PeiSFzzPZS— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2021
It was reported late Sunday by Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that both players continue to test negative and were flown home the night of the game. Embiid, in characteristic fashion, gave fans reason to suspect that he was feeling OK and had a sense of humor about the whole thing:
Looking at those fresh shape-ups and I had to be the one pic.twitter.com/BESWmi01XV— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) March 8, 2021
As if the pair could have improved upon these fresh looks they rocked in the win over Utah? SMH.
And now, we can all collectively continue to hold our breaths, as we wait for a couple more days to pass with negative test results. Including Sunday’s test, and assuming a best-case scenario where neither player is sick, it’s even possible they could be active for Thursday’s game.
Doc Rivers said there’s a relief that Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid continue to test negative. “Now we need some more good news where it’s five days. It’s five days [of testing negative and] I think we are in the clear. But I think anything longer, I think they’ll miss some games.”— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) March 8, 2021
But it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they had to miss a game or two, due to health and safety protocols, so long as they felt OK. As fans well know, Seth Curry, who contracted the virus has/had dealt with ongoing fatigue for weeks, because of the virus’ impact, even though he has since returned to the lineup.
Kyle Lowry Latest
Beginning to slowly accept that Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine have played too well to be moved in a trade, fans have started to turn their attention to the product from North Philly, Kyle Lowry. Two games below .500, at 17-19, the Raptors have disappointed, and it seems plausible that Lowry might ask Masai Ujiri for the chance to finish his career on a contender; given his ties to this city, and their need for playmaking off the dribble, the Sixers make a lot of sense.
First we spotted this:
BREAKING: Kyle Lowry sold his $5.1 Million Toronto home today, three weeks before the Trade Deadline.— NBA Buzz (@OfficialNBABuzz) March 4, 2021
Will Lowry be traded? If so, where? pic.twitter.com/wY2qgKi6Gb
Then Ryen Rusillo, a recurring guest on The Ringer’s The Bill Simmons Podcast suggested Lowry has been telling people he expects to be traded:
Russillo casually dropping that Lowry’s been saying he’s getting traded for months... when no one else has reported this information, feels weird to me.— i. (@_nopename) March 8, 2021
But i also believe he’s getting traded https://t.co/8u7vHvHx8D
But the greatest Raptor in franchise history, who is about to turn 35 this month, took to Instagram to perhaps dispel these rumors:
Our Steve Lipman, suggested that a couple of the Sixers low-cost players, a first round pick and Danny Green might get a deal done, if Lowry wanted out and that the Sixers should be willing to pull the trigger. If a deal did go down, one would assume there was even some discussion about Lowry’s next contract, since he’s a pending unrestricted free agent.
Of course, he’s a fit, but the price could be pretty steep, and it makes me wonder who then the team could no longer afford (without the assets they’d need to give to Toronto).
Might someone better and younger become available this summer, and they’d now be out of the running since they used a couple of picks and maybe Tyrese Maxey on Kyle?
P.J. Tucker latest
Then there was the rumor about Houston’s stretch four, P.J. Tucker. Per Jake L. Fischer:
“The landscape for dealing P.J. Tucker appears much greener. The Bucks, Nets, Heat, Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets have all expressed interest, sources said. Tucker would relish joining Philadelphia and former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, and the Sixers are one of the few contenders with real picks at their disposal.
Around the draft, Houston’s new front office could have gotten a late 2020 first-round pick for Tucker from Minnesota, league sources said.”
Might the price on Tucker have come down since then? One would have to hope, because acquiring Tucker, who might find new legs playing on a contender again, could be a game-changer if the 35-year-old can turn back the clock a bit. He isn’t shooting the ball well this year, a bit of a red flag given his advanced age. But if he saw positive regression towards his career 36 percent from deep, he might just round out the Sixers playoff rotation.
Pairing Lowry and Tucker would quickly boost the team’s average age, and make their playoff rotation look a little long in the tooth. The best version of each player undoubtedly fills a couple of holes this roster has (a halfcourt primary ball-handler, and a stretch big aside from Embiid).
G League update: Paul Reed, Isaiah Joe and mud
Final WARP for the G League regular season. Note that unlike the WARP ratings I calculate for NBA players, these are not position-adjusted, so the top of the leaderboard tends to be heavy on bigs. pic.twitter.com/hZaDhul0w7— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) March 8, 2021
In case you’ve been under a rock, the Sixers G League team, the Delaware BlueCoats, are in the playoffs, and boast one of the developmental league’s best players in rookie Paul Reed, out of DePaul. His jump shot looks a bit like someone built one of those robots that can shoot, but it’s working for the stretch big:
Isaiae Joe also dropped 28 points yesterday, with his gorgeous jump shot. If you haven’t done so already, start watching some of their games, and catch up on some YouTube highlights, both players are fun to watch, as is Rayjon Tucker.
Diving deep into the mud with these guys has been tons of fun.