Watching the Sixers get bullied before going belly up in the final two games of the second round vs. the Miami Heat, Philadelphia fans could tell that their team was lacking energy, heart and competitive spirit. Their performance was lifeless and flaccid and not an embodiment of the overachieving effort fans saw in the first half of the season amid the Ben Simmons saga.
But where could they find more of that heart and intensity? We’ll get there.
Sure, Jimmy Butler is the true superstar they had in house but didn’t pursue keeping hard enough during the rocky “collaborative front office years.” It’s hard not to think about that fateful 2019 summer while watching Butler make his case as being the best American basketball player on the planet today.
Jimmy Butler in the playoffs is simply That Guy pic.twitter.com/YoDoTXkSgK— ESPN (@espn) May 18, 2022
If the Heat make the NBA Finals for the second time in three years led by Butler’s brilliance, it may provide a bit of counterintuitive soothing balm for Philly fans. Well, at least we got whipped by a title worthy team? If only Joel and James were healthier...or maybe it simply twists the knife even further, who knows.
But still, the Sixers didn’t have to go out with such a whimper vs. Miami, did they?
Maybe Embiid’s injuries sapped a bit of the life out of the group. Watching Embiid playing with a mask that limited his peripheral vision even when it wasn’t sliding around a sweaty face, seeing him writhe in pain taking hits to that fractured eye socket, seeing him fall to the ground about three times more than usual, knowing that Danny Green was already carried to the locker room following one of those scary spills, maybe a few other Sixers made a bit of a business decision in the end there.
But after hearing Embiid plus an alarming number of Sixers after the series wrapped up cite a lack of maturity, mental toughness, and general toughness, after hearing Daryl Morey note the team could use a bit more defense, it seems that the Sixers have sent out the bat signal for some dawgs... erm... they threw up The Dawg Signal.
And a couple notorious pitbulls ears may have perked up.
Appearing on a recent segment of NBA Today on ESPN, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley had some interesting things to say about the Sixers. When asked about James Harden’s pending contract situation:
“You gotta let ‘em see it through. I believe you have to let ‘em see it through. As far as money wise, you get the boy whatever he’s asking for. Unfortunately, it might sound kind of crazy but there’s kind of no one in the league that can do what he can do still at this time right now. So you pay him, you give Doc [Rivers] a chance to do his thing, [with] a healthy team upcoming this year, maybe you get a couple more pieces, maybe a defender here, maybe a pitbull a dog type of guy this offseason, and see where the dominoes fall at the end of that year.”
"I wouldn't offer him the max. I would offer him the super-duper-duper max."— Sixers Nation (@SixersNationCP) May 18, 2022
-- Timberwolves' Patrick Beverley on Sixers star James Hardenhttps://t.co/UhVhKNAiIv
The Chicago native will be 34 years old in July. He’s on a one-year, $13M deal now with the Timberwolves that expires summer of 2023. They couldn’t target him with a mid-level exception since he’s already inked, so if they wanted him, it would have to be a trade.
Beverley wasn’t the only one who saw the Sixers Dawg Signal blasted out over Center City Gotham. Another former Doc Rivers coached bully flirted with the idea of being a Sixer in Philly native Marcus Morris Sr.
Morris Sr. is signed through 2024, and at $16M per year is even more costly than PB. Mook may have simply been appreciating some love from a local writer who threw his name out as a P.J. Tucker like tough. But if the Clippers are set to juggle one of the heftiest payrolls in basketball, could they look to cut costs at some point?
Still, you figure James won’t mind hearing his former teammate say they should super-duper max him one bit. And Doc certainly won’t mind hearing his former pitbull defender sing his praises either. Doc has boasted he helped recruit players like Georges Niang and Andre Drummond in the past. Perhaps he has just enough personnel and roster control to grab Morey’s ear and make a pitch for Beverley.
Daryl Morey says “defensively, very important,” is an area he wants to improve upon this offseason. But adds he wants to meet with his staff to see what they’re seeing so they don’t close any doors.— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) May 13, 2022
At another point on Beverley’s apparent ESPN tour, the studio crew talked more about Rivers specifically.
“I got total faith in Doc, I think he’s done a great job with this from the beginning to the end. We’re not having this conversation if Joel Embiid is healthy the first two games but let’s not jump too far. You know what I’m saying, all the stuff he had going with Ben Simmons, to be able to be a coach in this league and go through all that and still be successful with trades without your main guy, one of the best defensive players out there, and still have a chance to compete for a championship, your main player he’s not there two games [vs. Miami] just take a break a little bit, give Doc a lot of credit man, he’s done a great job with this team this year.”
So take that for what it’s worth. Beverley is being supportive of his former guys. Maybe it’s as simple as that. But you have to assume here he’d be thrilled if the Sixers suddenly swung a trade for him, no?
Beverley was signed as a free agent by Daryl Morey with Houston back in 2013 after playing overseas prior to his NBA career. He spent five seasons in H-Town making a name for himself as one of the game’s premier on-ball defensive guards. He has relationships with the team president, head coach, and star point guard. More than a few synergies here.
He’s a three-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. He was traded to L.A. in that Chris Paul blockbuster back in 2017. He was with the Clippers for three seasons under Rivers’ sideline leadership.
He averaged nine points and 1.2 steals in just 25 minutes per game, connecting on 34 percent from distance with Minnesota in 2021-2022.
I'm on a defense kick so just look at the activity from Patrick Beverley on this possession. Fights over the screen, sees the penetration and releases to peel out. Stunts to help on the drive. Stunts once RJ goes into the post up. Sells out once he goes up to contest. pic.twitter.com/OKa8pHA3NR— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) January 19, 2022
It doesn’t sound like Daryl Morey is closing any doors and will consider every possibility this off season. It would take multiple smaller contracts (a player like Furkan Korkmaz, and perhaps two more small salaried players) to land Beverley via trade. If the Sixers were to move Tobias Harris that could open up the possibility they could bring back multiple mid-tier salaries like Beverley’s.
The team could pick up Danny Green’s $10M option and trade him. He recently said he’s targeting an All-Star Break return from the ACL and LCL tear he sustained in Game 6. But Beverley hasn’t quite been on Green’s good side lately.
Green put Beverley in his place recently, after PB trashed legend Chris Paul’s defense.
Then Beverley wished Green some health and well wishes with some personal accolades attached.
Prompting Green to reply:
All love bro, nothing personal…we all talk our sh*t keep doin you champ— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) May 18, 2022
Beverley sure isn’t shy, and doesn’t mind competing both on the floor, on ESPN or on Twitter apparently.
The Sixers should have their sights set on bigger fish this offseason.
Bradley Beal’s name sounds like one to monitor. They should happily forgo some higher priced pitbulls if they could sign an All-Star caliber talent. The Wiz did not move up on lottery night and may not provide the path toward contention Beal’s been dreaming of. Even with another star like Beal in the fold, the Sixers could wrangle up a pair of $10M and $4M exceptions. Then they could get creative. There’s a million ways this offseason could go. Maybe they’d simply run it back with marginal changes.
All that is clear now is that bright and shiny Dawg Signal looming over Center City Philly.