Kurt Helin

Sixers introduce Ben Simmons, coach Brett Brown sings his praises


Today the honeymoon started in Philadelphia.

No. 1 pick Ben Simmons was making the media tour in Philadelphia on Friday. He’s been well coached by his agent and media team, saying all the right things about his ability to help all over the court, feeling blessed to be the No. 1 pick, wanting to win, and the rest of standard cliches.

It was the right and smart pick by the Sixers, and they made other smart picks farther down the board with French wing Timothe Luwawu and Turkish guard Furkan Korkmaz. Bryan Colangelo may have inherited all these picks, but to make “the process” work you need to nail those picks. It seems like the Sixers have.


PBT Podcast: Breaking down draft — plus Rose, Ibaka trades — with Dan Feldman

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There weren’t as many trades or surprises on draft night as we — or team executives — expected, but there were a few.

Jaylen Brown goes third to the Celtics and they do not trade the pick. Thon Maker goes ridiculously high to the Bucks at No. 10. Then there were the big trades of the last couple days — Serge Ibaka to Orlando with Victor Oladipo heading to Oklahoma City, and of course Derrick Rose is now a Knick.

Who won, and who lost? Well the Sixers win, and bigs who decided to test themselves in college rather than hide and remain a mystery lost. But there’s more than that, and Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it all down in this latest podcast.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

PBT Extra: Why Oklahoma City got better trading Serge Ibaka


It was the big trade of the night: Serge Ibaka went to the Eastern Conference and the Orlando Magic in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova, and the rights to No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis out of Gonzaga.

I like this trade in the short term for Orlando: Frank Vogel has pieces to work with along the front line in Ibaka, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic. This could push them into the playoffs in the East (especially if you are a bigger fan of Elfrid Payton than I am).

But this move makes the Oklahoma City Thunder — a team that came within one game of the NBA Finals — better because Oladipo is a massive upgrade over Andre Roberson or Dion Waiters. And there is zero chance this happened without at least the tacit approval of Kevin Durant.

I discuss it all in this latest PBT Extra.

Four players to watch not taken in NBA Draft

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At any given time, 15 percent or more of the NBA is made up of players who were not drafted, but played their way onto rosters (sometimes after a few years in Europe to improve their game).

Thursday night 60 men were drafted into the NBA fraternity, but here are four players who did not hear their name called who could find their way into the league.

• Gary Payton II, 6’3” point guard (Oregon State). The Houston Rockets already signed him to a three-year (non-guaranteed) contract, which was smart. Payton has impressive speed and fantastic body control, which combined with good handles lets him drive through defenses and get to the rim. He’s a strong pick-and-roll ball handler. He’s not the defender his father was (who is?), but he’s good, particularly off the ball. He needs to work on his jumper, but this is a guy who just gets the game. 

• Robert Carter, 6’9” power forward (Maryland). He has already reached a deal with the Golden State Warriors, a non-guaranteed contract that gets him to camp. Carter knows how to score the ball and has the kind of jumper that can make him a good pick-and-roll big in the NBA because he can pop out, not just roll. He also is physically strong and is long with a 7’3” wingspan. There’s a lot of potential, but right now he is a defensive liability and needs to improve on that end to stick.

• Prince Ibeh, 6’11” center (Texas). He will be playing in Summer League for the Bucks, trying to catch on. A strong defensive big man for the Longhorns, the London native can defend bigs in the post and protect the rim (plus he can defend the pick-and-roll fairly well). He’s a good rebounder on both ends of the floor, and he moves fairly well for a man his size. Just don’t expect any offense, he can finish at the rim but that’s it. If he can be developed, he could become a rotation big.

• Wayne Selden, 6’6” shooting guard (Kansas). Seen as a potential “3&D” guy if he develops, but there is a lot of work to do. He has a good physical profile, and he shot 38 percent from three last season, but is considered a streaky shooter. He’s an average athlete at the NBA level, and because his handles aren’t great, he can’t create his own shot. There are questions about his ability to develop into a role in the NBA, but surprised he didn’t at least get a shot.

Bulls’ GM denies any Jimmy Butler trade talk on draft night


In the run-up to and through the early course of the NBA Draft Thursday the rumors were flying — the Chicago Bulls were talking Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota and Boston. And things were getting serious.

As you would expect, Bulls GM Gar Forman denied all of that after the draft ended. Here’s the quote, via Vincent Goodwill at CSNChicago.com (video of it is above).

“During the draft, we started getting some texts and saw something on TV that we were in heated talks with somebody, I don’t know what it was saying,” Forman said. “We were in no talks with anybody. There was no discussion during the entire draft this evening as far as Jimmy Butler was concerned.

“We have never made a call in regards to Jimmy Butler. We’ve talked about, we value Jimmy Butler, we’re very happy to have Jimmy Butler. We’ve got a phenomenal basketball player who was an All-Star and All-NBA defender, is still young, obviously we’ve got him under contract long-term, those are all positive. He, again, is what we want to be. We’ve said this all along. We like Jimmy Butler, we did not shop Jimmy Butler. Did we receive calls? Of course we did, and that’s our job to listen to calls. We get calls on a lot of our players and that’s stuff that happens all throughout the league.”

It’s the semantics of the NBA: They didn’t “shop” him, meaning they didn’t call other team and offer him, but they “listened” to offers. The result is ultimately the same.

The Bulls have moved Derrick Rose, and it would make sense to build around Butler — a two-way All-Star on a reasonable contract. To trade him another team should take a monster offer — the rumored Zach LaVine and the No. 5 pick should not be enough. How much of that was real, how much of that was the Bulls and Thibodeau trying to make each other look bad, and how much of all this was someone in Boston leaking Butler rumors to try and get the Sixers to offer more for Boston’s No. 3 pick you can decide for yourself.

If the Bulls move Butler they go into full rebuild mode, so they better get a boatload of picks back. Otherwise, the rebuild is much faster if you center it around a cornerstone piece like Butler.