Bryan Colangelo: Sixers “trading the No. 1 pick is a highly unlikely situation”

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The Philadelphia 76ers went into Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery having a roster already loaded with young players: Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Nik Stauskas, Joel Embiid, Jerami Grant, and (if he comes over from Europe next season) Dario Saric are all 22 years old or younger. Stockpiling that youth was all part of the long game the Sixers were playing with “the process.” While current Sixers management wants to distance itself from the negative byproducts of that process, parts of that plan still drive this team’s future.

This June the Sixers will get even younger.

Philadelphia won the NBA Draft Lottery and landed the No. 1 pick, which they add to the No. 24 and 26 picks (Miami’s and Cleveland’s via trades) they already had — that’s three more guys fresh out of college added to the roster next season. That’s a lot of youth, maybe more than GM Bryan Colangelo is comfortable with.

“I’ve been quoted as saying you can only have so many developing players in your fold,” Colangelo said after his team saw the lottery balls bounce their way in a win. “There’s a lot to consider to finding a balance… I think there needs to be a blend of young talent and veterans on your roster, there needs to be a balance.”

Don’t think that means the Sixers are moving the No. 1 pick.

“I would say you never say never, but certainly trading the No. 1 pick is a highly unlikely situation,” Colangelo said.

Yes, Colangelo said last week that “nothing is off the table” with the Sixers picks, but he quickly clarified that he said that in response to a hypothetical question about what might happen if they had two of the top four picks (they would have had the Lakers’ pick if it had fallen to No. 4) and could package them for a quality veteran.

“I never said we would consider trading the No. 1 pick,” Colangelo said.

While reports have surfaced that the Sixers are leaning heavily toward taking Ben Simmons of LSU (and he is on top of most teams’ draft boards), of course Colangelo was not about to commit to one player or the other publicly yet. He probably will not before draft night.

Colangelo did say he and his team are already well into their deep dive on both Simmons and Brandon Ingram of Duke, the clear two players on the top of every team’s draft boards. They have seen both players play live as well as having watched a lot of video, Colangelo said, but now decision-making efforts move toward more finding out how they would fit in with the team and the city of Philadelphia beyond just basketball players.

“We’ve got extensive research done on Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons, and we will do more, and we will bring in both for workouts. We also interviewed Ingram in Chicago where he participated in some events,” Colangelo said. “We’ve got a lot of observations of who they are as basketball players, but we want to get to know them as people.”

Don’t, however, confuse Colangelo’s plan with that of his predecessor in the GM chair, Sam Hinkie. Colangelo will benefit from the trove of picks Hinkie amassed, but he’s not going to throw all those young players out there to learn lessons the hard way. Colangelo wants veterans who can both help the team win games — think journeyman point guard Ish Smith last season — and leaders in the locker room who can mentor all that young talent, guys such as Elton Brand last season.

“The Process” in its purest form is dead.

“We want to win basketball games, that is somewhat a transformational transition in thought here,” Colangelo said of the franchise’s mindset.

This is still a development process, the Sixers are not going to challenge Cleveland next season, but Colangelo has said it’s time to enter the next phase of rebuilding and start to win games.

However, first they are going to add more young players to the mix.

Patrick Beverley reportedly gloated to LeBron James about Kawhi Leonard signing

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The NBA has decided to change how they regulate tampering. Whether those harsher rules will lead to real change or simply to different circumvention is still yet to be seen.

Meanwhile, we have heard all the stories about how the Los Angeles Clippers landed both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard was of course a major Los Angeles Lakers target, and it was disappointing for those in Lakerland that they didn’t land him.

Of course, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was probably pretty happy about how things went, and now we have a story to back that up.

Speaking on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast this week, Brian Windhorst relate a story that he heard about Beverly celebrating around LeBron James after his team snagged Leonard.

As Windhorst tells the story, there were several groups of NBA players in private dining rooms at a restaurant in Las Vegas during summer league. Paul George was in one room, and James was in another. After hearing the news that the Clippers landed Leonard, Beverley walked into several rooms containing NBA players to gloat.

Via Woj Pod:

And so the deal actually gets done. [Adrian Wojnarowski reports] that Kawhi has not only agreed to sign with the Clippers, but the Clippers are trading half their future for Paul George, it’s a stunning development. And it all goes down while those players are at the same restaurant in various private rooms.

The story that I heard was that Patrick was making a beeline down the hallway of private rooms — sticking his head into all the rooms gloating about the Clippers’ giant haul — including into LeBron’s room.

This feels like it’s right on brand for Beverley.

Now the Clippers will need to prove they’re better than the Lakers on the court (and not just on paper).

Collin Sexton says he’s going to wear fan-designed shoes this season

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Cleveland Cavaliers second-year point guard Collin Sexton is already a fan-favorite in northeastern Ohio. This year, it appears that Sexton is trying to deepen that connection.

In a message posted to Twitter on Sunday, Sexton reached out to his followers to design a new set of shoes for him this year. The Cavaliers sophomore said that he will take the top five designs that fans submit and then wear them throughout the course of the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season.

Via Twitter:

This is a pretty cool idea, and a great way to have a direct link between fans and players. Social media is in an era of extreme personal branding, and even if this is a thinly-veiled Nike marketing thing, it at least has a twinge of genuineness to it.

The only thing left now is to see what designs people submit, and whether Sexton’s taste is any good.

James Harden plays in Rico Hines games at UCLA and destroys people

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Elite NBA defenders, with a team and a game plan behind them, can’t slow down James Harden.

So imagine what happens when he shows up for an open run.

One spot a lot of NBA players head in the summer to get some games in is Rico Hines’ games at UCLA. Harden showed up and, well, you know what comes next. Via Ball is Life.

The man is so smooth, so under control, and just able to get buckets however he wants. It’s just fun to watch. Unless you’re an opposing coach.

Could Kevin Durant return from torn Achilles, play for Nets this season? Maybe…

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Every case is different, but many players return from a torn Achilles in about nine to 10 months. Kobe Bryant pushed and did it in eight. Other players will take a full year.

If Kevin Durant returned in nine months it would be March, enough time to get in game shape and be ready for the Nets’ playoff run.

There’s a growing sense from teams we could see just that scenario, and Spencer Dinwiddie talked about it with Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Though Nets GM Sean Marks refused to rule Durant out for the season, the feeling within the league is trending toward him potentially playing this season.

“I know KD is taking the rehab process ultra-serious. He wants to come back as soon as it’s appropriate, and healthy and the right decision for him, and then also subsequently that would also be the right decision for,” said Dinwiddie, who points out that even a slightly-diminished Durant could still be a superstar.

“The beautiful part about this is, the man is 7-foot and one of the best shooters of all time. At worst you get Dirk [Nowitzki], and Dirk was a monster. So we’re ready for him to come back whenever he wants to and whenever he’s ready to do so, and we know that he’s going to be a phenomenal major piece of our roster.”

Durant is an intense competitor who wants to get back on the court. He pushed to get back from a calf injury and play in the NBA Finals only to suffer the Achilles tear. He’s smart enough to be sure he’s all the way back before he steps on the court, if that means he sits out a full season so be it. However, he absolutely could return this season.

If he’s back, the Nets go from interesting team to potential threat to the Bucks and Sixers at the top of the conference. Durant was the best player in the world the past couple of years and he could return to that status quickly, and lift Brooklyn up with him.