You might not know it from the tone of the discussion around the NBA’s Eastern Conference, but the Sixers still sit atop the entire group, at 32-14. That puts them a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, who have been charging hard behind the Sixers, with 17 wins in their last 20 games.
And even as the Nets keep winning—despite absences from stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving—they also keep adding to their roster. On Saturday, they put another major piece into their frontcourt when they slid LaMarcus Aldridge into the roster, with the possibility that he will soon be the team’s starting center.
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Aldridge had worked a buyout agreement with the Spurs after San Antonio was unable to trade him ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers met the news with a shrug of the shoulders.
“I don’t worry about it, to be honest,” Rivers said in his pregame media conference. “We kinda worry about ourselves and that is all we can do. We like our team, we like who we are, we like how we play. So I don’t give it a lot of thought.”
Brooklyn Nets Have Added Big Names
Still, the two buyout-market pickups the Nets have made to date—they also added forward Blake Griffin—have only added to the list of extensive resumes that the Nets have collected this season. Not only does Brooklyn have cornerstones Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy, but the team traded for James Harden in January.
Griffin and Aldridge have 16 All-Star appearances between them and, with the team’s Big Three plus one All-Star appearance for DeAndre Jordan, the Nets now have 41 All-Star selections among them.
For a team already stacked with talent, the additions of Griffin and Aldridge have been taken as indications of a superteam getting even more super.
Neither the Pistons nor the Spurs were able to trade their two former stars, a reminder that each is a shadow of his former self. Griffin has made three appearances for the Nets, but has yet to truly find his role with the team. He did score 17 points in 20 minutes in his return to Detroit on Friday.
Aldridge, too, is clearly past his prime at age 35. The Spurs are competing for a playoff spot in the West but still determined they were better off without Aldridge around. Aldridge was averaging 13.7 points, fewest since his rookie year, and just 4.5 rebounds in San Antonio.
Maybe Rivers should not be too scared of his addition to the Nets.
George Hill Still Recovering, Sixers Await His Debut
While the Nets acquired two splashy names, the Sixers made their own move last week, adding someone who is less famous but probably a nicer fit for their roster: guard George Hill.
But Hill has yet to appear in a game for the Sixers as he is still recovering from a thumb injury that has kept him out since January 24. Hill, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting last season (46.0%), is not expected to be out much longer, according to Sixers president Daryl Morey.
“He’s fine,” Morey said. “He’s obviously going to be full-tilt by the playoffs, I don’t say that because he won’t be back earlier. Our medical staff hasn’t had a chance to evaluate him yet, but our understanding is that his time back is measured in, you know—I don’t want to give a timeline, but it’s not long. He chose, he had an issue where he chose to have surgery on it so that it will never be an issue again. That pushed out his recovery.”