The Philadelphia 76ers appear to be in cruise control right now. They finally have Joel Embiid back in the starting five. Tobias Harris is playing like an All-Star. And Danny Green has been a godsend.
But things rarely go according to plan in the City of Brotherly Love. Freak accidents, sports curses, weather delays, and bad luck always seem to derail the best hype trains. The Sixers could literally be one black cat away from an early playoff exit.
Team president Daryl Morey tried to hedge his bets by trading for George Hill at the deadline in what was generally considered a small coup: a lights-out shooter for a cheap price. However, Hill has yet to suit up for the Sixers and Doc Rivers inadvertently sent fans into a panic with his most recent injury update.
“There’s no timetable that I know of, to be honest,” Rivers said. “I can’t see it anytime soon, honestly.”
— The Jump on ESPN (@NBATheJump) April 7, 2021
The organization knew it was going to be a wait-and-see deal with Hill. They remain confident the 34-year-old will be ready for the playoffs as he rehabs from thumb surgery. But they could insulate themselves even thicker by adding another player before the NBA buyout deadline on April 9.
“I feel pretty good that someone who Coach Rivers thinks could help us will be available but it is early to really give too much details on that,” Morey said on March 25. “But we feel good about the buyout market right now.”
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Thunder Release Forward Justin Jackson
The Sixers’ biggest need remains at the center spot. They had to give up their primary backup, Tony Bradley, in the trade for Hill and that forced Mike Scott into a bigger role when Embiid was hurt. Dwight Howard has been great in spurts, but his chemistry with Ben Simmons isn’t quite there. Plus, the 35-year-old seems to max out after 18 minutes.
Lineup note: Mike Scott will start for resting Joel Embiid on Sunday.
— FantasyLabs NBA (@FantasyLabsNBA) April 4, 2021
But the list of available big men is less than stellar: Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler Zeller, Kyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton, Anthony Tolliver. The Heat recently signed Dewayne Dedmon to solve their depth at center.
Maybe the Sixers should make a move for a more intriguing wing player because you can never have too much shooting. The Oklahoma City Thunder released Justin Jackson on Monday and the former North Carolina standout carries an impressive resume: 2017 NCAA champion, ACC Player of the Year, 15th overall pick.
Justin Jackson’s 🔥 night
22 points | 4/4 from three pic.twitter.com/MWGzGUJIDQ
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 15, 2021
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 7.2 points per game on 40.6% field-goal shooting in 33 games for the Thunder. Jackson has never lived up to the lofty expectations, but he’s still only 26 years old.
Making Roster Space for 15th Player
The Sixers would have to cut someone from the roster to make room for another player. Two-way contracts are safe so Mason Jones and Rayjon Tucker aren’t going anywhere.
Likewise for this year’s draft class — Paul Reed, Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe — since the organization remains committed to the future. And Scott can’t be released since Philly needs his big, bulky frame in a pinch should something happen to Embiid or Howard. That leaves newcomer Ignas Brazdeikis as the odd man out.
That is, if Morey and Rivers truly believe there is someone out there (see: Justin Jackson) who can better help them compete for a championship this year. And it’s a very big if considering Brazdeikis is a 6-foot-6 former second-round pick (2019) with interesting upside. They have two days to figure it out.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 26, 2021