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Philadelphia 76ers

The Markelle Fultz Saga takes another turn

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Markelle Fultz has befuddled 76ers and NBA fans for two years with questions about his availability, and Philadelphia fans who want to see him play have to prepare to be disappointed. The Athletics’ David Aldridge tweeted Tuesday morning that Fultz “is scheduled to see a shoulder specialist early next week.” The new came from Fultz’s agent Raymond Brothers, who stated that Fultz will not participate in 76ers practices or games until he sees the specialist.

The 76ers likely will not need Fultz, as they will be staying at home against New Orleans and Cleveland before heading out to face Brooklyn over the next week. But 76ers fans should be seriously concerned about what this means for the relationship between Fultz and the team. Is this a temporary surprise which we will forget in a few weeks, and could we have seen Fultz wear a 76ers jersey for the last time?

Not Reaching Expectations

The timing for this Fultz’s announcement is rather suspicious. On Monday’s victory over the Phoenix Suns, Fultz played just 7 minutes and went 0-2 from the field before being benched in the second half in favor of T.J. McConnell. For the season, Fultz is averaging a poor 8.2 points on 8.2 shots, and he has been clearly hesitant to shoot from long range. And just over a week ago, he shot a free throw which could have been mistaken for Chuck Hayes’s infamous hitch.

Is Fultz struggling because the shoulder injury which plagued him his rookie season is back, or does he have the yips? I do not know, and anyone outside the 76ers organization who says he does know is an idiot or a liar. The 76ers medical staff has certainly had its issues, but it is possible that Fultz expects his shoulder to hurt so he plays like it is regardless of its actual status.

But what we do know is that Fultz’s role on this team is far shakier compared to a few months ago, when he was seen as the missing piece to slot alongside Simmons and Embiid. Now Butler is that piece. And while Fultz can dish the ball and get to the rim, he cannot provide the spacing to play alongside three other stars who all want the ball.

A New Team

Philadelphia’s trade for Jimmy Butler as well as its decision to bench Fultz in favor of T.J. McConnell likely shows that they are done waiting for Fultz to reach the next and are preparing to win now. And while the Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee are all major challenges, none of those three teams pose as much of a roadblock to the Finals that the Cavaliers did last year. If this saga keeps up, we should expect to see Philadelphia seriously consider trading Fultz to a team for win-now talent. While Fultz has not lived up to his #1 pick hype, struggling teams like Dallas, New York, Phoenix, or Cleveland would be more than willing to take a flyer on him. In fact, at Dallas he could even get an SEO Dallas company to boost his rankings.

However, a major limitation on trading Fultz is that Philadelphia will likely be uninterested in taking back salary past this season. Sixers Wire points out that Philadelphia could offer another max slot if they can dump Fultz’s salary and renounce other players like McConnell, creating a big four of Simmons, Embiid, Butler, and another star. Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard would be the grand prizes, but Khris Middleton, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris are some other options better than Fultz.

The 76ers should look at the San Antonio Spurs over the past year, and how the Spurs lost Kawhi Leonard over disputes about his health with a lingering injury. Fultz is certainly not Leonard, but that just means that he is not important enough to be a distraction for a 76ers team looking to catch up after a slow start. The Butler trade already signified that Philadelphia did not see Fultz as essential, but Aldridge’s report may mean that they no longer see Fultz as worth the drama given his ongoing lack of production.

NBA

76ers Investigating Bryan Colangelo, Colangelo Issues Statement

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What a whacky 24 hours it’s been for the Philadelphia 76ers who just wrapped up an incredible turnaround season that ended with a surprising trip to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Yesterday, Ben Detrick of The Ringer published a rather extensive investigation into Sixers’ general manager Bryan Colangelo and his alleged use of “burner” Twitter profiles to criticize players, Sixers head coach Brett Brown and team executives.

Within the report, an account with the handle @phila1234567 was mentioned, an account Colangelo confirmed.

Colangelo issued the following statement:

“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news. While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events. This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”

Colangelo stood by his claim of not knowing the “motives or origin” of the accounts after the allegations went public, according to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania.

Things are looking fishy and not many people are buying Colangelo’s version of the story.

On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman tweeted the Sixers’ official statement on the matter involving Colangelo, announcing that they will be conducting an investigation.

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Boston Celtics

NBA Playoff Schedule 2018

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Are you ready for the NBA Playoffs? Well, we have you covered with the full NBA Playoff schedule including game times, TV coverage info, matchups and dates.

Here is how things are breaking down, schedule wise, per NBA.com. NOTE: * = if necessary

Western Conference

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Game 1: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 15 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 18 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 23 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs

Game 1: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 14 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 19 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans

Game 1: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 14 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 19 at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 4: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 21 at 5 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

Game 1: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 29 at TBD

 

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards

Game 1: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 14 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Game 4: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 22 at 6 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks

Game 1: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 15 at 1 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 17 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 22 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami Heat

Game 1: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 16 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 19 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers

Game 1: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 18 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 20 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers  April 29 at TBD

 

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NBA

Don’t Stop Trusting the Process Now

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We are nearing the NBA All-Star break as well as the potential return of the 2017 number one draft pick,  Markelle Fultz.  Lately,  many fans and sports media alike are beginning to become impatient with this year’s most recent addition to The Process in Philadelphia.  Some are even concluding that Markelle is a bust,  already.

The Philadelphia 76ers have forced the basketball fans inside of their city to be patient with the teams progression.  For the most part,  Philadelphia fans have not only accepted the past few years of losing,  but even expanded their interest and want for a winning basketball team. The Sixers set organization records this year in season ticket sales all due to The Process.

In 2012,  the Sixers sneaked their way into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the eighth seed and reluctantly defeated the Chicago Bulls in the opening round only because of Derrick Rose’s torn ACL. The 2012-2013 season was even worse as the 76ers found themselves on the outside of the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the nine-seed with only 34 wins that season.

Since the 2003-2004 NBA season,  the Philadelphia 76ers have only peaked as high as the six-seed in the Eastern Conference and only reaching the Eastern Conference Semi Finals twice.  This led to the infamous beginning to what is now known as The Process in the NBA world.

From the 2013-2014 season until this past season,  the Process has led to a horrific 75-253 record for the 76ers.  The 76ers became a comedy show for the NBA, averaging only 19 wins per season and displaying some of the worst basketball in NBA history.  This was all apart of a well-thought plan devised by former General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, Sam Hinkie.

The Process has led to seven first round draft picks for the Sixers in the last four years including four lottery picks,  two of which being the number one draft pick.  These draft picks have been headlined by Joel Embiid and Dario Saric in 2014,  Ben Simmons in 2016, and Markelle Fultz this past year.

Every single one of the pieces to The Process have been delayed to show that this Process was worth it. It took Dario Saric two years to even come to the United States,  Joel Embiid sat out two years with a never ending foot injury as well as the end of last year’s season with a knee injury,  Ben Simmons also had a foot injury delay him an entire year,  and possibly weirdest of all,  Markelle Fultz has missed the last 36 games with a shoulder injury.  Along with this shoulder injury,  Fultz has appeared to lose his jump shot or have his own basketball form of the yips some baseball players get.

The Process has finally shown us it’s potential.  Joel Embiid is a force offensively and defensively,  averaging 23.8 points and 10.8 rebounds this year as well as being a wall down low in the paint.  Ben Simmons leads the way for Rookie of the Year and has clearly shown ability to become a star in the NBA,  averaging 16.8 points, 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists. Dario Saric has quietly become a versatile forward willing to do anything to help this team.

The Process has also attracted talent from free agency in it’s early stages.  The 2017 NBA off-season led to the free agent signing of J.J. Redick to join the Process. Redick provides exactly what the Sixers were missing with his ability to shoot and he has averaged 17.3 points per game so far this season.

Markelle Fultz will provide a lot more offense when healthy.  It will be interesting to see if Coach Brett Brown will try to find Fultz a spot within the starting lineup or utilize the number one pick off the bench.  Either way,  Fultz will add another very athletic guard who has proven ability to drive as well as the ability to shoot the midrange jumper.

The Sixers currently sit at .500 on the season,  20-20.  Right now they are the 9-seed in the Eastern Conference and arguably survived the toughest part of their schedule without their number one draft pick.

Soon enough,  Markelle Fultz will be back in the 76ers lineup and proving his talents to all of his doubters.  Joel Embiid will be playing back-to-back nights with no minute restrictions.  The Process will also be a very attractive for the star-studded 2018 Free Agency class headlined by Lebron James and player options by Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant.

The Process is only beginning in Philadelphia,  don’t hop off of it now.

 

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