A dramatic roster shakeup did not happen at the trade deadline. Instead, the Sixers tweaked the margins of their bench. They acquired Glen Robinson III and Alec Burks from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for three 2nd round draft picks.
To make space on the roster, the team then flipped James Ennis to the Orlando Magic and waived Trey Burke.
Robinson is in his 6th NBA season, actually played 10 games with the Sixers in 2014-15. This year he is averaging a career high 12.9 points per game on 48/40/85 shooting splits. His numbers may be considered empty calories, so to speak, on the now pitiful Warriors squad, but there is no doubt that Robinson’s shooting is a plus for the Sixers. Robinson made his debut on Sunday versus the Chicago Bulls. In about 12 minutes of play, he 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting.
Burks, now in his 9th season, is also averaging a career high 16.1 points (40/37/89 splits). He doesn’t have quite the same shooting ability as Robinson, but he provides the Sixers with another ball handler when Simmons is on the bench.
Both players are useful, if not spectacular, upgrades to the current roster. And at the cost of some 2nd round picks, there is minimal risk involved. Neither will be the reason for the team turning the season around, but they can make that task easier.
Pelle here to stay
Another minor roster move was the signing of Norvel Pelle to a contract for the remainder of the season. Pelle has appeared in 15 games this season, averaging 2.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. The blocked shots have certainly stood out, with Pelle having two games with 3 blocks and five games with 2.
To create the roster space for the signing the team waived Jonah Bolden.
The Sixers road woes might have hit rock bottom recently. A recent four game road trip against Atlanta, Boston, Miami, and Milwaukee saw the team go 0-4, losing by an average of 18 points. Their record away from Philadelphia is now 9-19, the worst among all teams currently in a playoff position.
This has been a problem all season, and no one appears to have a solution. The Sixers currently sit at 5th in the East, and trail the Miami Heat by two games. Indiana is the main team vying for the 5th spot, only 1.5 games behind Philadelphia. They figure to get stronger down the stretch with Victor Oladipo recently returning to action. With no more games remaining against Miami or Boston, Philadelphia is almost entirely out of chances to gain ground on the teams ahead of them. Homecourt advantage seems unlikely, barring something unforeseen.
State of the Team
General Manager Elton Brand held a press conference shortly after the largely uneventful trade deadline and tried to make sense of where the team stood. The vocal contingent of fans calling for firing head coach Brett Brown has only grown louder. Facing serious questions about it, Brand held off on committing one way or the other.
“I’m not going to play what-ifs. He’s our coach and I’m supporting Brett Brown. He’s our leader,” Brand said.
It’s a supportive statement, but not one that assures anything beyond this season. How this team performs in the final 2+ months will go a long way in determining the coaches future.
In Brown’s defense, the roster he’s been asked to work with is far from ideal. The signing of Horford is looking more and more dubious, but the reality is that he’s here and needs a place. One possibility is the bench. It might be tough to bench a player making $28 million, but Brown didn’t shoot the idea down.
“This is the bottom line: if this is going to make us a better team, then we will do that,” Brand said. “Do I think it’s going to impact to an extent his minutes or ending the game? No. But [we’re] always studying the balance of the roster and just trying to get the most out of it.”
Reason for optimism
The tumultuous road trip certainly dampened the spirit around the team. They were able to (somewhat) get back on track Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Furkan Korkmaz achieved a career high 34 points on 13 of 17 shooting, including a handful of heat checks
He followed that up with another strong performance; 31 points on12 of 17 shooting against the Bulls.
Korkmaz is only the 2nd player in team history to come off the bench and score 30+ points in consecutive games.
Coach Brown had strong praise for the Turkish wing’s stellar play, explaining that this is the most confidence he’s ever played with.
“We all see him bomb away and make some emphatic, timely shots, long balls, but I see him becoming more of a better passer,” Brown explained. “You know what I’m going to say, defensive side of things, I see growth there. He’s emerged as one of our key players on a pretty good team. His confidence is certainly the highest I’ve ever coached him.”
Harris Among Olympic Finalists
Team USA announced the final 44 players under consideration for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Tobias Harris is among them. The 27 year old is averaging 19.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game this season. The Olympics begin in June.