After agreeing to a buyout with the Atlanta Hawks, Marco Belinelli had interest from Oklahoma City, Toronto, and Milwaukee, and Portland, four teams with a better record than the Sixers.
But the veteran shooter decided to come to Philly instead, speaking pregame Monday evening about the choice to link up with a burgeoning young roster.
“I was lucky to watch a couple of games of other teams, Philly too,” the 31-year old Italian international said. “I think you guys are playing really well, playing together on offense and defense, and I really trust this kind of thing. Just an opportunity to help this team and make a run at the playoffs and I think it’s going to be good for me. I’m really happy and ready to play.”
Belinelli won a title with San Antonio in 2014, but the best path back to the finals might be with Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook, at least in 2018.
“I mean, that’s a good team,” Belinelli said of the Thunder. “A great team. And Philly’s a great team with great fans. I really trust (that). I think I made the right choice.”
The Sixers’ talent might be a little raw, compared to more established rosters around the NBA, but Belinelli perked up when asked about his new teammates.
“I mean, you’re talking about two of the best players in the league, you know? Ben, I like him. He loves to pass the ball. Joel is great, can do everything offensively and I’ve never seen something like that in my life. I think it will be really nice to play with these kinds of guys. And JJ, for sure, is a really good shooting guard. We’ve played against each other a lot of times and finally we won’t have to guard each other but can play on the same team. That’s a good thing.”
Belinelli is available to play tonight, but Brett Brown isn’t in a hurry to throw his new signing on the court.
Brown said pregame that he might go to Belinelli, but that he doesn’t feel the pressure to “shove him in the game.”
“If there’s an opportunity to get him a taste of the Wells Fargo court and his teammates, then I will (put him in),” Brown explained.
He elaborated on his latest bench option.
“He’s a shot maker. People would look at him as a three point shooter; I look at him more as a playmaker. I think Italy actually played him as their country’s point guard. I wouldn’t call him somebody that’s going to dance with the ball or makes plays like a live ball, dribble penetration kind of player. I think you can kind of loop him up, put him in a middle pick and roll. He can certainly spot up and hit threes. I feel like his veteran ability to just sort of fit in and see and feel the game, and the movement, the ball movement and structure we play with offensively, will help him. He’s promised that he will let me yell at him defensively. We had that agreement in my recruiting speech. He’s good people. He’s a good teammate and he knows a lot of the people I know and we’re excited to bring him into the program. I feel when you look at the competition, we were aware of who was chasing him. I’m proud for the program. That’s a statement. You look at OKC for example, and they’re doing well with Melo and Westbrook and Paul George, yet he found a traction in our young program in order to come up here and join us. I think that’s a real statement to our young players.”
Brown says the Sixers kept an eye on Belinelli’s buyout status, then made a move when they knew they could acquire him without losing assets via trade.
Marco Belinelli on why he chose Sixers pic.twitter.com/00atV8vF8d
— Jon Johnson (@jonjohnsonwip) February 12, 2018