The Sixers introduced their new acquisitions today in a press conference that included Managing Partner Josh Harris and General Manager Elton Brand.
A LOT was said, so I tried to parse it down into ten of the most important quotes and takeaways from the availability:
1. Tobias Harris in a featured role
Elton Brand didn’t waste any time basically admitting that Tobias Harris, who signed a five-year, $180 million deal, will see more of the ball this season, saying this:
Tobias Harris – elite player. You’re gonna see his growth. He’s gonna have the ball and be able to do things that last season he may not have shown. We’re looking forward to his growth.
Harris was asked about his penchant to be deferential at times last year, and how he might be looking to showcase himself more this season:
I’m looking forward to that a whole lot. I know last year when you come over from a trade and it’s a different talent level in the group, obviously you have to sacrifice for the unit. But I know my game and I know how I continue to improve year after year. I can come into next year with that kind of energy, that kind of fire to improve my game and show different parts of my game, too. Obviously I’ll have the ball in my hands in more different situations and I’m ready for that. I’ve been working out all summer to get ready for that.
With Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick gone, the door is wide open for Tobias Harris to take on more of the scoring burden.
2. “it felt right” to Al Horford
Al Horford was asked about his relationship with Elton Brand as a past teammate, and he told a story about their time together with the Hawks:
We were getting ready to go to dinner one night, some of the guys and I, and he was in the elevator just going back to his room. He was coming from the gym sweating after doing like an hour of cardio. His commitment to wanting to win and doing the right thing inspired my back then. He believes in me and believes in this group and believes in what we can do. When they came knocking and approached me, it felt right. I know he wants what’s best for this city.
3. on Jimmy Butler’s departure
We got a canned quote from Elton Brand on Jimmy Butler heading to Miami:
First of all, very happy for Jimmy, that he landed in a place he wanted to be. I won’t go in-depth about the negotiations, but he had a great season for us and we appreciate everything he contributed to us. We just want to wish him well and wish him the best.
I’m sure Butler will have more to say when he’s introduced in Miami.
4. The Josh Richardon and Tobias Harris Tennessee connection
Good story from Josh Richardson, who says he was just starting out at Tennessee when Tobias Harris was entering the NBA:
When I was there and other freshmen were there, Tobias actually took us to dinner. I was 17 years old and had just left home, so I didn’t really know anything yet. He took me out to dinner and just kind of talked to me about how to approach basketball, how to approach college, you know, how to handle yourself in life. I always appreciated that and took heed of that.
Harris says he first met Richardson during the lockout year (2011-2012), and he was going back to school “because my mom made me.”
5. depth behind Joel Embiid
Maybe the most important thing about having Al Horford on the squad is his ability to spell Joel Embiid on back-to-back nights, sliding down to center. Same goes for Kyle O’Quinn, and I asked Elton Brand if this depth allows him the flexibility to pace Joel and deliver him to the postseason in good health:
When I spoke to Joel and he spoke to the group also in his exit interviews, he understood that the goal was to deliver the best Joel Embiid to the postseason. Whatever that takes, he’s on board with that, and having these options. We did fall off a cliff when Joel was off the court, especially defensively. So having these great options now, that bodes well for our success, and he’s on board, for sure.
I’m a big proponent of putting Embiid on the Kawhi Leonard plan, aka, no back-to-backs at all.
6. walking to the finals?
James Ennis was asked about his recent declaration that the Sixers would “walk” to the finals this year.
He didn’t take that comment back:
I’m confident in this group and I believe in this group, and I believe in coach Brown and Elton and all of our guys want to win. As a player, you want to win all the time. It’s gonna be tough; it’s the NBA, but I believe.
We’ll see. The east ain’t what it used to be, not this year.
7. Horford’s timeline
How did Al Horford end up in Philly? What was the timeline that led to his signing of a four-year contract?
When I decided to opt out it wasn’t an easy decision. But I did it and I felt like there were going to be a lot of options for me. When June 30th came around, things escalated very, very quickly. There were multiple teams, a lot of strong interest, and I had to make what was the best decision for me. When Elton called and spoke with my agent, he laid down this offer, I was very surprised that there was strong interest for me being here. But that made the decision very easy. It was very easy and I’m just excited to be part of this.
I personally would also find it very easy to sign for four years around $100 million at age 33. But seriously, Horford should be a very good player on this team, a nice fit and a perfect flex backup for Embiid when necessary.
8. Raul Neto’s role
Don’t sleep on Raul Neto, who should log plenty of minutes as the Sixers’ backup ball handler behind Ben Simmons.
Said Neto of his current game and where he is right now in his career:
I think I’ve had different roles, and being in Utah for four years, I started my first season, then in my second season I almost didn’t play and I ended up being the backup point guard for the playoffs. In my third season I played a little bit more, then last year I had a couple of injuries so I didn’t have a chance to play that much. Right now I’ve got more confidence and I’m more aggressive than I was three or four years ago. I’m just ready for whatever my role is going to be on my team, I’m happy to be a part of it. I think I can bring spacing and shoot the ball from the outside, which I think is going to be the biggest thing for me and this team.
It’s very true that the Sixers need consistent outside shooting. Neto is a career 37.7% three point shooter but he’s only averaged 1.5 attempts per game. He’ll have opportunities to improve that here.
9. “I need to win”
Veteran Kyle O’Quinn will be a backup in Philly, but he sees this as a good opportunity to play for a good team:
Going into my eighth year, I can’t look at a role that’s bigger than the picture that I need. I need to win. I like to win. I can’t really play for anything other than winning, when those games start rolling, the season is long, you have to step in and I think that’s when you really earn your respect, when you really get a tap on the back for yourself, stepping in when you need to be ready, and that’s been my career. I don’t shy away, I never say ‘no, this role is too small for me.’ I embrace it and I really enjoy that, whether it’s a 10-game stretch or a two-game stretch, minutes up and down, I’m ready for those.
He’ll get plenty of minutes this year, no question.
10. Josh Harris on expectations
Finally, here’s Josh Harris on what he wants from the team this season:
Look, I think this group, if it jells, and it will jell, will bring a championship to Philly. I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do. Obviously it’s the NBA and things happen – injuries, the ball might bounce one way or another as we all know. When that happens, I’m not sure, but I’m really confident we’re gonna be winning a lot and making this city proud. I’m really confident in the group, so all of us have high expectations for ourselves.
There you have it.