Draft day is upon us. The Sixers, headed by reputed deal-making extraordinaire Daryl Morey, have been immersed in trade rumors ever since their season came to a disappointing conclusion. They entered the morning with two picks in the 2021 NBA draft. With a busy day in tow, here is a timeline of all of the latest news and reports.
This story is ongoing and will be updated throughout the day.
10:01 AM, EST: Sixers Purchase Second Round Pick From Pelicans
The Sixers are off and running in the morning leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft. President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey announced that the team acquired the 53rd pick in tonight’s draft. The pick previously belonged to the New Orleans Pelicans. They acquired it from the Dallas Mavericks in a deal centered around former Sixer JJ Redick at the 2021 deadline.
To complete the trade, the Sixers sent $2 million in cash to New Orleans. Such a move is a stark contrast from what the Sixers have done on draft day in recent years. Under previous regimes, they had a tendency to sell those second round picks for cash. To be fair, the Sixers have uncovered some diamonds late in the second rounds of recent drafts. Namely, they picked guard Shake Milton with the 54th pick in 2018 and Paul Reed with the 58th pick in 2020.
However, the histories of Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers casts some doubt on the idea that the Sixers will actually use the 53rd pick. Morey is known to trade away picks to acquire established stars. Rivers is known to have a short leash with rookies. Further, the Sixers have been heavily involved in trade rumors all offseason. It is certainly possible that this move preempts a far bigger move later today or this offseason.
A source familiar with the trade said that the pick gives the Sixers flexibility, as it could be used to help move up in the draft or acquire a veteran player that could help them build towards a championship right now.
Such a sentiment would indicate that the Sixers have more in store as the day goes on.
11:23 AM, EST: Not A Matter Of ‘If’, But ‘When’
Ben Simmons, whose awful collapse in the second round of the playoffs left a sour taste in mouths all over the NBA world, has been the subject of trade rumors since before game 7 against the Hawks. Hell, he’s been involved in trade rumors his whole career, thus far. After the most recent disappointment, the buzz around Simmons was as real as ever. Yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons and his camp were “in step” with a departure as the Sixers surveyed his trade value around the league.
Now, the relationship could be coming to its conclusion, according to Jason Dumas:
Source: The Sixers hope to trade Ben Simmons tonight. The asking price remains the same. The relationship seems to be over. It’s not a matter of if anymore, but when.— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) July 29, 2021
It’s certainly necessary to note that Dumas has been amongst the leading insiders when it came to information specific to the Sixers this past season. “The relationship seems to be over” is quite a damning statement. That this report came out just 90 minutes after the trade suggests that the Sixers feel they have something significant lined up for later this evening.
For what it’s worth, sources close to Simmons maintain that, out of all possible scenarios, his preference is to remain with the Sixers.
10:56 PM, EST: Jaden Springer
With the 28th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Sixers selected 6’4″ guard Jaden Springer out of Tennessee. Springer’s 6’8″ wingspan, lateral quickness, athleticism, balance, and strength allow for strong on-ball defense. He is an adept scorer with proficiency as a generator of and finisher through contact. But, a nearly-neutral assist-to-turnover ratio indicates that his passing and decision-making need some improvement. There are concerns about Springer’s ability to generate space as a ball-handler. While he has strong lateral quickness, his first step is a bit weak. There are also reasonable concerns about Springer’s shooting both off the catch and off the dribble.
It’s difficult to see the immediate fit for the Sixers. Perhaps they stash Springer in Delaware for the season to develop a bit. Maybe the plan is to include one of him and Tyrese Maxey in a Simmons trade down the line. If Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer is right, Springer may be worth holding onto and developing. O’Connor compared Springer to Kyle Lowry and Malcolm Brogdon in his latest mock draft.
Whatever the case, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reports that the Sixers plan to hang onto the pick despite multiple reports that they were looking to trade it. Seeing as the Sixers are retaining their first round asset in this draft, it would also appear that Ben Simmons will not be traded on draft day despite Dumas’ report from earlier in the day.
12:15 AM, EST, Friday: Filip Petrusev
With the 50th pick in the draft, the Sixers selected reigning Adriatic League MVP Filip Petrusev of KK Mega Basket. The 21-year-old big man averaged nearly 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block per game.
Petrusev, who connected on 46 percent of his three-point attempts overseas this past season, presents a stretch-five option for Philadelphia. The former Gonzaga Bulldog possesses a strong face-up game, as well. However, he grades as a poor rim protector and passer. According to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, the Sixers intend to stash Petrusev overseas. So, perhaps those things can improve as he develops and builds experience at the professional level.
12:23 AM, EST, Friday: Charles Bassey
With the 53rd pick in the draft, the Sixers chose center Charles Bassey out of Western Kentucky. Bassey’s 6’10” height with 7’3″ wingspan offers legitimate size at the center position. Bassey leverages that size well around the basket, as he’s quite the polished finisher at the rim. His size and athleticism also lent themselves to proficiency as a rim protector.
However, Bassey didn’t develop into much of a shooter in his three years at Western Kentucky, so he lacks credibility as a spacer. Further, his foot speed hinders his versatility on the defensive side of the ball. Because he can’t switch, he’ll likely force the Sixers to go into drop coverage when he’s on the floor. Perhaps the Sixers see some upside there as a backup big. Of course, as a pick this late in the draft, it’s somewhat of an expectation that he’ll spend time in Delaware to get in-game opportunities this season.
12:45 AM, EST, Friday: Sixers Sign Aaron Henry
Just because they were out of picks did not mean Daryl Morey and company were done working. Shortly before the conclusion of the draft, they agreed to terms on a two-way signing:
Michigan State's Aaron Henry has agreed to a two-way deal with the 76ers, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
Henry’s 6’6″ height and 6’10” wingspan present an ideal physical profile for a modern NBA wing. His mix of strength and lateral quickness offer hope that his athleticism will translate at the NBA level. That strength and quickness also aid his aptitude as an on-ball defender. He has touch with both hands when close to the basket and exhibits legitimate feel as a shooter in certain situations. Henry also provides some secondary ball-handling and offensive creation in moderation.
His shooting mechanics leave scouts with concerns as to whether he can shoot when navigating away from the ball. That his jumper lacks fluidity and speed serves as a source of concern that his touch can be consistent as it currently is. Additionally, Henry isn’t much of a self-provisioning scorer close to the basket. Henry is also a slow decision-maker, often leading him to pound the air out of the ball. That decision-making is affected by his ability to remain engaged consistently. That lack of engagement can bleed into the defensive end of the floor and cost his team.
The draft may be done, but the Sixers’ offseason is just getting started.