Sixers fans will be excited to have TJ McConnell back in the building.

Horford to OKC, Danny Green, and others to Philly 

When numerous players are dealt within a trade for one player, some of the ones mentioned join the team without much recognition. This relates to French big man Vincent Poirier. Poirier was a part of the Al Horford trade, which sent Horford to Oklahoma City and in return, Philadelphia acquired Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson.

The goal here was clear: Get Horford off the books in exchange for a high-volume shooter in Green.

Spacing has been an issue for the 76ers since the departure of J.J Redick; this became evident last season. Players were colliding with one another on the perimeter. With Green, the floor opens up more for the 76ers, making it easier to run the offense. Adding more shooting to the depleted 76ers roster from last season was one of Daryl Morey’s goals; it wasn’t the only goal. Unloading Horford’s contract was another.

When Horford signed with the 76ers during the 2019 offseason, the Dominican international signed a four-year, $97 million, with $12 million in bounces, contract on July 10th. This would have been a “good deal” for the lack of a better term if it happened in 2014. Horford turned 33 a few weeks prior to signing with the 76ers. He was past his prime, and the Philadelphia faithful were not enthusiastic. Jimmy Butler, a key player for the 76ers throughout the 2018-2019 season, signed for the Heat just four days prior. 76ers fans were bitter and signing Horford didn’t make it any better. But hey, Horford was no scrub. He’s a 5x NBA All-Star and made it onto an NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2018. Nonetheless, to give that money to a player past his prime didn’t make much sense, and in the end, it didn’t work out for Horford.

Adding Green to the roster didn’t stop reporters and fans from speculating about other trades. With Russell Westbrook leaving Houston for D.C., James Harden wanted out; Philly was a target. Many speculated that Green would be an asset if a Harden trade were to occur. A player like that of Ben Simmons, and or Joel Embiid, would have to be on the table to acquire Hardens’ services. Though much speculation was made, the 76ers made it official with Green, Ferguson, and Poirier. This past Tuesday, the three officially signed. NBA fans are familiar with 2X NBA champion Danny Green. Terrance Ferguson became a vital player for the Thunder in the 2018-2019 season, starting in 74 regular-season games. The Dallas native shot 42% from the field that season and 36% from beyond the arc. It’s safe to say that many who follow the NBA are familiar with Ferguson as well.

Dominance in the Euroleague 

Poirier is a name familiar to those who follow the Euroleague, the second-best basketball league in the world. Similar to the structure of the Champions League in European club soccer, the Euroleague consists of the best basketball teams in Europe. Year in and year out, teams like Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Fenerbahçe, Anadolu Efes, Milano, and others compete to crown themselves as the best in Europe.

Vincent Poirier was born in Clamart, a southwestern suburb of Paris. Paris would be the city where Poirier began his professional career in 2012 with Paris-Levallois, a team that competes in LNB Pro A, the top-tier men’s professional basketball league in France. Poirier and Paris-Levallois would go on to win both the French Cup and the French Basketball Supercup in 2013.

He would eventually sign a three-year deal with the club in April 2014. Their current club president is former NBA player and French international, Boris Diaw. Poirier would have loan spells with teams around France, with the likes of Hyères-Toulon, a Pro B team, and CFBB of the NM1, the third tier in France. For the 2015-2016 season, Poirier returned to Paris-Levallois. He excelled when Frédéric Fauthoux replaced head coach Antoine Rigaudeau in December 2015. A few months later in April, Poirier came on as a sub against BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque and posted a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes, making him the MVP of the Round.

Though he was developing in the French domestic leagues, Poirier would have a chance to play in front of NBA coaches and scouts in the 2016 NBA Summer League with the Orlando Magic. In five games, the Frenchman averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game. After the Summer League concluded, Poirier returned to his native France to continue playing for Paris-Levallois. They began the season well as Poirier’s role on the team increased. It wasn’t long until a Euroleague regular in Baskonia of the Spanish Liga ACB came calling. On June 14th, 2017, Poirier signed with the Spanish giants.

Making a move to the Euroleague was a big jump. Poirier showed belonged as he led the Euroleague in rebounding, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game. He was the Euroleague rebounding leader and an All-Euroleague Second Team; NBA teams were on the lookout.

On July 15th, 2019, Poirier signed with the Boston Celtics. Poirier appeared in 22 games for the Celtics and played their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. Poirier went to the NBA bubble, but left in early September for the birth of his child. Up until then, the Frenchman only made one appearance in the playoffs, which was in the last two minutes of the Celtics’ Game 1 win over the Raptors in the 2nd round. Fast forward to November 2020, Poirier found himself in the Midwest with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a few weeks, Poirier became a part of the trade that sent Horford to OKC.

Tony Bradley and Vincent Poirier 

Now that we know who Vincent Poirier is, what can the big man do for the 76ers? Being a traditional five, Poirier can be a force around the rim when it comes to crashing the boards. In a way, Poirier will have to be what the Sixers wanted out of Amir Johnson. Poirier has also shown that he has a shooting touch. He averaged 40% on catch and shoot on 10 shot attempts in limited minutes. Over time, he can develop his shot to a further extent.

Minutes wise, it’s going to be tough for him to find himself on the floor. With the dominance of Joel Embiid and the promise of 22-year old, Tony Bradley, Poirier is going to have to put up a fight to get minutes this season under Doc Rivers.

An argument could be made that Poirier would be better off playing for a Euroleague team rather than trying to compete for minutes in the league. But the Frenchman has come too far to head back to Europe now. Most often than not, when an NBA player goes back to Europe, there’s a significant likelihood that he’ll never be able to come back to the States. A prime example is a former Sixer and Turkish international, Furkan Aldemir. Aldemir played for the Sixer in the 2014-2015 season. Before coming to Philadelphia, Aldemir played for Galatasaray. After his lone season in Philly, Aldemir played for Darüşşafaka. From then to now, he never made it back to the league.

There’s no doubt that Poirier is going to have to fight to earn his moments this season. Every basketball player dreams of playing in the NBA. Poirier is here and he wants to stay.