76ers' Stars Focusing on Improving Rather than Playing in FIBA World Cup

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Two of the Philadelphia 76ers' top players have announced recently that they will forego playing in the FIBA World Cup to continue working on their game in an effort to be ready for the rigors of an 82-game NBA season. 

Tobias Harris, according to The Inquirer's Keith Pompey, will not be participating with USA Basketball in this year's FIBA World Cup. 

This comes just over a week after news broke that Ben Simmons will not be representing Australia in this summer's FIBA World Cup.

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76ers, Christ Koumadje Agree to One-Year, Partially Guaranteed Contract

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to a one-year, partially guaranteed contract with Christ Koumadje on Friday afternoon, according to The Athletic's Michael Scotto. 

Koumadje, a big man from Florida State, went undrafted in this year's NBA Draft before joining the 76ers in late June for the Summer League. He averaged 6.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in just under 14 minutes per game in the Summer League. He showed that he possesses some key defensive skills, namely the ability to block shots, but otherwise has a very raw game on the court. 

The big man from Chad, standing at 7-foot-4, still has a lot of developing to do on the court. During his senior year at Florida State, Koumadje averaged only 6.6 points per game. He didn't play many minutes in his four years in college, averaging 12.1 minutes per game.

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Kyle O'Quinn is the Perfect Backup Center for the 76ers

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Kyle O'Quinn, who was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers to a contract for the veteran minimum, provides some things that can't be replaced. 

As a seven-year veteran of the NBA, O'Quinn has seen it all and played in about every role imaginable. He provides versatility and experience to the 76ers' young bench unit. 

"I think I've played every role in the NBA over my seven years. I've had the luxury of starting and I've had the luxury of being the 15th guy," O'Quinn said in Friday's introductory press conference.

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What Made Al Horford Choose the 76ers in Free Agency?

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

When Al Horford opted out of his contract on June 18, he knew that he would have a lot of teams interested in adding his services. However, he didn't think that the Philadelphia 76ers would be one of those teams. 

"When Elton [Brand] called and spoke with my agent, he laid down his offer," Horford said in Friday's introductory press conference. "I was very surprised that there was that strong interest for me being here. It made the decision very easy and I'm excited to be a part of this." 

Horford is very familiar with the 76ers due to his time playing against them as a member of the rival Boston Celtics. He knew that Philadelphia would be a good fit for him on the court, and they are also a good match for one of his top priorities at this point of his career, winning a championship. 

Horford is a five-time All-Star and has made the playoffs every year of his career. However, an NBA championship is the one thing that has eluded him to this point in his career. One of the reasons why Horford chose the 76ers is because of their ability to potentially win a championship, saying that "winning was a priority for me."

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Elton Brand Believes the 76ers' Backup Center Problem is a Thing of the Past

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The achilles heel of the Philadelphia 76ers last season was the lack of a proven, productive option to back up superstar big man Joel Embiid. General manager Elton Brand showed that he made filling that hole a top priority this offseason when he made multiple moves to shore up the backup center position on the team's roster. 

The 76ers agreed to terms with multi-time All Star Al Horford on a four-year deal worth up to $109 million on the opening night of the NBA's free agency period. 

"Al Horford is a proven leader and a proven winner. Playoffs every single year. I know what he brings to the table not only as a starter with Joel [Embiid] but also being able to spell Joel at the five is very important for us," Brand said in this afternoon's introductory press conference. "He's helping to push us much closer to our goal of winning a championship."

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76ers' Moves in Free Agency Center Around Development of Simmons, Embiid

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers used free agency to rebuild their team for the second season in a row. They added big names like Al Horford and Josh Richardson while subtracting some of their best players last season, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick. All the while, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the team's two superstars, have been the constants through all the change over the past few years. 

One of the things that made Butler such an integral piece to the 76ers' team that made it to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season was his ability to close games. Butler had the rare combination of being clutch on the floor and being aggressive with the ball at the end of games. He averaged 6.4 points per game in the 4th quarter of games as a member of the Sixers last season, good for 12th best among qualifying NBA players. The ability to close games is an important skill to have in the NBA. Butler's abilities late in games will be hard to replace for the Sixers.

The 76ers currently have no clear closer. The closer role is there for someone to step up and take it. Embiid has potential to be the team's closer (6.3 points per game in the 4th quarter last season). Simmons could further develop his offensive game and become more aggressive to help out late in games. However, he often disappears late in games because of his lack of a perimeter game combined with his struggles at the free-throw line. The Sixers will need someone to step up and take control of games in the 4th quarter, regardless of who that person is. 

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76ers Sign Marial Shayok to Two-Way Contract

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Marial Shayok impressed in his first two Summer-League games and has been rewarded with a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. He has averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game so far in the Summer League. 

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5 Observations from 76ers 107-106 Win vs Bucks in Summer League Opener

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 107-106 in their Summer League opener on Friday afternoon in Las Vegas. Matisse Thybulle proved his defensive abilities, Shake Milton ran the offense, Zhaire Smith treated this game like a dunk contest and much more went on in the team's Summer League opener. 

BOX SCORE

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Should the 76ers Add Kyle Korver to their Bench?

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

News broke on Wednesday afternoon that the Phoenix Suns were planning to buy out the contract of veteran Kyle Korver

ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Philadelphia 76ers were one of the teams that were heavily interested in signing Korver.

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Simmons Extension a Necessary Risk for 76ers to Take

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Philadelphia 76ers are working on an agreement with Ben Simmons for a five-year, $170 million contract extension, according to ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski

UPDATED ON MONDAY JULY 15: According to the Athletic's Shams Charania, Simmons has agreed to the five-year, $170 million contract that was originally reported back in July by Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Sixers fans across the nation had mixed reactions to this afternoon's news, with many saying that $170 million is too much money for a player who has such a gigantic limitation in his game (lack of an outside shot). I agree, to an extent, that it is a risky move for the 76ers to give all that money to someone who has not yet shown the desire to take a shot outside of 15 feet. However, Simmons excels at so many other things on the court that the 76ers have to keep him, whatever the risk. 

Simmons can get a triple-double on any given night and is an excellent passer. He is averaging just under eight assists per game in his career. He is a gifted passer, and when combined with his floor vision can cause chaos for the opposing defense. 

On the defensive end of the floor, Simmons also excels and has quickly made a big impact for the 76ers. He averaged 0.8 blocks and 1.4 steals per game last season. His size (6-foot-10) and length as a point guard allow him a big advantage on both ends of the floor, but specifically on the defensive end it allows him to have the versatility to guard any position on the court. 

Let's get back to the offensive end, where Simmons has the abilities to average 16.9 points per game last season while not having any shred of an outside shot. Just imagine what he can become if he starts taking even a 15-footer. It will improve not only his offensive game, but the whole team will greatly benefit from the added floor spacing coming from the guy who has the ball in his hands on almost every possession. 

The 76ers need to keep Simmons because of what he can become and how much it could hurt them if they traded him and he develops into his full potential. With all of the things that he can do on the court, it would be near impossible to replace him with a player of similar skill level. 

While it is a risk that the 76ers are willing to give Simmons $170 million, I find it to be a necessary one because Simmons, at his age (22) and with his current transcendent skills, possesses the potential to be one of the best players of this generation.