If you include president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and head coach Doc Rivers, the 21 Sixers spoke to reporters on Monday.
As usual, media day was filled with a lot of optimism, as well as a few big pieces of information and laughter ahead of Tuesday’s boot camp in Charleston, South Carolina.
While not entirely exhaustive, we do have a story about James Harden. here and more info ahead – these tidbits and takeaways cover most of the day at the Sixers’ training facility in Camden, NJ:
On Monday morning, the 66ers announced that PJ Tucker underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during the off-season, received a court clearance and will attend training camp. Tucker confirmed that he was ready to go.
“I’m doing great,” he said. “Time-wise, it made sense to go ahead and knock him out. It’s been six weeks and I’m fully justified and back on the court doing my best. So I’m excited.”
Georges Niang expressed no concern about his own left knee. After missing the last two Sixers regular-season games last year with “left patella tendinopathy” on the official NBA injury record, Niang’s knee troubled him during the playoffs and hit just 4-of-25 from a three-pointer. distance to the second round.
“I had a small bruise on my knee bone and it took a while to heal,” Niang said. “But I have a good summer at hand. I am completely healthy, I am clean and ready to play. I think I know what needs to be done and what will be required of me to move forward, and I think we can all achieve that.”
After surgery on his right thumb and left index finger surgery in May, Joel Embiid spoke nonchalantly about his health.
“I feel great. I’ve been in bed all summer,” he said with a laugh. “But I feel great. Healthy, ready to go, ready to compete. It’s going to be fun.”
Furkan Korkmaz’s renewal was less typical.
“I’ve had some nerve damage since the All-Star break last year,” Korkmaz said. “Because of this, I lose a little feeling in my fingers and all that. It was a little bit because of the injury, and then I lost my rhythm, my mechanics changed a little – I felt small changes, but we couldn’t tell exactly what was happening.
“In the summer, I had enough time to see what was really happening and then treat it. I was in rehab for almost two months. I had a good time to get better and now I feel good. I am feeling better. I can’t wait to just go out and play.”
In the 2018/19 and 19/20 seasons, Korkmaz converted 39.0% of triples. He had a good start last season but had no shooting success after a 2-of-18 against the Bucks on Nov. 9. Since then, Korkmaz has lost only 25.1 percent out of three.
Maxi is not a lonely hard worker
As everyone expected, Rivers praised Tyrese Maxey’s exceptional commitment to excellence.
However, he placed two other players in the same category.
“Look, he put in the work,” Rivers said of Maxi. “I’m actually not as focused on individual expectations as you (reporters), probably because you have to write about it. I am more focused on the team and try to be the best team. As for Tyrese, I just feel like he’s going to play a big part in it. And the work he did with (assistant coach Sam Cassell) and my son Spencer (Rivers, the Sixers skills coach) was amazing.
“Between him and Paul Reed – and Matisse (Taibul) – no one has been able to beat these three, I can guarantee you that. Now you can do all this work and it will take you another year to complete it. But he did everything – even more – than we asked him to.”
Maxi shared his press conference with Reed and, as the 21-year-old answered just about every question, continued to find ways to praise Reid for being “extremely competitive” and working “extremely hard.”
Reid, incidentally, claimed to have increased his vertical jump by eight inches—from 28 to 36—and said, “I’m just going to keep going up.”
Are you talking about rest?
The intervention was necessary to prevent excessive Maxi hours at the gym.
“Sam called me probably 10 times,” Doc Rivers said. “My son even rang my doorbell once with Sam. They weren’t invited, that’s what I mean, but they came to talk about calling him and making him switch off. Man, a guy like that is hard to shut down. Paul Reed too. It’s pretty hard, but they’re young and you kind of let them do it.”
Vacation doesn’t sound like it was Maxi’s cup of tea.
“I took my first vacation this year and it was ridiculous… it was too long for me,” he said. “It was too much to do nothing. But it was great. I have to spend a lot of time with my family; my whole family went with me. I was lucky to have fun with them.
“But that’s part of being a better pro — knowing when to take off, knowing how to rest your body, knowing how to recover. The medical staff helped me a lot. They helped me a lot. They talked to me about recovery and all these things, and vacations. You’d rather someone tell you to back off than someone try to cheer you up.”
A similar stance has new teammate Montrezl Harrell.
“My summer routine is not exactly normal,” he said. “I literally think I play basketball all year round. I don’t rest. To be honest, I haven’t rested since I entered the league. I have never been to a vacation spot. I literally go to any league I can find. I’ve already played in a couple of leagues here – Brotherly Love, Danny Rumfa tournament, AEBL, Drew League.
“I don’t throw a basketball. I’m happy that I can play this game and call it my job, so I don’t try to spend too much time away from it. I think the first week I will take a vacation to give my body some time to just relax, babysit and not move, just be at home. But then after a week or two, I come back to it again.”
On Monday, Harrell revealed that 76ers legend Allen Iverson contacted him “about three hours after” he signed a two-year minimum wage contract with a 2nd year player option. In 2020, Iverson tweeted congratulations to Harrell on receiving the NBA Sixth Player of the Year award.
“He actually called me, man,” Harrell said. “This is crazy. I saw my phone and immediately knew it was his voice. It was big. It just shows that the people who actually put on this uniform came here and were once Sixes, will always remain Sixes — it’s important. It’s really just a huge honor.”
Endurance is much more than a good growl
The 66ers plan to be a physical team that will test many of the things that are usually associated with toughness – chasing rebounds, applying pesky pressure on the ball, cheering chatter, and enjoying the “ugly” aspects of winning.
According to Tucker, hardness often intersects with resilience.
“I don’t know if I can give you the exact answer what it is,” he said. “I think it’s different for everyone. I think people see someone and they make an angry face and scream, they think they’re cool. It’s not rigidity. It’s being accountable, reliable, not backing down every night. Different tasks, it doesn’t matter. To be available – not to be offended; be able to go there and compete.
“There are so many different aspects that translate into rigidity. But for me, the biggest challenge is the mental toughness to be able to play the NBA season, play all the games – most games – and play the playoffs. That consistency, I think, is the most important thing about being cool.”
House, who exactly played half of his NBA games next to Harden (102 out of 204), believes that the main requirement for a 10-time All-Star Game is outstanding effort.
“The decision (to join the 66ers) was made based on the fact that I knew the roster, did my research and talked to my agency,” House said. “And, of course, James’s ability to pass, to look for others who are willing to give up the downtime… to knock it out and get someone else to move. He always builds that kind of relationship with his shooters… and the people who are going to play hard.
“The only thing he wants from you is just to play hard. Play hard and be yourself, he can’t ask anything more of you.”
In addition to getting married, Tobias Harris’ 30th birthday was a summer milestone.
“I don’t know how I’m saying this right now because I asked Jaden Springer how old he was yesterday and he told me 20 and I was like, ‘This is crazy,'” Harris said. “It just goes to show, the NBA…when I came into the league, I was 19 years old. It goes by fast, but it’s an amazing time. The start of my 12th NBA season is a real blessing for me and I’m excited.”
On Monday, when Shake Milton turned 26, the 66ers took time out among their various media engagements to celebrate. Unlike my own birthday in August, Harden didn’t throw pies off the side of the yacht.
Harris still wants to let him fly
Harris’ stated goal after the February deal to trade Harden to the Sixers was to play your part in “winning basketball”. An important component was the use of three-point opportunities that came his way; Harris took 2.7 triples a game before Harden’s first appearance with the Sixers and 4.1 per game since debut.
On Monday, Harris said he intends to “let them go even more this year…