Marc Stein: Philadelphia 76ers

Curry/CousinsGarrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesCurry's Warriors and Cousins' Kings are off to red-hot starts. How long can they keep it up?
As we inch closer to another Power Rankings Monday, your faithful committee (of one) is already starting its computing.

And it sure helps when your Sunday brunch includes a surprise heads-up from a research-minded pal like's Adam Reisinger, who has helpfully passed along a handy list that puts some of the good (and bad) starts we've seen into some historical perspective.

Entering Sunday's play:

The highs

Golden State Warriors: 5-0 start is the Warriors' best since they went 5-0 in 1994-95. They finished 26-56 that season.

Memphis Grizzlies: 6-1 start is the Grizzlies' best in team history.

Houston Rockets: 6-1 is the Rockets' best start since a 6-1 launch in 2007-08, when they went 55-27 and reeled off an unforgettable 22 straight wins in one stretch.

Toronto Raptors: 5-1 start is the best in franchise history.

Sacramento Kings: 5-1 start is the Kings' best since they opened up at 9-1 in 1999-2000, when they ultimately faded to 44-38.

Washington Wizards: 5-2 start is the Wizards' best since they went 5-1 in 2005-06, when they finished 42-40.

Chicago Bulls: 5-2 start is the Bulls' best since a 7-1 start in 2011-12. They finished 50-16 in that lockout-shortened season.

The lows

Denver Nuggets: It's actually the Nuggets' second straight 1-4 start.

Oklahoma City Thunder: 1-5 is the Thunder's worst start since they went 1-14 in 2008-09 in the club's first season in OKC.

New York Knicks: 2-5 is the Knicks' worst start since a 1-9 start in 2009-10 that set the tone for a 29-53 season.

Indiana Pacers: 1-6 is the Pacers' worst start since they went 1-6 in 1993-94, when they rallied to post a 47-35 mark.

Los Angeles Lakers: 0-5 is the Lakers' worst start in Los Angeles and their worst since they went 0-7 in 1957-58 in Minneapolis.

Philadelphia 76ers: 0-6 is the Sixers' worst start since a 0-15 start in 1972-73 ... which, of course, was Philly's 9-73 season.

Minnesota eyes Thaddeus Young

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
The Minnesota Timberwolves have expressed interest in Philadelphia 76ers power forward Thaddeus Young as a potential replacement for Kevin Love, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told that the Wolves, while continuing to discuss trade proposals that would send Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, have been exploring their options for acquiring Young from the Sixers, either through a separate transaction or as part of an expanded Love trade.

Whether Philadelphia proves willing to part with Young, though, remains to be seen.

Young has two years left on his contract, including a player option for the 2015-16 season, valued at a combined $19.3 million. Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said in June that he anticipates Young starting next season in Philadelphia, but it's believed that the club is willing to move Young if the assets acquired in return are sufficiently attractive.

Click here for the full story
The Philadelphia 76ers have expressed a willingness to trade for Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin depending on what sort of assets Houston is willing to attach to the deal, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told that the Sixers, who have ample room on their payroll to absorb Lin's contract, have emerged as a leading contender to take on Lin in a trade that sends no salary back to the Rockets, which would enable the Rockets to extend a rich offer in free agency to either Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh.

Sources say that the Milwaukee Bucks are another team that would consider trading for Lin if the Rockets add a sweetener or two to the deal for the privilege of shedding Lin's contract to a team that can comfortably absorb it.

Click here for the full story

The likely MVP chronology

May, 2, 2014
May 2
It's an open assumption throughout the NBA that Kevin Durant is about to be crowned the league's regular-season MVP for the first time in his career.

This has yet to be 100 percent confirmed -- as we did earlier this week with Jamal Crawford's forthcoming Sixth Man Award trophy -- but even LeBron James would surely tell you that's what he's expecting.

So when will Durant's coronation actually be official?

All signs point to early next week.

The most likely scenario, I'm told, is a Monday or Tuesday news conference and a pregame ceremony Tuesday or Wednesday right before Game 1 of the second round ... provided that Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder win their Game 7 at home Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

If the Thunder lose, chances are we're going to have to wait a bit for the most uncomfortable MVP news conference since Dirk Nowitzki's in 2007 after the Dallas Mavericks, who went 67-15 that season, were bounced in Round 1 by Golden State.

As of Friday afternoon, there were no signals to suggest that Durant would be receiving his widely anticipated MVP trophy before the Memphis game. For one, this Game 7 falls on a Saturday. Such a ceremony, before such a tense win-or-go-home game, could also conceivably create a scene even more awkward than what Durant would have to go through if he ends up having to go the Dirk route.

The NBA decided to take a week off from the awards circuit in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal. But we already know Crawford is scheduled to receive his Sixth Man Award next week, with the same expected now as well for the Rookie of the Year winner. Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams ranks as the heavy favorite in that race.

Rookie of the Second Trimester

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27

Rookie of the Second Trimester: Michael Carter-Williams, Sixers

I tried.

I tried to do voting gymnastics with my logic and conscience and lobby myself into nominating Trey Burke here, given that Utah has been borderline decent since that 1-11 start while Burke was nursing that finger injury.

But I'm sorry.

When it comes to the NBA Rookie of the Year race, in a terribly weak rookie class, I'm not going to penalize Michael Carter-Williams for the fact that the stripped-down, bare-bones Sixers are increasingly dreadful as this season wears on.

The Sixers, like the Jazz sans Burke, are also 1-11 when MCW doesn't dress. And when he does play -- no matter how offensive you find the rest of Philly's current squad -- you're still seeing some historic statistical stuff. Downgrade it if you must because of the crazy pace defenseless Philly plays at. But we won't.

The reality is that MCW has more 20-5-5 games (eight) than the rest of his fellow rookies have combined to produce all season (seven). He also remains on pace to become just the third rookie dating to 1950-51, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76), to lead all rooks in scoring (17.1 PPG), rebounding (5.3 RPG), assists (6.2 APG), steals (2.0 SPG) and minutes played (34.5 MPG).

If Burke's Jazz or Victor Oladipo's Magic were outright ripping it up, perhaps then I could find a way to let one of those guys enjoy some Trimester 2 spotlight instead of the kid widely regarded as a lock to win rookie of the year honors at season's end.

I can't do it, though. Can't choose someone other than MCW here, even for a single trimester, when the Sixers rook is poised to be remembered as just the fourth rookie in league history to average at least 17 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds for an entire season … joining Steve Francis (1999-2000), Magic Johnson (1979-80) and The Big O.

P.S. -- When MCW wins the real ROY deal in May, he'll become the first rookie selected lower than No. 10 to do so since current Warriors coach Mark Jackson in 1987. The only other players drafted 10th or later to win NBA Rookie of the Year are Jamaal Wilkes (No. 11 in 1974), Woody Sauldsberry (No. 60 in 1957) and Don Meineke in 1952-53.

Check out more Second Trimester Awards »

Sources: Granger leaning to Clips

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
Here's the latest on the pursuit of Danny Granger ... co-authored with's Ramona Shelburne:
The Los Angeles Clippers met with the representatives of swingman Danny Granger during Wednesday night's game against the Houston Rockets and have nudged ahead of the San Antonio Spurs in the race for Granger's services, according to sources close to the process.

The Clippers are widely regarded as the team best positioned to provide Granger the playing time and the championship contention he craves.

And they've stepped up their pursuit of the former All-Star, sources told, at least partly due to growing concern within the organization about the status of guard J.J. Redick, who has missed the last nine games and is out indefinitely with a back injury.

To potentially further increase L.A.'s need for another front-line player at the wing positions, Jamal Crawford left Wednesday's win over the Rockets with a calf injury. Crawford has been starting in place of Redick and has played a huge part -- alongside star forward Blake Griffin -- in keeping the Clippers among the West's top four teams while star guard Chris Paul was out with a separated shoulder.

Read the full story here
Newly acquired Danny Granger and the Philadelphia 76ers continue to discuss a possible buyout, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told on Tuesday that a buyout consummated before Saturday's midnight deadline for Granger to be waived and remain eligible to appear in this season's playoffs with any team he subsequently signs for remains the most likely outcome.

But sources also said Granger continues to weigh other options, including staying with the 76ers for the rest of the season, as the deadline draws near.

See the full story

Will Sixers let Danny Granger go?

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
Danny GrangerBrian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsWill Danny Granger, who was traded from Indiana to Philadelphia, get to choose his next destination?
Trade season actually lasts one week longer in the NBA than advertised ... if you count Buyout Week.

And we do.

Players released by March 1, remember, are eligible to play in the playoffs with another team. The immediate future of the newest Philadelphia 76er has thus become the most interesting short-term question in the league: Will Philly grant Danny Granger a buyout that puts the former All-Star on the open market?

Related question: How hard should he pursue one?

Securing his release from the Sixers by next Saturday undoubtedly appeals to Granger, who is said to be miffed about the manner in which he was exiled from Indiana and is understandably intrigued by the possibility of signing with an Oklahoma City or a San Antonio or a Memphis -- or maybe even a Miami -- if he becomes a free agent.

But ...

Severing ties with the Sixers immediately, as much as Granger clearly doesn't want to be there, would cost him his Larry Bird rights this summer and, of greater consequence to his new team, scuttle any sign-and-trade options Philly might have with him this summer. You suspect that the Sixers might want to keep all of those options open after surrendering a former No. 2 overall pick in Evan Turner to get Granger.

So ...

Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie wasn't kidding Friday at a lunchtime news conference when he said it's "going to be interesting" when he gets together with Granger "to sit and talk."

All Hinkie will commit to, for now, is that there will be "a chance for us to have a discussion."

The outcome of which is sure to be followed closely by front offices throughout the NBA's upper crust.

P.S. -- Phoenix is an interesting option for a Granger buyout if you believe in the mystical powers of the Suns' athletic training stuff and what they might be able to do to get Granger's body right. Ditto for the Dallas Mavericks, who possess an equally adept training team, only without getting any semblance of the Phoenix fanfare. The Clippers, meanwhile, would naturally be at the top of Granger's own list, since he's an L.A. resident, but there's a sense out there that Doc Rivers and Big Baby Davis essentially already have an understanding that will bring Davis to Clipperland as soon as he clears waivers next week.

Sources: Sixers plan to sign Dedmon

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
The Philadelphia 76ers will be signing D-League center Dewayne Dedmon to a 10-day contract this week, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

Sources told that the Sixers committed Monday to call up Dedmon from the Santa Cruz Warriors, with whom he's been playing since being waived by the Golden State Warriors in December.

The 7-footer from USC, averaging 15.2 points and 13.5 rebounds with Santa Cruz, was regarded by most scouts in attendance at last week's D-League Showcase as a lock to be one of the NBA's next callups. Golden State had the mobile big man in training camp and brought him to the big league briefly in November, using Dedmon in four games before waiving him Dec. 5.

The Sixers worked out four free-agent centers Monday before settling on Dedmon. Also participating in the workout were former Miami Heat draftee Jarvis Varnado, five-year NBA veteran Kyrlyo Fesenko and recent Sacramento Kings cut Hamady N'Diaye.

Dedmon will receive the D-League's 12th callup this season and becomes the developmental league's first player in 2013-14 to get called up twice.

Deadline day nears for 50 players

December, 27, 2013
It's not a festive season for everyone in the NBA.

We're actually entering a period of high anxiety for 50 players around the league whose seasons are about to reach a make-or-break point.

All non-guaranteed deals in the NBA become fully guaranteed for the rest of the 2013-14 season if the player in question is still on his current team's roster as of Jan. 10. It's a date that always leads to a handful of roster cuts once the calendar flips to 2014, as teams either look to save a few luxury-tax bucks or perhaps open up a roster spot to take advantage of the 10-day contracts they're allowed to start handing out Jan. 5.

When it comes to this season specifically, teams looking to waive players to prevent their contracts from becoming fully guaranteed must do so by 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, thus allowing sufficient time for the player to clear waivers before the magical Jan. 10 date.

The list of players technically at risk includes some who face zero chance of getting snipped; Andrew Bynum, Patrick Beverley and Michael Beasley jump off the page in terms of vets who have noting to fret about. Yet it's a generally nervy time for anyone possessing a non-guaranteed contract until Jan. 7 passes to assure safety.

One interesting certainty here, for the record, is Orlando's forthcoming divorce from veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu. The sides have spent the past several months discussing a buyout with no success, but the Magic have to either cut or trade Turkoglu by Jan. 7 or face the prospect of paying him a full $12 million for the entire season. Only $6 million of that salary is guaranteed, but it behooves Orlando to keep Turkoglu all the way to guarantee-date buzzer just in case a trade materializes where his expiring deal becomes handy.

Atlanta: Shelvin Mack, Cartier Martin, Mike Scott
Boston: None
Brooklyn: None
Charlotte: Jeff Adrien, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Chicago: D.J. Augustin, Eric Murphy
Cleveland: Andrew Bynum, Matt Dellavedova, C.J. Miles, Henry Sims
Dallas: None
Denver: Quincy Miller
Detroit: Josh Harrellson, Peyton Siva
Golden State: Hilton Armstrong, Kent Bazemore
Houston: Patrick Beverley, Greg Smith
Indiana: Rasual Butler
L.A. Clippers: Stephen Jackson, Maalik Wayns
L.A. Lakers: Xavier Henry, Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall, Shawne Williams
Memphis: Seth Curry, James Johnson
Miami: Michael Beasley, Roger Mason Jr.
Milwaukee: None
Minnesota: Robbie Hummel
New Orleans: Lou Amundson
New York: Cole Aldrich, Toure' Murry
Oklahoma City: Ryan Gomes, Hasheem Thabeet
Orlando: Solomon Jones, Hedo Turkoglu
Philadelphia: James Anderson, Lorenzo Brown, Brandon Davies, Daniel Orton, Hollis Thompson, Elliot Williams
Phoenix: Dionte Christmas
Portland: None
Sacramento: Hamady N'diaye
San Antonio: Malcolm Thomas
Toronto: Julyan Stone
Utah: Ian Clark, Diante Garrett, Mike Harris
Washington: None

P.S.: Even before the January rush, nine players on non-guaranteed contracts have already been waived since the regular season began. They are:

Charlotte: James Southerland
Chicago: Mike James
Golden State: Dewayne Dedmon
L.A. Lakers: Elias Harris
New Orleans: Josh Childress, Arinze Onuaku, Lance Thomas
Philadelphia: Darius Morris
Utah: Jamaal Tinsley

Rookie of the First Trimester

December, 23, 2013
Michael Carter-Williams Howard Smith-USA TODAY SportsDespite missing time due to injuries, Philly's Michael Carter-Williams is at the head of the rookie class.

Rookie of the First Trimester: Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers

This is a three-player discussion at best.

And let's face it: This is a discussion of any sort only because MCW missed 12 of Philadelphia's first 28 games.

The Sixers' 6-foot-6 point guard can't continue to be out that often if he wants to snag the rookie award that matters at season's end, but Philly boasted a still-hard-to-fathom record of 7-10 entering Monday’s play in the games with MCW in uniform alongside its otherwise eminently tankable roster.

Without MCW? Philly is 1-10.

There have been undeniable flashes of promise from Orlando's Victor Oladipo and, more recently, Utah's Trey Burke, who’s had an MCW-esque impact on the Jazz when you compare Utah’s record with Burke in (7-11) and out of the lineup (1-11). But Oladipo is averaging as many turnovers per game (3.4) as assists, learning point guard play on the fly and shot his way out of Orlando’s starting lineup over the weekend. And Burke, as good as he looked in his first head-to-head meeting with Oladipo, is likewise shooting just 39.0 percent from the floor.

No one would dare suggest MCW has played mistake-free ball, but it's also true that no other rookie has shown as many All-Star flashes as the Syracuse man. And if you need more statistical proof to buy in, please note that MCW leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

Do you remember the last rookie who averaged at least 17 points, five rebounds and seven assists for an entire season?

Magic Johnson was his name.

Check out more First Trimester Awards »

Rockets weighing Omer Asik options

December, 19, 2013
AsikScott Halleran/Getty ImagesHouston is planning to trade Omer Asik by Thursday. Where will the big man suit up next? Stay tuned.
The day has arrived for the Houston Rockets to live up to their vow to trade disgruntled center Omer Asik.

The Rockets have been telling rival teams for two weeks that they will trade Asik by Thursday, and according to sources close to the process, they gradually continued to move in that direction Wednesday. reported Tuesday that the Boston Celtics had emerged as the strongest rivals to the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of Asik's likely destination. Entering the final hours before the Rockets' self-imposed deadline, sources said Houston officials spent much of Wednesday weighing the merits of Boston's offer of forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a future first-round draft pick for the 7-footer from Turkey while remaining engaged in talks with Philadelphia and leaving open the possibility that other teams could still join the bidding.

The Rockets, sources said, have been interested in prying veteran center Spencer Hawes away from the Sixers along with a future first-round pick, but they won't know until Thursday whether Philadelphia is prepared to part with that much for Asik or whether Boston's offer is the best available.

The Boston Herald reported late Wednesday that the Celtics actually made the offer featuring Bass, Lee and a protected first-rounder last week, only for Houston to reject it.

When this process began, Rockets officials were hopeful of getting more for Asik, who is regarded as one of the league's elite interior defenders. But the combination of Asik's offensive limitations and a $15 million balloon payment next season in the final year of his contract appears to have made it difficult for Houston to generate the interest it anticipated.

Read the full story here »

State of the Leastern Conference

December, 18, 2013

Marc Stein joins ESPN's George Karl, ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell and the New York Daily News' Frank Isola for an Outside The Lines panel discussion on the woeful state of the Eastern Conference.

Omer Asik talks progressing

December, 18, 2013
The Houston Rockets, as they've been telling teams all month, remain on course to trade disgruntled big man Omer Asik by Thursday, according to sources close to the process.

Numerous teams consulted by in recent days have said they are convinced the Rockets will indeed go ahead with a trade headlined by Asik before their self-imposed deadline of Dec. 19, with sources saying Tuesday that the Boston Celtics are increasingly active in the Asik talks.

As a result, the Celtics now are widely regarded as the strongest rivals to the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of the likely destination for Asik, with many rival executives expecting the final form of a trade built around the 7-footer from Turkey to feature at least three teams.

Sources have described the Atlanta Hawks as Houston's preferred trade partner because the Rockets came to the conclusion last month that, despite their attempts to placate Asik, they eventually would have to give in to the unhappy center's long-running desire to be moved in the wake of Dwight Howard's arrival in July. Yet it remains unclear, sources say, how interested Atlanta really is in parting with coveted forward Paul Millsap -- who's considered an ideal frontcourt complement to Howard -- in exchange for Asik.

Although sources say there has been dialogue between the Rockets and Hawks this week, it's believed that Atlanta officials are lukewarm on Asik. Asik is owed nearly $15 million next season thanks to a balloon payment in his contract that the Rockets inserted during the summer of 2012 to dissuade the Bulls from matching Houston's offer. Sources say, though, that such a high figure for a defensive specialist does not trouble the 76ers or Celtics, who have emerged as the two teams most frequently mentioned as landing spots for Asik.

Read the full story here »
What has already been a robust marketplace, for those of you who love the NBA’s Transaction Game, is about to get robust-er.

OK, OK. Let's just say busier.

A league that has already witnessed three trades headlined by Marcin Gortat, Derrick Williams and Rudy Gay since training camps opened -- with Toronto trying hard as we speak to find a workable Kyle Lowry deal that makes it four -- will see more than 100 new trade chips put into play in less than 48 hours.

At 12:01 a.m. Sunday, no fewer than 114 players who signed new contracts since July will become trade-eligible, thanks to the league rule stipulating that recipients of new deals (in most cases) cannot be dealt until Dec. 15 or three months from the day their new contract is completed ... whichever of those dates falls later. So ...

Just as we would have in the Weekend Dime era, Stein Line Live serves up a list of all 114 of them -- along with a flurry of bonus lists -- to assist in your ESPN Trade Machine endeavors:

Players eligible to be traded as of Sunday


* -- Players with an asterisk next to their name possess additional trade restrictions in their respective contracts that earned them spots on Stein Line Live's All-No-Trade Team. Click here to get reacquainted with that group.

Bonus List No. 1

The following 20 players with new contracts aren't eligible to be traded Sunday because the three-month window since their respective signing dates extends beyond Dec. 15. Next to each player's name is the date he becomes trade-eligible:

Bonus List No. 2

The NBA, as part of its new labor agreement in 2011, restricts players possessing new contracts from being eligible to be traded before Jan. 15 when (1) the player's team is over the salary cap and (2) the first-year salary in the new deal exceeds the prior season's salary by more than 120 percent. There are seven players who fall under those restrictions this season:

Bonus List No. 3

Any player who signs a contract extension cannot be traded for six months if the total length of the contract (prior deal plus extension) is longer than three years or if the extension has annual increases in excess of 4.5 percent. Two big names, as a result, are thus ineligible to be traded until after their teams' respective 2013-14 seasons:

* -- Don't forget that Kobe, as covered in the Nov. 8 SLL post, is also one of four players in the league who possesses an outright no-trade clause in his contract along with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki.

Bonus List No. 4

There are only eight teams in the league, in case all of this trade-eligibility talk has made you curious, that aren't currently carrying a full 15-man roster. They are: