Doc Rivers is taking a positive approach to a less-than-ideal start to the season.
The 76ers coach only had 13 available players at Monday’s training camp practice, partly due to COVID-19 protocol and waiting for a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to become official.
“It’s actually been very effective, too,” Rivers said of the limited bodies. “What happens in camp a lot is you have 19, 20 guys. Guys don’t get a lot of reps. I will tell you, Ben [Simmons] and Joel [Embiid] are saying they are getting a lot of reps right now. And I think it is good.”
That’s one way to look at it. However, one has to believe that Rivers would prefer to have his full roster participating in training camp.
First-round pick Tyrese Maxey and veteran Mike Scott both tested positive for COVID-19 while another unidentified player had inconclusive results, according to a league source. They can’t join the team until they pass the NBA’s COVID protocol. Matisse Thybulle has been hampered by a sore ankle. Meanwhile, Danny Green, Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier can’t join the team until after their trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder becomes official Tuesday.
French oulet L’Equipe first reported that Poirier, a 7-foot French center, was included in the deal. He played last season for the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Thunder last month. Sources had told The Inquirer the delay in the trade that was agreed upon on Nov. 18 had to do with OKC needing to aggregate the necessary salary needed to make the deal. The Thunder couldn’t do it until Tuesday. The Athletic reported that adding Poirier to the deal allows Oklahoma City to function as a team over the cap without renouncing their traded player exception.
The Thunder will get Al Horford, a 2025 protected first-rounder, the 34th pick of the Nov. 18 draft, and the rights to Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic.
As a rookie, Maxey is at a big disadvantage being sidelined. He’s missing valuable time in his introduction to the NBA.
Maxey has been watching the practices through Zoom to stay engaged and informed.
“After the practice, he gets with one of our assistant coaches, and they try to walk him through the practice again,” Rivers said. “So at least visually, he’s seeing it twice and they try to walk him through the practice again.”
While reviewing practice, the assistant coach points out spots that Maxey would be in during certain plays.
“I’m hoping he’s that type of learner,” Rivers said of the combo guard the team drafted 21st overall out of Kentucky on Nov. 18.
Sixers waive Robinson, Diane
The Sixers waived recent Exhibit 10 signees Lamine Diane and Justin Robinson Monday.
Diane and Robinson will most likely play for the Sixers G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
An Exhibit 10 contract is a one-year deal that guarantees that Robinson will receive a training-camp invitation. Exhibit 10 players get bonuses of up to $50,000 to sign with a team’s G League affiliate if waived. They have to play for the affiliate for at least 60 days to get paid.
Rivers honors John Smallwood
Rivers stopped himself from answering the first question of his media availability to honor John Smallwood.
Mr. Smallwood passed away on Sunday after a long illness at the age of 55. He was a longtime sports writer and columnist for the Daily News, and later The Inquirer.
“Before I start, I want to send out my condolences to John Smallwood’s family,” Rivers said. “He’s a pioneer in our business, a Black columnist. Not just for Philadelphia, but for the entire States. So I just want to send my condolences and recognition of what he has done for everyone.”