But Barrett led all scorers with 30 points, including 20 in the first half, and he inspired Jalen Brunson, former teammate of the otherworldly Luka Doncic, to say the following about Barrett’s bid to become an elite player: “I think he can be an All-Star. I think he can be a very impactful player, I think he can lead a franchise, and that’s what he was picked here to do. He can do it. I have the utmost faith in him. He works very hard. He has a great demeanor about how he plays. You never see when he’s frustrated, you never see when he’s having the game of his life. … It shows he’s not afraid of the moment, not afraid of anything. He’s capable of doing a lot of big things.”
February 1, 2023 | 10:34 am EST Update
With Montrezl Harrell’s defensive issues and Paul Reed not yet earning the trust of the coaching staff, sources say the Sixers would be open to bringing in another big even if they don’t move one of Embiid’s current backups. It’s the easy place for your mind to drift, but former Sixers big Andre Drummond is an example, if a high-end example, of the sort of player we could be talking about, a big-bodied player and strong rebounder in the more traditional school of bigs. (Naz Reid is a hot player in the rumor mill around the league, though I think he skews more toward the Harrell style of bigs and wouldn’t expect him to be in the mix for Philly.)
The other big roster need, one I was slightly surprised to hear the Sixers are prioritizing, is at the backup five position. It has been a sore spot for the franchise in the Embiid era, and remains one again this season. Philadelphia already has three nominal bigs on the roster, including star center Embiid, but sources say they would be interested in acquiring a safer/more traditional backup to Embiid for certain matchups in the playoffs.
In terms of potential outgoings, the most likely names to be sent out are Furkan Korkmaz, Danuel House Jr., and Jaden Springer, sources say, with the first two out of the rotation and the third never having cracked it.
It’s no guarantee the Raptors decide to move on from Siakam that soon. From a team perspective, it would certainly be comforting to see both Siakam and Barnes, fairly similar players, thrive offensively at the same time. For his part, Siakam isn’t the type to get involved. “Out of my control. Focus on what I have every single day, work with what I have, help wherever I can,” Siakam said of the trade rumours surrounding his team, and whether he wants this version of the team to stay intact. “That’s it. Out of my hands. It’s out of my control, so I have nothing to say about it.”
Don’t expect the big swing at the NBA trade deadline that mortgages any of the future for the present. But if the growth of the Thunder’s young core and the parity of the conference keeps that playoff door ajar, they’ll gladly walk right through. “Coach challenged us at the beginning of January,” Muscala said. “He said, ‘Hey, this is when a lot of teams are in the quote-unquote ‘dog days’ of the season. There’s kind of a tendency to let down. Let’s really challenge ourselves to be in the moment, do the little things, take care of our bodies, do skill work. It’s shown this month.”
Jeremy Schaap: Our interview with @MeyersLeonard , the former Portland and Miami center who is hoping to return to the NBA. Nearly two years ago, he used an antisemitic slur while playing Call of Duty on Twitch. A warning–this story includes offensive language.
On Monday night against Golden State, Gilgeous-Alexander shook off an 0-of-5 start to finish with 31 points and seven assists. Twenty-one came in a rapid second-half comeback, when he beat Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Donte DiVincenzo with a variety of patient isolation attacks, scoring over or passing around Green and Kevon Looney when they’d collapse. “He gets to his spot just as good as anybody in the league,” Green said. “He’s strong as s—. I didn’t realize how strong he’s gotten. Physical, not ducking no contact. Just getting to his spot and getting what he wants. Just delivers his shoulder, gets to his spot and he’s 6-foot-7.”