Quotebook | 2019 Player Exit Interviews

by Brian Seltzer, Lauren Rosen

The morning after their Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the 76ers conducted player exit interviews at the team's training complex in Camden, NJ.

Below, find a list of notable quotes from each player's subsequent press conference, which we'll update throughout the day.

In his second year as a 76er, JJ Redick once again established a new single-season scoring high, averaging 18.1 points per game. He also set a new personal high with a career-best 240 3-pointers made, a 76ers franchise record. 

"You feel grateful for every sort of stage in your career. These last two years have been as good as I’ve had in my career - organization, fan support, enjoying teammates, enjoying staff. It’s been very special."

Sunday's defeat at Scotiabank Arena wasn't the first Game 7 loss Amir Johnson was part of. In fact, the veteran big man endured another Game 7 loss while playing for the Raptors in an opening-round series against Brooklyn in 2014. He feels the sting could ultimately serve to further stoke the Sixers' flame.

"I feel like guys should just be more hungry, be moremotivated, and get better. That’s the mindset I would have. I’m pretty sure our guys have that mindset. We’ll put in the work this summer and see what happens."

This past season was Furkan Korkmaz's second in the NBA. He had to deal with an injury, and wound up averaging 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game, while shooting 40.0% from the field and 32.6% from three. 

"I need to be more cut, get my body fat down, and then basketball wise on the court I need to be a more consistent 3-point shooter. I think that’s going to be my career. I will just keep getting better. This summer is going to be important for me. I will try to get better every part of the game."

For as good as Jimmy Butler was during the regular season, he was that much better in the playoffs, especially in the second round versus the Toronto Raptors. The four-time All-Star posted 22.0 points (44.3% fg), 6.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game in the seven-game series. Butler said he feels the Sixers are built to win a championship.

"We couldn’t be the players we are without the fans, people in the organization. The journey’s been amazing. I’m very appreciative of the time that I’ve been here."

Joel Embiid gutted out a career-high 45 minutes of regulation playing time in Game 7 against Toronto. Physically, emotionally, the All-Leaguer left everything he had on the Scotiabank Arena floor. During his final press conference of the season, he told reporters that any blame for the Sixers coming up short in the playoffs should be "put on me," and that he's excited to continue his development this spring and summer. 

"Watching whole Toronto series and I'm sure the way [teams] are probably going to start guarding me in the future, you have to get the ball out of my hands. That's what Toronto did. I got to find better ways how to create for myself and my teammates, so that includes setting picks, rolling more, popping, two-man game, stuff like that. Finding ways to be better used if they're going to guard me the way they did all series, which is hard. I just can’t be a post player. I have to be more. I have to put the ball on the floor. That will probably bring my efficency down, which I'm fine with as long as I'm making the right plays. I think I’m definitely going to turn into more of a complete NBA player."

During the second half of the season, Jonah Bolden carved out an increased role for himself, while starting sporadically in place of Joel Embiid. The Australian, picked 36th overall in the 2017 draft, feels that on the heels of his first NBA campaign, he needs to focus on his body.

"I see myself as a stretch 4 slash five with the ability to shoot the ball. Preparing for that is being in physical shape, and working on things that add to that."

The Sixers signed Greg Monroe less than a week before the end of the regular season, and at various stages of the team's postseason run, provided helpful contributions (see Game 3 vs Brooklyn, Game 2 vs Toronto). Although only with the Sixers briefly, his stint was a positive one. 

"The culture here is outstanding, especially in the locker room where guys are really close. I think that's something very important for a good team. The talent level is obviously extremely high. My experience was great, the guys were great. They welcomed me in with open arms. The staff and everybody was great. It was very easy for me to be comfortable."

In a savvy move pulled off by GM Elton Brand, the Sixers acquired James Ennis III at the trade deadline from the Houston Rockets for a 2021 second-round pick swap. The veteran swingman emerged as the Sixers' leading bench scorer and rebounder in the postseason (7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

"I wish I was here in the beginning of the season, with Tobias [Harris], Mike [Scott], and Boban [Marjanovic]. I think we would have been a lot better. We all gelled right away. This is the fartherst I’ve ever been in the playoffs my second time in the playoffs. Everything is great. It is a championshp organization. Coaching staff is unbelievable from training staff to everything about this place, I’m happy to be here."

Tobias Harris was another one of the 76ers' key midseason additions. The 26-year old produced 18.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 35.0 minutes per game following the club's February trade with the LA Clippers. Prior to this spring, Harris had only been to the playoffs once previously in his career, a first-round sweep at the hands of Cleveland in 2016.

"Obviously, the goal was to win a championship and striving for that. We fell short, and that’s disappointing. At the same time, the experience for myself being with this unit and getting to the second round, Game 7, making that type of run obviously was an awesome experience. In my career, I hadn’t had a postseason run so for me it was awesome to be part of. At the same time it helps you understand what it takes to get to this type of level. It drives you to come back better than ever and get further than you did this time next year."

From the moment Boban Marjanovic stepped on the floor at The Center, he was an instant fan favorite, a cult hero. The 7-foot Serbian proved impressively efficient as well, manufacturing career-highs of 8.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 13.9 minutes per game. He shot a personal-best 62.5% from the field, too.

"I really enjoyed being one of the fan’s favorites.They give me extra boost, they give me extra power. There was no need to warm up my body. When you heard that, you’re ready to go in the game, ready to roll."

He may be from the 757 (Virginia), but Mike Scott has a DNA that is Philadelphian through and through. While serving as a versatile 3-and-D reserve, his signature toughness quickly resonated with local fans. After being traded from the LA Clippers in February, Scott said his career got a new jolt, as he went on to account for 7.8 points and shoot a career-best 41.2% from three in 27 outings with the Sixers. 

"I felt like from Day One I could relate to [the fans] - down to Earth, the grittiness, the toughness, I feel like I was one of them. I loved it, loved being around Phily fans, loved the love they shared for me, love the Mike Scott Hive - that was pretty dope. Never had anything like that before. I really appreciate that."

In just his second season, at only 22 years old, Ben Simmons became an All-Star, and deservedly so. The Australian increased his per-36 scoring and rebounding numbers, while making quality strides on the defensive end. Evidence of his growth in the latter area was on full display in the playoffs, when Simmons went toe-to-toe with D'Angelo Russell in Round 1, and Kawhi Leonard in Round 2. The 2016 no. 1 pick ranked third in the NBA with 12 triple-doubles, and 10th with 42 double-doubles. 

"I want to get better all around, become a better and more efficient player, just keep growing. There’s no one individual spot. Continue to let my game grow. I think the one thing I got a lot better at was my leadership. Just being a younger guy, being on a team like this, speaking up and trying to motivate guys and help guys get better and trying to win games."

Injury and illness limited Zhaire Smith during his first professional season. Nevertheless, he persevered to appear in six games with the 76ers (6.7 ppg / 2.2 rpg / 1.7 apg) and 11 contests with the franchise's G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats (7.2 ppg / 3.0 rpg / 1.6 apg). 

"The G League experience was good. I felt my conditioning got better. And just sitting and watching the regular season and playoffs, I felt it was different. I’m going to train very hard just to get ready."

T.J. McConnell shot 52.5% from the field in the regular season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.4 assists per game. McConnell brought infectious energy to the team all season -- but his connection to the Sixers and their fans far transcends his work on the court.

“This organization, this city, the fan base kind of stuck with me. I don’t think I could ever repay them. The love I have for this city and organization for what they’ve done for me, I can’t put into words what I feel.”

 

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