Seltzer's Notebook | Booker's Positive Track Record; Simmons Helps Create Special Night

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Colangelo Believes Booker Can Help Team Towards Goals

The 76ers had eyes on Trevor Booker for several months, dating back to the tail end of the 2017 off-season. Thursday, the opportunity to land the respected veteran big man finally presented itself in the form a swap with the Brooklyn Nets.

What does President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo like about the 30-year old?

For starters, the former considers the latter to be a complementary fit for the Sixers’ roster. A two-way frontcourt skill set notwithstanding, Booker also offered several intangible attributes that interested Colangelo, like toughness, competitiveness, and the reputation for being a “high-character” teammate.

“We’ve often admired Trevor Booker for what he does, and what he brings to the table at every stop along the way in the NBA,” said Colangelo, who, prior to proceeding with Thursday’s move, had the benefit of getting first-hand feedback on Booker from Vice President of Player Personnel Marc Eversley.

Eversley was a member of the Washington Wizards’ front office when Booker was a player there.

“He’s seemingly made his teams better,” Colangelo said, “and we really think he’s really going to add to our culture.”

For his eight-year career, Booker’s averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. After spending his first four seasons with Washington, he signed with the Utah Jazz as a free agent. Two summers ago, the 30-year old inked a deal with the Brooklyn, where he performed well.

Last season, Booker manufactured personal highs of 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.9 assists, while hitting 25 of 78 3-point attempts (32.1 3fg%).

“It’s certainly something we’ve noticed,” Colangelo said Thursday, when asked about Booker’s spike in production with the Nets. “We track every player in the league, and look at analytics deeply. He’s been a positive impact player...particularly defensively.”

Booker’s ability to create extra possessions through rebounding, and the “competence” he’s shown in shooting from distance were two primary qualities that Colangelo valued. More than anything, he feels Booker’s all-round package will help position the Sixers to better pursue one of the main goals they’ve set for this season.

“What we have is a situation where we have eyes on playoff contention,” said Colangelo. “Whatever we did here was certainly meant to try to add to that.”

Along those lines, the two-time Executive of the Year credited the willingness of Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, as well as their limited partners, to give the go-ahead to assume Booker’s contract.

“I feel that it just speaks to the commitment that we all have to win, try to compete, make the playoffs, and continue to move forward growing this organization and this basketball program,” Colangelo said.

As of Thursday night, Booker was still in Mexico City, where Brooklyn was playing a regular season game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Colangelo said the plan was to get Booker to Philadelphia as soon as possible, and conduct a physical that would then clear the way for the trade to formally be completed.

HoopsHype managed to track down Booker amidst his travels, and quoted the South Carolina native as saying he was “really excited” to join the Sixers.

“I can’t wait to get there and see what I can help them with,” he told the website. “They have a good mixture of young players and veterans, so I think I’ll fit right in.”

Superfan Treated to Special Experience

With the holiday season in full swing, the Sixers have been doing what they can recently to make positive impacts on the lives of fans in need. The latest instance came Thursday, when the organization and the Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up to arrange a surprise meet-and greet between 16-year old Philadelphian Marquan Graham Young, and Ben Simmons, Young’s favorite player from his favorite sport.

Young, who seven years ago was diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy, was treated to a limo ride to Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. When he got to The Center, he was then presented with a one-day contract with the Sixers, plus a customized jersey, before heading courtside to visit with Simmons, Joel Embiid, and several other players.

The Sixers needed little time to take to their new teammate.

Increased National Exposure

Starting with the NBA on TNT’s broadcast of Thursday’s down-to-the-wire battle with Los Angeles Lakers, the Sixers are now in the midst of a stretch in which three of five games will be nationally televised.

“It’s great for our program,” Brett Brown said Thursday, in reference to the increased exposure the Sixers are receiving this season. “I like what we’re doing, I like the evolution.”

Most of all, Brown is pleased to see his team beginning to reap the rewards of all that it’s done behind closed doors, not just from this year, but in previous ones as well.

“Given where we’ve been, there is a small portion of being proud of where we were and where we are,” Brown said.

The Sixers will appear on ESPN this Tuesday and next Friday, versus the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.