Welcome to Derek Bodner’s Sixers Mailbag. You can check out his previous installments at Libertyballers.com

Each week Derek will answer reader questions and tweets and will appear on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill to answer your questions.

In this week's edition of the Sixers Mailbag, Derek takes a look at Jason Richardson, the pick the Sixers will receive from the Heat, Embiid's return to Philadelphia, and my personal 2015 NBA Draft Big Board

On to your questions:


Q: Jason Richardson.  I am perplexed that he has not played in two years, but seems to never have been in jeopardy of losing his roster spot.  Please explain.

There are a couple of potential reasons.

First, if he doesn't play, he saves the team money. Quite a bit of it. I talked about this a few mailbags ago.

Second, he is around the team, and I do think they value veterans, perhaps more than we give them credit for. This year is largely a try-out, but using up two spots for guys who can impart some of their experience down to the young players doesn't seem like something they're against.

Finally, he is legitimately working out and trying to return. Coming into the season, he fully expected to return, but then suffered a set back (stress fracture in his foot) which wasn't related to his original injury that caused him to miss last year. Even after that, his hope is to return, and probably quicker than many think. Gordie Jones over at CSN Philly had a good look at how he's working his way back. He's regularly shooting after practices and before games, and he looks to be in better shape than he was a few months ago, which to me is his biggest impediment to his being able to play NBA basketball.

I think it's a combination of all of that. If he doesn't return, the Sixers could get considerable financial savings, and get his veteran experience to help the young kids learn the nuances of the league. If they cut him, they not only lose that experience and mentor-ship, but they also lose the ability to make any insurance claims. And if he plays, his experience can help the team out even further. I think one of the things this team lacks is communication on the court, and perhaps somebody with his experience can help Brett Brown get people in the right places on the floor by communicating during the game.


Q: Can you somehow explain in very simple language what picks the Sixers have in this up coming draft.

setup a wiki page to track this (and other things). To summarize, I believe the situation is currently as follows

  • 76ers first round pick (unless we magically make the playoffs)
  • Heat first round pick (unless it's in the top 10)
  • Warriors 2nd round pick
  • Rockets 2nd round pick
  • Pelicans 2nd round pick
  • Magic 2nd round pick


Q: I'm in the market for a new jersey and not sure whether to go with MCW, Nerlens, or Embiid.  It would appear that these guys will be around awhile (a big factor in deciding which jersey to buy) Or should I scrap that altogether and just go with a throwback Iverson (who is also my fav Sixer of all-time).  Thoughts?

I'm not a huge jersey guy, but I tend to go for guys who will be timeless. The last two jerseys I bought were Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook, and both were approaching 30 by the time that I bought them. I like to wait and find out which jerseys become timeless. I don't feel any shame in wearing a retired players jersey on the rare circumstances that I do wear one.

That being said, if you do go for a current player, I'd go Embiid. Barring an absolutely catastrophic injury, I think he has the best chance of being here 10 years, and by a considerable margin.


Q: Now that we’re a good bit into the college basketball season and you’ve had a chance to form some initial impressions on the top players, from a pure skill set perspective, how do you feel Embiid compares to the top bigs in this years draft?

(Related question from @StevieDeLuca)

Great question! Starting this week I'm going to include my Sixers-focused top 10 big board in the weekly mailbags. I'll sprinkle in Embiid into where I would rank him.

(Hint: it's at the top)


Q: Could you explain the pick coming from the Heat? Do you think it will vest this year? Will it harm the rebuild if it doesn't?

It's top 10 protected in 2015, top 10 in protected in the 2016 draft, and fully unprotected in the 2017 NBA draft.

So, if the Heat pick ends up in the top 10 this year, it doesn't vest. If it ends up in the top 10 in 2015 and 2016, then we get it in the 2017 draft no matter what.

I tend to be a gambling man with these extra picks. The thought of getting an aging Heat's unprotected #1 pick in 2017 intrigues the ever living you-know-what out of me. I tend to think that Wade and Bosh find a way to get into the playoffs one of these two years, and I think if their injury situation continues to go on like it is and it ends up in the top 10 this year we'll just get a mid-first in 2016. But I wouldn't be devastated if we didn't get it this year.


Q: What is the deal with Embiid being sent home from the road-trip? I've read the official account, but let's be real. Did he aggravate his foot? Is his foot doing better and they want to accelerate his recovery so he can play this year? Did he get himself in trouble?

Well, we'll never know the answer to this, at least not until well after the fact. I can ask as many people in the organization what the real deal is, and I've asked a few, and we're getting the company answer every time we ask it.

I wasn't with the team on their road trip, so I didn't see how Embiid was moving before he was sent back. I do think it's a little bit odd that they didn't plan on not having an optimal conditioning environment for him on an extended road trip, but right now I'm taking the at their word until I have more reason not to. With Brett Brown's focus on conditioning, I don't think it's impossible, or even unlikely, that this is his primary concern right now.


Q: Will Hinkie match an above-market value deal for KJ?

This will be very interesting to watch unfold. It's hard at this point to even really define market value for KJ. With a huge qualification that I'd prefer to see the rest of the season unfold before really defining what market-value is, I do think that, with the Sixers plethora of cap space this upcoming year, the rising cap due to the national television deal, and the Sixers dearth of talent (particularly on the wings), Hinkie would match a slightly above-market deal for KJ. But we first really have to define what above-market would be, and that's hard to do right now.


Q: What are your expectations for Embiid next year in terms of production and games played?

Just throwing numbers out there, 65 games played, 27 minutes per night, 11 points, 7.5 boards, 1.5 blocks, 1 assist. Hopefully the games will be higher, but I'm remaining pessimistic so that my expectations are exceeded, while keeping in mind they'll probably play it conservative with him and minor, nagging injuries. Overall production likely relatively similar to what he put up at Kansas, actually. I expect a big jump in year two, both in minutes and production.


Q: What is going on with Kirilenko ?