The cat escaped the bag in the wee hours of the morning on Halloween. James Harden won’t be wearing a Philadelphia 76ers’ uniform this season after he was jettisoned to Los Angeles. Good riddance. The tough-luck franchise made the most of a very complicated situation.
The Sixers appeared to fleece the Clippers in the blockbuster trade at first glance. Debates on compensation will rage for the foreseeable future. Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the lop-sided deal was a hilarious detail involving an unhappy bench warmer.
Furkan Korkmaz wanted out and the Sixers purposefully kept him on the roster.
That’s not a typo. According to ESPN’s Sean Wright, Korkmaz had requested to be part of the Harden deal but both the Sixers and Clippers front offices thought it was a bad idea. Instead, Korkmaz will continue to ride the pine in Philadelphia versus starting fresh with a new team.
It’s kind of a slap in the face to Korkmaz — albeit a devilishly comical one — who first made noise about a trade last February. Adding insult to injury, the Sixers had to free up a roster spot to make room for the players received in the Harden deal. They chose to cut Danny Green, instead of granting Korkmaz his outright release which would have made him a free agent thus allowing him to sign anywhere he wanted.
The 26-year-old wing doesn’t fit in with the Sixers’ long-term plans as evidenced by his lack of playing time.
Korkmaz has seen action in just one game so far this season: 4 points in 3 minutes. Korkmaz played in a career-low 37 contests last season while averaging 9.3 minutes per game, most of his burn coming in garbage time. He is in the final year of a $15 million deal.
“I know what I got, it’s a new coach, a new opportunity for me,” Korkmaz told reporters before the third preseason game, via The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. “Roster is looking similar but there is a lot of stretching going on here, especially at the wing spot, but every time there’s going to be competition and I’m down for the competition, so I think when I get back I will take those playing minutes and then I will show everybody again what I am capable of, so I’m really motivated about it.”
Remember, Korkmaz missed the majority of the preseason slate with a leg strain suffered on the fourth day of training camp. The unfortunate injury kept him out of Nick Nurse’s rotation until the exhibition finale. The 6-foot-7 Turkish sharpshooter scored eight points in 20 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks in that one and (maybe?) showcased his play-making ability to Nurse.
“My feeling that I’m getting from him is he likes the playmaking stuff,” Korkmaz told reporters at shootaround on October 20, via SixersWire’s Ky Carlin. “He likes the passing, and creating, so right now, I’m getting a lot of good vibes from them from the coaching staff like be free. Just be a playmaker.”