Ricky Council IV

End-of-season Sixers notes: Council plans to keep proving people wrong, Nurse on Maxey's playoffs, more 

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Unknowns abound for the Sixers with their season finished and rumors destined to swirl about how president of basketball operations Daryl Morey will handle this summer. 

Morey will speak with reporters early Monday afternoon. Before that, let’s run through some additional end-of-season notes — internal free agents, young players’ offseason plans, and more: 

Council’s summer ambitions 

At the moment, the Sixers hold the 16th and 41st picks in the 2024 NBA draft, which is scheduled for June 26 and June 27. Despite making no picks last year, they did quite well to come away with Ricky Council IV. 

Council didn’t end up receiving any wild card sort of playoff minutes, but the 6-foot-6 rookie earned a standard NBA contract late in the regular season. Along with his skill development, Council’s determined, ready-for-anything demeanor impressed Sixers head coach Nick Nurse. 

At his exit interview Friday, Council said he studies “a little bit of everybody” as he works to build his game further. 

“I’ve always been big on versatility,” he said. “So for example, Jalen Brunson, his ability to draw fouls effectively. Almost every time he has the ball, it’s either a foul or a bucket. I want to have that in my game. 

“That’s one thing I’ve been talking to (player development coach Toure’ Murry) about and we’ll probably get to work on next week. You can’t stop it. And in my opinion, I don’t think he’s flopping. I think he’s getting fouled, if we’re being completely honest. I can say that because the series is over. I think he’s getting fouled; he just knows how to get fouled. So that’s one thing for sure.” 

Council recalled shooting 1 for 17 from three-point range last year over the Salt Lake City and Las Vegas summer leagues and being reluctant to even attempt catch-and-shoot jumpers.

A few months later, his results and confidence were much improved. Council shot 37.8 percent from three-point range overall with the Delaware Blue Coats and went 12 for 32 (37.5 percent) with the Sixers.

Does Council plan to make any summer tweaks to his shooting form?

“No,” he said. “I’m not really worried about mechanics (anymore). It’s more about just reps and staying consistent. If I’m shooting and I feel like it’s not consistent, then we’ll look at that. But it’s been consistent for a while now.”

He’ll continue to share many hours in the gym with Murry, who can certainly understand Council’s position from experience. Both Murry and Council played at Wichita State (Council later transferred to Arkansas) and went undrafted. And as rookies, both were coached by Nurse and gained valuable experience in the G League.

“I feel like everywhere I go, I always have this type of relationship with somebody,” Council said. “At Arkansas, it was my guy Markus (Black). Now it’s Toure’. I don’t look at him as a coach. I don’t really know his position; he’s like a big brother to me. I talk to him the way I want to. He talks to me the way he wants to. It’s not like a professional (dynamic). … If I need something, I’m going to tell him. If he needs something from me, he’s going to tell me. That’s my guy. 

“That’s my big brother for sure, and it makes that easier. I text him all the time: ‘You saw this? You saw that little pickup Brunson just did? We need that.’ I can’t wait to get to work this summer. I proved a lot of people wrong … there’s more to come of that for sure.”

Melton on his back injury, free agency 

Though De’Anthony Melton managed to make one final return from his lumbar spine injury, he played just seven minutes in the Sixers’ six-game playoff series loss to the Knicks.

He told reporters Friday that offseason back surgery won’t be necessary. 

“We have talked about that, but no,” Melton said. “No surgery, which is real good. I think where I’m at now is just rest and recover, but at the same time, strengthening the other stuff to where this doesn’t come back in any type of fashion.” 

When healthy, Melton was a versatile, important member of the Sixers’ rotation. Over 115 games the last two seasons, he averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals. 

Melton, who’s set to hit free agency, said he “would love to” return to the Sixers, but “I understand that it’s a business, so I’ll roll with whatever.” 

“I’ve established myself here,” he said. “I love the city, I love the team. The guys are hilarious. I love the ambition that everybody brings coming to the games. I love the fans. I love that they’re screaming, cheering. I love how hard they are on us at the same time. But I do feel like it’s unfinished business, and I feel like with the core that we do have, it’s one of the better ones with everything that it brings to the table.”

‘I think it’s time to do what’s best for me’ 

KJ Martin stayed on the bench for the entirety of the Sixers-Knicks series. 

After moving from the Clippers to the Sixers in the James Harden deal, Martin had several extended runs in the team’s rotation. He flashed his explosive athleticism, physicality and small-ball five ability, but Nurse thought the Sixers had better postseason options. 

“I don’t know at this point,” Martin said of his free agency. “The season just ended and I want to kind of take a seat and look at everything. I understand that we have a lot of unrestricted free agents, so it’s hard to say that it would be a good fit because we don’t know who’s going to be on the team. It’s different if we had a lot of guys coming back. … This season was crazy for me. 

“I just need to take a step back, look at my options and do what’s best for me. I got traded twice this year and that wasn’t my choice. And now I have the option to pick where I can go, what’s best for my career. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m still young. I’m 23, I’m going into my fifth year, so I think it’s time to do what’s best for me and keep moving forward.”

Nurse’s playoff takeaways for Maxey 

Minutes after the Sixers’ Game 6 defeat, Nurse clearly thought Tyrese Maxey should have taken more than four foul shots. 

“I guess I’m a little disappointed that he didn’t get in there a little bit,” Nurse said. “Again, I don’t understand why every time he goes in there, (the officials) just never … it’s kind of been that way. He gets in there and gets sent to the floor time and time and time again. He shot four free throws — one and-one (basket) and one they fouled him in the backcourt. I just don’t understand it. 

“So I think it’s tough for him to go in there. We’ve talked about it before, that when he gets in those situations he’s got to go to something else. You just can’t keep going in there and getting knocked down. … You’ve got to adjust your game a little bit, go to the slam on the brakes, the baseline fallaway, whatever it is that we need to improve on for next season.”

Following his spectacular, gutsy, 46-point Game 5 performance, the Most Improved Player posted 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting and five assists in Game 6. 

“I think the lesson, just in general, is he’s got to understand that he’s not anywhere near where he can be,” Nurse said. “He is an A-player, right? He is an A-player in this league, and he still has a lot of experience, minutes, opportunities, all that kind of stuff to get better.

“I think he had a hell of a series. That’s the first time the guy’s ever played point guard in his life. Pretty big situation to do that. He shouldered it well. He played most of the season, had some unbelievable games in this series, he put us on his back a few times during the year, etc. Those are the things you understand that he can do. 

“And again, I just keep saying that if you’re going to be an A-player, you’ve got to do it most nights. If you’re going to average 30-plus in this league, that means you’ve got to do it most nights. And doing it most nights means that’s a seven days a week, 24 hours a day job — taking care of yourself, developing your skills, watching the film, all that kind of stuff. He’s awesome that way. He just needs a little bit of experience and time, and he can just come back better then.”

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