It’s not as if Marco Belinelli was lacking in options.
After Atlanta bought out the self-described shooting guard, Belinelli was pursued by Oklahoma City, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Portland, to name a few. He was having trouble remembering the lengthy list of teams that came calling.
But it was the Sixers who felt like the right choice.
“I’m really sure about Philly, I think this is the right choice for me,” Belinelli said Monday night, less than an hour after the Sixers officially signed him for the remainder of the season.
Each of the teams Belinelli listed have a better record than the Sixers, and a better chance of making the playoffs, but he said he felt that the Sixers really wanted him.
Belinelli added that he is impressed with how well the young team plays together on both offense and defense and that he is looking forward to making a real push for the playoffs.
But it was when he started talking about individual teammates that his eyes lit up. A mention of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and Belinelli couldn’t hide his enthusiasm.
“I mean, we are talking about two of the best players in the league,” Belinelli said. “Ben, I like him. He loves to pass the ball. Joel is a great offensive guy, he can really do everything on offense. I’ve never seen something like that in my life. I think it will be really nice to play with these kind of guys.”
He didn’t stop there.
“JJ [Redick] for sure is a great shooting guy. We’ve played against each other a lot of times and finally we don’t need to guard each other, but we can play in the same team, so that’s a good thing.”
Belinelli added that even though he has never played for Brett Brown, he has immense respect for the coach.
The feeling is mutual.
“I have known Marco from a distance for a long time with my international background, his international experience, and his last three teams he played for my close friends in Pop, Steve Clifford, and Mike Budenholzer,” Brown said. “He is good people. He is a good teammate and he knows a lot of the people I know, and I am really excited to bring him in the program.”
Belinelli is also familiar with Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo, who traded for Belinelli when he was in the front office at Toronto. Belinelli said that is a sign Colangelo likes him and supports him, but he added that the situation is different now.
“I’m a different player. I’ve won a championship, I’ve been through good situations and bad situations, so from my standpoint right now it’s just important to [establish] a relationship with the coaching staff, with the coach, and with my teammates,” Belinelli said.
Brown added that beating out very respectable competition to get Belinelli is something the Sixers should take pride in.
“You realize he was very much interested in us,” he said. “And you take a step back and start listening to the competitors who were after him that would make their teams better like we felt he would make ours. Legitimate playoff teams, veteran teams, and he chose us. And that is rare.”
Repeat honor for Embiid
For the second time this season, center Joel Embiid has been named Eastern Conference player of the week.
This past week, Feb. 5-11, the Sixers went 3-0 and Embiid averaged 26.7 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in 30.1 minutes. He shot 48.4 percent from the field.
Embiid, who was named an NBA all-star, is averaging 23.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game.