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Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Embiid, Celtics, Nets

The Sixers may be dreaming of the top selection in June’s draft, but Tom Moore of Calkins Media writes that picking  Jahlil Okafor could lead to other problems. The Duke center is the consensus choice to be the first player chosen, but Philadelphia already has injured rookie Joel Embiid and second-year big man Nerlens Noel, both of whom are low-post players. “I don’t think they can play together,” an unidentified NBA source said of Okafor and Embiid. “They’re both low-post centers. It doesn’t make sense.” He later added, “The combination of Noel and either one of them doesn’t make sense.” The Sixers currently occupy the third spot in Hoops Rumors’ reverse standings.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Embiid now weighs nearly 300 pounds and the Sixers are displeased with his commitment to conditioning, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He reportedly clashed with assistant strength and conditioning coach James Davis and was sent home early from a recent West Coast trip. Embiid is still recovering from foot surgery he had before last year’s draft, and his workouts are limited to things such as an antigravity treadmill and long walks to stimulate his heart rate. An unidentified source claims the rookie has skipped some conditioning drills.
  • Another team looking to rebuild through the draft is Boston, which could have five first-round picks in June, writes Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune. In addition to their own selection, the Celtics have a top 12 protected pick from the Timberwolves, a top 14 protected choice from the Sixers, the Clippers’ pick that came as compensation for coach Doc Rivers and a top 4-14 protected pick from the Mavericks in the Rajon Rondo deal. In 2016, Boston has the rights to two more first-round selections, along with its own. “Draft picks are always tradable; players are not,” said Celtics president Danny Ainge“Draft picks are always assets.”
  • Steven A. Cohen has decided not to make a bid for the Nets, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News (Twitter link). The billionaire hedge fund manager reportedly had meetings with the group handling the sale, but elected not to pursue the team. Cohen has a net worth of approximately $10 billion, but recently pleaded guilty to insider trading charges. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has claimed he hired a group called Evercore simply to assess the team’s value, but many believe he would sell at the right price.

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