Philadelphia 76ers

Atlantic Notes: Carroll, Rose, Kuzminskas

DeMarre Carroll‘s first season with the Raptors after signing with the team as a free agent was marred by injury, with him seeing action in only 26 games as a result. While he’s still not 100% recovered, Carroll hopes his second campaign in Toronto is more productive, The Associated Press relays. “I look at it as basically my first season [with Toronto],” the 30-year-old Carroll said. “A new season, a new beginning. I’ve just got to come in and get back to playing DeMarre Carroll basketball when I’m healthy.” Speaking about the steps he took to prepare his injured knee for a return to the court, Carroll said, “We took a hard approach about it and we did it the right way. Last season it was more of a rush, trying to get me back. We didn’t go through the whole thing we needed to go through to get the knee to where it needs to be. I feel that we’re on the right track.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic:

  • Not only is Derrick Rose getting used to a new city and new teammates, he’s also attempting to acclimate to the Knicks‘ triangle offense, which isn’t an easy task, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes. “It’s complicated a little bit right now because it’s new to us. It’s foreign. But I think the more we work on it and the way the coaches are putting it into the offense, it’s [going to get] little bit easier,” Rose said after Thursday’s practice. “[There’s] like 40 to 50 options on one side of the floor. It’s like giving you your space for creativity. It’s like if you’re doing it the right way, you could do everything you want, you could freelance but you just got to know where you’re going.
  • The Knicks are pleased with the outside shooting of rookie Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who may end up being Carmelo Anthony‘s primary backup at small forward, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “He’s a guy that with his size, got agility, you can look at him at the 2 or 3,’’ coach Jeff Hornacek said. “There could be times we use his length at the 2 spot. He’s a guy who cuts — cutters open everything up. The stat’s not in the paper. You don’t get glory from it but it’s a huge part.’’
  • Dario Saric‘s athleticism and versatility is earning him praise from the Sixers coaching staff and is setting the rookie forward apart from the other members of the team’s crowded frontcourt, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Ben Simmons Fractures Bone In Foot

The Sixers received some bad news today regarding forward Ben Simmons, who suffered a fractured bone in his right foot, the team relayed via press release. It’s unclear how long this malady will keep Simmons out of action, with the team saying that further medical evaluation and treatment options are currently being considered. Philadelphia will release a timetable for Simmons’ return once more information is available.

Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s scrimmage earlier today and was taken in for an MRI, which revealed the broken bone. It was determined that the rookie fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. The forward becomes the latest lottery pick of the Sixers to have an injury interrupt or derail his rookie campaign, with Nerlens Noel sitting out his first season and Joel Embiid missing his first two campaigns in the league.

The No. 1 overall pick played six summer league games for Philly, averaging 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Simmons had averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists during his lone season at LSU.

Community Shootaround: Nik Stauskas’ Future

In July 2015, the Sixers acquired Nik Stauskas in a trade with the Kings, just a year after Sacramento had used the 8th overall pick in the 2014 draft to land the Michigan standout. It looked like an ideal fit for Stauskas, who would get to play more minutes in Philadelphia, but wouldn’t necessarily be under any more pressure, since the Sixers weren’t viewed as a playoff contender.

For the season, Stauskas appeared in 73 games for the 76ers, starting 35 of them. He did indeed play more minutes (24.8 per game), and his other averages increased along with his playing time. However, his 8.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 1.9 APG marks weren’t all that impressive, and he continued to struggle with his shot, making 38.5% of his attempts from the floor, including just 32.6% from three-point range.

Heading into his third NBA season, Stauskas knows he has to take a big step forward. While he’s not likely to lose his roster spot prior to the regular season, there’s no guarantee that the Sixers will exercise his $3.81MM option for 2017/18 within the next month, so it could become a contract year for the Canadian guard.

“Coming into my third year now, I can’t really make excuses anymore, like I’m young and trying to figure things out,” Stauskas said this week, per John Smallwood of The Philadelphia Daily News. “It’s time for me to make the improvements that I’ve been trying to make over the last two years. It’s time to show that.

“I think there were times last year when I showed glimpses where I was getting to the basket well, shooting well and finishing,” Stauskas added. “But I think I let my confidence waver throughout the year. I think I am mentally stronger. I know I belong now. My first two years, there were so many times when I wondered if I belonged. I’d get to be wondering if I really belonged here. Is this where I’m meant to be? This is the first time in my NBA career where I’ve said I know I belong here. I know I can compete at this level.”

Head coach Brett Brown stressed that the team believes Stauskas still has “great potential,” and the Sixers’ backcourt isn’t nearly as crowded as its frontcourt, meaning the 22-year-old (23 next Friday) should have the opportunity to claim a significant role if he plays well. But if he struggles out of the gate, it’s not clear how much patience the Sixers will have.

What do you think? Is Stauskas poised for a breakout year, or is the former top-10 pick unlikely to be a part of the Sixers’ long-term plans? Take to the comments section below to share your opinions. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Contract Details: Brand, Rockets, Thunder, Pacers

With training camps underway, teams have now officially finalized the contract agreements with various camp invitees that had been reported over the past several weeks, meaning we have plenty of contract details to round up. As usual, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has been busy reporting those details, updating his salary pages for teams around the NBA.

Because we have so many updates to pass along from Pincus, we’ll divide them up by players who received some guaranteed money from their teams, and those who didn’t. All of the links below point to the Basketball Insiders team salary pages, so be sure to click through for additional information.

Here are the latest salary updates from across the league, via Pincus:

Players receiving guaranteed money:

These players aren’t necessarily assured of regular-season roster spots. In fact, many of them likely received guarantees as an incentive to accept a D-League assignment. Still, for some players, larger guarantees should increase their odds of making 15-man rosters.

  • Thomas Walkup (Bulls): One year, minimum salary. $69.5K guaranteed.
  • Keith Benson (Heat): Two years, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Henry Sims (Jazz): One year, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Alex Poythress (Pacers): One year, minimum salary. $35,381 guaranteed.
  • Kevin Seraphin (Pacers): Two years, $3.681MM. First year ($1.8MM) guaranteed.
  • Julyan Stone (Pacers): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Gary Payton II (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. First year ($543,471) guaranteed.
  • Isaiah Taylor (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Kyle Wiltjer (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. $275K guaranteed.
  • Cat Barber (Sixers): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Elton Brand (Sixers): One year, minimum salary. $1MM guaranteed.
  • Derrick Jones (Suns): Three years, minimum salary. $42.5K guaranteed.
  • Alex Caruso (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Kaleb Tarczewski (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Chris Wright (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $100K guaranteed.

Players receiving no guaranteed money:

The following players all signed one-year, minimum salary contracts with no guaranteed money. Many of these deals are “summer contracts,” which won’t count against a team’s cap unless the player earns a spot on the 15-man roster.

Sixers Notes: Rodriguez, Stauskas, Bayless, Simmons

Sixers coach Brett Brown is enjoying the luxury of having veteran leaders in camp this season, writes Brian Seltzer of NBA.com. The Philadelphia front office has been criticized in past years for not putting experienced players on the roster to guide the team’s young talent. Over the summer, the Sixers added free agents Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez and re-signed Elton Brand. Brown seemed particularly impressed with Rodriguez, who has 10 years of professional experience between the NBA and Spain, along with two Olympic appearances. “He just has a real gift for understanding especially offensive tempo,” Brown said. “I think he’s got a bounce to his game and a pace to his game that he will be absorbed in how I want to play.”

There’s more training camp news from the Sixers:

  • Entering his second season in Philadelphia, Nik Stauskas finally feels comfortable in the NBA, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After being picked eighth overall by the Kings in 2014, Stauskas has produced two lackluster seasons, but he sounds ready for a turnaround this year. “I have a confidence that I know I belong here now,” he said. “The first two years, there’s so many times that I’m trying to fit in. I go to bed at night and I wonder, do I really belong here? Like, is this where I was meant to be? I think this is the first time in my NBA career where I said I know I belong here.”
  • Bayless was on the Bucks team that was a surprise playoff participant two years ago and he sees similarities with the current Sixers squad, Pompey writes in a separate piece. “That’s not a promise or anything,” Bayless added. “But at the same time, if we follow the path, and we play defense on a nightly basis, you never know what can happen. We just want to continue to get better.”
  • Brown is working on combinations in camp involving rookies Ben Simmons and Dario Saric and he plans to use them together during the season, Pompey notes in another story. “I think the pluses are you have 6-10 do-alls that really can jump into a very versatile defensive world with perhaps a lot of switching,” Brown said. “I think they are elite defensive rebounders that can rebound, lead a break, and take off.”

Brown: Embiid Loves To Play Basketball

  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is practically giddy over the play of oft-injured Joel Embiid in training camp, Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com writes. Embiid has missed the last two seasons with right foot injuries but the center has shown great desire to get out on the court even while battling flu-like symptoms, Seltzer adds. “You just continually see how much he loves basketball,” Brown said to Seltzer. “He really loves playing basketball. He doesn’t like being pulled out. He wants to play.”

Embiid's Health Will Play Major Role In Solving Sixers' Logjam

Cavs Consider Adding Point Guard Depth

With Mo Williams announcing his retirement earlier today, the only true point guard on the Cavaliers’ roster to back up Kyrie Irving is rookie Kay Felder. Despite GM David Griffin saying that the team is “comfortable” with the point guard spot, Cleveland is seeking to bolster the position via free agency, Joe Vardon of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports. To that end, the Cavs have been in contact with Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, and Kirk Hinrich, Vardon adds.

We feel very comfortable with where we are at the point guard position, the versatility that we have to absorb that,” Griffin told the media. “We have other people that can guard the position. Because of LeBron James, we have additional people that can also play the position offensively, and frankly we’re really excited about finding out what some of the younger players on our roster can do. This is a training camp that for the first time since I’ve been here I think will be incredibly competitive, relative to roster spots themselves, and we’re really excited about the guys that we have in camp who have a chance to earn a job.”

The Cavs have been in contact with all three of the players mentioned above, anticipating Williams hanging up his sneakers and retiring, a source told Vardon. But the team appears to be in no rush to sign anyone, preferring to let Felder get some experience in training camp and to see if coach Tyronn Lue can make his rotation work without adding a new player to the mix, Vardon relays.

Cole has also drawn interest from the Sixers and Nuggets, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net relays (via Twitter). The 27-year-old made 45 appearances for the Pelicans last season, averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 26.6 minutes per outing. His shooting line was .405/.324/.800.

Chalmers was James’ teammate when LeBron was a member of the Heat. The 30-year-old made 55 appearances for the Grizzlies last season prior to tearing his Achilles in March. He was subsequently waived by the team. Chalmers notched averages of 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 22.8 minutes per night. His slash line was .417/.326/.827

The 35-year-old Hinrich is the oldest of the trio mentioned. He split time between the Bulls and Hawks in 2015/16, making a combine 46 appearances and averaging 3.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 13.7 minutes per night. His shooting numbers were .380/.387/.938.

Brandon Paul Has Legitimate Chance To Make Roster

  • Despite the Sixers bringing 20 players into training camp, Brandon Paul has a legitimate shot to make the opening night roster, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders opines. The scribe notes that Paul’s contract has more guaranteed money included than the deals of Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, Jerami Grant, T.J. McConnell, Shawn Long and James Webb. Discussing why he chose to sign with Philly, Paul told Kennedy, “I just felt like, all around, it was the best decision for me to come in and compete. They obviously have a young roster and I kind of bring in a little bit of maturity to that roster. Obviously, I’m relatively young as well. But around those guys, I’m kind of the older one and I’m a little more seasoned because I played overseas and in the D-League. I think I can bring a little bit of toughness and maturity to the roster.

Nerlens Noel: Sixers’ Center Logjam Is “Silly”

1:12pm: Responding today to Noel’s comments, Colangelo reiterated that he’s not shopping any specific players, suggesting that – as a new GM – he was simply gauging league-wide interest in his players (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of PhillyMag.com). Colangelo added that the situation shouldn’t be affected by Noel’s comments, and that Embiid’s health will be a major factor in the Sixers’ plans (Twitter links via Bodner and Pompey). The team isn’t in a rush to make any moves, per Colangelo (Twitter link via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com).

Meanwhile, Noel doubled down on his earlier comments this afternoon. While he stressed he isn’t unhappy in Philadelphia, the big man said he doesn’t see “any way of it working” when asked again about the center logjam (Twitter link via Bodner).

8:37am: With Joel Embiid poised to make his NBA debut this season, the Sixers are stacked at the center position, as Embiid joins Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor in the rotation. The logjam at the position has resulted in plenty of trade rumors involving Noel and Okafor this offseason, but the team has yet to make a move. And as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is starting to publicly question when a move will happen.

“I think it’s just silly… this situation that we are in now with three starting centers,” Noel said. “With the departure of [former GM] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to get something done this summer. … I think something needs to happen.”

According to Noel, he’s not asking to be traded himself, or demanding that the Sixers make a move immediately. However, it sounds as if he views a deal as inevitable, since it doesn’t make sense for the club to play out the season with all three players, assuming they all stay healthy. According to Noel, it’s the equivalent of having “three starting quarterbacks.”

“I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out,” Noel said. “I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers. And it’s just not going to work to anybody’s advantage having that on the same team. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated.”

Although GM Bryan Colangelo has suggested in the past that heading into the season with Okafor, Noel, and Embiid all on the roster isn’t necessarily ideal, the Sixers also like all three players and don’t want to sell one of them for below market value. Appearing on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast last week, Colangelo denied aggressively shopping Okafor and Noel, adding that the team’s desire to make a deal has been overstated and calling it a “high-class problem” to have three promising young centers.

Noel tells Pompey that he knows he “was shopped,” though that could be a question of semantics — it’s not clear whether the Sixers were instigating trade discussions or simply talking to teams that called to ask about their bigs. According to Pompey, Noel’s name has come up in trade talks with the Celtics, Suns, Hawks, and Rockets, but Philadelphia turned down multiple offers for the 22-year-old. Another source tells Pompey that the Sixers have also spoken to the Raptors and Spurs.

While it remains possible that the Sixers will make a move prior to the regular season, the club had been hoping to make it until at least December 15, per Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). That would give Okafor and Embiid time to prove they’re fully healthy, and it would allow players who signed new deals this offseason to become trade-eligible, opening the door for more possible scenarios.

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