Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Smart, Banton

The Sixers need to make the best possible deal for Ben Simmons before the trade deadline or they’ll risk wasting a remarkable season from Joel Embiid, argues Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid is putting up MVP-level numbers with 29.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per night. He has scored at least 25 points in 17 straight games and has Philadelphia in contention for the top spot in the East even though Simmons hasn’t played.

There has been speculation that Sixers president of basketball operation Daryl Morey is hoping to use Simmons to land James Harden during the offseason, but Pompey sees that as too great a risk. He notes that there’s no guarantee that Harden or any other star will be available this summer, meaning the offers for Simmons won’t be much different from what they are now. He also points out that the Bucks won a title last season after making minor improvements around Giannis Antetokounmpo.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart is a supporter of coach Ime Udoka, who has come under criticism during his first season in Boston, per Jay King of The Athletic. Smart complimented Udoka on the job he’s done so far and said he trusts his coach to act in his best interests. “Being in Boston and coaching for Boston, it’s not easy, especially for your first year,” Smart said. “So we just have to continue to help him. I’ve gotta continue to help him. I’ve been here the longest. I know the guys more than he does. And I’ve gotta be that quarterback out there for him.”
  • Smart admitted Saturday that he still has pieces of glass in his right hand after punching a picture frame four years ago, tweets Keith Smith of CelticsBlog. “Yeah, it gets like this ever since the picture frame incident,” Smart said. “There’s still some glass in there. The doctors said it would cause more issues to take it out, so I still have glass in there. Sometimes I can’t really feel my hand.”
  • Raptors rookie Dalano Banton doesn’t mind the extra work of playing in the NBA and the G League at the same time, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “Going up and down to the G League and playing up here with the Raptors, I feel like I’m putting myself in a position to have a good, long career,” Banton said. “Everybody here looks out for me. They never let nothing slide with me. Everybody holds me accountable.”’
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