Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Brunson, Rivers, Gobert

Sixers center Joel Embiid won’t win the Most Valuable Player award, but he’s got a bigger goal to chase, as he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“Winning a championship is the biggest thing,” the Sixers star said. “And I’ll be honest, I never thought I would be at this level. Coming into the league, I was always like, ‘I’ve got to get a Defensive Player of the Year.’ My defense was always my focus. I’m like, ‘Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year,’ and then, over the years, I’ve gotten (better) offensively.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jalen Brunson‘s strong postseason is bad news for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Brunson will be headed to unrestricted free agency and it’s unlikely the Knicks can open up cap space to entice Brunson to jump ship. One league source told Berman it would be shocking if Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t re-sign the fourth-year point guard.
  • There’s no reason for the Sixers to fire Doc Rivers if they don’t go deeper into the postseason, Joe Vardon of The Athletic argues. Rivers has three years and $24MM left on his contract. Under Rivers’ tutelage, Tyrese Maxey has become a budding star and Embiid has delivered the two best seasons of his career, Vardon notes. The Sixers kept on winning despite the Ben Simmons drama and needed to give up two key role players as well as Simmons in order to bring in James Harden.
  • Trading for Rudy Gobert and his hefty contract wouldn’t be worth the risk for the Raptors, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star opines. Gobert doesn’t present enough of an offensive threat, and his ability to switch and guard on the perimeter the way Toronto defends is also a legitimate question. His lack of positional versatility doesn’t fit the Raptors’ roster, Smith adds.
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