Amir Johnson

Atlantic Rumors: Johnson, LeBron, Stauskas, Raptors

Sixers veteran big man Amir Johnson isn’t pouting about sitting out the team’s loss to the Warriors on Saturday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Johnson, who signed a one-year, $11MM contract in the offseason, was actually appreciative that coach Brett Brown forewarned him that he would not play for the first time this season.  “I can’t do anything but respect having a coach come up to you and letting you know when you are going to get ready,” Johnson told Pompey. “With me being a vet, I always stay ready.” Johnson and Richaun Holmes are sharing time as center Joel Embiid‘s backups. Johnson isn’t concerned how his lack of playing time could impact him in the free agent market next summer, Pompey adds.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Cavaliers forward LeBron James wasn’t criticizing rookie guard Frank Ntilikina but rather taking a potshot at former Knicks president Phil Jackson with his comments regarding Mavs rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin. James said over the weekend that Smith “should be a Knick,” referring to Smith going one pick after the Knicks selected Ntilikina. James clarified his remarks on Monday, emphasizing he didn’t mean to disparage Ntilikina’s ability. Ntilikina still apparently took offense to James’ comments, giving the perennial All-Star a shove during their teams’ game on Monday night, the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney tweets.
  • The Sixers will be without backup guard Nik Stauskas for at least a week. He’s out with a sprained right ankle, Pompey tweets, and will be reevaluated in 7-10 days. That leave the Sixers a little thin in the backcourt. Jerryd Bayless is out indefinitely with a wrist injury.
  • The Raptors’ offensive issues have led to poor transition defense, as Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. The Raptors have made just 33.5% of their 3-point attempts while hoisting up an average of 31.1 per game. That leads to long rebounds and poor floor balance, a major reason why the Raptors rank 27th by allowing an average of 13.4 fast-break points per game, Smith adds.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Johnson, Holmes, Anderson

Jahlil Okafor was a bad fit for the Sixers from the beginning, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia picked Okafor third in the 2015 draft despite already having centers Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel on the roster. There was never going to be enough playing time for all three big men, so Noel was traded to Dallas in February, and now Okafor appears to be on the way out.

The Sixers front office is working with representatives for the 21-year-old center to find a trade. He has put up two disappointing years in Philadelphia, playing a combined 101 games, and now has fallen out of the rotation. He has gotten into just one game this season.

Okafor’s injury history and poor defensive reputation are limiting the trade market. Coach Brett Brown can’t give him playing time to improve, Pompey notes, because the Sixers are under pressure to start winning and can’t afford to have a glaring liability on defense. That leaves Okafor glued to  the bench while he waits for a deal.

There’s more tonight out of Philadelphia:

  • Brown seems committed to free agent addition Amir Johnson as the backup center, relays Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports. The 30-year-old, who signed with Philadelphia over the summer after spending the last two years in Boston, is averaging 15 minutes per night. “I think it’s going to be Amir’s spot to lose,” Brown said. “… It’s always competitive, but the competitive nature has shifted toward Amir’s performance.”
  • Richaun Holmes will make his season debut Friday, cutting further into the playing time at center, Pompey tweets. The third-year big man has been sidelined since the preseason with a fractured bone in his left wrist.
  • Sixers swingman Justin Anderson is making his first return to Dallas tonight since the Mavericks shipped him out in the February trade for Noel, notes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Anderson got more minutes after arriving in Philadelphia and posted career-best numbers in scoring (8.5 points per game) and rebounds (4.0) over the final two months of last season. “Coming back to the place that drafted me, that kind of took me in, coddled me like a little baby of theirs, I grew a lot here,” Anderson said of the return to Dallas. “It was tough with the trade, but I think everything worked out for a reason. I’m in a great place. We’re onto something big.”

Sixers ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Embiid Extension

Speaking to reporters today, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo confirmed that discussions concerning an extension for Joel Embiid are underway. Colangelo added that the 76ers are “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll be able to find common ground with Embiid before next month’s deadline (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic).

Although he has only appeared in 31 total NBA games, Embiid is entering his fourth season as a pro, making him eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. He and the Sixers have until October 16 to work out an agreement — if they can’t strike a deal, the young center will be on track to reach restricted free agency in 2018.

[RELATED: Extension Candidate: Joel Embiid]

If the Sixers could be fully confident in Embiid’s health going forward, the club likely wouldn’t hesitate to offer a maximum salary extension, but the 23-year-old’s ability to stay on the floor remains a question mark. Head coach Brett Brown indicated today that Embiid hasn’t played 5-on-5 ball yet, and he isn’t sure what to expect from the fourth-year center in training camp next week (Twitter link via Bodner).

While Embiid hasn’t yet been cleared to participate in all basketball activities for training camp, he also hasn’t suffered any setbacks, Colangelo stressed today. The Sixers are taking an “ultra-conservative” approach with their potential franchise center, and will have a better idea next week of what he’ll be able to do in camp (Twitter links via Bodner).

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Colangelo and the Sixers don’t anticipate any restrictions in camp for Ben Simmons, who has been playing 5-on-5 for some time — Simmons has been “dominating the gym,” per Colangelo (Twitter links via Bodner).
  • Although the Sixers used a chunk of their cap room this offseason, the team stuck to one-year deals for J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, retaining future flexibility, as Ian Thomsen of NBA.com details. “We went through free agency this year with discipline by not spending multiyear dollars,” Colangelo said. “That was hard but it was the right thing to do, and I think that we’re going to be very happy. That’s not to say that J.J. Redick or Amir Johnson will be a one-and-done guy. We’re going to see how we play and grow with this group.”
  • The goal in avoiding multiyear contracts for free agents was to retain max room for 2018, and Colangelo believes that space will come in handy next summer, as Thomsen writes. “Right now we see a great young core of players that will hopefully maintain the type of health we have currently — and then the ability not only to develop that core but to be in a position to add a max player next year,” Colangelo said. “We think it’s very feasible.”
  • While expectations are on the rise for the Sixers, Colangelo is trying to keep them in check, per Thomsen. “Any talk of playoffs is getting a little ahead of ourselves,” Colangelo said. “You clearly want that to be a goal that you discuss internally. But the reality is we’re so young, we’re so inexperienced right now. … Forecasting (the playoffs) would be definitely, I believe, unrealistic. But hoping for that? It’s on everybody’s mind.”

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Perry, Wiley

While much of the credit for “the process” can be attributed to Sam Hinkie, current general manager Bryan Colangelo has made a series of moves to keep the Sixers headed in the right direction, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes.

This summer Colangelo opted to bring a pair of veterans aboard and the impact they’ll have on the Sixers is clear.

Now we have guys that can help grow the program with leadership, mentorship, and professionalism,” Colangelo said of the newest Sixers, Amir Johnson and J.J. Redick.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • That’s enough optimism for one week, Knicks fans. Marc Berman of the New York Post devoted a column to recently appointed general manager Scott Perry‘s involvement in the front office that gave Bismack Biyombo a four-year, $71MM contract.
  • After growing as a player, Tim Hardaway Jr. believes that Knicks fans skeptical of his lofty contract will see that the controversial move wasn’t a mistake. The shooting guard opened up to Steve Serby of New York Post about his return to the team that drafted him.
  • The 7-11 nickname for Celtics wings Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum was never meant to be, D.J. Bean of CSN New England writes. Following the trade that sent Avery Bradley to the Pistons, Tatum has decided to re-adopt the jersey number he wore during his one season at Duke: 0.
  • Now signed to a two-way contract with the Nets, recently acquired Jacob Wiley has an opportunity he never envisioned as recently as six months ago. Brian Lewis of the New York Post has penned an excellent feature on the forward’s tumultuous path.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Redick, Johnson, Korkmaz

Rookie point guard Markelle Fultz has been diagnosed with a sprained left ankle after being helped off the court in Saturday’s summer league game, tweets Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com. Fultz will be held out of today’s contest and may not play again during summer league. “We will treat him accordingly and be as cautious as we can, making sure he is healthy,” Sixers summer league coach Lloyd Pierce told ESPN Saturday night. “We will know [more] once we get some treatment on him. I haven’t heard anything [more].” Phliadelphia has experienced terrible injury luck with high draft picks in recent years as Ben Simmons missed all of last season and Joel Embiid has played just 31 games in three years. “I’m a little bit punch-drunk with the injuries that we’ve had with our first players selected over the years,” said head coach Brett Brown.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers officially added two veteran leaders Saturday with the signings of J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer“I think I can speak for Amir as well,” Redick said. “We are in the second phase of our career. We’ve been through enough now and have enough wisdom that we can be an effective elder.” The new additions will have important roles on the court as well. Redick, who averaged 15.8 points per game and shot 44% from 3-point range during his four years with the Clippers, is expected to provide a boost to the team’s outside shooting. Johnson will be counted on to solidify the interior defense.
  • Furkan Korkmaz is getting his first taste of NBA play in the summer league, writes Benjamin Mehic of The Deseret News. The Sixers believe the 19-year-old Turkish guard, who signed with the team this week, has the talent to eventually become an important contributor. “I think the thing people should zoom in on is how he moves,” said assistant coach Billy Lange. “If you watch his fluidity, his pace, skill and feel for the game, you can see the package. The results will come. The guy just flew across the country. Hopefully he gets more comfortable so we can get him in our gym and get back to work.”
  • The Sixers are also high on Jonah Bolden, a second-round pick from 2016, Mehic adds. Being groomed as a stretch four, Bolden spent last season in Serbia trying to improve as a shooter.
  • Embiid was fined $10,000 by the league on Saturday for “using inappropriate language on social media,” tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Embiid’s message was directed at Lonzo Ball‘s father, LaVar.

Sixers Sign Amir Johnson

JULY 8, 6:57pm: Johnson’s signing is official, the Sixers announced in an email.

JULY 1, 6:25pm: The Sixers and Celtics discussed a sign-and-trade involving Jahlil Okafor for Johnson, but the deal never materialized, Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s televised coverage of free agency.

5:09pm: Amir Johnson will join the Sixers on a one-year, $11MM deal contract, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

The 11-year veteran started 77 games for the Celtics this season, averaging 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per night. He made $12MM this year in the final season of a two-year contract.

There had been rumors that the Celtics were interested in a sign-and-trade with the Sixers involving Johnson, but this appears to be a straight free-agent signing.

The Bulls, Raptors and Rockets also expressed interest in Johnson, and all three teams had meetings with him scheduled for today.

Free Agent Rumors: Young, Miles, Porter

Unrestricted free agent Nick Young plans to “meet with a bunch of teams” this weekend after a number of undisclosed franchises expressed interest when free agency began on Friday, league sources tell Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Despite the Lakers being among those contacting Young’s representatives, both the team and player have conflicting agendas that suggest that this may be the end of their four-year tenure together, Medina adds.

Young, 32, is hoping to maximize his earnings on a multi-year contract for a playoff team, but the Lakers want to sign players to one-year deals to save cap space for the 2018 offseason when LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook might be available, the scribe notes.

Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • Pacers free agent C.J. Miles may have to wait for J.J. Redick to sign an agreement before his market comes into focus, Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays (ESPN Now link). Miles is Plan B for multiple teams who have made Redick a priority, the scribe adds. The Thunder are one of the teams that have expressed interest in the 30-year-old, per a tweet from Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz.
  • With Otto Porter having completed his meeting with the Wizards, the team is now in a holding pattern as it awaits the forward to seek offer sheets on the open market, Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post relays (via Twitter). The Nets are potentially one team who appear willing to offer the max of four years and $100MM. Philadelphia may also get involved in the bidding, but the Sixers reportedly seem reluctant to make long-term offers. Washington has promised to match any offer for the restricted free agent.
  • Despite the significant bump in player salaries the new CBA has ushered in, not all players are satisfied with the league capping their earnings. LeBron James, responding to a tweet noting how the value of the Warriors has increased from $450MM to upwards of $2.6 billion since Joe Lacob purchased the franchise, noted that Stephen Curry should have gotten a pact worth $400MM over five years this summer (Twitter link). James has a vested interest, of course, with him in line to hit free agency once again next summer.
  • There is a possibility that the Celtics may be willing to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal for unrestricted free agent Amir Johnson, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe relays (on Twitter). The forward is reportedly garnering significant interest around the league.
  • The Magic‘s reported interest in free agent forward Joe Ingles has been “wildly overstated,” per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link). It was relayed Friday night that Orlando was set to offer Ingles a four-year deal in the $60MM range.

Free Agent Rumors: Porter, Randolph, Millsap, Holiday

The Wizards‘ session with Otto Porter ended without an agreement, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. Porter plans to start meeting with other teams this weekend (Twitter link). That creates a potential opening for the Nets, who appear willing to offer the max of four years and $100MM, according to a post on NetsDaily. Philadelphia may also get involved, but the Sixers seem reluctant to make long-term offers. Washington has promised to match any offer for the restricted free agent.

There’s more late-night free agency news:

  • Aldridge has two more tidbits to pass along. The Cavaliers are interested in Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph and plan to call him today (Twitter link). Also, Blake Griffin‘s decision to re-sign with the Clippers means the Suns will intensify their pursuit of  Hawks forward Paul Millsap (Twitter link).
  • Jrue Holiday met with the Pelicans tonight, but no deal was reached, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. The two sides are expected to get together again in the morning.
  • The new $201MM supermax contract that the Warriors gave to Stephen Curry doesn’t include a no-trade clause or a player option, according to Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link).
  • Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons has gotten calls from the Kings, Clippers and Timberwolves and is ready to start holding meetings, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link).
  • In addition to Simmons, the Clippers plan to meet with Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari on Sunday and Jazz forward Joe Ingles this weekend, relays Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • There’s a strong chance that Celtics‘ power forward Amir Johnson will sign with the Sixers, a source tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnson has a history with Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who traded for him in 2009 as GM of the Raptors.
  • The Kings met tonight with Andre Iguodala and Patrick Patterson, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link).
  • The Timberwolves have put in a call to Ty Lawson as a possible backup for Jeff Teague, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The Pelicans, Thunder and Kings have also been in contact with Lawson.
  • The Grizzlies are the latest team to show interest in Kings guard Ben McLemore, relays Chris Mannix of The Vertical (Twitter link).
  • The Knicks contacted Suns power forward Alan Williams tonight, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Williams fits New York’s goal of finding players who can contribute on both ends of the floor, Begley notes.

Market Heating Up For Amir Johnson

Unrestricted free agent Amir Johnson isn’t likely to be re-signed by the Celtics, but the forward isn’t lacking for suitors. Per a report by Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, Johnson already has three meetings scheduled for tomorrow in Los Angeles. On Saturday’s agenda for Johnson will be sit-downs with the Bulls, Raptors and Rockets, per the scribe.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds a fourth team, the Sixers, to the mix. Johnson, a  12-year veteran, would provide a huge locker room presence and the veteran leadership Philly lost after waiving Gerald Henderson earlier today, Pompey notes.

The big man previously was a member of the Raptors from 2009/10 through 2014/15, and could be viewed as a cheaper alternative to Toronto re-signing Patrick Patterson. An earlier report by Deveney noted that their was “mutual interest” in a reunion between the two parties.

Johnson, 30, appeared in 80 games (77 starts) for the Celtics in 2016/17, averaging 6.5 PPG and 4.6 RPG with a .576/.409/.670 shooting line. The forward earned $12MM for his efforts last season in Beantown.

Mutual Interest Between Amir Johnson, Raptors

Two years after leaving Toronto, Amir Johnson will be back on the free agent market this summer, and a reunion with his old team isn’t out of the question. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, there’s mutual interest between the Raptors and Johnson, as the big man nears free agency.

Johnson, 30, appeared in 80 games (77 starts) for the Celtics in 2016/17, averaging 6.5 PPG and 4.6 RPG with a .576/.409/.670 shooting line. While the veteran power forward was a solid role player for Boston, he likely won’t be back with the club next season. The Celtics figure to bring draft-and-stash prospects Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele stateside and use the savings created on Johnson’s $12MM expiring contract to pursue an impact player.

Although a handful of teams have already expressed interest in Johnson, according to a source who spoke to Deveney, the idea of a reunion with the Raptors is an interesting one. Toronto will likely attempt to retain Serge Ibaka, who is headed for unrestricted free agency next month. But doing so may mean parting ways with Patrick Patterson, another free agent — Johnson could be a cheaper alternative to Patterson.

Assuming the Raptors stay over the cap as they attempt to re-sign players from a free agent group that also includes Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker, they’d have the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception to spend on outside additions. Those exceptions will be worth about $8.41MM and $3.29MM, respectively.

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