A spokesman for Kristaps Porzingis is blaming hackers for the mysterious tweet that appeared Saturday on his account, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The message read “LA Clippers” with three smiley faces, prompting speculation that Porzingis has a desire to be traded to Los Angeles. It was deleted a few seconds later. His representative says Porzingis was asleep when the tweet was posted and he believes the account was hacked.
There’s more this morning from the Atlantic Division:
This summer could bring major changes to the Raptors, including the departure of Kyle Lowry and coach Dwane Casey, writes Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun. The Raptors trail the Cavaliers 3-0 heading into today’s Game 4, and there is speculation that a second-round exit won’t be enough to keep the team together. Lowry is expected to opt out of his $12MM deal and become a free agent after an injury-filled season. He described himself as “probably doubtful” for today’s game with a sprained left ankle, the latest in a list of ailments that also included back problems and wrist surgery. Lowry has three straight All-Star appearances, but he turned 31 in March and the Raptors will have to decide if he’s worth a long-term investment. Casey has a .548 winning percentage in his six years in Toronto, but team president Masai Ujiri may decide the team needs a different presence on its bench.
Rookie of the Year candidate Dario Saric remembers the anxiety he felt on the plane trip from Croatia to Philadelphia, relays Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. “I was nervous,” he said. “I feel like I am coming in NBA, this is it now. I cannot go back anymore.” The Sixers waited two years for Saric to join the team after acquiring his rights in a 2014 trade with Orlando. He didn’t disappoint, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 81 games.
The Sixers need more than just another successful draft to become contenders, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey examines the way other teams have been constructed and notes that there is usually a mixture of draft picks, trades and free agency signings. Philadelphia enters the May 16th lottery with the fourth-worst record and about a one in three chance of landing a top three pick. The Sixers will also receive the Lakers’ selection if it falls out of the top three.
Okafor was the subject of numerous trade rumors prior to February’s deadline. and his future with the organization remains uncertain. Brown said Okafor understands this is an important offseason for him (Twitter link), adding, “Our mission this summer is to get his body right.” (Twitter link). GM Bryan Colangelo, who also spoke to reporters today, didn’t say that trading Okafor will be a priority, but he noted, “If a deal comes along that makes sense for both, we’ll listen.” (Twitter link).
There’s more today out of Philadelphia:
Brown and Colangelo both identified shooting as the Sixers’ most pressing offseason need. Brown said the team also needs to find a backup power forward, sign some veterans, assess Simmons’ abilities as a point guard and find the right shooting guard to play alongside him, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.
Brown added that early-season injuries to Simmons and Jerryd Bayless were the biggest obstacles the Sixers faced in their 28-54 season (Twitter link). Simmons fractured a bone in his right foot during training camp and missed the entire year. Bayless, who signed a three-year, $27MM deal last offseason, tore a ligament in his left wrist during camp and was limited to three games. “You felt like you just blew out your backcourt in about a week,” Brown said.
The Sixers are expecting a much healthier version of Embiid next season, Pompey tweets. After missing his first two NBA seasons, Embiid was limited to 31 games in his rookie year. Although he played spectacularly, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, Embiid was on a minutes restriction and Philadelphia’s medical staff was very cautious about his availability. “I don’t think back-to-backs will be an issue” for Embiid next season, Colangelo said.
Colangelo promises an aggressive approach in free agency, saying, “If there is the right free agent to spend money on, we will.” (Twitter link). The Sixers will enter the July bidding with more than $50MM available under the salary cap. Colangelo also vowed to be “prudent and wise” with any signings (Twitter link).
The Sixers lost to the Celtics in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals and Lavoy Allen believes that if Philadelphia had prevailed in that contest, the franchise would be in a much different position, as Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays.
“We would have had a couple of more years with [Nikola Vucevic], Andre Iguodala, and a few of the guys,” said Allen. “We would have had some more good years if we would have kept that team together.”
Instead, the team pivoted, making a trade for Andrew Bynum. The big man wasn’t able to stay on the court and a year later, The Process was born.
Here’s more from Philadelphia:
Coach Brett Brown would like to see Ben Simmons participate in summer league, but it’s unclear if the 2016 No.1 overall pick will be healthy enough to play, Pompey passes along in the same piece. “His health and the judgment of his health rules the day. I don’t know what that looks like when we are talking about the summer league,” Brown said.
Brown would like to see the Sixers add shooters this offseason, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News relays. “We need shooters,” Brown said. “That’s kind of the bottom line. We need to get Ben Simmons the ball, we need to have Joel be Joel, and get a bunch of shooters around them.”
If the Sixers want to win next season, T.J. McConnell may give them the best chance to do so, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News opines. Hayes is a fan of the point guard’s defense and he believes McConnell will return better immediate value at the position than Simmons or a first-round draft pick would.
Make no mistake, Brook Lopez has carved out a legacy with Nets, that’s the result of nine years of consistent production Filip Bondy of the New York Times writes. In nearly a decade with the franchise, Lopez has played in two states with 109 different teammates and is now closing in on the franchise scoring record.
In 560 career games with the Nets, Lopez has averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The 29-year-old veteran has endured countless trade rumors and come out as content as anybody could expect.
“I definitely think I’m lucky,” he told Bondy of his time with the Nets, the only team he’s ever known. “When people look back on me and my career, I’d like them to say I was one of the people who helped start something big in Brooklyn. Started a legacy where players want to come and play.”
The Raptors have no intention of resting their players in the final week of the regular season, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star says. Point guard Kyle Lowry says that the team can’t relax prior to the postseason.
First-year forward Dario Saric is battling plantar fasciitis and is on a minutes restriction but that hasn’t prevented him from playing as hard as possible for the Sixers, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The result is a palpable sense of urgency. “It’s like somebody just gorging at a buffet,” head coach Brett Brown said of his rookie’s appetite for scoring the ball.
Expect the return of Kyle Lowry to guide the Raptors to more three-point attempts, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. At least that’s what head coach Dwane Casey foresees. “We were great for a while, and then for a long period of time we were turning down three-point shots,” he said. “For the rhythm of the offence, for their confidence, for their ability to make those shots, you’ve got to take them.“
It has been a somewhat underwhelming year for NBA rookies. No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has missed the entire season due to a foot injury, while other top selections from the 2016 draft – such as Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, and Buddy Hield – have shown promise but haven’t provided consistent production throughout the season.
With the regular season winding down, a small handful of viable candidates for the NBA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year award have emerged, and none of them are 2016 first-round picks, which is somewhat unprecedented in recent history.
Since the turn of the century, 18 players have been named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, including co-winners Elton Brand and Steve Francis in 2000. Of those 18 players, 17 were drafted in the first round a year earlier — the only exception is Blake Griffin, a first overall pick who missed his first NBA season and won the award in his second year. Additionally, all 18 Rookies of the Year were top-11 picks, with Michael Carter-Williams (11th) and Amar’e Stoudemire (ninth) representing the lowest-drafted winners.
This year, the top three contenders for Rookie of the Year don’t meet the criteria noted above. Joel Embiid was a top pick, but he missed his first two NBA seasons before finally making it onto the court this season. Dario Saric was selected outside of the top 11 (12th), and spent two seasons playing overseas before arriving stateside. And Malcolm Brogdon, the top non-Sixer in contention for the award, was selected in the second round last year, 36th overall.
Of those top three candidates, a group that includes two players drafted in 2014 and a 2016 second-rounder, Embiid was easily the most impressive on a per-game basis, averaging a staggering 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.5 BPG in just 25.4 minutes per contest. However, injuries derailed his season once again, and he was limited to just 31 regular season games, making it tough to vote for him.
His teammate Saric emerged as a top contender for Rookie of the Year in recent months, bringing his season-long averages up to 12.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG after a slow start. Since January 24, around the time Embiid played his last game of the season, the Croatian forward has averaged an impressive 16.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 36 contests.
In Milwaukee, meanwhile, Brogdon has been a steady contributor for the Bucks all year, chipping in 10.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and a .404 3PT%. According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, who spoke to about a dozen voters around the league, Brogdon has “real support” to win Rookie of the Year, though some voters still like Embiid, and Saric may have an overall lead.
What do you think? Is one of those three players is deserving of the Rookie of the Year award this year, or should another rookie take home the hardware? Submit your vote below and then jump into the comments section to share your thoughts!
The Sixers have no plans to trade Dario Saric this offseason, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sources tell Pompey that Philadelphia has not discussed a Saric trade with any rival team, including the Magic. Orlando recently had a board of its potential trade targets leaked and it contained a note that suggested the team would swap Aaron Gordon for Saric. The Sixers don’t want to move the power forward; they view him as one of their top players.
Here’s more from Philadelphia:
Saric sees being on Orlando’s board as a sign of respect, Pompey adds in the same. “Every team got rights to think about their future, to put it on board. But to comment, I don’t have something. It’s ok. To me, you are doing good if they have you on [their] mind like an option,” Saric said.
Markelle Fultzis in attendance at the Sixers‘ game tonight, Jake Pavorsky of SB Nation relays. Fultz is projected to be the top selection in the draft and the Sixers currently own the fifth spot in our Reverse Standings, meaning the team has an 8.8% chance at obtaining the No.1 overall pick via their own selection. Philadelphia could also nab the top pick if the Kings win the lottery (4.3%) since the franchise acquired the right to swap first-rounders in the Carl Landrytrade.
A day after a photo showing an list of apparent offseason trade and free agent targets for the Magic went viral, Aaron Gordon met with head coach Frank Vogel to talk things over, per Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Although the leaked dry-erase board primarily features names of players on other teams, Gordon was referenced in an item that reads “[Dario] Saric (for AG?),” creating speculation that the Magic would be open to moving him in a trade for Saric.
“Typically, with rumors and stuff like that, we don’t really address them,” Vogel said. “But this is a unique situation, and I talked to him a little bit this morning, and everybody’s good. We’re ready to move on.”
Magic general manager Rob Hennigandownplayed the significance of the leaked board when he was asked about it, suggesting that it’s simply a list of potential options for the Magic, and that it doesn’t necessarily reflect their summer plans. Hennigan also mentioned that the list includes names “which other teams have inquired about,” an apparent reference to the Gordon item.
Nonetheless, it makes sense for Vogel to meet with Gordon to ensure that the young power forward isn’t unhappy. For his part, Gordon said he doesn’t intend to dwell on the revelation, as Robbins details.
“It wasn’t for me to see, so for me to see something like that, it brings something that’s out of my control into my reality,” Gordon said. “But that’s neither here nor there. My plan and my focus is to play basketball and to enjoy the game of basketball. Anything other than that is out of my control. I love this organization and I’m going to continue to work hard and play.”
It’s an unusual situation for Gordon and the Magic, and one that might be rendered moot in the near future anyway. Hennigan is said to be on the hot seat in Orlando, so if the team makes changes to its front office in the coming weeks, it could be a chance for a new front office team to start over with Gordon.
Meanwhile, the player whose name was listed next to Gordon’s is also doing his best to downplay the item’s significance. As Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, Saric suggested today that he must be doing something right to show up on another team’s board, though he pointed out that the Magic could have had him already if they really wanted him — Orlando and Philadelphia participated in a draft-night trade in 2014 that saw the Magic acquire Elfrid Payton for the rights to Saric and other pieces.
The agent for newly-signed Magic swingman Patricio Garino created a stir this week when he tweeted out a photo of his client signing a contract with Orlando. The seemingly innocuous photo, which has since been deleted, went viral because of what showed up in the background behind Garino: A dry-erase board that listed apparent free agent and trade targets for the Magic.
Asked by Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel for a comment on the board, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said the lists are “not indicative of plans” and are “simply listing options, including some which other teams have inquired about.”
The lists of players includes three visible headings: “Hybrid Trade,” “Hybrid Free Agency,” and “Spread Bigs Trade.” The first two columns list players capable of playing multiple positions, while the latter column focuses on big men who can shoot from outside. A fourth column appears to list “spread bigs” available in free agency, though it’s partially cut off.
One of the more interesting items under the “Hybrid Trade” column on the Magic’s board is a mention of Dario Saric with “For AG?” noted in parentheses. “AG” likely refers to Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, so it’s possible Hennigan’s claim that the board includes notes on players other teams have inquired about was meant to explain this item. However, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the Sixers have never discussed sending Saric to the Magic or any other team.
Ultimately, the leak doesn’t seem overly consequential — the NBA’s other 29 teams likely have similar lists of potential offseason targets. Still, it’s not a great look for a front office that is already under fire. If Hennigan – who is said to be on the hot seat – is replaced after the season, the club could head into the summer with a new management group and a new big board in place.
“Their background in European system and style, et cetera, completely helps them be expedited when they enter an NBA court,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown told him, “unlike a one-and-done guy from Kentucky or Duke.”
Hayes argues that Saric and Luwawu-Cabarrot have a maturity and toughness that has allowed them to excel this season. The former has put up 19.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game since Feb. 9 while the latter has added 7.6 points per despite only getting promoted to the starting lineup on March 11.
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
The solid play of Richaun Holmes has validated the Sixers’ decision to ship Noel off to Dallas, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Noel posted 24 points and 9 rebounds twice in his 171 game stay with Philadelphia, Holmes has done it twice in the past ten days.
Though he’s missed action with a sore knee, the Sixers have no plans to shut down Okafor for the remainder of the season. Head coach Brett Brown suggested to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that doing so would over-dramatize the injury.