Joel Embiid

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Free Agents, Embiid

If president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo gets fired over an alleged Twitter scandal, he will be remembered for several important decisions that set the direction of the franchise, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey states that Colangelo’s best move in his two-year tenure has been drafting Ben Simmons with the top pick in 2016. Although it seems like an easy choice now, Pompey recalls a debate over whether Simmons or Brandon Ingram was the better selection.

On the downside, Colangelo will be remembered for a bold move to trade up to No. 1 in last year’s draft. He wound up with Markelle Fultz, who played just 14 games as a rookie, while the Celtics landed a potential star in Jayson Tatum, along with another first-rounder in 2019.

Colangelo also got very little in return when he traded lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, Pompey adds. Opposing GMs knew he wanted to unload both young centers and took advantage of his position. Colangelo sent Noel to Dallas for Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut, who was bought out, plus a pair of second-round picks.  Okafor was dealt to the Nets along with Nik Stauskas and two second-rounders for Trevor Booker, who asked to be waived two months later when the Sixers signed Ersan Ilyasova.

There’s more this morning from Philadelphia:

  • Colangelo will have a difficult time keeping his job, no matter what happens in the investigation, contends Scott Stinson of The National Post. Even if his wife or another family member was running the Twitter “burner” accounts, the information passed on was too damaging to overlook, Stinson writes.
  • LeBron James tops the Sixers’ free agent wish list, but the team will have to make moves to improve its bench if he doesn’t come to town, notes Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. There could be plenty of turnover this summer with Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli and Amir Johnson all headed for free agency and the team holding an option on Richaun Holmes. Camerato looks at the NBA Finals rosters and identifies six possibilities for the Sixers: Jeff Green, Rodney Hood and Jose Calderon from the Cavaliers and Nick Young, David West and Kevon Looney from the Warrriors.
  • Being part of the third annual NBA Africa Game in August will be important for Cameroon-born Joel Embiid, according to an article in More Sport“I was fortunate to participate in Basketball Without Borders [BWB] Africa first as a camper and then last year as a coach,” he said. “To play in the NBA’s third game in Africa is truly special to me, and I can’t wait to take the floor in front of our fans in Africa.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Brown, Bamba, Nets, Celtics

Joel Embiid has gone viral in recent days after he was spotted playing basketball at local South Philadelphia basketball courts over the last few days. However, if Embiid suffers an injury while playing on streetball, it could result in him losing out on serious money, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Embiid signed a maximum-salary, five-year contract extension with the Sixers last October, one year after a strong showing as a rookie. The 2018 All-Star, however, would risk having part of the deal — which kicks in next season — voided if he suffers a major injury. Pompey notes that Embiid will receive his full pay if he plays at least 1,650 regular season minutes for three consecutive seasons.

Injuries outside the organization’s jurisdiction is always a concern, but in Embiid’s case, injuries in general are an issue. The Cameroon native missed his first two NBA seasons after being drafted third overall in 2014. Embiid then played in just 31 games as a rookie due to injury.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • After a strong regular season and solid performance in the postseason, the Sixers‘ mix of young talent and cap space makes them a popular destination in free agency. Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Sixers head coach Brett Brown‘s mindset when it comes to free agency differs from president Bryan Colangelo.
  • A Wednesday report suggested that the Celtics might consider moving up in the draft with their sights set on Texas big man Mohamed Bamba. However, a league source who spoke to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald dismissed that idea. “Don’t waste your time on that one,” the source said.
  • The infamous 2013 trade between the Celtics and Nets that sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn has had disastrous effects on the Nets, specifically related to draft picks. Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) revisited that trade and the impact that deal is still having on both franchises nearly five years later.

And-Ones: NBA Africa Game, Global Camp, Upshaw

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Sixers center Joel Embiid will headline the rosters in this summer’s NBA Africa Game, the league announced today. The event, which will take place on Saturday, August 4 in Pretoria, South Africa, will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format, with Cameroon native Embiid heading Team Africa and DeRozan representing Team World.

Joining Embiid on Team Africa will be fellow NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Cheick Diallo, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Pascal Siakam. DeRozan’s teamates on Team World will include Harrison Barnes, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, and Hassan Whiteside.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:

  • A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States will take part in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy from June 2-5, the NBA announced on Wednesday. While Luka Doncic won’t attend the pre-draft showcase, there will be plenty of prospects worth watching, including Cedevita forward Dzanan Musa, who is the No. 19 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at
  • The mother of Zeke Upshaw, the G League player who passed away earlier this year after collapsing during a Grand Rapids Drive game, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Pistons of negligence. The suit alleges that the defendants failed to provide the Drive with the “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse. Noah Trister of The Associated Press has the full story and more details.
  • Now that two-way contracts have been in effect for nearly a full year, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores what sort of changes we may see to the rules surrounding those contracts in the future.

Sixers Launch Independent Investigation Into Colangelo Allegations

The Sixers announced in a press release this morning that they’ve launched an independent investigation into allegations that president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo may have revealed private team information and criticized 76ers players using anonymous Twitter accounts.

“An online media outlet filed a story linking multiple social media accounts to 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo,” the Sixers’ statement reads. “The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.”

As we detailed late last night, a fascinating report from Ben Detrick of The Ringer links a handful of “burner” Twitter accounts to one another and suggests that Colangelo may be connected to them. Four of those five accounts sent tweets criticizing current and former Sixers players, defending Colangelo, and seemingly revealing unreported information about the franchise.

Colangelo claimed ownership for one of the five accounts, which never published any tweets, but has denied any knowledge of the others. Joel Embiid, the subject of several negative tweets from those anonymous accounts, initially seemed upset when the story broke, but later told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he believes Colangelo and posted the following tweet late on Tuesday night: “Fun night on Twitter lmao.. All jokes asides I don’t believe the story. That would just be insane.”

For more details on one of the more bizarre stories of the NBA season, be sure to check out our post from last night and especially The Ringer’s full report.

Bryan Colangelo Denies Criticizing Sixers Players Via Burner Accounts

In perhaps the most bizarre story yet in a drama-filled NBA season, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has denied using several Twitter burner accounts to defend his reputation and to criticize Sixers players.

A compelling report from Ben Detrick of The Ringer connects five anonymous Twitter accounts to one another, suggesting that the accounts are strikingly similar in terms of content, tone, follows, and likes. As Detrick details, these accounts seemingly shared inside information on the 76ers and tipped team strategy — they also criticized current and former Sixers players and defended Colangelo’s track record with the franchise.

After Detrick sent an inquiry to the Sixers asking about two of the five accounts, Colangelo issued a statement claiming ownership of one of the accounts, which had never posted a tweet, denying knowledge of the other. Simultaneously, the three other accounts – which Detrick didn’t mention in his inquiry to the Sixers – went dark, switching from public to private.

The Ringer’s story is worth reading in full for many more details on the circumstantial evidence linking the accounts to Colangelo, as well as for the details on the tweets in question, which go after Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel, along with former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie and current Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who replaced Colangelo in Toronto. Tweets from those anonymous accounts also repeatedly referred to an Okafor trade falling through after he failed a physical, and telegraphed the Sixers’ trade for 2017’s No. 1 pick several weeks before it happened.

While it’s impossible to say at this point that Colangelo is or isn’t behind the five accounts identified by The Ringer, it doesn’t look great for the Sixers’ president, considering the tweets “launched personal beefs, jealousies, [and] frustrations that he’s shared inside and outside [the] 76ers,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Still, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that many executives around the league seem to believe Colangelo’s denials, since it’s hard to imagine a high-level executive would risk his job “in such a reckless manner” — it just doesn’t add up, Woj observes. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (via Twitter), the prevailing sentiment around the NBA – and within the Sixers organization – so far is confusion.

The controversy hasn’t gone unnoticed by Embiid, who was the subject of several negative tweets by the accounts in question. In one tweet tonight, Embiid pretended to accidentally post from his own account rather than from a burner profile, writing: “Joel told me that @samhinkie IS BETTER AND SMARTER THAN YOU @AlVic40117560 #BurnerAccount.” @AlVic40117560, one of the five accounts cited in The Ringer’s story, published a number of tweets criticizing Embiid, many of which the Sixers center “liked” tonight.

However, Embiid was more diplomatic in a statement to Wojnarowski, telling ESPN’s top reporter that he trusts Colangelo’s denials for now.

“I talked to him and he said that he didn’t say that,” Embiid said. “He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad.”

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2017/18 season, with James Harden and LeBron James leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The voting results will have major financial implications for the three All-NBA centers, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Davis is now eligible for a supermax extension from the Pelicans next summer. Davis will be eligible to sign that deal, which projects to be worth $230MM, as of July 1, 2019.

As for Embiid, missing out on a First Team nod means his maximum-salary contract will remain at 25% of the cap rather than being bumped up to 30%. That means he’ll miss out on approximately $29MM over the next five years, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports details.

Towns, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension worth 30% of the cap this summer, Marks tweets. An extension of that sort, which would make the cap outlook in Minnesota very interesting, would go into effect for the 2019/20 season.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Harden and James scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

First Team

  • Guard: James Harden, Rockets (500)
  • Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (432)
  • Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers (500)
  • Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors (426)
  • Center: Anthony Davis, Pelicans (492)

Second Team

Third Team

Among those results, the tightest race saw DeRozan edge Curry by a single point for a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. Both players received two First Team votes and 39 Second Team votes, with DeRozan grabbing one extra Third Team vote (38 to 37) to bump him up to the Second Team ahead of Curry.

As for the players who didn’t quite make the cut, Rockets point guard Chris Paul (54 points), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (51), Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (42), and Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons (36) received the most support.

Al Horford (Celtics), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Clint Capela (Rockets), Draymond Green (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Steven Adams (Thunder), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Trevor Ariza (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Dwight Howard (Hornets), Kevin Love (Cavaliers), and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) also each received at least one All-NBA vote.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its 2017/18 All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with Defensive Player of the Year candidates Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis headlining the First Team.

Gobert led the way in voting, receiving 94 of 100 potential First Team votes. He also received four Second Team votes, and was left off of just two ballots, earning him 192 total points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). It’s his second All-Defensive First Team nod.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams]

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the All-Defensive recognition will pay off financially for Gobert, who earns a $500K bonus as a result of his spot on the First Team. Meanwhile, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will receive a more modest $100K bonus for being named to the All-Defensive First Team.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz (192)
  • Anthony Davis, F/C, Pelicans (163)
  • Victor Oladipo, G, Pacers (136)
  • Jrue Holiday, G, Pelicans (105)
  • Robert Covington, F, Sixers (90)

Second Team

Rockets point guard Chris Paul (74 points) and Thunder forward Paul George (69) narrowly missed earning spots on the All-Defensive Second Team. A total of 29 other players received at least one vote, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY

Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP

Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man

Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY

Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY

Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Belinelli, McConnell, Fultz

Asked on Thursday about the possibility of recruiting LeBron James to the Sixers this summer, Joel Embiid hesitated and requested clarity on the NBA’s tampering rules before ultimately telling reporters to ask him again on July 1, the first day of the 2018/19 NBA league year.

Still, while Embiid wasn’t willing to commit specifically to helping the 76ers pursue the summer’s top free agent, he did say in general terms that he’s very open to selling players on Philadelphia, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details.

“I’ll do whatever this team needs me to do,” Embiid said of recruiting free agents, per Pompey. “I feel like I’m the leader. If the team needs me to recruit somebody, I’ll be here. I’ll be doing that. … I want to win. I feel like any of those guys that they want to go after that’s going to help us win, I’ll be right here helping them.”

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Count veteran sharpshooter Marco Belinelli among the free-agents-to-be who has interest in returning to Philadelphia next season. In a post on Twitter, Belinelli tells fans that he “trusted the process since day one” and would like to continue wearing a Sixers jersey.
  • T.J. McConnell indicated on Thursday that he expects the Sixers to pick up his inexpensive team option for 2018/19 (Twitter link via Kevin Kinkead of Crossing Broad). While that $1.6MM option would be a great bargain for the club, it’s not a mortal lock to be exercised — picking it up would put McConnell on track for unrestricted free agency in 2019, while the Sixers could safely lock him up to a multiyear deal this summer by turning down the option and making him a restricted free agent. (Update: Bryan Colangelo confirmed the Sixers will exercise McConnell’s option.)
  • After a rookie season in which he appeared in just 14 regular season games and three postseason contests, Markelle Fultz may be a candidate to play in Summer League for the 76ers this July. Keith Pompey explores that possibility in a story for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe took an in-depth and interesting look at how the Sixers’ analytics department informs many of the club’s rotation and lineup decisions.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, DeRozan/Lowry, Tsai, Mitchell

Joel Embiid made his on-court return for the Sixers’ Game 3 first-round series matchup against the Heat. It was Embiid’s first game since March 28, when he suffered an orbital fracture in his left eye and a concussion. To prevent further injury, Embiid sported a league-approved protective mask, which involved a lot of effort to construct, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne details.

A battery of tests was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania to make sure the mask would protect Embiid’s injured face. Shelburne writes that a “group of independent doctors from the league spent the past 10 days agonizing” about the mask and its safety. Embiid’s agent even reached out to retired NBA champion Richard Hamilton, who was famous for wearing a mask during his career.

“They [the Sixers] did everything possible,” Embiid said. “They were like throwing stuff at it to make sure it could withstand it.”

Check out more notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • By their own admission, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have gone from not speaking to being the closest of the friends. As the Raptors hold a 2-1 series lead over the Wizards, the only goal their goal is to bring a championship to Canada, the duo said to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an in-depth interview.
  • The Knicks have received some heat for passing on Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft. Former Knick David Lee recalled Mitchell attending his annual camp in Chappaqua, New York, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.
  • Joe Tsai agreed to buy a 49% stake in the Nets and while he has yet to publicly comment since the purchase, the expectation is he will try to take the organization global, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “Mikhail [Prokhorov] and Joe are both committed owners and they’ll be hands-on to a certain extent,” general manager Sean Marks said. “The fact that Joe saw something that he liked in Brooklyn, saw something that he liked with the Nets organization, I think there’ll be a great partnership between the two.”