Joel Embiid

Sixers Notes: Brown, Butler, Harris, Redick

Prior to Sunday’s Game Seven, a report indicated that Brett Brown could be in danger of losing his job if he couldn’t lead his Sixers past the Raptors (and perhaps the Bucks too). Now that the 76ers have been eliminated, we’re still waiting for official word on where Brown stands, but many of his players would like to see him back on the sidelines next season, as Keith Pompey of Philly.com writes.

“I would say this in general. For any NBA team, when you think about a coach, and potentially replacing that coach, you have to consider what coaches are available,” J.J. Redick said. “You know what I mean? That’s just in general. I don’t feel it necessary to defend Brett to anyone. I think his work speaks for itself.”

Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid also offered up praise for Brown, with Butler stating, “I think he’s going to be here for a long time.” Embiid called rumors about Brown’s hot seat “bulls—,” adding, “I don’t think he should have anything to worry about.”

The unity displayed by many of the Sixers’ key players on Brown may reflect a deeper sense of family and culture that has developed in Philadelphia this year, as Jake Fischer of SI.com tweets. According to Fischer, multiple people close to the team have credited Embiid and Ben Simmons for helping cultivate that culture by embracing one another as franchise partners.

As we wait to learn Brown’s fate, let’s round up several more items on the Sixers:

  • Embiid would like to see both of Philadelphia’s top free agents – Butler and Tobias Harris – return next season, calling them “great guys on and off the court,” tweets Pompey. Here’s what Butler said about his upcoming free agency, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter link): “I haven’t thought about (free agency) too much…You always want to be able to win. I think that’s key for sure. You’re looking at coaches. You’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes in to it.”
  • They won’t be paid like Butler and Harris, but Redick and Mike Scott both expressed interest in returning to the Sixers as free agents too (Twitter links via Pompey and Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice). Redick said he’d like to finish his career in Philadelphia, while Scott said he has spoken to both GM Elton Brand and head coach Brett Brown, telling them he’d like to play under Brown next season.
  • In an Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Bobby Marks previews the Sixers’ offseason, writing that failing to re-sign at least one of Butler or Harris would be a “disaster” for the franchise. In his own look at the Sixers’ summer, Sean Deveney of Sporting News suggests Harris is more likely to return than Butler, but he expects the team to do all it can to bring back both forwards.
  • The safe bet heading into the offseason is that the Sixers bring back a relatively similar roster and count on increased familiarity with one another to lead to continued improvement. However, as Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports writes, some executives around the NBA wouldn’t be shocked to see wholesale changes in Philadelphia this summer.

Sixers Notes: Butler, Simmons, Brown, Embiid

Jimmy Butler proved he’s worth a max offer this summer with his performance against the Raptors in Game 6, contends Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Butler contributed 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists as the Sixers forced a seventh game. He also provided the type of leadership the franchise was counting on when it traded for him in November.

“In the first half, the authority and the skill package and his will — put whatever words you want,” coach Brett Brown said. “You could sense the serious side. He got it as much as anybody. He led us. His performance mirrored his attitude.”

It could cost the Sixers up to approximately $190MM over five years to keep Butler once he opts out of his current contract. It won’t be an easy decision in a summer when Tobias Harris will also want a max deal and fellow starter J.J. Redick will be a free agent, but it may be a commitment that Philadelphia has to make.

There’s more Sixers news to pass along:

  • Ben Simmons seemed like a different player in Game 6 with a 21/8/6 line after being limited to 10 or fewer points in the previous four games. Zach Lowe of ESPN examines whether the Sixers can ever win big with Simmons on their roster, concluding that he may have to settle for a role similar to Draymond Green on offense until he can develop a jump shot.
  • Brown’s fate shouldn’t depend on having to win tonight’s Game 7, writes Derek Bodner of the Athletic. A report surfaced yesterday that Brown will likely be fired if the Sixers can’t advance past the second round, and they may have to reach the NBA Finals for him to save his job. Bodner states that determining Brown’s future based on one game would be a poor decision from managing partner Josh Harris, who has long valued process over results.
  • Joel Embiid is on the brink of a suspension after picking up his third flagrant foul of the playoffs late in Thursday’s game, notes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The league office decided not to rescind the flagrant 1, which was called when Embiid struck Marc Gasol in the face while they were battling for a rebound. “It’s annoying, it’s stupid,” Embiid said after the game. “I feel like the one in Brooklyn should be rescinded and tonight, it’s just basketball. I didn’t mean to do it. I just happened to hit him in the face I guess and didn’t mean to do it.”

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Siakam, Embiid, Smart

The Raptors were never close to a trade that would have shipped Kyle Lowry out of Toronto at this year’s deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Lowry’s name was mentioned in discussions with the Grizzlies that might have brought Mike Conley in return. The Raptors wound up dealing for Marc Gasol, but chose to hang on to their point guard.

Charania’s report is part of a story that focuses on a February meeting between Lowry and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to clear the air about their relationship. Lowry made no effort to hide his disappointment after his long-time friend DeMar DeRozan was sent to San Antonio last summer in the deal that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto.

“You dwell on things that you don’t need to dwell on, and it makes things worse,” Lowry said. “You have a conversation, you figure things out, you talk about it, and you move on. Shake your hands, and you go about your business. It worked out for the both of us, worked out for everybody.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam plans to be ready for Game 5 after playing 28 minutes yesterday, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Siakam, who was a game-time decision, has been dealing with a right calf contusion and said it was very sore in pre-game warmups. He added it may have affected his lateral movement, but he will continue to monitor and treat the injury and is confident he will available Tuesday night.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid was up all of Saturday night with an illness and had to get an IV at 6 a.m. before yesterday’s game, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Embiid managed just 11 points after a 33-point effort in Game 3. “I got a text from him at 6:20 a.m. this morning telling me he didn’t really sleep all night, he really never felt this poorly and, ‘I wasn’t sure, Coach, if I’m going to play.’ That’s how my day started,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News examines how the possible return of injured Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon could affect their playoff series.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Butler, Russell, Smart

Kawhi Leonard‘s performance in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals was exactly was the Raptors were hoping for when they acquired him, writes Michael Lee of the Athletic, but the Sixers need Jimmy Butler to step up in the same way. The matchup of recently traded forwards could go a long way toward deciding their playoff series. Leonard was brilliant in Game 1, scoring 45 points and pushing his career record against Philadelphia to 14-0.

Lee notes that there are many similarities between Leonard and Butler, who were both drafted outside the lottery, became stars through hard work and forced themselves out of unhappy situations. However, Leonard was clearly the better player on Saturday as Butler hit just 4 of 12 shots and scored 10 points.

“He’s just evolving,” said Sixers forward Jonathon Simmons, who played alongside Leonard in San Antonio. “He wants to be in the conversations with the best of them. That’s what he works for.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers will need more production from Joel Embiid to have a chance in the series, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Despite being among the league’s best centers, Embiid has a history of struggling against Marc Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year in Memphis. Embiid made just one shot Saturday while Gasol was guarding him and finished 5 of 18 from the field.
  • The Nets can create enough cap room this summer to reshape their roster, but they’ll have to determine how many of their own free agents they want to keep, observes Tom Dowd of NBA.com. The most significant decision will involve point guard D’Angelo Russell, who will be a restricted free agent after a breakthrough season. Brooklyn can match any offer that Russell receives, but the front office will have to prioritize how much to pay another guard with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie already in place. “He’s obviously one of our more talented players,” GM Sean Marks said of Russell. “You said we’ll have decisions. D’Angelo is going to have decisions, too. That is a little bit of the nature of this business.” 
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed today that Marcus Smart is unlikely to be available for the conference semifinals, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Smart, who suffered a torn oblique three weeks ago, is doing core work, but his return still appears far off. “I don’t see any way that he’s available until whenever his timeline hits that we thought initially — four to six (weeks),” Stevens said. “And I said at the start, the four seems awfully aggressive.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Scott, Butler, Harris

Sixers star Joel Embiid expects to play more minutes in the conference semifinals, even though he is still bothered by tendinitis in his left knee, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Embiid averaged just 24.8 minutes in five first-round games against the Nets and was often a literal game-time decision. The limited minutes make his line for the series – 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 blocks per night – look even more impressive.

“It’s still not there. It’s still trying to get better,” Embiid said at today’s shootaround. “But that’s an issue that’s going to be there at least all playoffs until I actually get some real time to get some rest and work on myself. … But, we did a good job managing it. Obviously I only averaged about 24 minutes last series, so this one I’m definitely going to need way more than that.”

Embiid isn’t on the injured list as the series begins, so the Sixers are confident about his prospects. He has been dealing with knee issues for the past two months, missing 14 of 24 games regular season games after the All-Star break.

“It’s hard because I’m known for playing through anything and pushing, pushing it,” Embiid said. “And in some situations like Game 3, I couldn’t go because it was too much. But like I said, I just got to keep managing it and see how I feel and then go from there.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers have another injury concern in forward Mike Scott, McMenamin notes in the same story. Scott was wearing a walking boot today because of a heel contusion and plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Coach Brett Brown indicated that rookie Zhaire Smith may have an expanded role while Scott is sidelined.
  • Representatives for Jimmy Butler met with Sixers GM Elton Brand before and after a November deal that brought him from Minnesota to express his interest in a long-term contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Butler is expected to opt out of a $19.8MM salary for next season and test the free agent market.
  • The Nets will target Sixers forward Tobias Harris in free agency, but a report Friday indicates that the competition for his services will be intense, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Grizzlies, Jazz and Mavericks will all consider pursuing the Long Island native, and the Sixers will have his Bird rights, meaning they can offer more years and higher raises than any other team. Lewis adds that Harris’ performance against the Nets in their playoff series increased Brooklyn’s desire to sign him.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Butler, Nets, Leonard

Sixers center Joel Embiid will cover whatever fine Jimmy Butler receives for being ejected from today’s game with the Nets, relays Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The incident happened in the third quarter after Embiid received a Flagrant 1 foul while blocking a shot by Jarrett Allen. Jared Dudley physically confronted Embiid, and Butler pushed Dudley in the back. Dudley was also ejected for the fracas, and an NBA spokesman said fines could be announced tomorrow.

“I for sure fed off that,” Embiid said. “The fact that he had my back, I will pay the fine and it was great to see.”

Butler stood by his actions in the post-game press conference.

“I am just there to protect my big fella,” he told reporters. “If somebody runs up on him, I will push them again.”

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers once again waited until shortly before tip-off to decide that Embiid would play, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid’s status was listed as doubtful 90 minutes before the game, but the medical staff determined he could go. “It’s dictated by the doctors more than the coach — what harm are we putting him in? What unnecessary harm are we putting him in?” coach Brett Brown said. “If the answer is none, then you play him. Then it gets down to whatever level it is, then you question it.” 
  • The trade that brought D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers was just one of the ways the Nets were able to speed up their rebuilding process, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Another was the hiring of coach Kenny Atkinson, who was able to guide the organization through dark times as it tried to rebuild with just one first-round pick in three years. “You’re just questioning yourself,” Atkinson said. “The next day, you’re renewed, refreshed and you get back on track, but I have to be honest: There were doubts.”
  • Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times examines how much the Raptors‘ fortunes in the playoffs will matter to Kawhi Leonard this summer when he decides whether to stay in Toronto.

Sixers Without Joel Embiid In Game 3

Sixers center Joel Embiid has been ruled out for the team’s Game 3 matchup with the Nets, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com relays (Twitter feed). Greg Monroe will get the start at the five.

Embiid warmed up pregame but ultimately, his knee soreness was too severe to suit up. This is the first playoff game Embiid was forced to miss because of his knee. The big man sat out 18 games during the regular season.

Monroe was waived by the Nets earlier this season after Brooklyn acquired him a deal with the Raptors. Philadelphia signed him to add depth in the frontcourt toward the end of the season. He has 18 games of playoff experience, though Game 3 in Brooklyn will be his first start in the postseason.

Nets Upset By Joel Embiid’s Antics

Some bad blood may be brewing in the first-round division match-up between the Sixers and Nets, according to Stefan Bondy of the Daily News, who writes that several of the Nets’ players, including veteran forward Jared Dudley, swingman Caris LeVert, and guard Spencer Dinwiddie, are upset with perceived disrespect being displayed by Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid.

For Dudley, it was apparent that Embiid crossed a line in Game 2 when he elbowed Nets’ center Jarrett Allen and proceeded to show no remorse (i.e. he was laughing) when asked about the incident during his post-game press conference.

“I felt a certain type of way about it. Just because you’re laughing when somebody could’ve gotten really, really hurt,” Dudley said. “That’s been Embiid’s personality. But just because it’s your personality doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Embiid, who has created somewhat of a secondary story line in this series through the constant media attention on his availability while he plays through knee tendinitis and as a result of the cell phone incident, doesn’t appear to be impressing LeVert with his antics either.

“We didn’t really like (Embiid laughing),” LeVert said. “We thought that was kind of disrespectful especially after the elbow he threw. It is what it is. There’s no love lost.”

Further frustrating the Nets is a perceived favoritism, or star treatment by the referees for Embiid, which manifested itself when Embiid was not ejected from the game as a consequence of his elbow to Allen’s head/face. Embiid was only charged with a Flagrant 1, and Dinwiddie says that if the roles were reversed, Allen would’ve been assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected.

“If J.A. throws the same elbow and hits Joel, he’s getting ejected. That’s just kind of what it is,” Dinwiddie said. “But we can’t play that game. All we have to do is go out there and play our game and be who we are, and we’ll be fine, just like we were in Game 1.”

Game 3 between the two teams is scheduled for Thursday night at 8:00pm EST on TNT. Given the above, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another flagrant or two during tomorrow’s contest.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Brown, Williams, Harding

The playoffs opened with three upsets, but nobody had a worse day than the Sixers, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. Philadelphia’s problems go beyond the final score, as nearly every fear about the team heading into the postseason came true. Joel Embiid‘s sore knee, Ben Simmons‘ limited shooting range, the lack of a bench, defensive concerns and chemistry issues were all on display as fans booed loudly in a loss to the Nets.

Some observers believe the Sixers compiled the most talented starting unit in the league by trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, but those five players only took the court together 10 times in the regular season. And with Butler, Harris and J.J. Redick all headed for free agency, the team could easily break apart if the postseason doesn’t go well.

An even greater concern might be Embiid’s physical condition. Bothered by tendinitis in his left knee that limited him to eight games after the All-Star break, Embiid wasn’t sure if he could play until 15 minutes before Saturday’s contest began. He lumbered up and down the court for much of the afternoon, settled for outside jumpers and was frequently targeted by the Nets on defense.

“I tell him all the time, it’s about him being healthy,” Butler said. “Yeah, he can help us but at the same time, he can hurt us if he gets worse. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely want Jo out there. But we want him healthy.”

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Managing partner Josh Harris passed on a chance to give coach Brett Brown a vote of confidence before yesterday’s opener, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris has commented before that it could be “problematic” if the team doesn’t make a long playoff run. “What I meant by it is that all of us – Brett, [general manager] Elton [Brand], me, a lot of us, the players on the team. We have high expectations. So that is what I meant,” Harris said when asked about Brown’s future.
  • The Sixers won’t stand in the way of any assistant who gets a head coaching opportunity, Brand told Pompey in the same story. They granted permission yesterday for Monty Williams to interview for the open job with the Lakers, where he and Tyronn Lue appear to be the top candidates. “We respect that, the chance to have more responsibility and be a head coach,” Brand said. “For anyone on our staff to have a deeper role, we will honor that. We don’t want dysfunction, we don’t want distractions, but it is what it is.”
  • Lindsey Harding was promoted this week to player development coach, the team announced on its website. She joined the organization prior to this season as a pro personnel scout.

Sixers Take Disciplinary Action Over Cell Phone Incident

6:35pm: The Sixers have fined Johnson for using his cell phone on the sidelines, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. “I apologize for having my phone on the bench in today’s game,” Johnson said in a statement tweeted by the team. “I take full responsibility and will accept the consequences of my actions. I also apologize to my teammates, the 76ers organization and the fans for the distraction this has caused.”

5:10pm: Today’s playoff loss to the Nets was punctuated by an embarrassing incident late in the game in which Sixers players Amir Johnson and Joel Embiid were caught looking at Johnson’s cell phone while on the bench. Coach Brett Brown criticized both players for their actions and promised the situation would be handled, tweets Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

“It’s completely unacceptable and we will deal with it internally, very soon,” Brown said in his post-game press conference. “It’s not something we are and certainly don’t condone.”

Using a cell phone from the bench violates the NBA’s Operations Manual, points out ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Both players are facing substantial fines and possible suspensions. Johnson was inactive today, while Embiid, who has been bothered by knee pain, decided to play shortly before the game began.

Embiid explained that they were using the phone to get an update on the health of Johnson’s daughter (Twitter link). “I looked down because he said his daughter was extremely sick and he was checking on his daughter,” he told reporters.