Joel Embiid

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Korkmaz, Dinwiddie, Sixers

The Knicks’ success could largely hind on whether David Fizdale crafts a rotation that keeps both his veterans and rising stars happy this season, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.

New York shifted to Plan B in free agency this summer after superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Nets, inking new players Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock to contracts.

The team also drafted Duke standout RJ Barrett with the No. 3 pick in June, giving Fizdale and his staff plenty of competitive options to sort through as training camp nears.

“That’s going to be great for us,” Knicks forward Kevin Knox said. “To be able to compete, I don’t think anybody’s guaranteed no starting lineup, no minutes, none of that . . . Everyone is gonna have to earn their minutes, earn their position. I think that’s going to be great for us going into training camp and competing. Nobody’s got a starting spot. Everyone’s got to fight to earn their minutes and earn their position.”

New York has missed the playoffs in each of their past six seasons. The team finished at 17-65 last season, good for the worst record in the league.

  • Lauren Rosen of NBA.com crafts a preseason profile on Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz, who spent most of last season sidelined due to injury. “I think next year is going to be the most important year of my career,” Korkmaz said of the upcoming season. Korkmaz holds per-game averages of 4.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 12.2 minutes in 62 contests with Philadelphia through two seasons.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie is confident that the Nets could win a championship this season, led by who he believes is the top player in the league today: Durant, as relayed by Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “He asked if I think the Brooklyn Nets will win a championship,” Dinwiddie said, explaining what question he was asked by one of the kids at a recent team-related event. “Now, listen here: I don’t make guarantees. But of course I do. … KD is the best player in the league, right?” Once Durant returns from injury, the Nets are set to sport one of the league’s most formidable cores: Durant, Irving, Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Dinwiddie and more.
  • Former Sixers star Charles Barkley praised the team’s top-two young stars, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, in a recent interview with Michael Lee of The Athletic. “I’m a big Ben Simmons fan,” Barkley said. “And I want him to do like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Keep working on his game, become a very good shooter, because if he keeps working on his jump shot, he’s going to be one of the best to ever do it. Joel, I expect him to be in the MVP conversation. I think he got mad at me because I suggested his conditioning wasn’t up to par, which it wasn’t. I know they try to be careful with him, because he is injury-prone, and that is why I think swimming would be great for him.”

And-Ones: Loyd, MVP Race, Bucks, Sterling

Guard Jordan Loyd views his upcoming season in the EuroLeague as an opportunity to showcase his talents before returning to the NBA, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports. Loyd played on a two-way contract with the Raptors last season and feared he’d get stuck on a similar deal if he stayed in Toronto. The Raptors waived him after he agreed to a one-year contract with Valencia Basket.

“This year, I have a one-year deal, and then try to get back to the league, man. I think it’s gonna help me, honestly,” he said. “I look at it as a year to better myself and to get back to the league. I feel like I am an NBA player, but I’m not naive enough to sit there and let great opportunities pass me by overseas.”

We have more from the basketball world:

  • The Most Valuable Player race for the upcoming NBA season looks wide open, according to a panel of ESPN experts. While reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is favored to win it again, former MVPs Stephen Curry and LeBron James as well as Joel EmbiidAnthony DavisNikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard are all logical candidates for the top individual award.
  • The Bucks’ biggest challenge will be handling the pressure of high expectations, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. Not only will they have a target on their backs but it will be a pivotal season in terms of whether they can retain Antetokounmpo long-term. A group of ESPN writers examines the strengths and biggest question marks looming over seven contenders.
  • ESPN took a deep dive into the saga of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the team after making racially insensitive statements. Perhaps the most eye-opening revelation by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne was that the league nearly shut down during the 2014 playoffs until commissioner Adam Silver took swift and bold action. “I was all-in. Like shut down the whole season,” then-Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said. “Maybe that was too far, but as far as that game that day, you can reschedule it, you gotta sort this thing out, because there’s some deep-rooted stuff with him that had to be addressed.”

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Burke, O’Quinn, Smart, Fizdale

Despite the loss of J.J. Redick, the Sixers have plenty of perimeter shooters on their current roster, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic details. Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Mike Scott, Al Horford, James Ennis, Trey Burke and Raul Neto loom as long-range threats but mainly in catch-and-shoot situations. That means Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons need to create and open up space for their perimeter players.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Point guards Trey Burke and Raul Neto could be useful members of the Sixers’ rotation but big man Kyle O’Quinn will have regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Knicks to make a meaningful contribution, Mike O’Connor of The Athletic writes. O’Connor breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of the incoming reserve trio and how they’ll fit in.
  • Marcus Smart admits the Celtics were a dysfunctional team last season, he said on ESPN’s The Jump this week. Many players were uncomfortable with their roles, according to Smart. “It’s hard for anybody to have to look themselves in mirror and sacrifice something,” Smart said.
  • The fact that the Knicks didn’t re-sign any of their nine free agents reflects poorly on coach David Fizdale, the New York Post’s Marc Berman opines. The teams sold player development over the team’s win-loss record last season, yet didn’t consider any of those players worthy of another contract, Berman notes.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2018/19 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

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 Antetokounmpo and Harden scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

As we detailed in March, this year’s All-NBA selections have significant financial implications for several players. Here’s a breakdown of how several All-NBA candidates were impacted:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Bucks, which he can sign in 2020. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by five years.
  • Damian Lillard is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Trail Blazers, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by four years.
  • Kemba Walker is now eligible for a super-max contract with the Hornets, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2019/20 and would be for five years.
  • Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, and other super-max candidates who didn’t earn All-NBA honors aren’t eligible for super-max contracts (or a super-max extension, in Beal’s case). Thompson’s and Vucevic’s maximum contracts this summer would start at 30% of the cap.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ extension with the Timberwolves, which goes into effect in 2019/20, will start at 25% of the cap, rather than 30%, because he didn’t earn All-NBA honors.

Beal and Thompson received the most All-NBA votes of any guards who missed out on the All-NBA teams, receiving 34 and 27 points respectively. Sixers guard Ben Simmons got seven points, while no other guards had more than four.

LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) and Danilo Gallinari (Clippers) were the runners-up at forward, receiving 17 and seven points, respectively. Pascal Siakam (Raptors) had four points, while no other forwards had more than three.

At center, Towns received 20 points, followed by Vucevic at four and Pistons center Andre Drummond with three.

Interestingly, the 15 players named to the All-NBA teams for 2018/19 were the same 15 players that Hoops Rumors readers voted for in our end-of-season All-NBA polls last month. The only differences were George swapping places with Durant and Irving flipping spots with Westbrook.

The full and official All-NBA voting results can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2018/19 season, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert once again coming in as the leading vote-getter.

Gobert, a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, was listed on 99 of 100 ballots, with 97 of those ballots giving him a First Team vote, for a total of 196 points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). The All-Defensive nod ensures that the big man receives a $500K bonus, which had been considered likely since he was named to an All-Defensive team last season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Gobert was closely followed by fellow Defensive Player of the Year candidates Paul George (Thunder) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), who received 195 and 193 total points, respectively.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Rookie Teams]

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday secured a $100K bonus by earning a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team, notes Marks (via Twitter). Like Davis, he was an All-Defensive player last season as well, so that bonus had been considered likely — his cap hits for this year or next won’t be impacted by him earning it.

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:

Second Team:

Raptors guard Danny Green actually totaled 66 points, including 19 First Team votes, while Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had 48 points (14 First Team votes). However, All-Defensive teams are determined by position, so they didn’t make the cut because they ranked fifth and sixth in voting among guards.

Pacers center Myles Turner (39 points), Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (38), Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (24), and Spurs guard Derrick White (15) were the other leading vote-getters.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.