Joel Embiid

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Niang, Maxey, Luxury Tax

Joel Embiid turned in an MVP performance Saturday afternoon while matched up with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who has beaten him out for the award the past two seasons, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Embiid posted 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists and made several big plays late in the game to help the Sixers win the battle between two of the NBA’s best teams.

Embiid was a bit too focused on his individual matchup with Jokic early on, Neubeck observes, but he began to take over the game in the second quarter, showing off his full offensive arsenal. Many of Embiid’s points came via a two-man weave with James Harden that resulted in prime scoring opportunities.

Afterward, Embiid said he doesn’t have a personal rivalry with Jokic, but he felt it was “a little disrespectful” that he wasn’t named a starter when the results of this year’s All-Star voting were announced Thursday, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I’m used to it,” Embiid said of the snub. “It’s not the first time. I think it’s more of a motivation to go out and win the whole thing. That’s the only way I’m probably going to get that respect.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Georges Niang is headed for a sizable payday in free agency this summer, Neubeck adds. Niang contributed 14 points in about 18 minutes off the bench today, shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range. Neubeck calls Niang one of the NBA’s best bench shooters and expects a lot of teams to be interested when he hits the open market.
  • Tyrese Maxey has adapted well to a reserve role since the Sixers changed their starting lineup earlier this month, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer states in a mailbag column. Coming into today, Maxey was averaging 22.4 points and shooting 41.9% on three-pointers in his first five games off the bench. However, Pompey views Maxey as a long-term starter and says he needs to improve his defense this summer so he’ll be a better fit alongside Harden.
  • Luxury tax concerns will affect the Sixers’ strategy heading into the trade deadline, Pompey adds. Philadelphia is currently about $1.1MM over the threshold of $150.3MM, so Furkan Korkmaz or Jaden Springer could be unloaded to avoid the tax.

Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid Each Fined $25K By NBA

Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Sixers center Joel Embiid have each been fined $25K by the NBA for separate incidents, the league announced (Twitter links).

Curry, the reigning Finals MVP, was given a technical foul and ejected for tossing his mouthpiece with 1:14 remaining in Wednesday’s two-point victory over Memphis. As Kendra Andrews of ESPN writes, Curry was frustrated by an “ill-advised” three-point attempt by teammate Jordan Poole.

According to Andrews, the mouthpiece “ricocheted off the court and landed near the courtside seats” and Curry received his third career ejection (second in the regular season). The NBA’s press release states that he was fined for “throwing his mouthpiece into the spectator stands” (video link).

It was a crucial time in the game, and the way that our season has gone, questions about a heightened sense of urgency … when you want something really bad … I reacted in a way that put myself out of the game and put the team in a tough place,” said Curry, who disagreed with the immediate ejection because his mouthpiece didn’t come in contact with anyone.

Embiid, meanwhile, was fined for “making an obscene gesture on the playing court” in the third quarter of Wednesday’s victory over Brooklyn. He was not penalized during the game for his D-Generation X-inspired celebration.

Antetokounmpo, James Head All-Star Starters; Embiid Falls Short

Lakers forward LeBron James tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Thursday with his 19th NBA All-Star selection. James, who currently shares the record with Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star Games played with 18, was chosen as a starter, according to a league press release.

All of the starters were revealed on Thursday night.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic were the other starters chosen out of the Western Conference. James will serve as a team captain for the sixth straight year, since he received the most votes.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, named a team captain for the third time, heads the list of starters out of the Eastern Conference. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Nets forward Kevin Durant, Nets guard Kyrie Irving, and Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell will join him, but the league’s second-leading scorer, Sixers center Joel Embiid (33.4 PPG), didn’t garner enough votes.

The starters are selected by a weighted voting process with the fan vote accounting for half of the final outcome. The player and media portions of the vote each counted for 25 percent. Three frontcourt players and two guards were selected from each conference.

Embiid finished third in the player and media voting among Eastern Conference frontcourt players but fourth in the fan voting. All voting results can be found here.

The game will be played Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. James and Antetokounmpo will choose their teams shortly before the game begins. James will set the league record for most All-Star appearances if he plays, since Abdul-Jabbar did not play in the 1973 game after being chosen.

The reserves, which are chosen by the league’s coaches, will be announced Feb. 2.

Atlantic Notes: Maxey, Embiid, Harden, Raptors, Hauser

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey is coming to terms with his new reserve role, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Maxey was demoted to a bench role in favor of the more defensively oriented De’Anthony Melton.

“Sometimes you have to be the bigger person,” Maxey noted “I feel like it was kind of trending that way. But I’m a professional at the end of the day.”

The 22-year-old is still having a solid scoring season for Philadelphia, averaging 20.8 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 0.9 SPG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers’ All-Star tandem of Joel Embiid and James Harden are finally clicking midway through their first full season together, Pompey posits in another article. “He’s so dominant and versatile to where I’m sure he’s never played with a play-maker like me,” Harden said of the Philadelphia center. “So it’s just constant communication to where he hasn’t probably rolled this much before and I haven’t had a big that pops like that.”
  • After an erratic six games at home, the current core players for the Raptors face some big-picture questions, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. At 20-24, Toronto heads toward the February 9 trade deadline with an uncertain future. Smith notes that the team’s front office brain trust of Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster may make some significant changes to the club’s roster if the Raptors can’t start winning. The Raptors boast several movable players on reasonable deals.
  • Celtics reserve forward Sam Hauser has been mired in a major shooting slump for the last month. Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wonders if team president Brad Stevens may opt to make a trade to replace Hauser’s lagging output for a Boston team with title hopes. Over the past 23 games, Hauser has seen his minutes slashed to 12.2 MPG and his shooting splits have nosedived to .348/.284/.250.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Niang, Trent Jr., Barnes, Young

Sixers star center Joel Embiid is listed as questionable for Tuesday night’s home game against the Pistons, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Embiid has missed the past three games with a sore left foot, including Philadelphia’s road win over Detroit on Sunday. P.J. Tucker is probable with a sinus infection after missing Sunday’s game.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers forward Georges Niang hopes he’ll get an invitation to participate in the 3-point contest on All-Star weekend, according to Pompey. “The three-point contest, obviously, if you’re an NBA fan, you’ve paid attention to it and watched it,” Niang said. “If you ever get a chance to be a part of that, it would be an honor.” Niang is a career 40.7% 3-point shooter and has made 42% of his attempts this season.
  • It’s no lock that the Raptors will deal Gary Trent Jr. before the trade deadline, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange said on “The Raptors Show.” (video link). After a rough patch, Trent has averaged 25 points per game in his last seven contests. Trent came off the bench for a stretch during a shooting slump. “He’s earned a lot of respect for how he’s handled himself as a pro and you look at his profile, his age, those guys are hard to find,” Grange said. However, Toronto will explore all options. “I don’t think it’s a certainty they’ll trade him. but I think it’s a certainty they’ll listen,” Grange added. Trent has an $18.56MM player option for next season.
  • Scottie Barnes and Thaddeus Young exchanged words during halftime of the Raptors’ game against Portland. They downplayed the incident, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. “It was just a little disagreement. It was nothing serious,” Barnes said. “You have some disagreements but it was nothing serious.” Young said, “We just had a disagreement. No different than brothers going back and forth, especially when we’re both passionate about the game.” (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: VanVleet, Embiid, Williams, Claxton

The Raptors offered guard Fred VanVleet a four-year, $114MM extension prior to the season and it was never formally “rejected,” a source told Michael Grange of (Twitter link). Instead, the two sides mutually decided to wait, with no specific deadline set.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports was the first to report the Raptors’ extension offer. VanVleet can become a free agent this summer if he declines his $22,824,074 option.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Joel Embiid missed his third consecutive game on Sunday afternoon due to sore left foot. The Sixers cruised past the Pistons without their star center and they’re not concerned about the injury, as Embiid is showing progress, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.
  • Celtics center Robert Williams has been on a minutes restriction, between 17-22 minutes, since returning from a knee injury. The restriction has apparently been lifted and Williams says he’s ready to play more, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. “I’m here for whatever. Obviously, they’re trying to be careful and make the smart decision. If the guys are out there rolling, they’re rolling,” Williams said. “I enjoy playing the game. Coming off the bench, I feel like I’ve been able to be decisive on where we need to insert energy.”
  • Nets big man Nic Claxton believes the team already has all the pieces in place to win a championship, according to Sharif Phillips-Keaton of Yahoo Sports. “Everybody, especially earlier in the season, ‘Oh, they need this, they need a big, they need that,’ but we have everything we need when everybody is on the court, locked in, and we’re all scrambling, playing hard,” he said.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Harrell, Drummond, Rivers

Friday marked Joel Embiid‘s second straight missed game due to left foot soreness, but head coach Doc Rivers said the team is confident it won’t be a long-term injury, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Rivers added that Embiid is “doing better,” but he isn’t sure how long the Sixers‘ star center will be sidelined.

Embiid landed on Jaxson Hayes‘ foot during the fourth quarter of Monday’s game vs. New Orleans. The 28-year-old is having another incredible season, averaging 33.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.2 SPG and 1.7 BPG on .532/.341/.853 shooting through 28 games (35.5 MPG).

Even after dropping Friday’s game, Philadelphia has a winning record (6-4) so far without Embiid this season, which is impressive considering how important he is to the team.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Backup big man Montrezl Harrell had a tumultuous offseason after being arrested on a felony marijuana trafficking charge, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge. He wound up signing a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Sixers, and had a slow start to the 2022/23 season, splitting minutes with Paul Reed at backup center. However, he’s had a bigger role with Embiid sidelined, and it’s an opportunity he doesn’t take for granted, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I had a lot of stuff transpire … especially in the beginning of the season,” Harrell said Wednesday night. “So just to be able to be out here and play this game and still be able to call it my job is a blessing.” Harrell is averaging 18.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 2.0 BPG in 25.4 MPG over the past two contests.
  • Former Sixers center Andre Drummond said he was “definitely blindsided” by last season’s trade to the Nets, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required). Drummond, Seth Curry and Ben Simmons were shipped to Brooklyn for James Harden. Drummond wound up signing a two-year deal with the Bulls in the offseason, but he still has found memories of his time with the Sixers, per Mizell. “They welcomed me. They made me feel very comfortable when I got here,” Drummond said Friday night. “We just had a lot of fun as a team. We really cared about each other. We had one common goal, which was to win as many games as possible and to be great. … “[It’s] sad that we had to break things up in February. Definitely miss playing here. … The city of Philadelphia, man, the fan base was one of a kind. I loved it here.”
  • In his latest mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pompey writes that Rivers’ job should be safe until at least the offseason due to injuries to Embiid, Harden and Tyrese Maxey. The Sixers have gone 23-12 after a 0-3 start, and the starting lineup has only played six of 38 games together thus far. However, Pompey believes Rivers might get fired if the Sixers have another disappointing playoff exit. Pompey also thinks Philadelphia will keep its 15th roster spot open until at least the February 9 trade deadline, if not longer.

Sixers Notes: Harris, Embiid, Thybulle, Playoffs

Though starting Sixers power forward Tobias Harris may want an extension from Philadelphia, it would behoove the team to keep him on his current deal to maximize its flexibility, Kyle Neubeck of opines in a new mailbag. Harris will be a free agent in the summer of 2024.

Neubeck notes that moving on from Harris for a better player would probably necessitate also including the rookie scale contract of impressive shooting guard Tyrese Maxey. Neubeck opines that the team should hold off on an extension unless it comes at a discount.

Elsewhere in the mailbag, Neubeck also discusses the possibility of the Sixers having a quiet trade deadline as they start to gel, closing lineups, and more.

There’s more out of the City of Brotherly Love:

  • All-NBA center Joel Embiid will be shelved for the Sixers’ next game, Friday against the Bulls, due to left foot soreness, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Pompey notes that this will mark Embiid’s second straight absence with the ailment.
  • Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers recently explained his decision to prioritize playing swingman Matisse Thybulle over Danuel House for the Sixers, Pompey writes in a recent article“I just think Matisse is playing terrific defense,” Rivers said. “And it’s really helped us. He’s staying aggressive… overall, he’s been fantastic for us.” 
  • Following a rocky start to their 2022/23 season, the Sixers have been coming on strong of late. The team currently boasts a 23-14 record this year, and is just 2.5 games behind the Celtics for the Eastern Conference’s top seed. But another year of regular season achievement is no longer the end game. The goal now must be making it beyond the second round of the playoffs, Pompey opines in a separate piece. Philadelphia’s opening night starting five of James Harden, Maxey, Harris, P.J. Tucker and Embiid has only been fully available eight times thus far, as Pompey notes. Whenever Embiid returns, Pompey believes the club will be able to fully assess its roster needs ahead of the February 9 trade deadline.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Crowder, Embiid, Magic, Bulls

The Heat have frequently been cited as a potential trade suitor for Suns forward Jae Crowder, but a source who has spoken to Miami’s front office believes the Heat may only be interested in Crowder if he’s bought out, reports Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Jackson adds that the Heat would likely still have interest in trading for Crowder if the Suns are willing to accept a “bad contract,” which is presumably a reference to Duncan Robinson‘s deal — it still has three years and $57MM+ left after this season. However, the Suns won’t want to take on Robinson and are a good bet to eventually find a deal they like for Crowder without having to resort to a buyout. In other words, if Jackson’s source is right, it sounds like Miami is a long shot to land the veteran forward.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers will be without star center Joel Embiid on Wednesday vs. Indiana due to left foot soreness, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid landed on Jaxson Hayes‘ foot during the fourth quarter of Monday’s game vs. New Orleans, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link), who says the big man will be considered day-to-day moving forward.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter and swingman Gary Harris have played limited roles since returning from injuries on December 23 — neither player has seen more than 25 minutes of action in any of their three games back. However, Carter and Harris will have their minutes restrictions lifted on Wednesday, per head coach Jamahl Mosley. Orlando still has four players serving suspensions and will have just nine players available vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.
  • Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago evaluates 11 hypothetical – and perhaps far-fetched – deadline trades for the Bulls submitted by fans.

Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid Earn Player Of The Month Honors

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Sixers center Joel Embiid have been named the NBA’s Players of the Month for December, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Both Doncic and Embiid are perennial All-NBA players when healthy, but December was an extraordinary month even by their lofty standards.

The Mavericks, who the month of December as a .500 team (10-10), went 11-4 in the games Doncic played (11-6 overall). The three-time All-Star averaged 35.1 points, 9.3 assists, and 8.5 rebounds in 36.3 minutes per night, with a shooting line of .519/.424/.752. Doncic had three 50-point games during the month, including a 60-point, 21-rebound, 10-assist performance against the Knicks last Tuesday.

Embiid’s Sixers also moved up the standings in December, winning nine of their 13 games. Embiid was a major factor in that run, averaging 35.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.8 BPG on .545/.417/.858 shooting in 36.1 MPG. He scored at least 44 points on three separate occasions, including pouring in 53 on Dec. 11 in a win over Charlotte.

Jayson Tatum, who won the East’s Player of the Month award for October/November, was among the conference’s long list of nominees for December. Jaylen Brown, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Donovan Mitchell, Pascal Siakam, and Franz Wagner also received consideration, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

In the West, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Lauri Markkanen, Ja Morant, Domantas Sabonis, and Zion Williamson were nominated for the award (Twitter link).