Markelle Fultz

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Fultz, Pullen, Anderson

The Sixers expect to have Joel Embiid ready for Wednesday’s opener at Washington, tweets Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The fourth-year center, who signed a rookie-scale extension last week, sat out practice today, but coach Brett Brown told reporters he expects Embiid to practice on Monday and be ready for the first game.

Brown also said rookie point guard Markelle Fultz, the top pick in this year’s draft, will start the season as a reserve (Twitter link). Fultz was limited by knee and shoulder injuries in the preseason and didn’t see much playing time.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Converting his contract to a two-way deal was fine with Jacob Pullen, who was looking for any way to get on an NBA roster, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers made the move Saturday, which will keep Pullen with the Delaware 87ers for most of the season. Players on two-way contracts are limited to 45 days in the NBA and salaries that top out at about $275K. But at age 27, Pullen found that preferable to spending another season overseas. “Knowing what I know now and knowing what my dreams are, where I want to be, you have to take this,” said Pullen, who spent last year in Russia and has also played in Italy, Israel, Spain and Croatia. “I tell people all the time, there are three ways to the top — the escalator, elevator, stairs. Some people get the elevator. Some get the escalator. Some walk up all of the flights of stairs. The NBA is an important thing to me now. It’s a dream that I want to come true. So I’ll take the stairs.”
  • Justin Anderson may compete with Jahlil Okafor to be the Sixers’ most improved player, Pompey writes in a separate piece. The 23-year-old swingman, who was traded to Philadelphia in February, dropped weight over the offseason and worked to improve his outside shot.
  • Although Ben Simmons still has some flaws him his game, he impressed opposing coaches with his potential during preseason, Pompey adds in another story. Simmons is preparing for his official rookie season after sitting out all of last year while recovering from a broken foot. “That kid, they are not talking about him enough – the way he moves with the ball, his ability to see the floor, the way he can get places on the floor,” said Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. “I think once he gets confidence in the shot, where you really have to close out on him to the three, wow, he is a big-time talent.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Saric, Covington, Fultz

Joel Embiid‘s teammates believe the Sixers made the right move by rewarding him with a five-year extension, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid is slated to receive $148MM, but the value could go as high as $178MM if he meets certain criteria. There are also several salary cap protections to guard the organization against further injury for Embiid, who has played just 31 games in three seasons. “Have you seen him play? He’s a beast,” Ben Simmons responded when asked about the extension. “I can’t name one person that can stop him. Honestly, there’s nobody that can compete with him at his position. No one.”

Embiid is still recovering from “minor” surgery in March to fix a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Sixers were hoping to have him ready for the October 18 season opener, but rehab has been going well and Pompey suggests he may play in Friday’s preseason finale. Embiid’s last game before the surgery was January 27.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Embiid’s cap hit for next summer will be either $25.2MM or $30.3MM, depending on whether he meets the qualifications for the 30% max, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. If Embiid is only at the 25% max, Philadelphia will have about $53.34MM in committed salary heading into next year’s free agent sweepstakes. That leaves roughly $47.6MM, but that figure will be reduced by draft picks and option decisions. The Sixers may have two first-rounders if they land the Lakers’ pick, and they have to determine whether to extend rookie-scale contracts for Jahlil Okafor ($6.3MM in 2018/19), Dario Saric ($2.5MM) and Justin Anderson ($2.5MM) by the end of October. Bodner writes that the Sixers are certain to pick up Saric’s option, but Okafor and Anderson are less definite. Philadelphia also has team options on T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes valued at $1.6MM each, but those don’t have to be addressed until June 29.
  • The team’s most important remaining salary decision involves Robert Covington, Bodner adds in the same piece. Starting November 15, Covington will be eligible to have his contract renegotiated or extended. He will become a free agent with a $3MM cap hold next summer if nothing is done.
  • Rookie guard Markelle Fultz may still be suffering the effects of a right shoulder injury, Pompey relays in a separate story. The first overall pick had to sit out Friday’s game and is shooting just 29.2% from the floor in the preseason. “I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body. But he’s been working on just trying to get that thing rehabilitated.”

And-Ones: Pay Cuts, Rookies, Returning Rights

The idea of an NBA player taking a pay cut in order to help a franchise save funds for other players is a noble one but it doesn’t always work out for the individuals who sign at a discount, Steve Kyler or Basketball Insiders writes.

Most recently, Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson was asked if he would consider taking less pay when he hits free agency in the summer of 2019, like his teammate Kevin Durant did this summer.

I probably could, yeah. That much? I don’t know. I don’t make as much as Kevin off the court,” Thompson told The Athletic. “If it’s a few million… It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign. I would definitely consider it cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”

Kyler discusses several cases of players who took pay cuts to play for a winner only to see that shot at a title quickly fade. Back in 2015, David West left eight digits on the table in order to chase a ring with the Spurs but ultimately came up short. The following summer he had to sign on with the Warriors instead, in order to take home a championship.

Jameer Nelson is another striking example of what can go wrong for a player. Nelson was bought out by the Magic in the summer of 2014 and turned around to sign at a discount with the Mavs. Dallas, however, shipped the veteran guard off less than two months into the 2014/15 campaign in the deal that landed them Rajon Rondo.

Of course there are success stories and Kyler references both Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade taking pay cuts to appease franchises that have supported them over the course of their careers. Tim Duncan is another example of a superstar that happily left money on the table in order to preserve the Spurs‘ financial flexibility.

There’s more from around the NBA:

  • While it’s only natural to get excited about the potential of the point guards at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft, don’t expect them to steamroll their way through the league right away. Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider) took a deep dive into the statistical projections of players like Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr. only to conclude that genuinely performing as a Top 100 player in the NBA is exceedingly difficult for a first-year guard.
  • The NBA’s age limit has been a common talking point ever since it was implemented last decade but change could be inevitable, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe writes that the prohibition of traditional high school seniors in the NBA draft isn’t about skill but rather about maturity. He also highlights the fact that many of the eligibility rules related to the NCAA-to-NBA pipeline come from the NCAA and not from the big league, itself.
  • Ever wonder what G League writers like Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days are talking about when they refer to players’ returning rights? Consider the following an introduction to the contract mechanism and a crash course in who the most valuable players to whom returning rights apply currently are.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, McDermott, Crabbe, Fultz

The last remnants of the Phil JacksonCarmelo Anthony feud were removed from New York with Anthony’s trade to Oklahoma City, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Coach Jeff Hornacek calls the atmosphere “a new beginning,” and others expressed relief that the Anthony situation was resolved before the start of training camp. “Part of my job is to try to add some sense of calmness to what had been a little bit of a crazy environment that we’ve been going through,” said team president Steve Mills.

Now that the chaos that hung over the organization last season is gone, the Knicks must work to establish a new team identity. That figures to be built around third-year center Kristaps Porzingis, and Mills expressed confidence that the team can “make him feel good about being a Knick and make him feel good about the environment here.” That needs to happen quickly as Porzingis will be eligible for a long-term extension next summer.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Doug McDermott, who was acquired from the Thunder in the Anthony deal, will welcome a fresh opportunity in New York, his father, Creighton coach Greg McDermott, told Marc Berman of The New York Post. The 11th pick in the 2014 draft, the younger McDermott developed into a reliable reserve in Chicago, but saw his playing time cut after a deadline-day trade sent him to Oklahoma City. Greg McDermott said the adjustment wasn’t easy for his son. “It was difficult going into situation where you have to learn things on the fly,” he said. “Not only does the player have to learn the system and style, the coach has to learn about a player’s strengths and how best be utilized. It’s a hard to do at the end of February.”
  • The Nets plan to give Allen Crabbe whatever time he needs to recover from a sprained ankle, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Crabbe was in a walking boot Thursday, but X-rays on the ankle turned out negative. With a revamped roster, Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson wants all of his players on the court to start building chemistry, but he understands the need to be cautious. “You’ve got to think 82 games. Honestly this is a setback,’’ Atkinson said. “Again, lack of continuity. You want to see him with different lineups … especially with a new player. So we’ll do the best we can showing him stuff. But it’s not the same.
  • Sixers rookie point guard Markelle Fultz won’t have to take on as much responsibility right away as Michael Carter-Williams did four seasons ago, according to Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia has more talent and experience on its roster now to support Fultz as he gets accustomed to the rigors of NBA life.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Fultz, Caboclo, Hornacek, Ntilikina

Joel Embiid gave the Sixers a glimpse of the impact he could have on the court last season, averaging 20.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG. However, injuries once again limited Embiid as he appeared in just 31 games due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. During a media lunch. Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown discussed their oft-injured forward and gave contradicting statements, Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Brown said that Embiid has yet to play in a five-on-five scenario but also added the team will “soon” know if and when he will do so. Then, Brown and Colangelo refused to give a clearer update on Embiid’s future in terms of his involvement — or lack thereof — in training camp or the preseason. Then, Colangelo provided a statement that contradicted itself within seconds.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” Colangelo said. “And he will be out there on the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all.”

Embiid is not the only injured Sixer as last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, is also looking to return to full health.

Below you can read more news from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Fultz, Covington, Doyle

The Celtics are unhappy that the Cavaliers are asking for more compensation in the Kyrie Irving trade and may be planning a hard-line response, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Celtics front office believes it was fully honest about the condition of Isaiah Thomas when the teams discussed his injured hip prior to completing the deal. The Cavaliers seem to think that Thomas is months away from returning to action, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), who also speculates that Boston could offer to include Terry Rozier to get the trade completed. (Twitter link).

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • A pair of Sixers players are vowing to be ready when training camp opens next month. Markelle Fultz, the top pick in the draft, told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly that he is optimistic after suffering a lateral sprain to his left ankle during the Las Vegas Summer League (Twitter link). Robert Covington, who was shut down for the season in late March with a slight tear of his lateral meniscus, also expects to be fully healed by camp (Twitter link).
  • Rookie point guard Milton Doyle is confident that he can earn a roster spot in Brooklyn, according to a story on NetsDaily. A first team all-Missouri Valley Conference player last season at Loyola, Chicago, Doyle signed a training camp deal with the Nets in early August. He caught the eyes of team officials by averaging 10.5 points per game during summer league play, but he may be ticketed for the G League.
  • Phil Jackson’s reign as president of the Knicks didn’t turn out the way he hoped, but New York Liberty president Isiah Thomas doesn’t think Jackson harmed his legacy, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Believe me, Phil, myself, Donnie Walsh, Larry Brown, Lenny [Wilkins], all of us go back and try to figure out, man what did we do wrong?,’’ Thomas said. “If we can do it all over again, what would we do different? That’s the thing we love in New York. It brings out the best in you as a person because you really get pushed to the wall in terms of trying to figure out how to win and put it together and satisfy the fan base. That’s why we all want to crack that egg.” Thomas also praised Carmelo Anthony for the way he handled a string of negative comments from Jackson.

NBA Rookies View Dennis Smith Jr. As ROY Favorite

For the last decade, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has been surveying several incoming rookies to get their thoughts on their fellow first-year players.  Schuhmann asks the newest NBA players to identify which rookie they expect to have the best career, which was the steal of the 2017 draft, and which is the frontrunner for the 2017/18 Rookie of the Year award, among other questions.

This year, Schuhmann polled 39 rookies, and more than a quarter of those players made Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. their pick for Rookie of the Year favorite. The No. 9 overall pick received 25.7% of the vote, beating out top picks like Lonzo Ball (20%) and Markelle Fultz (17.1%). That may be good news for the Mavs, though as Schuhmann observes, the rookies he has surveyed haven’t accurately predicted the Rookie of the Year winner since 2007/08, when they made Kevin Durant the overwhelming favorite.

Here are a few more items of interest from Schuhmann’s survey:

  • Smith was the landslide winner (43.6%) as the most athletic rookie. But while his fellow rookies believe the Mavericks point guard will have the best first year, Ball and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received the most votes (18.4% apiece) for which rookie will have the best overall career.
  • Donovan Mitchell (18.9%) was the top choice for biggest steal of the draft, after the Jazz nabbed him at No. 13. Some of the second-round picks that the rookies viewed as steals included Jordan Bell (Warriors; No. 38) and Dwayne Bacon (Hornets; No. 40).
  • Luke Kennard (Pistons) and Malik Monk (Hornets) were widely considered the top two outside shooters in the draft. Among their fellow rookies, Kennard (48.6%) easily topped Monk (13.5%) as the pick for the No. 1 shooter of the 2017 class.
  • Suns forward Josh Jackson (26.3%) was narrowly voted the best rookie defender, while Ball (71.8%) was the overwhelming pick for best rookie playmaker.

Poll: Best Rookie Point Guard Season

The 2017 NBA Draft was loaded with talented point guards, including first overall pick Markelle Fultz, No. 2 selection Lonzo Ball, and fellow lottery picks De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr. 

Fultz showed flashes of brilliance in the NBA Summer League amid overall inconsistent play before he ultimately injured his ankle in his Las Vegas debut. The 76ers guard was promptly shut down for the remainder of Summer League. This season, the rookie figures to be a regular fixture in the Philadelphia backcourt.

After dominating his freshman season at UCLA, Ball won Las Vegas Summer League MVP honors, racking up assists (9.3 APG) and steals (2.5 SPG), as well as points and rebounds. Although it is not clear whether Ball will start for the Lakers right out of the gate, he will certainly be the beneficiary of a hearty amount of playing time.

Fox is also expected to see his fair share of action this season, but averaged just 21.3 minutes per game in four Las Vegas Summer League games. Like Fultz and Ball, Fox exhibited tantalizing athleticism. The Kentucky product averaged a solid 11.8 points per contest and 3.0 assists. Fox’s 2.3 SPG were extremely impressive.

The Knicks drafted Ntilikina eighth overall because of his speed and agility. Last season, the point guard averaged just 15.5 minutes per game for Strasbourg in France but displayed tremendous promise and improved noticeably as a shooter. With D. Rose out of town, it appears as if the keys to Madison Square Garden are about to be Frank’s.

In six games in Las Vegas, Smith averaged 17.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG, shooting 45.7% from the floor and electrifying with the occasional powerful dunk. The Mavericks prospect also tallied 2.2 SPG.

This brings us to today’s poll: Which of these point guards will have the best rookie season in 2017/18?

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Crabbe, Ujiri

Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, has brought enthusiasm to Philadelphia, a city that has already been told to trust the process. The Washington product now joins a Sixers team that enters 2017/18 with a hopefully healthy duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid alongside veteran acquisition J.J. Redick ready to compete.

In Fultz’s mind, Philadelphia will not just be a fun team, it will be a competitive one, as the first overall pick said to CSNPhilly from Sixers Day Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy.

“We’re going to be in the playoffs this year, and I think everybody is willing to put forth their best effort and listen to the coaches and listen to the bench. We’ve got to just do whatever it takes to get there,” Fultz said. “That’s practicing even harder, that’s doing extra work in the gym by ourselves, I mean, we’re going to do whatever it takes.” 

Fultz, 19, also addressed several other topics, including his rehab from an ankle injury he suffered at the onset of the Las Vegas Summer League; LeBron James possibly joining the Sixers next season in free agency; and his relationship with fellow rookie and top two draft pick, Lonzo Ball.

Below are additional notes around the Atlantic Division:

  • A year after Trail Blazers matched the Nets‘ offer sheet for then-restricted free agent Allen Crabbe, the guard is now a part of the Brooklyn roster, Ethan Sears of the New York Post writes. Now, in an offseason where the Nets have pulled off calculated trades, Crabbe joins the team a year later and he expressed confidence in his new team at an introductory presser Thursday.
  • Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spoke to Michael Lee of The Vertical to cover this year’s offseason for the team. Ujiri, who was mentioned as a possible GM candidate for the Knicks, proclaimed his team’s focus is to beat LeBron James and he discussed new Cavaliers GM Koby Altman‘s tough predicament.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Redick, Johnson, Korkmaz

Rookie point guard Markelle Fultz has been diagnosed with a sprained left ankle after being helped off the court in Saturday’s summer league game, tweets Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com. Fultz will be held out of today’s contest and may not play again during summer league. “We will treat him accordingly and be as cautious as we can, making sure he is healthy,” Sixers summer league coach Lloyd Pierce told ESPN Saturday night. “We will know [more] once we get some treatment on him. I haven’t heard anything [more].” Phliadelphia has experienced terrible injury luck with high draft picks in recent years as Ben Simmons missed all of last season and Joel Embiid has played just 31 games in three years. “I’m a little bit punch-drunk with the injuries that we’ve had with our first players selected over the years,” said head coach Brett Brown.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers officially added two veteran leaders Saturday with the signings of J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer“I think I can speak for Amir as well,” Redick said. “We are in the second phase of our career. We’ve been through enough now and have enough wisdom that we can be an effective elder.” The new additions will have important roles on the court as well. Redick, who averaged 15.8 points per game and shot 44% from 3-point range during his four years with the Clippers, is expected to provide a boost to the team’s outside shooting. Johnson will be counted on to solidify the interior defense.
  • Furkan Korkmaz is getting his first taste of NBA play in the summer league, writes Benjamin Mehic of The Deseret News. The Sixers believe the 19-year-old Turkish guard, who signed with the team this week, has the talent to eventually become an important contributor. “I think the thing people should zoom in on is how he moves,” said assistant coach Billy Lange. “If you watch his fluidity, his pace, skill and feel for the game, you can see the package. The results will come. The guy just flew across the country. Hopefully he gets more comfortable so we can get him in our gym and get back to work.”
  • The Sixers are also high on Jonah Bolden, a second-round pick from 2016, Mehic adds. Being groomed as a stretch four, Bolden spent last season in Serbia trying to improve as a shooter.
  • Embiid was fined $10,000 by the league on Saturday for “using inappropriate language on social media,” tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Embiid’s message was directed at Lonzo Ball‘s father, LaVar.
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