- Joel Embiid’s injury history — the latest being his current knee ailment — could affect extension talks with the Sixers, Derek Bodner of The Athletic notes. Embiid has two years left on his current contract and could sign a four-year extension this summer. If he waits until next summer, he could get a five-year supermax extension if he qualifies — he’d have to make an All-NBA team again next season, win Defensive Player of the Year or MVP to get the supermax. However, with the injuries piling up, Embiid might want to lock into an extension sooner rather than later.
- The Knicks, Sixers, Heat and Mavericks would seem to be logical destinations for the Raptors’ longtime point guard Kyle Lowry if he leaves Toronto. Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes a closer look at how Lowry would fit onto each of those teams.
Coach Doc Rivers defended the way he uses Ben Simmons after the Sixers dropped Game 5 against the Hawks Wednesday night, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Philadelphia had a massive meltdown as a 26-point lead slipped away, and Simmons played a significant role, missing key free throws down the stretch and shooting just 4 of 14 from the line for the game. After talking about the need to be more aggressive, he took just four shots from the field Wednesday, finishing with eight points and nine assists.
Simmons is a miserable 22 of 67 on foul shots during the playoffs, and Atlanta has been taking advantage by intentionally fouling him. As a result, Rivers had to sit Simmons down for several important possessions late in the fourth quarter. That takes the Sixers’ best passer and defender off the court and leaves the team with unfamiliar lineups.
“Do you want to do that?” Rivers said. “The answer would be no. But, you know, when Ben makes ’em, we get to keep him in, when he doesn’t, we can’t. And that’s just the way it is.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- Rivers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey both deserve blame for some of the team’s flaws that are being exposed this series, Bodner adds. Rivers continues to give important minutes to a reserve unit that hasn’t been effective, Bodner notes, while Morey failed to find an alternative back-up center to Dwight Howard, who is a bad matchup against spread offenses.
- The Sixers, who also blew an 18-point lead in Game 4, are searching for answers on why they can’t hold on to a big advantage, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Tobias Harris believes the team loses focus once it gets in front by a comfortable margin. “The weakness right now is when we gain those leads, we kind of go away from what got us there,” Harris said. “That was playing defense, moving the basketball, getting some good looks. And that’s hurt us the last two games.”
- Seth Curry never lost confidence in his shot, even as he struggled to find a place in the NBA, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball News. Curry had one of the best games of his career Wednesday, posting 36 points, three rebounds, seven three-pointers and two steals in the Game 5 loss.
Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.
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 Giannis scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.
All-NBA First Team
- Guard: Stephen Curry, Warriors (496)
- Guard: Luka Doncic, Mavericks (402)
- Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (500)
- Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Clippers (323)
- Center: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets (498)
All-NBA Second Team
- Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (372)
- Guard: Chris Paul, Suns (311)
- Forward: LeBron James, Lakers (174)
- Forward: Julius Randle, Knicks (253)
- Center: Joel Embiid, Sixers (352)
All-NBA Third Team
- Guard: Kyrie Irving, Nets (61)
- Guard: Bradley Beal, Wizards (71)
- Forward: Paul George, Clippers (89)
- Forward: Jimmy Butler, Heat (131)
- Center: Rudy Gobert, Jazz (48)
Among the players who just missed the cut were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.
Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.
Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.
Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.
Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.
After going 0-for-12 from the field in the second half of the Sixers‘ Game 4 loss to Atlanta on Monday, star center Joel Embiid admitted that the partially torn meniscus in his right knee is bothering him to some extent. That injury is limiting Embiid’s athleticism, which was an issue in particular on a last-minute layup attempt that would’ve tied the game, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” Embiid said. “… Usually, I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it. Try to get fouled and get an and-1. But … not being able to jump for obvious reasons. … It’s tough.”
Embiid didn’t show many ill effects of that knee injury in the first three games of the series, averaging 35.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG on .533/.364/.809 shooting. In Game 4, he put up 17 points and 21 rebounds, but was just 4-of-20 on field goal attempts. After the game, he said he doesn’t expect to be 100% healthy until next season, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- The Raptors may be losing another assistant, with reports suggesting that Sergio Scariolo will become the new head coach of Virtus Bologna in Italy. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets that nothing has been finalized yet, but confirms that Scariolo has had discussions with the Italian club. If Scariolo departs, he’d be the third top Raptors assistant to leave the team within the last year, joining Nate Bjorkgren and Chris Finch.
- Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com considers some potential landing spots that would make sense for Kemba Walker if the Celtics trade him this offseason. Report last week suggested there’s a growing sense that Walker could be moved.
- Mike Vorkunov and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take a deep dive into the Knicks‘ offseason, exploring the team’s primary goals, its cap situation, and the prospects that might be the best fits at Nos. 19 and 21 in the draft.
The NBA has officially announced the voting results for its two 2020/21 All-Defensive teams.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in four seasons, and Sixers guard Ben Simmons were unanimous selections for the All-Defensive First Team. Both players made the First Team lists of all 100 tallied ballots, for a perfect total of 200 points. Votes are given to 100 media members.
This marks Gobert’s fifth straight appearance on the All-Defensive First Team, and the second consecutive All-Defensive First Team honor for Simmons.
Warriors forward Draymond Green garnered 176 points (including 80 First Team votes). Green was named Defensive Player of the Year in the 2016/17 season. This year’s nod is his fourth First Team honor, and his sixth total All-Defensive team.
Two Bucks players rounded out the All-Defensive First Team this season. Guard Jrue Holiday netted 157 points (65 First Team) and All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year, earned 135 total points (43 First Team). Antetokounmpo has just made his third straight All-Defensive First Team, and his fourth All-Defensive team overall. This is Holiday’s second All-Defensive First Team appearance and his third overall All-Defensive team.
Two All-Defensive First-Teamers have unlocked contract bonuses associated with the honor. Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that Gobert will receive a $500K bonus for the inclusion this season. Marks adds (Twitter link) that Holiday will pocket a cool $100K for making All-Defensive First Team. Holiday has other contract incentives associated with his team’s further postseason advancement.
The All-Defensive Second Team honorees are led by Heat stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, who each netted 111 points (37 First Team votes) apiece. Adebayo makes his second All-Defensive Second Team with the nod today. This is Butler’s fifth such honor.
Simmons’s Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle also make the cut. It is the third All-Defensive team nod for Embiid and the first appearance for Thybulle. Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, a former two-time Defensive Player of the Year, rounds out the All-Defensive Second Team this season.
Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:
- Ben Simmons, G, Sixers (200)
- Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz (200)
- Draymond Green, F, Warriors (176)
- Jrue Holiday, G, Bucks (157)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks (135)
- Bam Adebayo, F, Heat (111)
- Jimmy Butler, G, Heat (111)
- Joel Embiid, C, Sixers (87)
- Matisse Thybulle, G, Sixers (63)
- Kawhi Leonard, F, Clippers (43)
Suns guard/forward Mikal Bridges, Hawks center Clint Capela, and Pacers forward/center Myles Turner were among the highest vote-getters who missed the cut for the Second Team. You can find the full voting results right here.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.
Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.
Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.
Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:
- With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
- If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
- Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
- All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
- Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.
Sixers forward Tobias Harris has become a reliable secondary option on offense for the franchise, Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times writes.
Harris, a respected leader in the team’s locker room, is averaging 23.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 34.6 minutes per game during the playoffs. He’s shot 54% from the floor during those contests, trailing only Joel Embiid in points per game.
“I would list him right now as one of my favorite teammates ever,” teammate George Hill said. “He has a great sense of awareness of how things are going. He’s very open-minded, he listens (and is) just a great guy to be around. I think he’s a big leader for us and we’re going to continue to lean on him as we go through this journey.”
Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:
- The Nets won’t allow Kyrie Irving‘s ankle sprain to impact James Harden‘s return from a hamstring injury, head coach Steve Nash said, as relayed by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Harden missed most of Game 1 and hasn’t played since, with Brooklyn now missing two of its top three players due to injuries. “I think it’s an independent case. I don’t want James to be rushed back,” Nash said. “If he’s able to play next game and the game after, that’s fantastic.” As of Sunday night, no return timeline has been issued for either player.
- Eric Nehm of The Athletic examined how the Bucks can improve their offense prior to Game 4 on Sunday. Milwaukee bounced back with a much better offensive effort in the contest, winning 107-96 while shooting 44% from the floor. The team also recorded 27 assists in the outing.
- Brendan Rourke of Pacers.com reviews the season from Kelan Martin, who appeared in a total of 35 games. The 25-year-old Martin joined the Pacers last November after playing 31 games with the Timberwolves in 2019/20.
- The Sixers sent Danny Green home to Philadelphia to get treatment on his right calf strain, but hope to get him back around the team as quickly as possible due to his veteran leadership, head coach Doc Rivers said on Sunday (Twitter link via Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com). Of course, the team would love to welcome a healthy Green back on the court too, but he’s expected to miss at least two or three more weeks due to his calf injury.
The right calf strain that Sixers starting swingman Danny Green suffered in the first half of Philadelphia’s Game 3 victory over the Hawks will keep him sidelined for 2-3 weeks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Sixers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, will thus be without Green’s services for the rest of their series against the scrappy Hawks.
Should the Sixers advance, Green may be available at some point during the Eastern Conference Finals. The 76ers are ahead of the Hawks 2-1 in their best-of-seven second-round series. The Nets currently lead the Bucks 2-1 on the other side of the bracket.
Shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz started the second half of Game 3 Friday, and appears to be the choice of Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers to start in Green’s stead while the two-time reigning champ (with the Lakers in 2020 and the Raptors in 2019) recuperates.
Green averaged 4.5 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.5 RPG and 2.0 SPG during the first two games of the series, for which he was fully healthy. He was available for just 3:45 of Game 3 action in Atlanta before leaving for the team’s locker room with the injury.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been selected as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. This is the third DPOY honor for Gobert, who also won the award in 2018 and 2019.
During his eight NBA seasons, Gobert has established himself as one of the league’s best shot blockers. He averaged a career-best 2.7 rejections per game this season and ranked first in a number of defensive analytics stats, including defensive real plus-minus and defensive RAPTOR, by a wide margin.
“It takes team effort, mental toughness, hard work and dedication,” Gobert told Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). “Every day you have to come in with a mindset to make your team better on that end.”
Gobert received 84 first-place votes, along with 14 for second place and two for third place for an overall total of 464 points, the NBA announced in its official press release.
The Sixers‘ Ben Simmons was second with 15/67/11 and 287 points, followed by the Warriors‘ Draymond Green with 0/13/37 and 76 points. The other first-place vote went to Bam Adebayo of the Heat, who came in fourth.
Eight other players received at least one DPOY vote, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Clint Capela, Joel Embiid, and Jrue Holiday. Perhaps the most unexpected vote belonged to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was placed third on one ballot.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.