Joel Embiid

Sixers Notes: Morey, Harden, Embiid, Training Camp

Following the Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday trades, all eyes turned toward James Harden as the next potential star trade before the season. However, Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey won’t rush into any sort of deal involving the star guard, regardless of any potential pushback from Harden, even if that means keeping him into the season.

Mizell writes that Morey isn’t going to be pressured into making a move for the sake of making the trade despite other Eastern Conference rivals adding big pieces like Lillard and Holiday. Morey and the Sixers took a similar approach with Ben Simmons two years ago, holding him all the way until the trade deadline so that they could find the most suitable deal.

While outsiders in Philly are antsy to move on from the 10-time All-Star, Mizell writes that the belief inside the organization is that a move to make a trade now, even if it would end any potential distraction, is too reckless to justify. Mizell explains that sources on both sides are taking things day-by-day, even if that means leaving the door open for Harden to make things uncomfortable leading into the season, something he hasn’t done up to this point.

Morey is unlikely to allow Harden to force his hand, Mizell writes, because head coach Nick Nurse could always bench Harden and start Tyrese Maxey as the team’s lead ball-handler. Several other factors play into a potential decision by the Sixers to hold Harden until the deadline, according to Mizell, including the star guard potentially rescinding his trade request, better prospective trades popping up as the season goes on, and not wanting to take a step back during their window of contention, especially coming off Joel Embiid‘s MVP year.

We have more from the Sixers:

  • Harden was a full participant in Philadelphia’s final training camp practice at Colorado State on Friday for the first time since he re-joined the team on Tuesday, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps writes. However, his status for the Sixers’ preseason opener against the Celtics on Sunday is still uncertain, according to Bontemps, who says Nurse’s rotations are still fluid for the first preseason action for the Sixers.
  • Embiid reiterated to reporters on Thursday that Harden’s presence for the Sixers was not a distraction, stating that the team’s focus is on learning and installing Nurse’s schemes, Bontemps writes. “As a team, we’re just focused on what we’ve got to learn, and learn as soon as possible,” Embiid said. “We don’t have a lot of time. We want to win, and that’s the goal.
  • While the Harden situation is drawing plenty of attention, there are a handful of other storylines flying under the radar during Philadelphia’s camp. Maxey, in particular, is drawing rave reviews from Nurse, who’s becoming increasingly impressed by the guard’s outside shot and ability to create space, according to PHLY Sports’ Derek Bodner. Bodner also writes that the Sixers’ ball movement has been improved in camp.

And-Ones: Embiid, Olympics, Bronny, Abu Dhabi

Team USA head coach Steve Kerr said on Thursday that he “couldn’t be happier” when he heard from executive director Grant Hill that Joel Embiid has committed to play for the U.S. in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Kerr-led USA Basketball squad that finished in fourth place and missed out on a medal at this year’s World Cup was thin up front, lacking the size to match up with some of the bigger, more physical teams in the tournament. Embiid should certainly help address that issue.

As Joey Linn of Sports Illustrated writes, French forward Nicolas Batum told reporters on Thursday that he wasn’t surprised about Embiid committing to the U.S. over France (or his native Cameroon). He even admitted that, “as a basketball fan,” it could be “amazing” to see Embiid playing alongside some of the other Team USA stars. Still, he joked that he didn’t need to see FIBA’s No. 1 ranked team add even more talent.

“As an opponent it’s like, ‘You didn’t need that much. You got plenty already, so you need to bring Embiid?'” Batum said with a smile. “But hey, good for them. It’s going to be an interesting tournament anyway, so we’ll see.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking to reporters this week, LeBron James provided a positive update on his son Bronny James, who suffered cardiac arrest during a July workout. The 19-year-old USC prospect is “doing extremely well” and still plans to play for the Trojans at some point this season, according to LeBron. Myron Medcalf of has the story and the quotes.
  • In a conversation with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune about the league’s decision to hold a pair of preseason games in Abu Dhabi, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said he believes the NBA’s values of diversity, inclusion, and equity travel with the league. “We demonstrate that through our actions. We have a female referee (Ashley Moyer-Gleich) on the court (in Thursday’s game),” Tatum said. “I think that will send a message here to have a female referee on the court refereeing an NBA game here in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi. The way that we operate, we bring our values with us.”
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) has unveiled his win total projections for all 30 NBA teams. There are a few surprises among those projections, particularly in the West, where Pelton’s top two teams are the Grizzlies and Timberwolves. The Lakers and Clippers are all the way down at Nos. 8 and 10 in the conference, respectively.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Clippers, Embiid, Team USA

One of the biggest league-wide storylines of the summer was James Harden‘s trade request following his opt-in with the Sixers. Drama ensued over the following months, with tensions becoming so volatile that Harden called president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a “liar” publicly in August.

However, after skipping Philadelphia’s media day on Monday, for which he was fined, and the first day of training camp on Tuesday, Harden showed up to Sixers training camp on Wednesday. As we relayed, there was no drama at training camp on Wednesday, nor was there any on Thursday, writes The Ringer’s Seerat Sohi.

Sohi details the summer of opposition between Harden and Morey, writing that Harden may have ended his holdout due to Philadelphia’s history of fining players for non-attendance, just as they did with Ben Simmons two years ago.

Exploring how the partnership got to this point, Sohi writes that Harden’s relationship with Morey began to deteriorate shortly before free agency, with Harden’s representatives wishing to engage in contract talk. But having been stripped of draft capital last offseason for tampering, Morey didn’t wish to have that happen again, and remained silent, according to Sohi. Harden spent the summer waiting to hear from Morey, Sohi writes, but didn’t.

Rumors swirled about Harden’s future well before free agency, with the 34-year-old guard tied to the Rockets, with whom he won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2017/18. However, according to Sohi, new coach Ime Udoka “was not a fan” of Harden, leaving Harden feeling as though he was running out of options and thus, looking to the Clippers, where he ended up demanding a trade to.

Before Harden picked up to his player option, his camp felt as though the Sixers would short-change him on a possible contract, writes Sohi. Seeing as Houston wasn’t a viable option for the star guard, Sohi writes that Harden’s camp felt as though Morey wished to get Harden to agree to a short, team-friendly deal, just as he did last summer. For now, Harden’s request stands as the Sixers approach their first preseason game on October 8.

We have more from the Sixers:

  • In a separate story regarding the Harden and Morey fallout, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic corroborate Sohi’s piece, asserting that Harden joined the Sixers for camp to avoid fines. However, the pair also write that Harden is taking part because he believes a potential deal with the Clippers is still in the works. Los Angeles is “going to great lengths” to trade for Harden, according to Charania and Amick, attempting to move pick swaps for additional draft capital to strengthen their offer. Charania and Amick write that the Clippers offered an unprotected first-round pick, a pick swap and matching salaries for Harden in July, but the Sixers want more, particularly eyeing Terance Mann and multiple first-round picks.
  • For Joel Embiid‘s part in the Harden/Morey drama, Sohi writes that the franchise center is open to waiting to see what Morey can build and understands why it may take a while to build a contending team. Embiid has been through this before, Sohi writes, taking part in the “Process Era,” though that was well before his emergence as a superstar and league MVP.
  • Embiid committed to play for Team USA in the 2024 Olympics on Thursday. Embiid was picking between the United States, France and Cameroon’s Olympic teams, and he explained his decision to play for the Americans to media on Thursday, as relayed by PHLY Sports’ Kyle Neubeck (Twitter link). “It was tough,” Embiid said. “Obviously, I love all three options. … “My son is American, and you add that to the fact that I’ve been here for such a long time, I feel like for the past few years … every decision has been based off of family.

Joel Embiid To Play For Team USA In Olympics

Sixers center Joel Embiid has committed to Team USA for the 2024 Olympics, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Embiid informed USA Basketball executive director Grant Hill of his decision Thursday morning, sources tell Shelburne. She adds that Embiid and Hill met for nearly an hour earlier this week in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the Sixers are conducting training camp.

Because Embiid was born in Cameroon and has citizenship with both the U.S. and France, he was eligible to play for any of those teams. Shelburne’s sources said he wants to help Team USA become the No. 1 nation in international basketball again after it failed to medal at this year’s World Cup.

Embiid recently told ESPN that he would love to represent his home nation, but he was hesitant to commit because Cameroon hasn’t qualified for the 2024 Olympics. France reportedly gave Embiid an October 10 deadline to reach his decision.

Next year’s competition, which will be held in Paris, will mark Embiid’s first appearance in the Olympics. He will be a welcome addition to an American team that was routinely out-rebounded by larger opponents during the World Cup.

A six-time All-Star, Embiid is the NBA’s reigning MVP, having averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.7 blocks on .548/.330/.857 shooting in 66 games (34.6 minutes) in 2022/23. The 29-year-old led the league in scoring for the second straight season.

Durant, Curry, LeBron, Other U.S. Stars Express Olympic Interest

The 2024 Olympics in Paris were a popular topic of discussion on media days around the NBA in Monday, with many of the league’s biggest American stars expressing interest in representing Team USA next summer.

Suns forward Kevin Durant, who won Olympic gold medals in 2012, 2016, and 2020, was adamant in addressing his 2024 plans, telling reporters, “I will play in the Olympics next year,” according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Durant’s Suns teammate Devin Booker also indicated that he would accept an invite from USA Basketball, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes, while KD’s former Warriors teammate Stephen Curry told reporters, “(I) definitely want to be on the team,” per Reynolds.

Lakers forward LeBron James, who was rumored last month to be recruiting his fellow U.S. stars to play at next year’s Olympics, confirmed his interest, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. His teammate Anthony Davis wasn’t prepared to commit yet, telling reporters that it’s too early to say whether he’ll play (Twitter link via Buha).

Of course, one of the biggest question marks for Team USA is Joel Embiid, who has yet to take part in an international competition and has citizenship in France and the U.S. in addition to his native Cameroon.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Embiid said today that he’d like to play in the Olympics but is still weighing his options. While the U.S. and France have already qualified, Cameroon will compete in a qualifying tournament next summer in the hopes of earning a spot in the 12-team Olympic field. Embiid, who was reportedly given an October 10 deadline by the French team, said he hopes to make his decision “in the next few days.”

“I love all three options,” Embiid said, per ESPN. “Cameroon, I’m born there, I’m from there and I always want to represent my country. But the goal is also to play in the Olympics. If we had a chance, or if we would qualify for the Olympics, that will be an easy decision. But that’s still up in the air. And I really do want to play in the Olympics.”

Here’s more on the potential Team USA roster, which can only accommodate 12 players:

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Harden, Tucker, Oubre, Maxey, Green

The impact that James Harden‘s standoff with the Sixers might have on star teammate Joel Embiid has been an ongoing subplot this offseason as the Harden saga drags on. Speaking to reporters on Monday for the first time this fall, Embiid was asked if he feels the need to put public pressure on his team’s front office to make a move, the way Giannis Antetokounmpo did this summer in Milwaukee.

“It’s tricky. I think it could go both ways,” Embiid said (Twitter video link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “… (The Sixers’ front office decision-makers) get paid to make those decisions, so that’s why I leave it up to them. If they want my opinion, maybe I give it, but I trust (them). Any team that I’m on, I’m still going to believe that I have a chance to win, no matter who’s on the roster. And we’ve got a lot of great players. I’m happy with what we have.”

Embiid went on to say that he thinks Tyrese Maxey could be primed to make a leap this season and that the Harden situation will “hopefully” be resolved soon.

“If he’s here, we love him and we want him to be with us, and I think we have a better team with him on the floor,” Embiid said. “And I think he knows it too, so hopefully that gets resolved. If that doesn’t (get resolved), it doesn’t change the goal, it doesn’t change anything. The goal is still to go out there and try to win a championship.”

Here’s more from the Sixers’ media day:

  • Veteran Sixers forward P.J. Tucker said today that his relationship with Harden goes “way beyond basketball” and that he supports him whether he ends up remaining in Philadelphia or getting traded elsewhere (Twitter video link via Pompey). Asked if he thinks Harden will end up reporting to the 76ers, Tucker said he has “no idea,” adding, “I know he feels strongly about how he feels.”
  • A feeling that he was wanted was a primary reason why Kelly Oubre signed with the Sixers, he told reporters today (Twitter link via Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports). According to Oubre, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and head coach Nick Nurse both pushed hard for him to sign with the club.
  • Although he’s very much a part of their long-term plans, the Sixers aren’t looking to extend Maxey this offseason because they want to maximize their 2024 cap flexibility. Maxey said today that he’s not upset or discouraged by that decision, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “I’m focusing on the season,” he said. “… I love Philly. I know it’s a business. I know this is how it goes.”
  • Danny Green was limited to 11 appearances last season while recovering from ACL and LCL tears and he turned 36 in June, but the veteran swingman sounds optimistic about his chances of having a bounce-back season. “This is the best my body’s felt in a long time,” he said today, per Mizell (Twitter link).

And-Ones: Embiid, Reynolds, O’Quinn

Olympic rosters don’t have to be submitted until next summer but Team France is hoping that the reigning Most Valuable Player will make a decision as early as next month.

Joel Embiid can choose to play for the USA, France or Cameroon. French federation president Jean-Pierre Siutat told a radio station in his home country (hat tip to that they’d like to get an answer from Embiid by Oct. 10.

“It will happen very quickly in all cases,” Siutat said. “We hope so and I think he knows it. We may have an answer by October 10. We have set this deadline.”

The Sixers center didn’t participate in the recent FIBA World Cup and has yet to represent any country in international play, which is why he still has the option of representing any three of the nations where he has citizenship. France and the U.S. have already qualified for the Olympics, while Cameroon will compete in a qualifying tournament next summer to try to earn a spot.

We have more international basketball news:

  • Former NBA forward Cameron Reynolds is close to signing with Greece’s Promitheas Patras, Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews reports.  Reynolds appeared in a combined 24 NBA games with Minnesota, San Antonio and Houston, most recently during the 2020/21 season. He has also played in Italy and Montenegro.
  • Former NBA center Kyle O’Quinn is signing with the Sichuan Blue Whales in China, according to Sportando. O’Quinn played in Japan last season. O’Quinn has played for Orlando, New York, Indiana and Philadelphia. His 2019/20 stint with the Sixers, in which he played 29 regular season games, was his last appearance in the NBA. He averaged 5.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 472 career regular season contests.
  • We took a deep dive into projected minimum salaries for the 2024/25 season. Get the info here.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Giannis, Hart, Harden

For the first time in years, the Nets will report to training camp without a superstar on their roster, but they have plenty of assets ready for when the next one becomes available, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn is in a transition phase after shipping out Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in separate deals last February. Those trades gave the team a foundation built around Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, along with a parcel of draft assets that can match any team in the league.

The Nets have seven tradable first-round picks through 2030, along with four others that could be involved in swaps. They own unprotected firsts from the Suns in 2027 and 2029 and one from the Mavericks in 2029. Lewis points out that those picks could greatly increase in value as the core in Phoenix becomes older and especially if Irving and Luka Doncic eventually decide to leave Dallas.

Lewis doesn’t expect Brooklyn to use any of its assets to chase players who are currently on the market such as Damian Lillard, Tyler Herro or James Harden. The front office wants to be fully stocked in case a major star such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell or Doncic eventually becomes available.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks risk missing out on other opportunities if they decide to wait for the possibility of an Antetokounmpo trade, Ian Begley of states in a mailbag column. He points to Raptors forward OG Anunoby as an example of a useful talent who might be available through trade, but New York can’t make a bid for him if the front office is determined to preserve its assets for a run at Antetokounmpo. Begley also notes that Antetokounmpo could ultimately decide to stay in Milwaukee or force his way to another team.
  • The Knicks appear to have Josh Hart penciled in as their backup power forward, Begley adds. New York hasn’t signed anyone to replace Obi Toppin after trading him to Indiana, and using Hart in that role could open up playing time for free agent addition Ryan Arcidiacono.
  • The attention being focused on a potential Lillard deal is holding up any progress the Sixers could be making on a Harden trade, Derek Bodner states on the latest PHLY Sports podcast. Philadelphia talked to the Trail Blazers about a Lillard deal this summer, Kyle Neubeck adds, but he cautions that doesn’t mean the teams were ever close to a deal.

Trade Rumors: Future Trade Candidates, Hield, Ayton, Brogdon

As teams besides the Heat consider how aggressively to pursue Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, one factor they’re weighing is whether it makes more sense to preserve their assets in the hopes of landing an even more valuable star in the near future, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this week during an appearance on NBA Today (YouTube link).

“There could be some massive talents available for trades next season. Maybe at the trade deadline, maybe next year,” Wojnarowski said. “So you have teams weighing the assets they might use to trade for Damian Lillard vs. who could be available to them that they don’t want to be out of the game for. Some younger, first team All-NBA type players who may be in that marketplace.”

While Wojnarowski didn’t name any specific players, his ESPN colleague Zach Lowe followed up on Woj’s point by directly mentioning Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and obliquely referencing Sixers center Joel Embiid as well.

“Look, not to put it too baldly, but Giannis’ recent comments have changed the landscape of the league, at least a little bit, and have had teams at least have the meeting of, ‘Wait a second, do we need to keep our powder dry if we think we have a one percent, two percent, five percent (chance to acquire him)?'” Lowe said.

“And by the way, the Bucks may not have to trade Giannis at all. They may win the title this year, everything’s fine, he signs an extension. But those comments, along with everything going on in Philly, have at least forced you to have the meeting of, ‘Do we need to keep our powder dry?'”

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors:

  • The Mavericks, Sixers, Bucks are among the teams to watch as the Pacers seek a trade partner for sharpshooter Buddy Hield, Shams Charania of The Athletic said in an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link). “Those are the types of teams that could definitely use a shooter like Buddy Hield,” Charania said. “And I think they’ve had a level of interest in him over the last several months.”
  • With Deandre Ayton‘s name once again popping up in trade rumors, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports cites a source who says the Mavericks made an “underwhelming” offer for the Suns center over the summer. Bourguet adds that Phoenix fielded inquiries on Ayton on draft night in June, but the offers at that time weren’t compelling, with one source even describing them as “trash.”
  • While Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe acknowledges that the Malcolm Brogdon situation in Boston “feels slightly off,” he hasn’t gotten any recent indications that the Celtics are considering trading Brogdon any more than they’re considering moving any other player.

Sixers’ Nick Nurse Talks Harris, Reed, Embiid, More

Newly hired Sixers head coach Nick Nurse has been dealt a fairly difficult hand this summer. Star point guard James Harden is angling to be traded away before having played a single game under Nurse.

But Nurse still has a team to coach. To that end, he recently sat down with Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire for a comprehensive conversation about the club.

Here are a few standout moments from the chat, which is well worth reading in full.

On how he’ll integrate power forward Tobias Harris into his system: 

“There’s so much more he could possibly do and I kind of want him to settle in and play this role that he’s capable of playing that he’s got experience playing, but I do kind of want him to dream outside that role or expand outside that role eventually.

“I do keep a pretty loose lid on the roles if that makes any sense because I think there [are] guys — there’s some guys maybe they never shot three-pointers before and they’re not bad and we may need them to shoot more threes or, or whatever it is. [Reserve center] Paul Reed would be a good example for us for that. When we got James and Joel [Embiid] out there, there’s gonna be some open threes. So let’s start to open up their minds a little bit and let’s get working on it, and let’s see what happens. Things like that.”

On improving Reed’s shooting mechanics:

“Yeah, I mean, listen, about day two after I had the job, we went in the gym with Paul Reed and we just tried to start making a couple mechanical adjustments on his shooting form to see if he couldn’t shoot it a little better. It’s really been going good. I think he’s gonna have a good, good season.”

On how he will handle Embiid with regards to the league’s new resting policy:

“I think that we are looking at it maybe a little different than people think we might be. We’re trying to get him to play more games. Our goal is that it’s going up for him, not not the other direction, and some people would say, ‘Oh, that’s playoffs. Is he going to be?’ We’re just trying to get it going the other direction. I think that’s just what our people believe here that he can play and again, knock on wood, cross our fingers, all that stuff. There’s always things that can come up with that stuff, but I don’t know. I believe in the guys playing as much as they can and let’s see what happens.”