Sergio Rodriguez

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Noel, McConnell, Rodriguez

Sixers coach Brett Brown expects second-year center Jahlil Okafor to be ready by opening night, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. Okafor is still experiencing soreness in his right knee related to the operation he had in March. Brown said his progress is encouraging, but he will probably begin the season with a minutes restriction (Twitter link). The team is less optimistic about Nerlens Noel, who was scratched from a game last week with a strained groin and may not be able to play in the October 26th opener.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Brown is still working out roles for backup point guards T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Jerryd Bayless, who signed a three-year, $27MM deal this summer, is still projected as the starter, although he will be sidelined for a while with a wrist injury. McConnell has been announced as the starting point guard for opening night, but Rodriguez will get the start in tonight’s preseason game with the Pistons. The coach warned fans not to read anything into the decisions. “There’s no sort of madness from a discipline standpoint, from a performance standout,” Brown said. “It’s just that we’ve got a few [preseason] games left. I want to see Sergio more at the start of a game with that group we have been looking at, bring T.J. off the bench and really let him be bothersome defensively as he is. That’s the only motive behind that.”
  • The Sixers are still planning to take it easy with Joel Embiid, but they haven’t ruled out playing him in back-to-back games, Pompey tweets. Philadelphia plans to keep Embiid on a minutes restriction to reduce the risk of problems with the foot injury that cost him his first two NBA seasons.
  • Former Sixers guard Pierre Jackson will play in Croatia this season, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Jackson signed with Cedevita Zagreb, the defending champions in Croatia. Philadelphia waived the 25-year-old point guard before the start of the past two seasons.

Sixers Notes: Covington, Rodriguez, Saric

Small forward Robert Covington should get plenty of scoring opportunities with the presence of center Joel Embiid this season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid’s ability to draw double teams in the post could often leave Covington open beyond the 3-point arc, where he’s made 40% of his attempts this preseason. He’s also intent upon gaining a reputation as a strong defender, Pompey adds. “I’m going to keep growing as a defender, becoming a two-way player,” Covington told Pompey.

In other preseason news involving the Sixers:

  • In the same article, Pompey notes that point guard T.J. McConnell has been looking more for his shot, McConnell is averaging 10 points and 4.6 assists while shooting 50% during the first three preseason games.
  • Veteran point guard Sergio Rodriguez, who is playing in the NBA for the first time since 2010, has already endeared himself to the team’s big men, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The longtime Euro star had 15 points, eight assists and no turnovers in 27 minutes against the Cavaliers on Saturday. “He’s really helpful,” Embiid told Cooney. “When we play, he always talks to me and tells me where I need to be and how to get position.” Rodriguez, who has an $8MM contract this season, is currently backing up McConnell with Jerryd Bayless sidelined by a wrist injury.
  • Coach Brett Brown plans to limit forward Dario Saric‘s minutes during the preseason, Brian Seltzer of relays. Saric has gotten very little time off since last October, when he played in Europe. Saric was also a key member of Croatia’s Olympic team in Rio this summer. Saric played well in the team’s first two preseason games before shooting 1-for-7 from the field against the Cavaliers. Brown is planning to sit him for the team’s next game on Tuesday. “I sense sometimes that he is sore, and I just want to be mindful of that,” Brown told Seltzer.

Sixers Notes: Rodriguez, Stauskas, Bayless, Simmons

Sixers coach Brett Brown is enjoying the luxury of having veteran leaders in camp this season, writes Brian Seltzer of The Philadelphia front office has been criticized in past years for not putting experienced players on the roster to guide the team’s young talent. Over the summer, the Sixers added free agents Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez and re-signed Elton Brand. Brown seemed particularly impressed with Rodriguez, who has 10 years of professional experience between the NBA and Spain, along with two Olympic appearances. “He just has a real gift for understanding especially offensive tempo,” Brown said. “I think he’s got a bounce to his game and a pace to his game that he will be absorbed in how I want to play.”

There’s more training camp news from the Sixers:

  • Entering his second season in Philadelphia, Nik Stauskas finally feels comfortable in the NBA, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After being picked eighth overall by the Kings in 2014, Stauskas has produced two lackluster seasons, but he sounds ready for a turnaround this year. “I have a confidence that I know I belong here now,” he said. “The first two years, there’s so many times that I’m trying to fit in. I go to bed at night and I wonder, do I really belong here? Like, is this where I was meant to be? I think this is the first time in my NBA career where I said I know I belong here.”
  • Bayless was on the Bucks team that was a surprise playoff participant two years ago and he sees similarities with the current Sixers squad, Pompey writes in a separate piece. “That’s not a promise or anything,” Bayless added. “But at the same time, if we follow the path, and we play defense on a nightly basis, you never know what can happen. We just want to continue to get better.”
  • Brown is working on combinations in camp involving rookies Ben Simmons and Dario Saric and he plans to use them together during the season, Pompey notes in another story. “I think the pluses are you have 6-10 do-alls that really can jump into a very versatile defensive world with perhaps a lot of switching,” Brown said. “I think they are elite defensive rebounders that can rebound, lead a break, and take off.”

Sixers Notes: Henderson, Bayless, Rodriguez, Pleiss

The Sixers solidified their backcourt and added a veteran presence in their locker room with three offseason signings, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Entering free agency with $54MM in cap space, the team spent most of it on shooting guard Gerald Henderson and point guards Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez. Philadelphia will pay Bayless more than $9.4MM for the upcoming season, along with $9MM for Henderson and $8MM for Rodriguez, giving them the three highest salaries on the roster. Marks adds that the Sixers learned the importance of having a serviceable point guard last season when they started 1-30 before trading for Ish Smith on Christmas Eve.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers are the only team with 20 players currently under contract, Marks notes in the same story. That’s the league maximum heading into training camp, and it means the team will face some tough decisions in cutting down its roster. Friday’s trade for Tibor Pleiss gives the Sixers 14 players with fully guaranteed contracts, although Pleiss’ deal is only for $3MM, so there has been speculation that Philadelphia may not hold onto him. Pleiss played just 82 minutes in Utah last season, so the Sixers may want to evaluate him in camp before making a decision. Philadelphia has six players with partial or non-guaranteed deals.
  • In his rookie season, Jahlil Okafor never found a way to use his one-on-one offensive skills to help his teammates, writes Derek Bodner of In comparing the contributions of Okafor and Nerlens Noel, Bodner also contends that Okafor doesn’t do much on offense when he doesn’t have the ball and that the defensive concerns that haunted him coming into the league were well founded. Bodner believes the Sixers will eventually have to deal either Okafor or Noel, and the drafting of Ben Simmons and the apparent health of Joel Embiid will probably make the decision happen sooner.
  • Former Sixers power forward Drew Gordon is close to signing with Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Gordon, the younger brother of Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, played nine games with Philadelphia in 2014/15.

And-Ones: Stackhouse, Labor, Olympics, Garnett

The Raptors are expected to name former All-Star Jerry Stackhouse as head coach of their D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, sources told Chris Reichert of Stackhouse, who played for eight teams during a career that lasted from 1995-2013, spent last season on Dwane Casey’s staff. He would replace Jesse Mermuys, who is now an assistant to new Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton. Stackhouse coached the Raptors’ Summer League team in Las Vegas last month. Raptors 905 was an expansion team last season and had several players that also saw action in the NBA, including Anthony Bennett, Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright and Lucas Nogueira, Reichert adds.

In other news around the league:

  • NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is optimistic a new labor agreement will be reached before a potential lockout, she told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “Our teams have been in discussions for some months now and we have made progress and we’re inclined to continue along those lines,” she said. “We have meetings this summer and we’re meeting next week and [consistently] after that. We’re trying to get a deal as quickly as we can, ideally before the start of the season.” Roberts added that if an agreement isn’t reached by the Dec. 15th deadline, the union would likely opt out, triggering the possible lockout following the season.
  • American fans will get their first look at a lot of foreign players during the Summer Olympics, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. There will be many players whose names are familiar because teams hold their draft rights, such as Croatian star Dario Saric, who recently signed to play for the Sixers next season. Other prominent names include Lithuania’s Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Spain’s Willy Hernangomez, who will both be part of the Knicks; Nigeria’s Michael Gbinije, a second-round pick of the Pistons; China’s Zhou Qi, a Rockets’ second-rounder; Spain’s Sergio Llull, who the Rockets have been trying to convince to come to the NBA, Lithuania’s Domantas Sabonis, who was traded to the Thunder on draft night; and Spain’s Alex Abrines, who recently signed with the Thunder.
  • Kevin Garnett met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor but no final decision materialized regarding Garnett’s future, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The 40-year-old Garnett, who appeared in 38 games last season, has one year and $8MM remaining on his contract.
  • CAA Sports signed NBA free agent guards Sergio Rodriguez and Ish Smith and negotiated deals with their new clubs, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The Sixers signed the 30-year-old Rodriguez to a one-year, $8MM contract. Smith received a three-year, $18MM deal from the Pistons.

Sixers Sign Sergio Rodriguez

JULY 13: The Sixers have officially issued a press release to announce their deal with Rodriguez. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reported on Tuesday that it’s worth $6.8MM over one year.

JULY 4: After striking a deal with Jerryd Bayless earlier in free agency, the Sixers have further fortified their backcourt by reaching an agreement with Spanish guard Sergio Rodriguez, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. According to Charania, the Sixers and Rodriguez have agreed to a one-year, $8MM contract.

Rodriguez, 30, was a first-round pick back in 2006, but hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2009/10 season, when he played a total of 66 games for the Kings and Knicks. Rodriguez previously spent time with the Trail Blazers, and appeared in a total of 285 regular-season NBA contests. However, he averaged just 13.2 minutes per game during his NBA career, and didn’t make much of an impact.

Over the last several seasons, Rodriguez has been a go-to contributor for Spain’s Real Madrid. In 27 Euroleague games during the 2015/16 season (23.4 MPG), Rodriguez averaged 10.9 points and 6.2 assists per game, while shooting 49.5% from the floor and 40.9% from three-point range.

The Nets had previously been dubbed the favorites to reach a deal with Rodriguez, but last Friday a report had indicated that an agreement between the two sides appeared “unlikely.”

Contract Details: Plumlee, Rodriguez, Vasquez

Here’s the latest contract details and notes from around the league:

Atlantic Notes: Kuzminskas, Lin, Sullinger

The Knicks are hoping Lithuanian small forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas can help fill the void left by losing Derrick Williams to Miami, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Kuzminskas signed with New York Saturday, choosing the Knicks over the Lakers and Hawks. The 6’9″ small forward played in the Spanish League this season and has been compared with Danilo Gallinari. “We felt like we needed an agile, mobile 3 that had some ability to shoot distance and spread the court,’’ said team president Phil Jackson. “It may take him an adjustment to NBA play — we understand. It gives us another opportunity to play smaller, quicker with a wide extension of spacing.” The Knicks gave Kuzminskas a two-year deal, using almost all of their $2.9MM room exception for 2016/17. A source told Berman that Jackson hopes to add shooting guard Sasha Vujacic to the roster, along with a “cheap” veteran big man.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

And-Ones: Turner, Whiteside, Parsons, Rubio

In an interesting interview with Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, Evan Turner explained how he ended up reaching an agreement with the Trail Blazers earlier today, expressing confidence that he’ll be a great fit in Portland. Turner suggested that he’d “play in Boston every single day of the week” if all other factors were equal, but the Celtics would have only have offered him about half what the Blazers did, and the C’s likely would’ve reduced his role as well.

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

  • Hassan Whiteside‘s max salary isn’t set in stone yet, according to Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald, who tweets that the young center would be willing to take a little less if Kevin Durant wants to sign with the Heat.
  • Chandler Parsons called his decision to sign with the Grizzlies the toughest of his life, calling Portland “incredible” and citing Memphis’ coaching staff as a major factor in his choice. Tim MacMahon of has the quotes from Parsons.
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press is skeptical that the Timberwolves will trade Ricky Rubio this summer, tweeting that head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to work with the point guard. Krawczynski expects Rubio to be on Minnesota’s roster when training camp rolls around.
  • Dubbed last week as the favorites to reach a deal with Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez, the Nets are are still trying to get a deal done with Rodriguez, but sources tell Mike Mazzeo and Marc Stein of (Twitter link) that an agreement looks “unlikely.”
  • The Thunder issued a press release today confirming the hiring of Adrian Griffin as an assistant on Billy Donovan‘s staff, as was reported last month. Vin Bhavnani and former NBA guard Royal Ivey also received promotions and are now assistant coaches, per the team.

Atlantic Notes: Rose, Noah, Crawford, Rodriguez

Now that Derrick Rose is with the Knicks, his first priority will be convincing former Chicago teammate Joakim Noah to join him, writes Adam Zagoria of Noah is a New York City native who will become an unrestricted free agent Friday, and the Knicks have an obvious need at center after trading Robin Lopez to the Bulls to acquire Rose. “Oh, I want him, he knows that,” Rose said of Noah. “I think his family knows that. I think everyone knows that. Even [Thursday] night I was talking to him about it and it’s the same way. He’s in a position where he got injured twice last year. It was his contract year and he’s got to figure what he wants to do, so I can’t get mad with the decision he will make soon or whenever he makes it. He knows that I would want to play with him.” 

Rose said he may change his policy about free agents in general and become an active recruiter for the Knicks. He also alluded to his own free agency next summer, saying, “I hope I’ll be able to play the rest of my career here, but we’ll have to see how this one year goes.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Returning to the Knicks is becoming a viable option for Clippers free agent Jamal Crawford, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year has supporters inside the Knicks organization and he has interest in joining the team. “I’m not talking about any one team, but everyone knows how I feel about New York,” Crawford said. “I really enjoyed my time there.” He was with the Knicks from 2004 to 2008, before being traded to Golden State. Crawford, 36, earned $5.675MM last season with the Clippers, who own his Bird Rights and have expressed a desire to re-sign him.
  • The Nets are the favorites to reach a deal with Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez, tweets international journalist David Pick. The 30-year-old Rodriguez has prior NBA experience with the Blazers, Kings and Knicks.
  • The Raptors will continue their search for a power forward, either through free agency or trades, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. Toronto gained depth in the front court by drafting Jakob Poeltl at No. 9 and Pascal Siakam at No. 27, but the team still doesn’t believe it has its starting power forward on the roster. Thirty-six-year-old Luis Scola, who started 76 games this season, will be an unrestricted free agent. The Raptors would also like to pick up more outside shooters, Wolstat notes, especially if they have to trade Terrence Ross to get a power forward.
  • Poeltl was a back-to-the basket center in college, but he’s trying to improve his shooting range to fit the modern NBA game, Wolstat relays in the same piece. “I’ve started shooting a lot more, and I’ve noticed some quick improvement,” Poeltl said. “So I really hope I can be or become a better shooter fast and stretch the floor a little more.”