Richaun Holmes

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Brown, Holmes, Ilyasova

It’s time for rookie guard Markelle Fultz to break his public silence and address the issues that have limited him to just four games this season, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The things Fultz needs to explain, according to Pompey, are whether a scapular muscle imbalance forced him to change his shot or whether it was done on the advice of his trainer, Keith Williams, and what teammate Joel Embiid meant when he said of Fultz, “I don’t feel like a lot of people … have had his back.”

Williams has denied making changes to Fultz’s shot and some people in the organization don’t believe it happened, but Fultz could easily clear up the situation if the team made him available to the media. However, he hasn’t granted any interviews apart from a brief one on TNT. A grievance was filed through the Pro Basketball Writers Association, but the NBA sided with the Sixers. The team may be trying to protect Fultz, Pompey adds, but the silence is just leading to more speculation.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • This is the first time since coach Brett Brown took over five years ago that the Sixers haven’t dealt away or waived someone at the trade deadline, Pompey notes in a separate story. Not only did they keep their core intact, they added a shooter by picking up Marco Belinelli from the buyout market. “It’s something that from the city’s perspective, from the fans’ perspective and from the these guys’ perspective to take continuity and move it forward instead of hack away at it and chop it down,” Brown said. “We respect it. We appreciate it.”
  • Richaun Holmes made a rare appearance Saturday, relays Sarah Todd of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The back-up center had sat out seven of the past nine games, but was scheduled for some minutes as Brown tries to prepare his whole roster for the postseason. Holmes responded with impressive defense in a win over the Magic. “Right now my motivation is I know that Richaun has value, I know that he has things that he can bring to the table and I respect how he’s handled himself when he wasn’t playing that much,” Brown said. “I know it’s my job to keep him alive and tonight was an example of that and I thought he did very very well.”
  • The Sixers could be an option for Ersan Ilyasova once he completes a rumored buyout with the Hawks, according to Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports. Ilyasova spent 53 games in Philadelphia last season before being traded to Atlanta.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Hardaway, Theis, Holmes, Booker

After both Frank Ntilikina and Jarrett Jack were upstaged by T.J. McConnell in the Knicks‘ Christmas loss to the Sixers, head coach Jeff Hornacek wants both players to be more aggressive, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes.

“We always tell our point guards, if someone is pressuring you, just drive right around them. Don’t wait for them to get into your body and try to make a move,” Hornacek said. “You see when he comes up to get you. That’s that change of pace, that change of speeds, when you go one way then slow down, then speed up. And that’s something that Frank will learn.”

Ntilikina and Jack combined to shoot just 2-for-13 from the field in the loss. Also, the 20-year-old Ntilikina had a rare off night on defense, a part of the young Frenchman’s game that has been lauded thus far. With Jack the incumbent starter, the Knicks do not have much depth at the position, meaning the Knicks will need consistency from both players as the team battles for playoff contention.

Check out other Atlantic Division stories below:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s timetable to return from a stress injury to his left shin remains a mystery, ESPN’s Ian Begley writes. The Knicks announced on Wednesday that Hardaway has made progress — which includes on-court activities such as jumping — and that he will be evaluated weekly. The exact severity of Hardaway’s injury remains unclear but the team hopes to have their prized offseason signee back at some point in January.
  • Celtics big man Daniel Theis does not like playing with a protective mask on his face but his recent performance was not impacted by the facial inconvenience, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. Theis grabbed 15 rebounds in the Celtics’ win over the Bulls last Saturday. While he maintains that the mask is bothersome, he said the current one he uses has improved his vision on the court. Theis hopes to play without the mask in three weeks.
  • Derek Bodner of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) examined the Sixers’ recent loss to the Raptors. Bodner also highlights the disappearance of Trevor Booker and Richaun Holmes in Philadelphia’s recent skid.

Atlantic Notes: LeVert, Holmes, Hayward

The Nets have been pleased with the progress they’ve seen out of 23-year-old sophomore Caris LeVert. As Alex Squadron of the New York Post writes, the second-year swingman has begun to show what he’s capable of as a playmaker.

He’s come a long way,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I think we had high expectations for him. We kind of knew right off the bat he was going to be pretty good. I’m glad that the high expectations we had — it’s starting to show. It’s starting to come to light that he’s a pretty good player.

The Nets have relied on LeVert to handle some playmaking duties, something he did during his time in college. Over the course of the past four games, LeVert has averaged 16.5 points and 7.3 assists per game.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Third-year Sixers big man Richaun Holmes has made the most of an increase in playing time of late. The reserve can shift between the four and the five and provide offense off the bench. “It’s just a matter of the playing time, the opportunity,” Holmes told Keith Pompey of The Inquirer. “I know what I can do on the court.
  • Despite the fact that he hasn’t even turned 20 years old, Frank Ntilikina is beginning to show that he could lead an NBA offense, perhaps sooner than later. As Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes, the Knicks rookie continues to develop in a variety of ways as the season progresses.
  • Although there remains no timetable for his return, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been given the green light to remove his walking boot. “I feel alright I guess, as well as I could,” Hayward told the media, including A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “I’m out of the boot right now so that’s good, slowly getting better.

Atlantic Rumors: Johnson, LeBron, Stauskas, Raptors

Sixers veteran big man Amir Johnson isn’t pouting about sitting out the team’s loss to the Warriors on Saturday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Johnson, who signed a one-year, $11MM contract in the offseason, was actually appreciative that coach Brett Brown forewarned him that he would not play for the first time this season.  “I can’t do anything but respect having a coach come up to you and letting you know when you are going to get ready,” Johnson told Pompey. “With me being a vet, I always stay ready.” Johnson and Richaun Holmes are sharing time as center Joel Embiid‘s backups. Johnson isn’t concerned how his lack of playing time could impact him in the free agent market next summer, Pompey adds.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Cavaliers forward LeBron James wasn’t criticizing rookie guard Frank Ntilikina but rather taking a potshot at former Knicks president Phil Jackson with his comments regarding Mavs rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to’s Dave McMenamin. James said over the weekend that Smith “should be a Knick,” referring to Smith going one pick after the Knicks selected Ntilikina. James clarified his remarks on Monday, emphasizing he didn’t mean to disparage Ntilikina’s ability. Ntilikina still apparently took offense to James’ comments, giving the perennial All-Star a shove during their teams’ game on Monday night, the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney tweets.
  • The Sixers will be without backup guard Nik Stauskas for at least a week. He’s out with a sprained right ankle, Pompey tweets, and will be reevaluated in 7-10 days. That leave the Sixers a little thin in the backcourt. Jerryd Bayless is out indefinitely with a wrist injury.
  • The Raptors’ offensive issues have led to poor transition defense, as Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. The Raptors have made just 33.5% of their 3-point attempts while hoisting up an average of 31.1 per game. That leads to long rebounds and poor floor balance, a major reason why the Raptors rank 27th by allowing an average of 13.4 fast-break points per game, Smith adds.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Holmes, McConnell, Fultz

The Sixers refuse to negotiate a buyout with Jahlil Okafor in part because they don’t want the Celtics to get him for free, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia has held trade talks with Boston about the third-year center, dating back to last season. The Celtics were recently awarded an $8.4MM disabled player exception and would probably pounce on Okafor if he hits the open market.

In addition, Pompey notes, the Sixers have a history of trying to get something in exchange for their players, even when their future clearly is no longer in Philadelphia. As an example, he cites Evan Turner, who was in the same situation as Okafor four years ago. The Sixers decided in October not to pick up Turner’s option, but he remained on the roster until the February deadline, when he was dealt to Indiana. Pompey suggests that if Philly can’t find an acceptable deal for Okafor, he could face a long wait until he plays again.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Richaun Holmes, who made his season debut Friday night, gives the Sixers a needed boost to their interior defense, Pompey adds in a separate story. Now recovered from a fractured bone in his left wrist, Holmes limited the Pacers to six points in the paint while he was in the game. Coach Brett Brown says Amir Johnson remains the primary backup to Joel Embiid, but Pompey believes Holmes will challenge for playing time. “Richaun gave us a lot of energy and I’m glad to have him back,” Embiid said.
  • T.J. McConnell has managed to contribute this season, even though Ben Simmons has been given control of the offense, according to David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer. McConnell, who started 51 games at point guard last season, has been moved to a reserve role and has been effective when paired with Simmons in the backcourt.
  • The oddest story surrounding the Sixers this year has involved first-round pick Markelle Fultz, writes Ken Berger of Bleacher Report. After playing well during summer league, Fultz reported to training camp in September with a changed shooting motion and was recently diagnosed with scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. Former Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco said scapular imbalance isn’t painful and is a common condition in the NBA. “It certainly can lead to some structural pathology and pain issues,” DiFrancesco said. “But that in itself is not going to immediately, directly, equal pain.”

Atlantic Notes: Morris, Porzingis, Holmes

The Celtics will get Marcus Morris back tonight, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston tweets. The 28-year-old forward will make his debut with the franchise after coming over from the Pistons in a trade last summer.

Expect Morris to come off the bench in his Celtics debut with a minute restriction of around 20, Blakely adds in a second tweet.

Last season Morris averaged 14.0 points in 32.5 minutes per game for the Pistons. This year he’ll look to provide toughness and veteran leadership to a Celtics team eager to prove that they’re deep enough across the board to win the Eastern Conference.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Leave it to former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to understand what current coach Jeff Hornacek is going through as the man on the sidelines under the New York media spotlight. “He’s been around the game forever,” D’Antoni told Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “But you do have to get through the noise. Whether you listen to it or not, I don’t know. Hopefully he doesn’t. The way the team is playing right now, it looks good . . . Just don’t respond and don’t listen to it and if you don’t, you can live a very happy life.
  • The Sixers have plenty of big men but that doesn’t mean head coach Brett Brown isn’t still excited about the return of Richaun Holmes, who has missed the first two weeks of the season with a wrist injury. The center will return to action tonight, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes. “His breakaway-like rim-to-rim speed in early offense is A-plus,” Brown said. “There is sort of tenacity and toughness. He wears his heart on his sleeve that I think adds to what we are trying to do anyways. But there’s just a bounce to Richaun Holmes that makes him different.
  • The emergence of Kristaps Porzingis has brought a familiar but rare buzz back to Madison Square Garden. Barbara Barker of Newsday wrote about the excitement that surrounds the Knicks now, for the first time since Linsanity in 2012.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Johnson, Holmes, Anderson

Jahlil Okafor was a bad fit for the Sixers from the beginning, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia picked Okafor third in the 2015 draft despite already having centers Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel on the roster. There was never going to be enough playing time for all three big men, so Noel was traded to Dallas in February, and now Okafor appears to be on the way out.

The Sixers front office is working with representatives for the 21-year-old center to find a trade. He has put up two disappointing years in Philadelphia, playing a combined 101 games, and now has fallen out of the rotation. He has gotten into just one game this season.

Okafor’s injury history and poor defensive reputation are limiting the trade market. Coach Brett Brown can’t give him playing time to improve, Pompey notes, because the Sixers are under pressure to start winning and can’t afford to have a glaring liability on defense. That leaves Okafor glued to  the bench while he waits for a deal.

There’s more tonight out of Philadelphia:

  • Brown seems committed to free agent addition Amir Johnson as the backup center, relays Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports. The 30-year-old, who signed with Philadelphia over the summer after spending the last two years in Boston, is averaging 15 minutes per night. “I think it’s going to be Amir’s spot to lose,” Brown said. “… It’s always competitive, but the competitive nature has shifted toward Amir’s performance.”
  • Richaun Holmes will make his season debut Friday, cutting further into the playing time at center, Pompey tweets. The third-year big man has been sidelined since the preseason with a fractured bone in his left wrist.
  • Sixers swingman Justin Anderson is making his first return to Dallas tonight since the Mavericks shipped him out in the February trade for Noel, notes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Anderson got more minutes after arriving in Philadelphia and posted career-best numbers in scoring (8.5 points per game) and rebounds (4.0) over the final two months of last season. “Coming back to the place that drafted me, that kind of took me in, coddled me like a little baby of theirs, I grew a lot here,” Anderson said of the return to Dallas. “It was tough with the trade, but I think everything worked out for a reason. I’m in a great place. We’re onto something big.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Rotation, Holmes, Okafor

Shortly after finalizing his new five-year extension with the Sixers, Joel Embiid made his 2017 preseason debut with the team in Brooklyn on Wednesday, and the center’s performance in the game likely made 76ers fans a little more comfortable with their team’s big-money commitment. Playing just 15 minutes, Embiid poured in 22 points to go along with seven boards and three assists. He also made 14 of 18 free throws.

Of course, Embiid was one of the NBA’s best players on a per-minute basis last season as well, so his showing on Wednesday night didn’t come as a total surprise. For Embiid, the primary goal is to stay healthy enough to blow past last year’s career high of 31 games played and become a more frequent contributor to Philadelphia’s lineup.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Although Sixers head coach Brett Brown had previously said not to read much into his preseason rotations, Wednesday provided a preview of what the team’s regular season rotation might look like, writes Sarah Todd of Embiid was somewhat limited and Markelle Fultz didn’t play, but otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise to see everyone in similar roles on opening night.
  • Sixers big man Richaun Holmes confirmed to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that his fractured left wrist won’t require surgery, and will heal on its own. The club plans to re-evaluate the injury after about three weeks.
  • Jordan Brenner of has a fascinating and in-depth profile on Jahlil Okafor, who has become the forgotten man in Philadelphia as fans focus on other recent top-three picks Embiid, Fultz, and Ben Simmons. While Okafor says he still respects the organization and wants to succeed with the Sixers, he admits that he’s unsure about whether there’s still a role for him with the club. “Sometimes I do think it would be great to get a fresh start, be on a new team, new surroundings, new teammates,” Okafor said. “I think about that often and I think that’s something that could benefit me.”

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.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Hornacek, Holmes, Morris

The Sixers could still have $40MM in cap space next season despite agreeing to a five-year, $148MM extension with center Joel Embiid, ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out. Embiid’s starting salary of $25.3MM is $7MM more than his $18.3MM cap hold for the 2018/19 season, Marks continues. Philadelphia still has just $57MM in guaranteed contract commitments for next season, Marks adds.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • The current Knicks roster puts head coach Jeff Hornacek in a no-win situation, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. The front office has stressed improvement in effort and stops but recent acquisitions Tim Hardaway Jr., Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott won’t improve the defense, Bondy continues. Hornacek will have the unenviable task of trying to develop a system to mask those defensive shortcomings, Bondy adds.
  • Injured Sixers power forward Richaun Holmes doesn’t believe he’ll require surgery on his injured wrist, Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. Holmes suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist during a preseason game on Friday.
  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris needs to drops about seven pounds and work on his conditioning but he plans to play the regular-season opener, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Morris missed a portion of training camp while on trial in Phoenix for an assault charge. He was acquitted.
  • Forward K.J. McDaniels and Alfonzo McKinnie are likely fighting for the final spot on the Raptors’ opening-day roster, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. There’s room for both but GM Bobby Webster has expressed a desire to leave a spot open, Smith continues. Raptors coach Dwane Casey told Smith and other media members that the competition between the two is close. “There’s right now no clear-cut favorite going into this week,” he said.