Tobias Harris

Olympic Notes: Exhibition Game, Beal, Harris, Wood, Adebayo

There have been discussions about canceling Team USA’s exhibition game with Australia on Friday due to the U.S. team’s COVID issues, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Olgun Uluc tweet. Bradley Beal has been ruled out of the Olympics and Jerami Grant has also been placed under health and safety protocols. Australia defeated Team USA earlier in the week.

We have more on Team USA:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich is crestfallen for Beal, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes. “I’m dying for him. We all are,” Popovich said. “Since he’s a little kid this has been a dream of his, he was playing great, he was having fun, being a big part of us coming together chemistry-wise and as a family. So for him and his family, his immediate family, it’s devastating. We just feel horrible about it.”
  • USA Basketball is checking into Tobias Harris‘ availability, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The Sixers forward is currently out of the country but is expected to return Saturday evening. Rockets big man Christian Wood is also being considered as Beal’s replacement.
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo contributed 12 points, five assists, and five rebounds in the team’s victory over Argentina on Tuesday. Adebayo’s versatility could be a major component for the squad, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “The one thing about it is we don’t want everybody on the court thinking too much,” Adebayo said. “So I feel like with me and (Draymond Green), we have a responsibility to do all the little stuff — the screening, getting people open, making the extra pass. And obviously go score when there’s an opportunity.”

Carmelo Anthony Wins Inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award

Blazers‘ forward Carmelo Anthony has won the first ever Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Anthony was chosen by a selection committee composed of notable social justice leaders such as Abdul-Jabbar, Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick, student activist Teyonna Lofton, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía, Rise Founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen, and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum.

Fellow finalists were Harrison Barnes of the KingsSixers forward Tobias Harris, Jrue Holiday of the Bucks and Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Warriors, writes Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com.

Every finalist receives a $25,000 contribution to a social justice organization of their choice, and Anthony will receive a $100,000 contribution to his choice of organization.

Anthony’s contributions as a social justice champion include working on issues of systemic racism, police brutality, and criminal justice reform.  He launched the Carmelo Anthony Foundation 15 years ago to provide community outreach to fuel change and social reforms in local communities. In 2020, he served as guest Editor-in-Chief for Slam Magazine’s Special Social Justice Issue.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Irving, Harden, Bucks, Martin

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.

Sixers Notes: Simmons, Reed, Howard, Harris

Sixers guard Ben Simmons missed his fourth straight game today with flu-like symptoms, but he’s showing signs of recovery, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Coach Doc Rivers provided an update this afternoon, though he’s not sure when Simmons might be healthy enough to start playing again.

“I talked to Ben (Friday) and this morning,” Rivers said. “All I ask is how he’s feeling. I didn’t ask like, ‘Hey, how are you feeling? You know, when are you coming back?’ I don’t typically do that. I’ve always learned they’ll tell us, the trainers will tell us. And then the players will tell us.”

Rivers added that Simmons’ illness isn’t related to COVID-19, and blood work has indicated that he’s suffering from the flu.

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Rookie power forward Paul Reed missed today’s game after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Pompey adds. Rivers declined to provide any more details, but said he’s not concerned that other players might be at risk of catching the virus. “If it was (contagious), then the team would be in protocol,” he said. “So the NBA always does the contact tracing and all that stuff, and we’re good there.”
  • Dwight Howard picked up his 15th technical foul of the season today, meaning one more will result in an automatic one-game suspension. Rivers questioned the technical, saying Howard was singled out because of his history with officials, tweets Derek Bodner of The Athletic. “I thought Dwight’s tech was pure reputation,” Rivers told reporters. “… There is not another player on the floor, in my opinion, that would have gotten a tech for the same thing Dwight did. Not one player would have gotten that tech.”
  • Tobias Harris has registered the second-highest jump in efficiency in the NBA this season, and Louis Zatzman of FiveThirtyEight contends that the roster changes the Sixers made helped Harris refine his game.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Morey, Trade Deadline, Harris

The Sixers got good news this morning about Joel Embiid‘s left knee, but there’s more to the story than the MRI results, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Embiid is projected to miss two to three weeks with a bone bruise after a scary fall in Friday’s game.

Bodner estimates that April 3 is probably the earliest realistic date for Embiid to return, which will affect Philadelphia’s hopes for the top seed in the East. That would mean a 10-game absence, with eight of those games against teams with records of .500 or better. Losing Embiid could affect not only the playoff seedings, but also the MVP race and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s desire to make a major trade by the March 25 deadline.

An extended absence could affect Embiid’s next contract as well, Bodner adds. If Embiid makes an All-NBA team this season or in 2021/22, he will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension, which means his salary could start at 35% of the salary cap, rather than 30%.

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Morey gained a reputation for being aggressive at the trade deadline in Houston, but he’s cautioning Sixers fans not to count on a major deal this year, according to Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. Morey likes the cohesiveness of his current players, who are off to a 26-12 start. “We have a great group, a great chemistry, they’re playing at a high level, they play even better against very good teams,” he said. “That’s something fragile and we need to respect it. Long story short, everyone expecting some big thing, I would ask them to be excited about who we have more than what’s possible.”
  • The Sixers are “loaded with assets” as they approach the trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks says in an Instagram video. They have an $8.29MM trade exception and seven players with expiring contracts. Marks expects Philadelphia to be in the mix for Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Lowry.
  • Tobias Harris feels like he has something to prove after being overlooked for the All-Star Game, writes Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Harris wasn’t selected as a reserve even though he averaged 20.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in the first half of the season. “When me and (head coach Doc Rivers) talk about it, I just tell him, ‘Look, I’ve got a bounty out for all the coaches that didn’t vote for me, all the national media that skipped over me,’” Harris said. “It is what it is, but me and Doc discuss that you make your name known in the playoffs and leading this team, and being solid and what you do day in and day out. And that was my mentality.”

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Dinwiddie, T. Harris, Markkanen, Sampson

The Nets are “shopping” injured guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated said during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump on Thursday (video link via Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily).

Dinwiddie, who suffered a partially torn ACL near the start of the season, has been pushing to make it back before the end of the playoffs, but is considered likely to be sidelined for the rest of 2020/21. Since he has the ability to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, his appeal on the trade market would be limited, but the opportunity to acquire his Bird rights may intrigue certain clubs, and his $11.45MM cap hit could be useful for salary-matching.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) observes, one downside of moving Dinwiddie for the Nets would be that the team would lose its $5.7MM disabled player exception, assuming that exception hasn’t already been utilized. The club has until April 19 to use that DPE, but it would forfeit it if Dinwiddie is traded.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris left Thursday’s game early after hurting his left knee, but he appears to have avoided a serious injury. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) and Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, an MRI showed no structural damage, confirming that Harris suffered a knee contusion. He’ll miss Saturday’s game vs. Cleveland will be re-evaluated in a couple days, per the team.
  • The Bulls have played some of their best basketball this season with Lauri Markkanen unavailable, going 5-9 with the power forward in the lineup and 10-7 without him. However, head coach Billy Donovan still believes that the injured Markkanen is an “important piece to our team,” as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes. Markkanen will be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end.
  • JaKarr Sampson has been ruled out for Friday’s game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, making him the first Pacers player to miss a game due to the COVID-19 protocols this season, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Sampson hasn’t been a regular part of Indiana’s rotation this season, averaging just 6.0 minutes per game in 13 contests.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Harris, Randle, Nurse

The Raptors face a bevy of intriguing choices ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes. Murphy writes that, with the current contracts for both point guard Kyle Lowry and wing Norman Powell coming off Toronto’s books this summer, the team may be exercising caution ahead of the deadline when it comes to adding any player with a deal that lasts into next season or beyond.

Should the Raptors opt not to re-sign Lowry and/or Powell, they could have ample salary cap room to add new players. Murphy details the possible routes available for improving the team without Toronto exceeding the 2020/21 salary cap, and all impediments to dealing particular players in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris did not make the cut for the NBA’s All-Star reserves tonight, despite some of the best play of his career for the East-leading Philadelphia. Harris’ father Torrel Harris, who is also Tobias’ agent, expressed his thoughts in a text to Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). “It’s very disappointing that Tobias Harris was not selected,” Torrel said, noting that Tobias has played a key role in leading the 76ers to the top seed in the conference.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Knicks forward Julius Randle finally achieved a longtime goal in becoming an All-Star for the first time with his selection to the 2021 East reserves tonight. “My goal was never just to play in the NBA,” Randle said ahead of his selection. “I just wanted to be the best player I could possibly be and reach my potential. And I try to push myself every day to do so. [Becoming an All-Star] would definitely be a milestone.”
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will consider a variety of candidates to fill the vacancy left by assistant coach Chris Finch, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. Finch vacated his assistant position with Toronto for a head coaching opportunity with the Timberwolves yesterday. Giving more responsibility to current assistant coach Jama Mahlalela, adding G League assistant coach Brittni Donaldson, or signing someone else from an overseas club or another G League team could all be on the table.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Simmons, Nurse, Finch, Durant

Sixers forward Tobias Harris advised Ben Simmons that the best way to quell trade rumors is to win a title, Harris told Sam Amick of The Athletic. Simmons was mentioned prominently as part of a potential package for James Harden before Harden was dealt to Brooklyn.

“I had conversations with Ben, too,” Harris said. “I was like, ‘The only way you become untradeable, pretty much, is if you win a championship.’ If you win a championship, nobody is breaking apart (that) team. You’ll add pieces to the team, but you’re not breaking up the core pieces. That was one of the things (he talked with Simmons about). I think it was kind of motivating (for him).”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse does not anticipate that they’ll receive any compensation from the Timberwolves for assistant coach Chris Finch, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Finch was hired as Minnesota head coach on Monday, and Nurse was happy to see him get the opportunity, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets. “I’ve always seen it as my job to help people (achieve) their career ambitions,” Nurse said.
  • The Raptors head coach said he became aware of Minnesota’s interest in Finch over the weekend, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets“It did all happen really quick. Those things are never done until they’re done but we had a pretty good idea that (last night) would be Chris’ last game and then we would be on the move… It really did happen in like 36 hours.” Nurse will temporarily take more control of offensive duties while re-organizing his assistants’ responsibilities.
  • Kevin Durant‘s hamstring is showing improvement, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I reiterate we’re all optimistic and positive that he’s improving at a rapid rate, and will be back soon,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. However, Durant will miss his fifth consecutive game on Tuesday, Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Quickley, Harris, Randle, Free Agency

Immanuel Quickley has quickly emerged as a bright spot for the streaky Knicks, becoming a high-scoring option off the bench in his rookie campaign. He added to his impressive start with a 25-point performance against the Cavaliers on Friday, helping New York end a three-game losing streak.

After a recent 31-point showing in a loss to the Trail Blazers, Quickley was connected with Portland’s perennial MVP candidate Damian Lillard. As Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes, Lillard provided some advice and insight to Quickley in the midst of his standout introduction to the NBA.

“I took everything away, honestly, from the type of person he is first of all, the type of player he is, [the] competitor [he is],” Quickley said. “Then really just giving me advice on obviously the point guard position, but what it takes to win in this league, what it takes to help your team win, how to bounce back from good games, bad games, staying even-keeled throughout the whole season.

“It was good to just have someone like to be able to go to, someone that’s been through a lot, Western Conference finals, the MVP [race], things like that.”

Check out more news and notes from the Atlantic division:

  • After his impressive start to the 2020/21 season, Tobias Harris is earning himself serious All-Star consideration, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Of note, the Sixers forward has shown defensive improvements while averaging 20.1 PPG with career bests in field-goal percentage (52.5%) and three-point shooting (46.2%).
  • Given Julius Randle‘s monstrous performance to begin this season, it’s time to stop viewing the forward as an athletic underachiever and more as an All-Star keeping a streaky team within playoff contention, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Randle showed up in great shape and has since been the Knicks‘ key to the offense, as an improved scorer, passer and defender.
  • The Nets will have to fill one of their two open roster spots by Sunday and it’s likely the team looks outside the organization to fill it, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “I guess it’s possible to sign one of our two-way guys,” Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash said. “But I think we’re probably looking to sign somebody on a free-agent deal here.”