Zhaire Smith

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Scott, Butler, Harris

Sixers star Joel Embiid expects to play more minutes in the conference semifinals, even though he is still bothered by tendinitis in his left knee, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Embiid averaged just 24.8 minutes in five first-round games against the Nets and was often a literal game-time decision. The limited minutes make his line for the series – 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 blocks per night – look even more impressive.

“It’s still not there. It’s still trying to get better,” Embiid said at today’s shootaround. “But that’s an issue that’s going to be there at least all playoffs until I actually get some real time to get some rest and work on myself. … But, we did a good job managing it. Obviously I only averaged about 24 minutes last series, so this one I’m definitely going to need way more than that.”

Embiid isn’t on the injured list as the series begins, so the Sixers are confident about his prospects. He has been dealing with knee issues for the past two months, missing 14 of 24 games regular season games after the All-Star break.

“It’s hard because I’m known for playing through anything and pushing, pushing it,” Embiid said. “And in some situations like Game 3, I couldn’t go because it was too much. But like I said, I just got to keep managing it and see how I feel and then go from there.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers have another injury concern in forward Mike Scott, McMenamin notes in the same story. Scott was wearing a walking boot today because of a heel contusion and plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Coach Brett Brown indicated that rookie Zhaire Smith may have an expanded role while Scott is sidelined.
  • Representatives for Jimmy Butler met with Sixers GM Elton Brand before and after a November deal that brought him from Minnesota to express his interest in a long-term contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Butler is expected to opt out of a $19.8MM salary for next season and test the free agent market.
  • The Nets will target Sixers forward Tobias Harris in free agency, but a report Friday indicates that the competition for his services will be intense, relays Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Grizzlies, Jazz and Mavericks will all consider pursuing the Long Island native, and the Sixers will have his Bird rights, meaning they can offer more years and higher raises than any other team. Lewis adds that Harris’ performance against the Nets in their playoff series increased Brooklyn’s desire to sign him.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Harris, Raptors, Smith

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has transformed into the kind of leader the Lakers need this season, Michael Scotto of The Athletic writes.

Russell was traded to Brooklyn from Los Angeles in 2017, with president Magic Johnson imploring shortly afterward that the team needs to find a leader for the future. Russell, a first time All-Star this season, led the Nets to a 111-106 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday, officially eliminating Los Angeles from playoff contention.

“It’s been good,” Russell told YES Network when asked about the season, according to Scotto. “Definitely given me another opportunity to perform at this level. You can’t control your future, but being in Brooklyn so far has given me a great blueprint of what type of player I want to be, and the city is buzzing right now with the success of the sports, so I’ve been enjoying the whole ride.”

Russell is holding per-game averages of 20.7 points, 6.9 assists and 1.2 steals this season, showing the damage he could’ve done in the Lakers’ purple and gold if he wasn’t traded.

“This is where I started,” Russell said. “It’s definitely a place that gave me an opportunity. Not many guys started somewhere and then that was forgotten throughout their career. Chauncey Billups, the Nashes (Steve Nash) of that group. I’m trying to consider myself one of those guys.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post examines why Joe Harris has been the X-factor for the Nets. Harris, the winner of the three-point contest over All-Star Weekend, is shooting a career-high 47% from behind-the-arc this season. “That’s my job. That’s what I’m out here to do,” Harris said. “I’m happy to get a couple [3s] early and allowed the rhythm to be there … a little more confidence and taking a couple more aggressive looks. A lot of it is I’m lucky to play with guys like [Russell] and Spencer, [who] do a great job of facilitating for me.”
  • The Raptors are more focused on the postseason itself than what seed they can grab, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com writes. “It just doesn’t seem to have much relevance to our team, and the situation that our organization is in,” head coach Nick Nurse said. “Yeah, we want a decent seed, but we can’t get caught up in it.” The Raptors have a history of successful regular seasons that led to failed playoff runs, something they hope can be changed this time around with their current group.
  • Zhaire Smith closed out his 2018/19 season on a positive note with the Sixers’ G League team in Delaware, Brian Seltzer of NBA.com writes. Smith, who spent much of the year rehabbing from Jones Fracture surgery, finished with 19 points and 12 points in his final two games of the NBA G League regular season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/13/19

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Sixers have re-assigned Zhaire Smith and Justin Patton to their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, the club announced (via Twitter). Smith was available to play for Philadelphia on Tuesday night, but didn’t get a chance to make his NBA debut.
  • After scoring a game-high 28 points to help lead the Capital City Go-Go to a Tuesday win, Chasson Randle was recalled from the G League today by the Wizards, per the team (via Twitter). Randle is part of Washington’s rotation tonight vs. Orlando.
  • The Suns recalled rookie guard Elie Okobo from the G League in advance of their game tonight vs. Utah, the team announced in a press release. Okobo had 19 points, five assists, and five rebounds for the Northern Arizona Suns on Tuesday.
  • Rookie forward Chimezie Metu was assigned to the G League today by the Spurs, according to a team release. Metu is active for Austin’s game tonight vs. Iowa.
  • The Thunder recalled dunk contest champion Hamidou Diallo from the G Leauge today, tweets Brett Dawson of The Athletic. Diallo, who is active tonight for the Thunder, recorded 18 points and nine rebounds for the Oklahoma City Blue on Tuesday.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/12/19

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Grizzlies recalled Tyler Dorsey from the G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, the team announced (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics assigned Robert Williams to their G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, the team announced (Twitter link).
  • The Wizards assigned Chasson Randle to their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, per a press release. Randle has averaged 5.7 PPG and 2.0 APG in 15.2 minutes per game with Washington.
  • The Jazz assigned Grayson Allen to the Salt Lake City Stars, the team announced today in a press release. Allen, on his 11th assignment of the season, will suit up for Utah’s G League affiliate tonight.
  • The Sixers recalled rookie Zhaire Smith, who was available for Philadelphia’s game tonight, according to the team (via Twitter). Smith, who has yet to make his NBA debut, didn’t see any action vs. Cleveland.

Joel Embiid Expects To Return Next Week

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who hasn’t played since the All-Star Game because of soreness in his left knee, told reporters before tonight’s game that he plans to be back next week, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Embiid added that the pain in his knee had been intensifying before the break and he wanted to get it back in shape heading into the postseason. He said he approached team officials about taking a few games off (Twitter link).

“It’s all about long-term preservation and making sure I’m ready, not just for the playoffs, [but] also for the next 15 years,” Embiid said in a quote relayed by Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. “Knowing the team and what we’ve been through, knowing me and knowing that I like to push on everything, I like to play through anything, we just felt like it was better to preserve.”

The Sixers have won three out of four games without Embiid and enter the night half a game out of third place in the East. Aggressive moves to add Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris have made Philadelphia one of the top contenders in the conference if everyone is healthy.

Embiid says the rest has been effective and his knee is feeling better, tweets Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I didn’t feel comfortable and coming from me, you know that if I don’t want to push through anything, it means that I really need it (rest),” Embiid said (Twitter link).

Bontemps also offered an update on rookie Zhaire Smith, who has been sidelined all season because of foot surgery and a food-related allergic reaction. Smith said he had to regain more than 40 pounds after his weight dropped to 164 (Twitter link).

Smith played his first game last night for the Sixers’ G League affiliate in Delaware, but isn’t expected to see any NBA action this season. He logged 15 minutes and posted two points, three rebounds and two assists.

Sixers Notes: Z. Smith, Patton, Chemistry

Sixers rookie wing Zhaire Smith isn’t considered likely to contribute to the NBA club down the stretch, or even play at all in Philadelphia this season. However, he appears poised to make his professional debut in the G League this week, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Smith, who has been sidelined for most of the 2018/19 season due to a broken foot, as well as complications from an allergic reaction, should get the OK to play for the Delaware Blue Coats on Friday against Maine if things go as planned, sources tell Pompey. Assuming there are no setbacks, Smith would continue to suit up and shake off the rest for Delaware down the stretch — head coach Brett Brown has said that he doesn’t expect the 2018 first-rounder to play for the 76ers this season.

Assuming Smith doesn’t make his NBA debut until 2019/20, he would be the latest in a string of Sixers first-round picks to sit out his full rookie season. Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons missed their entire rookie years, while Markelle Fultz appeared in just 14 games in his.

Here’s more from out of Philadelphia:

  • Speaking of injured former first-rounders, Sixers center Justin Patton may finally get an opportunity to contribute to the NBA club, per Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com. With Embiid and Boban Marjanovic on the shelf, Philadelphia is shorthanded in the frontcourt and has recalled Patton from the G League. The young center’s first two NBA seasons have been derailed by foot injuries, but he’ll be ready to play in his second ever NBA game if the Sixers need him on Thursday. Patton will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports takes a deep dive into the Sixers’ efforts to develop chemistry and establish an identity after a pair of blockbuster in-season acquisitions (Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris). “It’s gonna take awhile to build chemistry as a collective unit, but this is something that can be special if it comes together the right way,” Harris said. “It’s gonna take time, but we’re just feeling each other out.” Philadelphia’s ability to sort things out in time for the playoffs could have a significant impact on the NBA offseason — both Butler and Harris will be free agents, and their decisions could be affected by how deep a run the 76ers make.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along health updates on Embiid, Marjanovic, and Furkan Korkmaz earlier this week. Korkmaz is expected to have the lengthiest absence of the three, as he underwent surgery to repair his torn meniscus.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/21/19

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

Sixers Notes: Harris, Fultz, Brown, Z. Smith

Tobias Harris has been traded five times since entering the NBA in 2011, but he probably could have ensured stability with the Clippers if he had accepted an $80MM extension offer last summer. However, Harris tells Jonathan Gold of The Washington Post that he was willing to take the gamble in hopes of landing a max deal as a free agent this summer.

“Eighty million is a lot of money,” Harris said. “People said, ‘How you turn that down?’ . . . Look, I know my trajectory. I know when to bet on myself. We looked at the salary cap, looked at free agents, and with all the work I put in, we thought I’d be one of the top guys.”

The acquisition of Harris means “The Process” is now complete in Philadelphia, Gold adds. The team has entered win-now territory and is no longer focused on developing young talent, something it emphasized by trading former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz to Orlando. Harris marked the second aggressive move of the season for the Sixers, who swung a deal in November to acquire Jimmy Butler and are now poised for a playoff run with one of the most talented starting fives in the league.

“I feel like this is the third team I’ve coached this season,” coach Brett Brown said, reflecting on the two major trades.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Brown doesn’t believe Fultz was being disrespectful with comments he made at his introductory press conference with the Magic, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer“It just excites me to know that I have a coach that’s going to push you to be better and not just going to tell you what you want to hear,” Fultz told reporters, while adding that he looks forward to a “fresh start.” Brown said he has talked to Fultz since then and was assured it wasn’t intended as a swipe at the Sixers’ coaching staff. “He’s a good kid,” Brown said. “He’s a good young man, and, truly, we wish him well.”
  • First-round pick Zhaire Smith probably won’t play for the Sixers this season, but may see some G League action, Pompey tweets. Smith participated in practice today and is considered about 60% recovered from a Jones fracture in his left foot (Twitter link).
  • Although the Sixers’ approach to rebuilding has drawn criticism from many circles, including the commissioner’s office, the franchise has been able to assemble a contender fairly quickly, notes Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/24/19

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Sixers have assigned Justin Patton and Zhaire Smith to the Delaware Blue Coats for rehab purposes, the team announced. Patton will begin practicing with limited and controlled contact as he works back from right foot surgery, while Smith will participate in non-contact practices as he returns from a Jones fracture in his left foot.
  • The Celtics assigned rookie forward Robert Williams to the Maine Red Claws, announcing the move on social media. Williams was selected by the Celtics with the No. 27 pick in the 2018 draft, appearing in 22 games so far this season.
  • The Hornets have recalled Dwayne Bacon from the Greensboro Swarm, the team announced in a press release. Bacon is holding season averages of 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 23 games with Charlotte on the year.

Sixers Notes: Patton, Z. Smith, Vonleh, Butler

The Sixers announced today in a press release that a pair of injured youngsters have been assigned to the G League to join the Delaware Blue Coats for rehab purposes. According to the team, Justin Patton will begin practicing with limited and controlled contact, while Zhaire Smith will participate in non-contact elements of Delaware’s practices.

Patton, who is coming off right foot surgery, has been plagued by foot issues throughout his two-year NBA career, appearing in just one regular season game to date. He was sent to Philadelphia in November’s Jimmy Butler blockbuster, but will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. It’s unlikely we see him play much of a role for the 76ers down the stretch even if he gets healthy.

Smith, on the other hand, was the Sixers’ first-round pick in 2018 and remains under team control for several seasons, so it’s notable that he’s taking the next step in his rehab process. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), while Smith is just doing non-contact work for now, he’ll ramp up his activities in the coming weeks. The rookie is coming off a Jones fracture in his left foot and a complication created by an allergy issue.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Derek Bodner of The Athletic takes an extensive look at the Sixers’ trade deadline options, writing that the team is in need of depth and perimeter defense. Bodner also explores whether the 76ers would move Markelle Fultz while his value is so low and whether the club would make a deal that cuts into its 2019 cap room.
  • Within the same story, Bodner reports that sources with the Sixers “vigorously” denied a recent report suggesting that the team had expressed interest in Knicks power forward Noah Vonleh.
  • Jimmy Butler missed Wednesday’s game with a wrist injury, but it’s not considered a major issue, according to head coach Brett Brown, who said that a Monday MRI on Butler’s wrist didn’t reveal anything concerning (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com).