Philadelphia 76ers

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Fultz, Caboclo, Hornacek, Ntilikina

Joel Embiid gave the Sixers a glimpse of the impact he could have on the court last season, averaging 20.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG. However, injuries once again limited Embiid as he appeared in just 31 games due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. During a media lunch. Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown discussed their oft-injured forward and gave contradicting statements, Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Brown said that Embiid has yet to play in a five-on-five scenario but also added the team will “soon” know if and when he will do so. Then, Brown and Colangelo refused to give a clearer update on Embiid’s future in terms of his involvement — or lack thereof — in training camp or the preseason. Then, Colangelo provided a statement that contradicted itself within seconds.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” Colangelo said. “And he will be out there on the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all.”

Embiid is not the only injured Sixer as last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, is also looking to return to full health.

Below you can read more news from the Atlantic Division:

Sixers Cool And Confident About Regarding Ben Simmons

Sixers Expected To Sign Kris Humphries

Free agent big man Kris Humphries is planning to sign a contract for training camp with the Sixers, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. It will be a non-guaranteed deal, league sources tell Charania.

Humphries, one of the more notable veterans remaining on the free agent market, spent the 2016/17 season with the Hawks, appearing in 56 regular season contests and averaging 4.6 PPG and 3.7 RPG in a limited role (12.3 MPG) with the club.

The 32-year-old now has 13 years of NBA experience under his belt, having played for the Jazz, Raptors, Mavericks, Nets, Celtics, Wizards, Suns, and Hawks since entering the league as a lottery pick in 2004.

As I noted earlier today in our story about Jacob Pullen‘s deal with the Sixers, a regular season roster spot may be hard to come by in Philadelphia this fall, with 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts and Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes, and T.J. McConnell the frontrunners for the final three spots.

Still, it’s possible that the Sixers will waive or trade a player to create an opening before the regular season begins. Charania suggests that – after a pair of strong workouts for the 76ers – Humphries will have an opportunity to make the club’s opening night roster.

Once they finalize the signing of Humphries, the Sixers will be up to 19 players, including 18 on NBA contracts and one on a two-way deal.

Sixers Sign Jacob Pullen

1:34pm: The Sixers’ deal with Pullen is official, per RealGM’s log of NBA transactions.

8:43am: The Sixers and point guard Jacob Pullen have agreed to a deal that will see Pullen attend training camp with the club, according to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link).

Pullen, a former Kansas State standout, went undrafted in 2011 and has spent his professional career since then playing for a variety of teams overseas. Following stints in Italy, Israel, Spain, and Croatia, the 27-year-old spent the 2016/17 season playing for BC Khimki in Russia, averaging 8.9 PPG in 23 VTB United League games and 10.3 PPG in 17 EuroCup contests. He also recently attended a free agent mini-camp hosted by the Bucks.

While terms of Pullen’s agreement with the Sixers aren’t yet known, he’ll have an uphill battle to actually earn a regular season roster spot with the club. Philadelphia only has 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, but Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes, and T.J. McConnell aren’t among those players with full guarantees, and they’re essentially locks to open the season on the roster.

Finalizing a deal with Pullen would give the 76ers a roster count of 18 players with training camp around the corner.

Poll: Philadelphia 76ers’ 2017/18 Win Total

With the exception of the lockout-shortened season in 2011/12, the Sixers haven’t finished over .500 since the 2004/05 campaign. They’ve posted a 41-41 record twice during that stretch, but have been unable to reach the 42-win threshold in over a decade.

There’s some reason to believe that streak could come to an end in 2017/18. After all, the Sixers’ roster is more stacked with young talent than it has been at any time during that stretch, with No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz joining a group that includes Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and last year’s No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, who looks ready to go after missing his rookie season.

However, while Philadelphia’s young core is exciting, it’s also unproven. Fultz and Simmons have yet to play in an NBA game. Embiid has only played in 31 of them. And Simmons and Embiid are both coming off major injuries.

While a playoff berth is the goal for the Sixers, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has made an effort to temper expectations. As we noted yesterday, Colangelo recently suggested that Philadelphia is “hoping” to make the postseason, but not forecasting an appearance in the playoffs. That would be “getting a little ahead of ourselves,” in Colangelo’s words, and he’s not wrong — the Sixers improved their win total from 10 in 2015/16 to 28 last season, but they’d need another big jump to make the postseason.

Oddsmakers are optimistic about the Sixers’ chances to make that leap, with offshore betting site Bovada putting the team’s over/under for 2017/18 at 41.5 wins. Bettors are a little more hesistant to go all-in on the Sixers, with Bovada’s current lines indicating that action has been heavy on the under.

What do you think? Is this the year the Sixers finally get back up to 42 wins, or does the team’s young core need a little more time to develop? Vote below and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previous over/under voting results:

Sixers Will Try Again To Trade Jahlil Okafor

The Sixers plan to call around the league again to see what they can get in exchange for third-year center Jahlil Okafor, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Coach Brett Brown confirmed that the team will see what sort of return might be available.

The third player taken in the 2015 draft, Okafor hasn’t lived up to expectations in two seasons in Philadelphia. Injuries and off-court issues have gotten in the way as Okafor has played just 103 games over two years.

There are also financial considerations, as the Sixers have yet to make a decision on Okafor’s $6.3MM option for 2018/19. The team may be reluctant to tie up that much cap space with a banner crop of free agents due to hit the market next summer.

Okafor is stuck behind Joel Embiid in the Sixers’ rotation and may never be a full-time starter if he remains in Philadelphia. The team also signed Amir Johnson over the summer and got a promising second season out of Richaun Holmes, so there may not be many minutes left for Okafor if he stys.

The Sixers were reportedly engaged in Okafor trade talks with the Pelicans and Bulls before the February deadline to clear up their logjam at center. However, those deals fell through and they wound up sending Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks instead.

Sixers ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Embiid Extension

Speaking to reporters today, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo confirmed that discussions concerning an extension for Joel Embiid are underway. Colangelo added that the 76ers are “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll be able to find common ground with Embiid before next month’s deadline (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic).

Although he has only appeared in 31 total NBA games, Embiid is entering his fourth season as a pro, making him eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. He and the Sixers have until October 16 to work out an agreement — if they can’t strike a deal, the young center will be on track to reach restricted free agency in 2018.

[RELATED: Extension Candidate: Joel Embiid]

If the Sixers could be fully confident in Embiid’s health going forward, the club likely wouldn’t hesitate to offer a maximum salary extension, but the 23-year-old’s ability to stay on the floor remains a question mark. Head coach Brett Brown indicated today that Embiid hasn’t played 5-on-5 ball yet, and he isn’t sure what to expect from the fourth-year center in training camp next week (Twitter link via Bodner).

While Embiid hasn’t yet been cleared to participate in all basketball activities for training camp, he also hasn’t suffered any setbacks, Colangelo stressed today. The Sixers are taking an “ultra-conservative” approach with their potential franchise center, and will have a better idea next week of what he’ll be able to do in camp (Twitter links via Bodner).

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Colangelo and the Sixers don’t anticipate any restrictions in camp for Ben Simmons, who has been playing 5-on-5 for some time — Simmons has been “dominating the gym,” per Colangelo (Twitter links via Bodner).
  • Although the Sixers used a chunk of their cap room this offseason, the team stuck to one-year deals for J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, retaining future flexibility, as Ian Thomsen of NBA.com details. “We went through free agency this year with discipline by not spending multiyear dollars,” Colangelo said. “That was hard but it was the right thing to do, and I think that we’re going to be very happy. That’s not to say that J.J. Redick or Amir Johnson will be a one-and-done guy. We’re going to see how we play and grow with this group.”
  • The goal in avoiding multiyear contracts for free agents was to retain max room for 2018, and Colangelo believes that space will come in handy next summer, as Thomsen writes. “Right now we see a great young core of players that will hopefully maintain the type of health we have currently — and then the ability not only to develop that core but to be in a position to add a max player next year,” Colangelo said. “We think it’s very feasible.”
  • While expectations are on the rise for the Sixers, Colangelo is trying to keep them in check, per Thomsen. “Any talk of playoffs is getting a little ahead of ourselves,” Colangelo said. “You clearly want that to be a goal that you discuss internally. But the reality is we’re so young, we’re so inexperienced right now. … Forecasting (the playoffs) would be definitely, I believe, unrealistic. But hoping for that? It’s on everybody’s mind.”

Andre Iguodala Nearly Signed With Rockets In Free Agency

An eventful series of free agent meetings in July had Andre Iguodala on the verge of signing with the Rockets before the Warriors swooped in and met his demands at the last minute, Chris Haynes writes in a fascinating piece for ESPN.com.

Back on July 1, we heard that Iguodala was expected to circle back to Golden State after getting an offer he liked from Houston, but Haynes goes into far more detail in describing the process that got Iguodala to that point. Here are a few highlights from the ESPN report:

  • As free agency opened, the Warriors increased their initial offer for Iguodala to $42MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three, according to Haynes. However, the swingman wasn’t satisfied with Golden State’s pitch and opted to take meetings with several suitors rather than accepting the Dubs’ offer.
  • The Lakers were the first team to speak with Iguodala, but as was the case throughout free agency, L.A. only offered one year, aiming to preserve 2018 cap room. The Lakers’ one-year offer was worth $20MM, per Haynes.
  • Iguodala met with the Spurs next, and San Antonio offered a fully guaranteed four-year deal. The Spurs only had their mid-level exception to offer, meaning they couldn’t offer more than about $36MM, but Iguodala – who likes being involved in the tech world – was intrigued by the team’s proximity to Austin.
  • The Kings met with Iguodala next and, armed with about $43MM in cap room, essentially asked him to name his price — within reason. If Iguodala named a price that Sacramento was willing to match, the Kings wanted a commitment on the spot, according to Haynes. Not wanting to commit right away, the 33-year-old held off on specifics, but recognized that Sacramento likely had the means to offer him the most money.
  • The Rockets were the next team to make a pitch to Iguodala, and one source within his camp called it “the best recruiting presentation of all time,” per Haynes. Houston was limited to its mid-level exception, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey began proposing “lucrative sign-and-trade scenarios like a mad scientist” in an effort to meet Iguodala’s demands. Following the meeting with the Rockets, Iguodala cancelled his remaining meetings, including sit-downs with the Sixers, Clippers, Timberwolves, and Jazz, and there was “a strong sentiment that he was Houston-bound.”
  • Iguodala decided to meet one last time with the Warriors, though he expected to use the meeting as an opportunity to say goodbye, sources tell Haynes. Golden State offered a fully guaranteed three-year, $45MM deal, but Iguodala wasn’t budging from his asking price of $16MM per year, and intended to sign with the Rockets if Golden State didn’t meet that demand.
  • Shortly after Iguodala’s meeting with the Warriors ended, GM Bob Myers went to team owner Joe Lacob to ask for a little more money, and received approval to offer $48MM over three years, which was enough to bring Iguodala back into the fold.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Moore, Long, Cunningham

The Rockets enter the 2017/18 campaign with last season’s Most Valuable Player runner-up in James Harden and offseason acquisition Chris Paul, widely viewed as one of the greatest point guards ever. A deal for Carmelo Anthony has not materialized but Houston is still an improved team, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes.

Aside from the acquisition of Paul, the Rockets have been in headlines all offseason. Tilman Fertitta purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion, Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston hard, and even to this point, Anthony to Houston rumors persist. Nonetheless, head coach Mike D’Antoni believes his team is in prime position for success.

“The biggest advantage is for 48 minutes we have a Hall of Fame point guard (either Harden or Paul) on the floor. That’s huge,” D’Antoni said. “And both of them can play off the ball real well, they’re both great shooters, and both can exploit the defense when the ball is kicked … whoever initiates it would normally finish it, but if they have to kick the ball over to the other guy, they’ll finish it.”

Aldridge also breaks down the team chemistry heading into the season and expectations for a team that won 55 games last season.

Below you can read additional notes around the Southwest Division:

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.
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