76ers

Jonah Bolden might not play for Sixers this season but has intriguing future

Jonah Bolden might not play for Sixers this season but has intriguing future

Jonah Bolden considered himself to be viewed as “the mystery kid” in this year’s draft. After playing in Serbia last season, he was relatively unknown in comparison to his draft classmates. He wanted to participate in summer league to prove what he could do at the NBA level and he accomplished just that. 

Bolden stood out on the Sixers' roster with his versatility and, most noticeably, his ability to spread the floor with a three-point shot. It was easy to envision how these skills would translate to the NBA, especially on a Sixers team that will have a positionless lineup in many cases. 

A report by David Pick indicated Bolden will remain overseas with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the upcoming season. While a source said no official decision has been made about where Bolden will play, it would make sense for him to spend another season competing internationally because of the crowded Sixers roster.

Regardless of where Bolden is this coming season, there will be a high level of intrigue surrounding the 21-year-old’s game. Before we see what Bolden can do, CSNPhilly.com spoke to one of Bolden’s opponents about what can be expected. 

Hawks 2017 draft pick Alpha Kaba played against Bolden last season in the Adriatic League. Bolden and Kaba, both 6-foot-10, were matched up at times when Bolden’s team, Red Star, faced Mega Leks. 

“First of all, he’s really an athletic player,” Kaba said. “He can put the ball on the floor, he can shoot, he’s a complete guy. It was really amazing playing against him because it’s a kind of a challenge because he’s a great player.”

During summer league, Bolden averaged 8.8 points and shot 31.4 percent from three. There were instances when more traditional big men had trouble chasing Bolden to the arc. Kaba saw glimpses of that last season. 

“He was spreading the floor a lot,” Kaba said. “He likes to take the rebound, bring up the ball and that’s how we played. He was like a stretch-four, even a three. He can bring up the ball, take some screens, set some pick-and-rolls.”

Bolden also grabbed 6.3 rebounds, blocked 1.4 shots and had 1.9 steals per game in summer league. He uses his size to cause problems on the defensive end. 

“Defensively, he’s athletic, he can block some shots, take some rebounds,” Kaba said. “He’s got a pretty long wingspan too so he can cover all of the floor by helping on the opposite side.”

When Bolden does play in the NBA, he will look to pose the same matchup issues Kaba and others already have experienced in Europe.

NBA Notes: Bulls' Mirotic suffers broken bones in fight with teammate Portis

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NBA Notes: Bulls' Mirotic suffers broken bones in fight with teammate Portis

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls say forward Nikola Mirotic suffered multiple broken bones in his face as well as a concussion in a fight with teammate Bobby Portis during practice.

The team says Mirotic will likely need surgery and is out indefinitely. They say they are "evaluating disciplinary action" after Tuesday's incident.

Mirotic averaged 10.8 points over his first three seasons with Chicago. A restricted free agent, he signed a two-year contract that could pay as much as $27 million in September. The club holds an option on the second season.

A 2015 first-round pick, Portis has averaged 6.9 points and 5 rebounds.

The Bulls open at Toronto on Thursday. Chicago is rebuilding after trading Jimmy Butler and parting with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (see full story).

Nuggets: Jefferson reportedly agrees to deal
DENVER -- Michael Malone knows all about Richard Jefferson. Just not Tuesday, with the deal for the veteran forward still waiting on official word.

"Who's Jefferson?" the Denver Nuggets coach coyly said after practice.

Jefferson will join the Nuggets on a one-year deal, a person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement hasn't been disclosed by the team. ESPN first reported the deal, which it said is worth $2.3 million.

After weeks of fine-tuning his roster through training camp and the preseason, Malone suddenly has to juggle things around. Not that he minds carving out minutes for a player he can't even name just yet. Jefferson adds another leadership presence to a young, playoff-hopeful roster (see full story).

Jazz: Timeline unknown for injured Exum
SALT LAKE CITY -- Dante Exum knew he had a significant injury the moment he awkwardly hit the floor during a preseason game against the Suns on Oct. 6. The diagnosis was a separated shoulder, and the Jazz guard and the team took the next 10 days to decide what to do.

Exum saw three doctors and spoke to several more before deciding to have a surgery on Oct. 24 that will keep him out for an unknown amount of time.

"Even just walking back (to the locker room), obviously I was frustrated," Exum said. "Everything was going through my head. I remember just looking up at everybody and they were just speechless. Didn't know what to say. A lot of people within the Jazz organization know how hard I've worked to get to the point I was. To get an injury like that and the way it took place just sucked."

There were non-surgical options for Exum, but the decision was made in his long-term interest after talking to family, his agent and the organization. That, however, complicates things in the short term financially. The 2014 No. 5 overall pick was hoping to have a breakout year as a restricted free agent.

Exploring the Sixers' 3 options to back up Joel Embiid

Exploring the Sixers' 3 options to back up Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid will be restricted to fewer than 20 minutes early in the season, that much is known (see story). How Brett Brown fills the remainder of the minutes at the center position remains to be seen.

Brown has three healthy big men he can play behind Embiid: Amir Johnson, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric. Richaun Holmes, an early candidate for backup minutes, is sidelined by a fractured wrist.

“Even without Richaun, you like the depth and versatility, the variety that is available to me at the five,” Brown said Tuesday. 

Each player is unique in their skill sets and experience levels. There’s the proven veteran in Johnson, the undersized center in Saric, and the sometime-starter-sometime-reserve-sometime-DNP in Okafor. 

Let’s take a look at Brown’s options and why he may lean toward one player over another. 

Okafor
Okafor finds himself in another season of uncertainty. The third-year Sixer still doesn’t have a consistent role in the rotation. In the past, his biggest opportunity for minutes has come when Embiid is out for the entire game. Could the slimmed-down Okafor return to the starting lineup when Embiid doesn’t play? The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games of the season on Saturday. 

Brown on Okafor 
“[His role is] evolving … it’s always fluid. There are times we’ll assess Joel, say, in a back-to-back situation that might free something up. We have one in Toronto coming up. … We all respect his attitude and we respect his body. I think he’s had a good preseason.”

Johnson
The 30-year-old Johnson gives the Sixers a veteran presence and assuring presence on the court. He started in 77 of his 80 games for the Celtics last season and will be an in-game leader for younger players like Markelle Fultz in the second unit. 

Brown on Johnson
“He started for a really good team last year. He’s been in the league for a while. He’s a great pickup. Bryan (Colangelo) did a really great job of signing him. He’s good people.” 

Saric
At 6-foot-10, 223 pounds, Saric is the most unlikely candidate of the three backups. Brown has seen enough from Saric in the NBA and internationally, though, to feel confident in shifting him from the four to the five. Saric showed he can hold his own against traditional bigs when he shot 5 for 8 against the Nets in the preseason. 

Brown on Saric
“He’s stronger than you think. He’s been used to guarding behind people over in Europe on switch outs with four-five pick-and-rolls. … He gives up some weight, he gives up some height. But the trade-off might be he pulls them out and makes threes like he did against (Timofey) Mozgov. You weigh it all up. It’s a little bit unconventional but it is there in our arsenal if we choose to go there.”