76ers

NBA Notes: Cavaliers' Isaiah Thomas to miss start of season, maybe much longer

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NBA Notes: Cavaliers' Isaiah Thomas to miss start of season, maybe much longer

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Isaiah Thomas beamed as he held up his new No. 3 Cavs jersey for the first time.

There's no telling when he'll wear it in a game.

Stunned by Boston's decision to trade him to Cleveland as part of a package for Kyrie Irving, Thomas chose not to share much information Thursday about a hip injury that ended his inspirational playoff run last season and will sideline him for the start of this season -- and probably a lot longer.

At his introductory news conference, Thomas quickly deferred specific questions about his hip to new Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman, who said the team has a rehab plan in place for the All-Star point guard.

"We're not going to rush it at all," said Altman, who quickly grew tired of questions about Thomas' health. "The goal is to bring him back at some point this year and be healthy and compete and get back to IT status. That's our goal and our responsibility to him. We're not going to comment on the injury and we're not going to comment on a timetable" (see full story).

NBA: Group seeking Seattle team says it would build 2 arenas
SEATTLE -- An investment group that wants to build a sports arena for professional basketball and possibly hockey has offered to also rebuild KeyArena, the former home of Seattle's departed NBA franchise.

The move Thursday by the group led by investor Chris Hansen is the latest in the long-running debate over building a new arena. Hansen wants to privately build a facility in an area that's home to venues for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners.

The City Council has so far refused to grant him use of a city street necessary for construction of the project.

Hansen's group says it would rebuild KeyArena after building the other facility, preserving it as a concert venue.

The council will review a proposal next week by another group for a privately financed renovation of city-owned KeyArena. Plans for the remodel would bring the building up to standards that could attract an NHL or NBA franchise once completed.

NBA: No contest plea entered in pie attack on Johnson
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A man accused of hitting Kevin Johnson in the face with a coconut cream pie when he was mayor of Sacramento, California, has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor disturbing the peace.

The Sacramento Bee reports that activist Sean Thompson was sentenced Thursday to two days' time already served in jail after prosecutors agreed to the lesser charge.

Thompson had been charged with misdemeanor assault and battery.

The pie attack occurred at a charity event a year ago. Johnson, a former NBA star, responded by punching Thompson.

Prosecutors initially charged Thompson with felony assault, but a judge declared a mistrial after jurors could not reach a verdict.

Johnson is no longer mayor.

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

NEW ORLEANS — The Sixers have hit a four-game skid and there is not a clearly defined way out of it thanks to a laundry list of injuries.

“I think it’s painfully obvious,” Brett Brown said of what needs to be done. “Let’s get our better players back in a uniform.”

The Sixers have to play their best with their pieces available down two starters (Joel Embiid, Robert Covington) and a key bench player (T.J. McConnell).

There are adjustments that can be made to prevent a losing streak from spiraling the Sixers down in the standings.

“We need to be just smarter,” Dario Saric said. “I know we are a young team. I know are playing without Joel, without our very important players … we need to find a way. We need to be more calm down, don’t be nervous, especially on defense.” 

Saric pointed to the Sixers’ late-game defense in their 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). They were tied with eight minutes to play before the Pelicans hit threes on their next four straight possessions. Jrue Holiday drained four treys himself during a five-minute stretch to push the lead to 11. The Sixers were outscored 44-29 in the fourth quarter.

“In that situation, to me, we are playing like a high school team,” Saric said. “That cannot happen. We need to be smarter at that point. I hope we will grow up and we will be mentally ready for that last five, six, seven minutes.”

The Sixers also were in the position to come back Saturday in Cleveland. They trailed the Cavaliers, 99-98, with 1:39 to play and did not score after that point.

It was during that final stretch when Covington landed out of bounds and suffered a lower back contusion. A day later, Embiid was a late scratch because of lower back tightness (see story). McConnell has missed five of the last six games with a left shoulder injury.

“We’ve got to be consistent with making the right plays every time,” Ben Simmons said. “It’s hard to make mistakes without those guys there. When you make mistakes and you don’t have Jo or Cov and guys like that to make up for that, it’s tough. But we’ve got to just come together as a team and get through it.” 

The Sixers don't have it easy their next two games. They face the Timberwolves (16-11) Tuesday in Minnesota when Embiid said he expects to play but has not been cleared. Covington is doubtful, while McConnell's status is to be determined. The Sixers return home Friday from a three-game road trip to host the Thunder (12-13).

Joel Embiid: 'If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone'

Joel Embiid: 'If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone'

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS — Joel Embiid is trying to kick back tightness he has been dealing with since Thursday.

Embiid was a late scratch for the Sixers in Sunday's 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). He said he began to experience the tightness while playing Thursday against the Lakers. Embiid received treatment during the game but felt "pretty sore" after.

The big man already was slated to miss one of the two back-to-backs in Cleveland and New Orleans because of his medical restriction. He sat Saturday, but when he warmed up pregame Sunday, he still didn’t feel healthy enough to go.

“I tried to warm up earlier but I couldn't,” Embiid said. “If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone. But we've got 82 games and they don't want me to push if I'm not a hundred percent, so that's what I did.”

The Sixers need Embiid (23.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks) back on the court. They have dropped to 13-13 on a four-game losing streak, including these last two without him. Embiid is an integral part of the Sixers’ defense, especially against a Pelicans team with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in the frontcourt. The two bigs combined for 52 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. 

Embiid said he expects to play in the Sixers' next game, Tuesday in Minnesota. Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is posting 19.8 points, 11.6 boards and 1.3 blocks per game this season. Embiid still has to work out Monday before that his availability. In the meantime, he is receiving massage treatment.

“I just got to keep resting for a couple days and see how it feels day-by-day,” Embiid said. “But it's been getting better. It's a lot, much better.”

Embiid is the latest Sixers to be added to the list of injuries. Robert Covington suffered a lower back contusion Saturday and is doubtful for Tuesday (see story). T.J. McConnell continues to be hampered by a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. He has missed five of his last six games. Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Justin Anderson (left leg) are weeks out from another reevaluation.