76ers

NBA Notes: Clippers acquire Danilo Gallinari in 3-team trade

NBA Notes: Clippers acquire Danilo Gallinari in 3-team trade

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Clippers acquired sharp-shooting forward Danilo Gallinari from Denver as part of a three-team trade that also involved Atlanta on Thursday.

In the swap, Los Angeles sent Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone, cash considerations and a protected 2018 first-round pick to the Hawks. The Nuggets receive a 2019 second-round pick from Atlanta.

Gallinari joins a Clippers team that recently traded Chris Paul to Houston, but agreed to a five-year deal with Blake Griffin. They also have DeAndre Jordan in the frontcourt.

The 28-year-old Gallinari was originally selected by New York with the sixth overall pick in 2008. He wound up in Denver as part of the blockbuster deal in February 2011 that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.

A fan favorite, Gallinari averaged 16.2 points and made 535 3-pointers for the Nuggets. He missed the 2013-14 season as he recovered from a torn left ACL.

"Danilo has been a special player for the Nuggets organization as well as a prominent figure in the Denver community for the last six years," said Tim Connelly, the president of basketball operations for Denver. "He was a consummate professional throughout his time with us and we want to wish him all the best as he begins this new chapter" (see full story).

Mavericks: Nowitzki agrees on 2-year, $10 million deal
DALLAS -- A person with knowledge of the agreement says the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki have agreed on a two-year, $10 million deal that assures a 20th season for the star forward.

The second year of the contract carries a team option, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced the deal. The 39-year-old Nowitzki is set to join Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as the only players to spend 20 seasons with one franchise.

The deal is similar to the one the Mavs and Nowitzki reached last year, although for significantly less money. Last year's contract was for two years and $50 million, and the club declined the option before free agency opened this year (see full story).

Knicks: Hardaway Jr. inks $71 million offer sheet
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks are trying to bring back Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks signed the guard to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet Thursday, agent Mark Bartelstein said.

Hardaway is a restricted free agent, so the Atlanta Hawks will have two days to match the offer.

The deal was first reported by ESPN.

Hardaway was a first-round pick of the Knicks who spent two seasons in New York before they traded him to Atlanta for the rights to point guard Jerian Grant. The Knicks later dealt Grant to Chicago in a trade for Derrick Rose.

Hardaway struggled early in Atlanta but played well last season, averaging 14.5 points.

Pacers: Team says George deal was best for future
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Pritchard struggled to make the deal.

Eventually, he figured dealing Paul George was the best way to protect the Indiana Pacers.

On Thursday, Pritchard finally made the blockbuster trade official by announcing the four-time All-Star was heading to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

"It was difficult both on a personal and professional level," Pritchard said in a statement issued by the team. "Everyone here knows what Paul meant to this franchise; he was both a tremendous human being as well as player here for seven years. We thank Paul and his family for their contributions to the Pacers and wish him well."

George essentially forced the move when word leaked that he intended to leave the team as a free agent next summer just before the NBA draft.

That disclosure put the Pacers in a bind: Build around George for one final run at an NBA title, lose their star player and get nothing in return or shop George for the best deal they could find with his public plans hurting his trade value. Pritchard called the news a "gut punch" during last month's draft. He hasn't spoken to reporters since then, but under NBA rules the deal could be announced Thursday.

"We feel very strongly about the potential Victor and Domantas bring to our team and what they mean for the future of the franchise," Pritchard said. "Both are highly competitive, highly skilled and both are winners. That is why both were lottery picks. That is why we sought them out to be part of this deal" (see full story).

Grizzlies: Team to retire Randolph’s No. 50
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies are planning to retire the No. 50 jersey worn by Zach Randolph, who is leaving the team after eight seasons to sign with the Sacramento Kings.

In a tweet on the Grizzlies' official account , majority owner Robert Pera says that No. 50 "will never be worn by another member of the Memphis Grizzlies." Pera also thanks Randolph for helping "turn a lottery team into a perennial playoff contender" and helping "make a basketball team a model of community service."

Randolph, a free agent, is joining former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger at Sacramento. He agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal.

Randolph, who helped Memphis earn seven straight playoff appearances , will become the first player to have his number retired by the Grizzlies.

How to manage Joel Embiid's health while pushing for playoffs

How to manage Joel Embiid's health while pushing for playoffs

CAMDEN, N.J. — In some ways, Joel Embiid is a dream to coach. You can go to him in the post whenever you need a bucket, rely on him to erase defensive mistakes, sit back and watch as he takes over games.

But in other ways, coaching Embiid is not an easy job. Brett Brown has to constantly weigh Embiid’s health with the immediate desire to win. That balancing act has never been more difficult for Brown, who commented Wednesday on how he plans to manage Embiid with the playoffs in sight.

“Everything is still, and it should be, delivering him to a playoff round,” Brown said. “It’s not cramming for the exam and doing whatever you can to get home court, it’s not that at all. And so I feel like the path that we’re all on is both professional and responsible. So it’s that more than trying to cram for an exam.”

The Sixers have six back-to-back sets in their final 27 games. Embiid played his first ever back-to-back on Feb. 2 vs. Miami and Feb. 3 at Indiana. Since then, he’s had an injury scare with his right knee (on Feb. 10 vs the Clippers) and missed the Sixers’ final game before the All-Star break with a sore right ankle.

That said, Embiid’s obviously taken major steps forward. After being sidelined for his first two NBA seasons and playing just 31 games (and only 25.4 minutes per game) in his rookie year, he’s played in 44 of the Sixers’ first 55 games, and is averaging 31.4 minutes per game.

But the Sixers are 3-8 when Embiid doesn’t play. Without Embiid, the Sixers don’t look like a playoff team. With him, they look like a team which could earn home-court advantage. The Sixers are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference at 30-25, two games behind the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards.

When asked how he’ll generally manage his players’ minutes in the final third of the season, Brown referred to his time as a Spurs assistant, implying that the Sixers will approach things more aggressively than a championship contender.

“In my old life, when you felt like you were going to be in the finals and win a championship, you definitely started managing stuff differently in this final third,” Brown said. “That’s not where we’re at now. We are fighting to get in the playoffs.

“And we’re in a fist fight, we want a little bit more than that. And we’re going to play with that in mind, and when the opportunity arises when I can rest some of our guys, I will. But it’s not about being conservative right now or feeling like we’re entitled and we’re in the playoffs; we aren’t. So we’re still fighting to do that, and I’ll coach it accordingly.”

It might sound like there’s a contradiction between that desire to fight for the postseason and Brown’s goal of “delivering [Embiid] to a playoff round.” The Sixers probably need Embiid to play the majority of their final 27 games to make the playoffs in the first place. On the other hand, nothing in Embiid’s past suggests that he’s capable of playing all six remaining back-to-backs and suiting up fully healthy in Game 1 of the postseason.

The key for Brown is finding the perfect middle ground between riding Embiid hard every night and babying his 7-foot-2 star to the detriment of the team. With the playoffs finally in sight after five seasons of processing, that’s going to be one of Brown’s greatest challenges in the home stretch.  

Rookie of the Year down to 2 and Ben Simmons' odds slipping

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Rookie of the Year down to 2 and Ben Simmons' odds slipping

Donovan Mitchell continues to creep closer to Ben Simmons in the NBA Rookie of the Year race, and the gap in Bovada's odds for the two is as close as it's been all season.

Simmons is now -250 to win the award, meaning a $250 wager is required to win $100. 

Mitchell is at +170, meaning a $100 wager wins you $170.

In the most recent odds update in January, Simmons was at -650; Mitchell was +400.

It's a clear two-man race at this point.
 
Simmons is averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.9 blocks this season. No player in recorded history has hit all five criteria in the same season.

Mitchell, however, has been on fire for the NBA's hottest team. The Jazz have won 11 straight games to test the Pelicans for the 8-seed, and over that span, Mitchell has averaged 21.3 points, albeit on 41 percent shooting.

For the season, Mitchell is at 19.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals. He's made 35.4 percent of his threes and 83.6 percent of his free throws.

Both are stars in the making, but it's worth noting that the Jazz are playing better than they have all season and Simmons is still the favorite. Where Utah ends up will be a determining factor in the Rookie of the Year race — if the Jazz can somehow end up the 7-seed in a loaded West, arguments for Mitchell will grow louder.

Both Simmons and Mitchell were two of five guests this week on NBA TV's Open Court: Rookies Edition. Interesting talking points from the special: 

• Mitchell referenced former Sixer Jrue Holiday as an under-the-radar tough player to guard, saying he watches film of Holiday every day.

• Simmons recalled LeBron attacking him frequently in the first quarter of their first meeting, saying he wasn't surprised LeBron wanted to send a message by going right at him.

• The Morris twins were mentioned by Simmons and Jayson Tatum when asked about the most imposing players in the league. Everyone cited DeMarcus Cousins.

• Simmons downplayed the importance of his NBA redshirt season, saying you don't really know what it's like to play back to back and deal with the hectic travel schedule until you're involved in it every day.