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NBA Notes: Clippers strip Doc Rivers of role as team president

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NBA Notes: Clippers strip Doc Rivers of role as team president

LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers is losing his dual roles with the Los Angeles Clippers, keeping his position as coach while Lawrence Frank takes over Rivers' responsibility for basketball operations.

The team announced the changes Friday, saying the moves are "aimed at bringing the team to a new level of excellence by creating separate roles." The team says the change came as a result of discussions between Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer.

Rivers and Frank will be equals in the Clippers' power structure, with each reporting directly to Ballmer.

Last year, Frank was promoted to oversee day-to-day operations of the front office although Rivers retained his title as president of basketball operations. Frank and Rivers have a strong relationship and they worked together to make hires and changes in the front office structure.

Frank has had previous NBA head coaching jobs in New Jersey and Detroit.

"Doc knows how to win championships. That is what we prioritize, and that is what Doc will focus on," Ballmer said. "Lawrence is someone I learn from every single time I hear him talk. He gets recruiting, talent development and identification, salary cap strategy -- he gets it all. With these two guys at the helm, we will have great success" (see full story).

Wizards: Wall says ‘no point in testing free agency
WASHINGTON -- John Wall wants to win a championship, but he doesn't plan to bounce around the NBA chasing a ring.

After signing a $170 million, four-year extension with the Washington Wizards that keeps him under contract through 2022-23, Wall said he wants to watch two banners rise to the rafters in Washington: one for a title and another with his No. 2 jersey.

"There's no point in testing free agency if I know where I want to be," Wall said Friday. "I have the ultimate goal what I want to do here. I know what team I want to play for my whole career."

Wall turns 27 in September, so he'll only be 32 when this contract expires or 31 if he opts out in 2022. Backcourt mate Bradley Beal and swingman Otto Porter Jr. are signed to max contracts through 2021, giving the Wizards several seasons to try to win with this core.

In an era of players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant taking their talents elsewhere, Wall put his money where his mouth is by agreeing to another contract.

"It's critical that your star players want to stay and play for the team. That's not always the case," said Scott Brooks, who previously coached Durant in Oklahoma City. "We have our three players that we drafted all want to stay here and stay long term. It's good because if you don't have your best players want to stay here, nobody wants to stay here" (see full story).

Pistons: Drummond acknowledges need to improve
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a disappointing season -- one that raised significant questions about whether Andre Drummond is the type of player they envisioned when they gave him a massive contract.

Drummond admits 2016-17 wasn't good enough.

"It was like a roller coaster ride for me," Drummond said. "Just an inconsistent year for us as an organization."

The Pistons went 37-45 and missed the playoffs after making it in 2016. There were plenty of reasons for the team's decline -- particularly an injury-riddled season for point guard Reggie Jackson -- but Drummond is the player who may be under the most pressure to improve when the Pistons move into their new downtown arena later this year.

Drummond is set to play in Saturday's NBA Africa Game in South Africa, and he took part in a conference call this week. It's been an eventful year for the 23-year-old big man, who received a $130 million, five-year contract from the Pistons last offseason.

Less than a season after finalizing that deal, Drummond was already the subject of trade speculation.

"I never had to deal with that before," he said. "I wasn't playing the way I was supposed to play" (see full story).

Knicks: Oakley accepts deal to dismiss MSG charges
NEW YORK (AP) -- Former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley has reached a deal with prosecutors who charged him with striking a security guard at Madison Square Garden.

The Daily News reports that charges against Oakley will be dismissed and sealed after six months of good behavior.

Oakley said Friday that a trial would waste time and money that should be used to "keep the streets better for kids."

His lawyer says Oakley didn't need a trial to prove his innocence.

Oakley was a Knicks fan favorite from 1988 to 1998. But he's had a falling out with the organization.

On Feb. 8, he sat a few rows from Knicks owner James Dolan at a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Security approached and a fracas ensued. Oakley was ejected and handcuffed.

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

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Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers first home game is Friday night, and if their season opener in Washington, D.C. was any indication of the fans’ excitement level, the Wells Fargo Center will be rowdy. 

Sixers fans traveled to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday and started a “Trust the Process” chant less than a minute into the game, much to the dismay of the Wizards crowd.

That enthusiasm and loyalty was not lost on the players. They are ready to feed off the vibe at the Wells Fargo Center when they host the Celtics. 

“First of all, Philly fans are passionate and I love that about them,” Joel Embiid said. “Just me going out there, playing hard and making plays just to get them off their seat and cheer and yell and just go crazy, I just love that type of atmosphere. It gets me going, too.”

Some players block out the noise from the stands, especially if they aren’t hitting their shots. Embiid, though, wants to hear the support and repay it on the court. 

“If I miss foul shots and then they’re cheering, I know that the next play I’ve got to do better,” he said. “I’ve got to make a crazy block or I’ve got to make a crazy play to get them going. Then that gets me going too because I love the excitement. Since I’ve been in Philly, I’ve embraced it and I just love it.”

The players don’t want the fans to hold back, either. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has played in intense game environments overseas and welcomes the high energy in Philadelphia. 

“Here, whenever you go in the street, people call your name, cheer for you,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “During the game, it gets you going. The crazier they are, the better you feel and the better you’re going to play. It’s the best thing.”

Brett Brown always has emphasized the responsibility he feels to give the crowd a quality product. He reiterated that doing his job well is on his mind every game. For the first time in his tenure, Brown can debut a roster constructed with direction and a foundation.

“I’m confident and comfortable with what we’ve built, that we can deliver this year’s team to a court knowing that the base is there, there are people we really like and see as part of the future,” he said. 

Fans at the home opener will receive a t-shirt with caricatures of Brown, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric on it. 

 

The team also is launching the PhilaFanGram camera system that fans can use to take photos with a specially-designed Sixers-themed filter. 

Back-to-backs for Embiid?
Embiid is awaiting word from the medical staff to hear if he will be cleared for back-to-back games. Following Friday's game against the Celtics, the Sixers travel to Toronto the play the Raptors on Saturday. 

"Yesterday I played and my body feels great today," Embiid said. "My knee feels amazing. I feel like if I had to play today, I feel like I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready."

Embiid was held out of consecutive games last season. 

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

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Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

MIAMI — Brooklyn's Jeremy Lin was horrified to see what happened to Gordon Hayward, whose season almost certainly ended in a most disturbing fashion five minutes into the Celtics' season-opener.

A night later, Lin met a similar fate.

Here's some of what should be celebrated from the opening nights of the NBA season: Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 37-point game, Cleveland's LeBron James was one assist away from a triple-double, Houston beat Golden State on the Warriors' ring night and Miami's Hassan Whiteside went for 26 points and 22 rebounds.

It all seems overshadowed by injuries.

No, this is not the start the NBA wanted.

"It's tough watching that happen to anybody in the NBA," said Golden State guard Shaun Livingston, whose horrific knee injury from 2007 -- so bad that doctors originally thought he could lose his leg -- was compared to the grotesque nature of Hayward's injury Tuesday night. "It's all a brotherhood. You want to see guys succeed."

Many members of the brotherhood are ailing, none causing bigger shock waves than Hayward.

San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard hasn't played yet this season because of a quadriceps injury. The Warriors sent Draymond Green to get an MRI on an aching knee, which had knocked him out early in their season opener. Houston's Chris Paul missed a game at Sacramento on Wednesday with knee pain. Cleveland's Isaiah Thomas won't be back until January, at least, while recovering from a hip injury.

And those guys, along with Hayward, are just the hurting All-Stars from last season.

"There's no doubt we'll get him back to be better than he was before," said Mark Bartelstein, Hayward's agent.

Lin's injury was nowhere near as visibly horrifying as Hayward's, but the end result was the same -- a bad landing at Indiana on Wednesday left him in tears and saying, "I'm done, I'm done."

His personal diagnosis was officially confirmed Thursday morning: Lin ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee, the Nets said.

"We feel awful that the injury will cost him the season," Nets general manager Sean Marks said.

Plenty of other teams are missing key players and would-be starters.

Among them: Utah's Dante Exum may miss the whole season with a dislocated left shoulder, Miami's Rodney McGruder had surgery on a stress fracture in his leg, Phoenix's Brandon Knight blew his knee out in the summer, San Antonio's Tony Parker (leg) is still several weeks from returning, Indiana's Glenn Robinson III (ankle) may miss half the season and Milwaukee's Jabari Parker (knee) has months of rehab work left.

"You worry about guys getting nicked up," Memphis forward Brandan Wright said. "Lot of big injuries ... You want to just take care of your guys."

Hayward had surgery Wednesday night and is likely to miss the remainder of the season, after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in Boston's opener at Cleveland.

Livingston had no interest in seeing the replay of Hayward's injury. He knows the road that awaits the Boston star.

"I'm not watching the video, but I've seen the pictures," Livingston said. "Prayers go out to him. It's going to be a long road back for him but if he puts his mind to it, is a man of faith, keeps good people around him ... it's going to be a long rehab for him but he's very capable of coming back and being the same player."