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NBA Notes: Knicks-Rockets still talking Carmelo Anthony trade, but no deal imminent

NBA Notes: Knicks-Rockets still talking Carmelo Anthony trade, but no deal imminent

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets are still trying to work out a deal involving Carmelo Anthony, though it may take some time -- if it happens.

The teams continue to talk about a trade but no deal is imminent, said a person familiar with the situation. The person said Anthony has told the Knicks he would accept a move to the Rockets but the teams are still trying to find a trade that works for both sides. The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because the talks between the teams remain private.

Anthony has a no-trade clause and would have to agree to any deal. He has told the Knicks he would waive it to go to Houston or Cleveland.

The Knicks have been trying to trade the All-Star forward but finding a deal is difficult. Anthony is 33 and still has two years and $54 million remaining on his contract, and teams have been hesitant to engage New York on talks knowing Anthony could block a deal.

He had long maintained he wanted to remain in New York, but Houston became attractive to him after acquiring his close friend Chris Paul from the Clippers in a trade. The Rockets are scheduled to introduce Paul at a press conference Friday (see full story).

Nuggets: Team officially announces Millsap signing
DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets announced the signing of four-time All-Star Paul Millsap.

A highly coveted free agent, the former Atlanta forward agreed to a three-year deal worth $90 million. He will hold a news conference Thursday in a suburb of Denver where he spent a dozen years as a kid before returning to Louisiana for high school and college.

The 32-year-old Millsap gives the youthful Nuggets a proven veteran to pair with budding star Nikola Jokic. Millsap averaged a career-high 18.1 points last season with 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

Denver (40-42) improved by seven games this year but still missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Millsap's presence helps the Nuggets remain in the playoff conversation even in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Wizards: Team matches Nets’ offer sheet for Porter
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have matched the Brooklyn Nets' $106 million, four-year offer sheet to keep forward Otto Porter.

General manager Ernie Grunfeld announced the move Thursday. Under NBA rules, the Wizards had two days to match Brooklyn's offer sheet for the 24-year-old restricted free agent.

Porter becomes Washington's highest-paid player for the time being, ahead of guards Bradley Beal and John Wall. He set career highs with 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and shooting and 3-point percentages of .516 and .434 last season, his fourth as a professional.

The Wizards drafted Porter third overall in 2013 out of Georgetown. Grunfeld said Porter, who has averaged 9.3 points a game in his career, has developed into a vital part of the team's young core (see full story).

Jazz: 3 free agents added, Diaw released
SALT LAKE CITY -- A person with direct knowledge of the deals says the Utah Jazz have reached agreements to sign free agents Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh. The Jazz also released Boris Diaw, whose 2017-18 salary would have been guaranteed Saturday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the moves had not been officially announced.

Sefolosha heads to Utah after three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. The 2006 No. 13 overall pick averaged 7.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and shot 34.2 percent from 3-point range last season.

Jerebko spent the last two seasons with the Celtics and averaged 3.8 points and 3.5 rebounds last year.

Udoh spent the last two seasons in Turkey, where he won a Euroleague championship with Fenerbahce. Udoh was the No. 6 overall NBA pick in 2010.

Joel Embiid ready for home playoff debut, says Sixers' 'time is now'

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Joel Embiid ready for home playoff debut, says Sixers' 'time is now'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid received a text message from across the NBA following the Sixers’ 27-point win over the Heat in Game 1. 

It was from Draymond Green, sending his championship-winning insight. 

“Draymond texted me after the first game when we blew Miami out,” Embiid recalled Monday. “He basically told me that it’s not going to be the same in Game 2. They came back and they won that game.” 

Green was right. Each contest has been a match of adjustments, including Embiid’s return from a 10-game layoff. Wearing a required mask with goggles, Embiid played in the Sixers’ Game 3 and Game 4 victories. 

Now he’s poised to make his postseason home debut Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, where he’s been eager to compete in a playoff game his entire career. 

“The atmosphere was amazing, it was insane,” Embiid said of the home crowd in Games 1 and 2. “After going to Miami, I felt like nothing compared to it. … We’ve been almost perfect [at home] since the beginning of the year. It just shows you how much we need them. Especially myself, I play better in that type of environment. I need the fans to get into it and push me. That makes me elevate my game.” 

Embiid’s offensive game has been impacted since coming back from a concussion and left orbital fracture suffered on March 28. He scored 23 points (5 for 11 FG) with seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three turnovers in Game 3. The following game, he posted 14 points (2 for 11 FG, 0 for 4 from three), 12 rebounds, five blocks and eight turnovers. Embiid is shooting 31.8 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the line in the series. 

“The main thing, especially when it (the offense) doesn’t go my way, is just be a beast defensively,” he said. 

Embiid cannot play without the protective mask, though, which he has described as “annoying” and “weird.” Markelle Fultz and Amir Johnson tried on the goggles after practice Monday to get a glimpse into his line of vision. 

“They kind of saw my pain when I have to wear them,” Embiid said. “But that can’t be an excuse. I have to get used to it.” 

Embiid’s mindset going into Game 5 is to close out the Heat series and get some extra time before the second round (see story). The Celtics and Bucks series is tied 2-2. He sees the first round as just the starting point for the Sixers’ postseason. 

“A lot of people say that we have a bright future, but I think our time is now,” Embiid said. “We have a pretty good chance. We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don’t think we need anybody else. We’ve just got to work with what we have, and we have a special team. I feel like we have a pretty good chance to go far. 

"So it’s just about us taking care of the little things, like not turning the ball over, just playing together, like we've been doing, sharing the ball, not be selfish, and everything is going to take care of itself." 

Embiid will take the court for his first postseason game in Philadelphia when the Sixers tip off against the Heat at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBCSP.

"The playoffs, that’s kind of like you play in front of the whole world," Embiid said. "I feel like I thrive in that type of situation because I feel like I was made for this." 

Sixers know what must be done to knock out Heat

Sixers know what must be done to knock out Heat

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination and now they are hunkering down for yet another battle in this hard-fought first-round matchup. 

The Sixers do not anticipate closing out the series Tuesday night at home to be any easier than the first four grind-it-out games. 

“You don’t have to be a wise man to know what is about to happen, what style of play they’re going to try to play,” Brett Brown said before practice Monday. “Especially when they’re going to go home if they’re not able to find a win. We understand that.”

The Sixers are returning to the Wells Fargo Center up 3-1 after completing the challenging task of taking two straight games on the road. As they prepare for what could be a deciding game, they are focused on fixing their mistakes from the previous ones. The Sixers overcame giving up 30 points on 27 turnovers, shooting 7 for 31 from three, and trailing by 12 in Game 4. 

“I said it after the game and I’ll say it again now: we were very fortunate to win that game,” Brown said. “The discipline that we did not show offensively and defensively in the first three periods, especially as I go back and watch it, can’t happen.” 

Regardless of the final score, the Heat have proven to be a feisty squad each night. The tussle between Robert Covington, James Johnson and Ben Simmons exemplified the spirit of the series. The teams were whistled for a combined 10 technical fouls in Games 3 and 4. 

Goran Dragic said the Heat are not going to show up at the Wells Fargo Center to surrender. The Sixers don’t anticipate them to, either. 

“A team like Miami, their culture, their organization, their group of guys, they have fighters, they have warriors on their team,” JJ Redick said. “Every game in this series has been tough. There’s no expectations that Game 5 will be any different.”

The Sixers have not advanced out of the first round since 2012, the last time they were in the playoffs. With a 3-1 lead, their objective Tuesday is clear. 

“Our mindset is to close it out,” Joel Embiid said.