76ers

NBA Notes: Kyrie Irving says trade request was about his potential

ap-celtics-kyrie-irving.jpg
AP Images

NBA Notes: Kyrie Irving says trade request was about his potential

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving didn't try to hide his giddiness Friday when he was introduced as the newest addition of a Boston Celtics franchise he grew up watching.

"It's about to be crazy, G," Irving said in the ear of fellow new Celtics teammate Gordon Hayward as they sat on the dais two days after Boston's blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers was completed.

Boston sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks to Cleveland for Irving. Hayward signed as a free agent in July.

Hayward and Irving smiled and bantered like old friends as they posed for pictures holding their new Celtics jerseys.

But not lost on Irving is that he's joining one of the league's most-storied teams because of his trade request from the team that drafted him and made him an NBA champion.

Irving acknowledged he wanted to leave the Cavaliers and his partnership the past three seasons with LeBron James. But he said the decision was about maximizing his own potential and not because of any specific issue with the Cavs or any individual (see full story).

Pelicans: Team gets Majok draft rights as part of trade
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Pelicans say they will receive the draft rights to overseas professional Ater Majok as part of a trade that is sending veteran small forward Quincy Pondexter, a second-round draft choice and cash to the Chicago Bulls.

The portion of the trade sending Pondexter and a second-round draft choice to Chicago was agreed upon Thursday and confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the move who spoke on condition of anonymity because it hadn't been announced.

Friday afternoon's announcement details that New Orleans is receiving in return.

The 6-foot-10 Majok is Sudanese by birth and grew up in Australia. The 30-year-old most recently played for Homenetmen Beirut of the Lebanese Basketball League.

For the Pelicans, trading Pondexter increases salary cap flexibility for a club that could use another small forward following Solomon Hill's offseason hamstring tear.

Rockets: Convicted killer of Paul’s grandfather parole-eligible
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A North Carolina man convicted in the death of NBA star Chris Paul's grandfather has become eligible for parole after a judge's ruling.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Hall granted a motion Thursday to resentence 29-year-old Rayshawn Denard Banner to life with the possibility of parole. That means he will be eligible for parole in 12 years.

Prosecutors opposed the resentencing.

Banner was 16 when a jury convicted him in 2004 of first-degree murder in the November 2002 death of Paul's grandfather, 61-year-old Nathaniel Jones. Banner was sentenced to life without parole, as was his brother.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges cannot give mandatory life sentences to juveniles. In 2016, the court decided that ruling would be applied retroactively.

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic as in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.