76ers

NBA Notes: Lakers fined $500K for tampering involving Paul George

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NBA Notes: Lakers fined $500K for tampering involving Paul George

NEW YORK -- New Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka's contact with Paul George's agent violated the NBA's anti-tampering rule and resulted in a $500,000 fine for Los Angeles on Thursday.

The league said a law firm's independent investigation didn't find evidence of an agreement or an understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire George, who was with the Indiana Pacers at the time. George later was traded to Oklahoma City.

"We respect and accept the NBA's decision regarding this matter," Pelinka said in a statement. "On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA."

The league had warned the Lakers about tampering following comments by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson about George on national TV on April 20.

The league said Pelinka's contact with George's agent "constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract" (see full story).

Cavaliers: Irving doesn’t mention LeBron in Cleveland goodbye
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving did not mention LeBron James, now his former teammate, while thanking Cleveland fans after his trade to Boston was finalized.

Irving, who is now officially a member of the Celtics after the teams completed a blockbuster deal that had stalled, posted a lengthy thank-you note and video on his Instagram account Thursday. While somewhat vague about his intentions, the All-Star guard explained some the reasons that led to him requesting the Cavaliers trade him following six seasons -- and three straight trips to the NBA Finals.

In a meeting last month with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, Irving said he wanted out.

"You understand the magnitude of decisions that you make in your life can affect a lot of people all at once," Irving said in the more than 4-minute video . "And when you get to that point and you understand that the best intentions for you and ultimately to be in your truth, and find out what you really want to do in your life and how you want to accomplish it -- that moment comes and you take full advantage of it.

"And there are no other ulterior reasons other than being happy and to be somewhere you feel like it's an environment that's conducive for you maximizing your potential" (see full story).

Bulls: Payne to have surgery on broken right foot
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls say guard Cameron Payne will have surgery next week for a broken right foot.

Payne fractured the fifth metatarsal during a workout July 18. The team says six weeks of rest in a boot was prescribed, but a subsequent scan and examination this week revealed the foot has not healed "satisfactorily." Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.

Payne also broke his right foot during the 2015-16 season with Oklahoma City.

Payne was acquired in the February trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder. He struggled for Chicago, averaging 4.9 points in 11 games.

Kings: Randolph faces misdemeanor marijuana charge
LOS ANGELES -- Sacramento Kings forward Zach Randolph has been charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and resisting arrest following an incident this month when a large gathering became unruly at a Los Angeles housing project, prosecutors said Thursday.

The two-time NBA All-Star had initially been arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to sell -- a felony -- but Los Angeles city prosecutors instead charged Randolph with misdemeanor drug possession.

Court documents say the 36-year-old Randolph possessed "more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or more than four grams of concentrated cannabis or both." Randolph also is accused of resisting arrest and obstructing a Los Angeles police officer in the discharge of their duties.

Randolph is scheduled to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom on Sept. 14, said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case.

Cavaliers: Gilbert vows to never move team from Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert vowed Thursday to "never" move his NBA team from Cleveland.

Earlier this week, when Gilbert scrapped plans for a $140 million renovation to Quicken Loans Arena that could now be back on, his move led to speculation the owner might leave the city when his lease expires in 2027.

"CLE, Let's put any silly rumors to rest: I will never move the Cleveland Cavaliers out of Cleveland," Gilbert wrote on Twitter . "Period. And that's unconditional."

As part of the project, the team would extend its lease to 2034. The Cavs were going to split the cost of the arena's makeover with public financing, but a local coalition opposed to using tax dollars for the remodeling was able to force a city referendum vote and Gilbert pulled out.

However, on Thursday, Greater Cleveland Congregations withdrew petitions challenging the arena deal.

The Cavaliers are still hoping to host a future All-Star game if an agreement can be reached on the project.

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Joel Embiid has joked in the past about his desire to be a guard in the NBA. All kidding and three-point shooting aside, the big man wants to play at the basket.

“We’ve got to do a better job of finding me in the post,” he said following the Sixers' loss to the Celtics on Friday. 

Embiid was candid about where he needs the ball following his 11-point performance. He didn’t score until the third quarter and shot 4 for 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three in 28 minutes. 

“I felt like I needed to go to the perimeter to make something happen because I wasn’t getting the ball in the post,” Embiid said. “I think we’ve got to look at the tapes and find ways to get me the ball in the post. But I felt like because I wasn’t doing that, I had to go outside and make something happen to help us win.”

Embiid started off the game taking shots away from the basket. He went 0 for 2 from three in the first quarter and also missed a 20-foot jumper. His two points came at the line.

Embiid went scoreless in the second quarter and didn’t attempt any shots in the paint, either. He failed to connect on another three as well as an 11-foot jump shot and a 13-foot floater. 

He began the second half going 0 for 2 from long-range in the first four minutes. Finally, with 4:35 remaining in the quarter, he recorded his first field goal off a layup from Dario Saric. He scored off a dunk from Markelle Fultz late in the third and notched another point off a free throw. 

Embiid became more aggressive at the basket in the fourth quarter. He checked in with 5:37 remaining and the Sixers trailing by four. He knocked down a 13-foot pull-up and then missed his next four attempts: an eight-foot jumper, a layup, a trey, and a tip layup. Embiid made a layup with 16 seconds to play. 

The Sixers system has changed from last season when Embiid was the offensive go-to (20.2 points per game). As a rookie he made 63.6 percent of his field goals within three feet of the basket, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

The Sixers have added more scoring options, including Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who drive the basket and are not perimeter-focused. Of the two, only Fultz made a shot outside the paint on Friday. The team as a whole scored 40 of their 92 points in the paint, compared to 28 by the Celtics. Below is a combined shot chart for Simmons and Fultz. 

Embiid's teammates will look to feed Embiid the ball at the basket. Just two games into the season, this newly-constructed squad still is learning how to play with one another. Embiid was limited in full-court practices for the majority of training camp and only played in two preseason contests.

The Sixers also are adapting to the offense when Embiid is both on and off the court as his minutes and availability fluctuate. He is not playing Saturday against the Raptors in the second night of a back-to-back. 

“If he’s in the game and he’s in the post, get him the ball,” Fultz said.

Embiid echoed, “He’s right. That’s the right answer.”

Sixers-Raptors thoughts: Embiid to sit, Okafor to take his place

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Sixers-Raptors thoughts: Embiid to sit, Okafor to take his place

Sixers (0-2) at Raptors (1-0)
7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports app. Pregame Live at 7.

The Sixers enter their first back-to-back set of the season when they tip off against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Hope you didn’t think the Sixers would flip the switch overnight. Oh yeah, it’s a process.

The Sixers found that out again when they stalled during the second half of Friday night’s 102-92 loss to the Boston Celtics in their home opener.

“We didn’t hold everything together like we should have,” Jerryd Bayless said.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

• Joel Embiid won’t suit up against the Raptors because the center still isn’t cleared for back-to-backs yet. His stamina is not where it needs to be at the moment and it showed vs. the Celtics.

Embiid looked lethargic as he struggled through a 4-for-16 performance for just 11 points. That included the big man going 0 for 6 from three-point range.

After the game, the big man expressed that he wants more touches in the paint. That will certainly happen, but it will have to wait until the next game.

• So who will take Embiid’s playing time in Toronto? If only the Sixers had another center on their roster also taken No. 3 overall in a recent NBA draft.

Wait, they do? Hello, Jahlil Okafor.

Since slimming down in the offseason and performing well during the preseason, Okafor has been glued to the bench during the Sixers’ first two games of 2017-18.

That is likely to change against the Raptors. With both Embiid and Richaun Holmes out, Okafor could share the center duties with veteran Amir Johnson.

That wouldn’t be a bad idea based on the numbers. In five career games against the Raptors, Okafor has averaged 20.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 31.3 minutes.

• For years, the Raptors have been fueled by their All-Star backcourt tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. That won’t change this season, but the team is intent on spreading the ball around more.

Toronto had six players score in double figures during its season opener. That included a team-high 23 points from center Jonas Valanciunas and 22 off the bench from veteran C.J. Miles.

Speaking of Miles, the Sixers will have to keep a close eye on the Raps’ new-look bench that accounted for 48 points in the team’s season-opening win over the Chicago Bulls.

• Ben Simmons has been as advertised. He’s big, strong, athletic and plays with poise.

The point guard put up 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in Friday’s loss to the Celtics. That made him the first rookie in Sixers history to start his career with back-to-back double-doubles and just the 11th in NBA history.

Simmons also became just the fifth player ever to have at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in their first two games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The other four: Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Connie Hawkins and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Yeah, he’s off to a pretty good start.

• The Sixers haven’t exactly had much success against the Raptors in recent years. They’ve lost 15 of their last 16 to their division foe, including nine straight at Air Canada Centre. Their last victory north of the border came on Nov. 10, 2012.

• Embiid (rest) and Holmes (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Fred VanVleet (head) is a game-time decision for the Raptors. Malcolm Miller (ankle) is out.