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NBA Notes: Michael Jordan fires back at LaVar Ball

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NBA Notes: Michael Jordan fires back at LaVar Ball

Michael Jordan finally issued his response to LaVar Ball's bravado.

"I don't think he could beat me if I was one-legged," Jordan said.

Ball, the outspoken father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, previously said he would beat Jordan in a game of 1-on-1 back in his prime. Jordan, a six-time NBA champion and considered by many the greatest player ever, had held his tongue on a response -- at least for a while.

BayAreaHQ.com posted a video Monday of Jordan talking to campers at his summer youth basketball camp in Santa Barbara, California.

"You've got to understand the source," Jordan said when asked about Ball. "He played, I think, college. ... maybe? He averaged 2.2 points per game. Really?"

Ball played one season at Washington State.

Warriors: McGee returns on 1-year deal
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors are keeping all three of their centers from a championship season, re-signing 7-footer JaVale McGee to a one-year deal Tuesday for the veteran minimum of about $2.3 million.

McGee is a fan favorite for his ability to deliver on alley-oop dunks when Stephen Curry and the others find the sure-handed big man with high lob passes.

McGee emerged as a reliable option off the bench in Steve Kerr's three-center rotation featuring starter Zaza Pachulia and reserve David West, both of whom also received new contracts.

In Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Spurs, McGee scored a postseason-best 16 points -- all in the first half -- as Pachulia sat out with a bruised heel. McGee made all seven of his shots in Game 2 of a first-round win against Portland, shooting 18 for 23 in all in the four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers.

Overall, he averaged 6.1 points and 3.2 rebounds playing 9.6 minutes in 77 games with 10 starts while shooting a career-best 65.2 percent.

Pacers: Seraphin waived after 1 season
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have made another move in their offseason overhaul by waiving center Kevin Seraphin.

He averaged 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 49 games in his only season with Indiana.

Only six players and two starters remain from the Pacers' playoff roster.

Indiana began its rebuilding project in earnest after agreeing to trade four-time All-Star Paul George to Oklahoma on June 30. The Pacers lost two players in free agency, declined the team option on another and waived four sparingly used players.

NBA: Dumars joins sports agency
NEW YORK -- Basketball Hall of Famer Joe Dumars has joined a sports agency.

Independent Sports and Entertainment announced Tuesday it hired Dumars to run its basketball division, which includes clients such as New Orleans Pelicans star DeMarcus Cousins.

Dumars says he looks forward to beginning the new chapter of his career.

He won consecutive NBA titles as a shooting guard and defensive stopper for the Detroit Pistons, known as the Bad Boys, in 1989 and 1990. He led the franchise to its third NBA title as president of basketball operations in 2004 during a stretch that included six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Pistons didn't renew Dumars' contract following the 2013-14 season and he has traveled the world since then, evaluating career options (see full story).

Nuggets: Booth hired as assistant GM
MINNEAPOLIS -- A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Denver Nuggets have hired former Minnesota Timberwolves executive Calvin Booth as an assistant GM.

Booth spent the previous four seasons in the Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Nuggets have not announced the move yet.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent during his time with the Timberwolves. He leaves the team for more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of the Nuggets, another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly was working there.

Best of NBA: Thunder carry George to win in Indiana return

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USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Thunder carry George to win in Indiana return

INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left but committed a turnover and then fouled George.

The Pacers' winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer's blockbuster trade, didn't go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn't have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists (see full recap).

Wizards top Grizzlies in Wall’s return
WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal scored 18 points and John Wall had 13 in his return from a sore knee to help the Washington Wizards hold off the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night.

Beal scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, hitting three 3-pointers. Otto Porter Jr. added 14 points, and Marcin Gortat had 12.

Wall missed nine games, with Washington going 4-5 in his absence.

After the Grizzlies took their first lead of the night, 67-65, on James Ennis III's 3-pointer with 8:53 left to play, Washington responded with a 13-0 run and Memphis got no closer than 83-80 the rest of the way.

Andrew Harrison led Memphis with 20 points, JaMychal Green had 15 points and15 rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies have lost five straight and 16 out of 17 (see full recap).

Lillard leads way as Blazers rally past Heat
MIAMI -- Damian Lillard scored seven of his 18 points in the final 3:16, and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to break their five-game losing streak, beating the Miami Heat 102-95 on Wednesday night.

Lillard, who came into the game averaging 26.6 points, had only one field goal in the first 31 minutes. But he converted a three-point play put the Trail Blazers ahead to stay, 98-95, and sank two free throws on their next possession for a five-point lead.

CJ McCollum scored 28 points for the Trail Blazers (14-13). They climbed back above .500 and improved to 7-5 on the road. The Heat (13-14) fell below .500 and dropped to 5-7 at home.

Miami reserve Wayne Ellington sank seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 24 points. Dion Waiters added 17 points for the Heat, who were hurt by three missed free throws down the stretch.

Both teams were short-handed. Heat forward Justise Winslow left the game in the first half with a left knee strain and did not return, and guard Tyler Johnson sat out because of a migraine.

Miami was also without center Hassan Whiteside for a seventh consecutive games because of a bone bruise in his left knee (see full recap).

Joel Embiid doesn't want Sixers to end up like OKC

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Joel Embiid doesn't want Sixers to end up like OKC

Joel Embiid doesn't want the Sixers to end up like the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Not the 2017-18 Thunder, but OKC circa 2011-12.

Embiid is convinced that at some point soon, the media will turn on him and the Sixers. 

Speaking specifically about the core trio of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, Embiid told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:

"I think with everything, the main thing we have to do is just stay together because I feel like there's going to be some type of situation where people say who is better between us three. And that's how it splits."

Shelburne, who wrote a long and interesting feature on Embiid this week, told more of the story Wednesday on Zach Lowe's podcast.

She recalled talking to Embiid about his social media presence at All-Star weekend in 2016, when he told her, "I'm just trying to have as much fun before everybody turns on me."

Shelburne pointed out the uniqueness of a then-22-year-old — who had been in the United States just seven years — understanding the "fame cycle" well enough to know that things could soon turn.

"I saw what happened in Oklahoma City with (James) Harden, (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant and I don't want that to happen here," Shelburne recalled Embiid saying.

If the Sixers get to that point ... it'll probably be a good problem to have. Just prior to the 2012-13 season, the Thunder traded Harden to Houston in one of the worst trades in recent NBA history. OKC did it for several reasons — salary cap, personalities, only having enough shots to go around. And really, who knows if Harden would have been able to grow into this superstar had he been sharing the ball the next handful of seasons with two other alphas?

Embiid and Fultz have already grown close, and it's important to Embiid that the three young Sixers don't get caught up in the "Who takes the last shot?" conversations or "Who should be the All-Star" questions that inevitably come up. 

Luckily for the Sixers, Embiid, Simmons and Fultz have different enough skill sets that they should be able to coexist. It's not directly analogous to the OKC situation where all three players needed the ball in their hands. The Sixers were built this way for a reason. 

Right now, it's clear Embiid is the alpha of the group. He's the go-to guy in crunch time and again has a top-five usage rate. When Simmons eventually becomes more comfortable with his jump shot and Fultz finally makes his impact on the court, we'll see whether or not Embiid was prescient.