76ers

NBA Notes: Michael Jordan fires back at LaVar Ball

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AP/USA Today Images

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.

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 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.