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.

How to manage Joel Embiid's health while pushing for playoffs

How to manage Joel Embiid's health while pushing for playoffs

CAMDEN, N.J. — In some ways, Joel Embiid is a dream to coach. You can go to him in the post whenever you need a bucket, rely on him to erase defensive mistakes, sit back and watch as he takes over games.

But in other ways, coaching Embiid is not an easy job. Brett Brown has to constantly weigh Embiid’s health with the immediate desire to win. That balancing act has never been more difficult for Brown, who commented Wednesday on how he plans to manage Embiid with the playoffs in sight.

“Everything is still, and it should be, delivering him to a playoff round,” Brown said. “It’s not cramming for the exam and doing whatever you can to get home court, it’s not that at all. And so I feel like the path that we’re all on is both professional and responsible. So it’s that more than trying to cram for an exam.”

The Sixers have six back-to-back sets in their final 27 games. Embiid played his first ever back-to-back on Feb. 2 vs. Miami and Feb. 3 at Indiana. Since then, he’s had an injury scare with his right knee (on Feb. 10 vs the Clippers) and missed the Sixers’ final game before the All-Star break with a sore right ankle.

That said, Embiid’s obviously taken major steps forward. After being sidelined for his first two NBA seasons and playing just 31 games (and only 25.4 minutes per game) in his rookie year, he’s played in 44 of the Sixers’ first 55 games, and is averaging 31.4 minutes per game.

But the Sixers are 3-8 when Embiid doesn’t play. Without Embiid, the Sixers don’t look like a playoff team. With him, they look like a team which could earn home-court advantage. The Sixers are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference at 30-25, two games behind the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards.

When asked how he’ll generally manage his players’ minutes in the final third of the season, Brown referred to his time as a Spurs assistant, implying that the Sixers will approach things more aggressively than a championship contender.

“In my old life, when you felt like you were going to be in the finals and win a championship, you definitely started managing stuff differently in this final third,” Brown said. “That’s not where we’re at now. We are fighting to get in the playoffs.

“And we’re in a fist fight, we want a little bit more than that. And we’re going to play with that in mind, and when the opportunity arises when I can rest some of our guys, I will. But it’s not about being conservative right now or feeling like we’re entitled and we’re in the playoffs; we aren’t. So we’re still fighting to do that, and I’ll coach it accordingly.”

It might sound like there’s a contradiction between that desire to fight for the postseason and Brown’s goal of “delivering [Embiid] to a playoff round.” The Sixers probably need Embiid to play the majority of their final 27 games to make the playoffs in the first place. On the other hand, nothing in Embiid’s past suggests that he’s capable of playing all six remaining back-to-backs and suiting up fully healthy in Game 1 of the postseason.

The key for Brown is finding the perfect middle ground between riding Embiid hard every night and babying his 7-foot-2 star to the detriment of the team. With the playoffs finally in sight after five seasons of processing, that’s going to be one of Brown’s greatest challenges in the home stretch.