76ers

NBA Notes: Russell Westbrook signs massive extension with Thunder

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NBA Notes: Russell Westbrook signs massive extension with Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook is staying with the Thunder.

The superstar point guard and reigning NBA MVP has signed a contract extension to remain in Oklahoma City, the team announced Friday. ESPN first reported the agreement and said it would be for five years and worth $205 million.

Westbrook made an Instagram post Friday afternoon, a photo of him yelling at Chesapeake Energy Arena with his arms raised in the air. His words of choice to go with the photo are the words he lives by and the name of his charitable foundation: "WHY NOT??"

Westbrook said this week that Oklahoma City is where he wanted to be. He said he was thrilled with the offseason additions of four-time All-Star Paul George and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Both have player options on their deals after this season.

"I love being here," he said. "I'm excited about the season. Obviously, with a lot of new changes, and I'm excited" (see full story).

Cavaliers: LeBron (ankle) misses 2nd straight practice
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James missed his second straight practice with a sprained left ankle, an injury that happened on Dwyane Wade's first day with the Cavaliers.

James was at the team's Cleveland Clinic Courts facility getting treatment Friday, and could be seen in the training and fitness area. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the superstar is day to day, but the team has not said much else about James' injury.

The three-time NBA champion rolled his ankle on Wednesday night, shortly after his good friend Wade turned down other offers to sign a one-year, $2.3 million contract with Cleveland.

It's not known how James hurt his ankle. The team said X-rays were negative.

James has tweaked his ankles in the past, but the 32-year-old has been incredibly durable throughout his career, playing in at least 75 games in 12 of his 14 regular seasons. He played in 74 games last season (see full story).

Hawks: Schroder charged with battery after fight
ATLANTA -- Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder has been charged with battery after a fight at a late-night restaurant.

Brookhaven police reported that Schroder and three other men were arrested in an altercation around 2 a.m. Friday at the 6am restaurant. A review of video from the scene led to the misdemeanor charges.

According to a police report, the video shows a total of seven people, including a security office, involved in "what appeared to be a verbal heated exchange." It also shows Schroder shoving the victim, Joey Hall, before he and the other three members of his party attacked Hall with their hands and feet. Security officers were able to stop the brawl before police arrived.

The report says Hall sustained scratches to his right knee and complained of right ankle pain before he was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

The Hawks said they were aware of the incident but declined further comment.

Markelle Fultz likely to start season on bench for Sixers

Markelle Fultz likely to start season on bench for Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown likely will bring Markelle Fultz in off the bench to start the season. 

The No. 1 pick missed the majority of the preseason because of soreness in his right knee and right shoulder. Fultz played a total of 47 minutes over just two games. He practiced Sunday.

When asked if Fultz will start, Brown said “I don’t believe so” and noted the lack of in-game experience. The Sixers face the Wizards’ dangerous backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal in the regular season opener Wednesday. 

“He hasn’t played much basketball in preseason,” Brown said Sunday. “He’s been out for a while. He hasn’t been with our group. I think the decision like, do you put him into the fire right away and have him play against starting NBA defensive players, especially with the little foundation that he has? I don’t think that’s smart.”

Fultz, last season’s Pac-12 leading scorer, struggled offensively in the preseason games in which he did play. He shot 2 for 13 from the field (0 for 3 from three) and scored four points in the opener against the Grizzlies. Facing the Celtics, he scored 12 points off of 5 for 11 shooting from the field (no three-point attempts).

“At the end of the day, I want to do whatever I’ve got to do to help my team win,” Fultz said. “So if that’s coming off the bench, I’m fine with that. Just contribute any ways I can.”

All the while, the change in his shot form has been in the spotlight. He missed the second preseason game against the Celtics because of shoulder soreness. He previously described the injury as ongoing and did not point to a specific moment of injury (see story). Fultz was sidelined for the final two preseason games with right knee soreness.

“My shoulder is bothering me, so that’s the reason my shot’s like that,” Fultz said. “At the end of the day, I’m not going use that as an excuse, like I said before. But my shoulder is the main reason why my shot’s doing that.”

The Sixers traded up to draft Fultz first overall largely because of his ability to complement Ben Simmons off the ball. The pair hasn’t played together much since then, though. Jerryd Bayless started four of the five preseason games at shooting guard alongside Simmons.

“You have a plan in your head. It’s deviated from the summer, lots of it because of his injuries and lack of availability,” Brown said. “But we’ll all sort of see how I use him and how he uses himself. It will all be driven out of, how do we develop him and still win games?”

Fultz’s role could change throughout the season. The Sixers will work through his minutes, guard pairings and ball-handling responsibilities. These considerations will be based on Fultz’s health, matchups and the availability of his teammates, all the while trying to be successful. 

“The balance of development and winning is a slippery slope because he hasn’t played basketball and he’s really had an erratic preseason,” Brown said. “How we are fair in delivering him to an NBA court and situations that I put him in and volume of minutes he gets with the notion he’s the first player chosen, we understand the microscope, the pedestal that he is on. But the reality with all those other things that I just said are also my responsibility to figure it all out. Ultimately, you’ve got play and develop him and take some hits so that he can grow with us.”

Brett Brown says Joel Embiid on track to practice Monday, play Wednesday

Brett Brown says Joel Embiid on track to practice Monday, play Wednesday

CAMDEN, N.J. — There was injury news that prompted a gasp from Sixers fans followed by a projection by Brett Brown that caused a sense of relief.

Joel Embiid did not participate in Sunday's practice because of a left ankle sprain and continuing left knee rehabilitation.

Brown does, however, expect Embiid will practice Monday and be available for the regular season opener Wednesday.

Embiid went through individualized training Sunday. Following the conclusion of practice, he worked on his shot — barefoot.

Embiid took spills during the preseason, including during Friday’s finale against the Heat. While he has been working on his landings, Embiid still plays physical basketball. He thrives on drawing contact, as evidenced by the 18 free throws he attempted in his debut last Wednesday.

“I'm going to live at the foul line," Embiid said after his debut last week.

Embiid scored 22 points and recorded seven rebounds against the Nets followed by five points and seven boards against the Heat. He underwent season-ending left knee surgery in March and has not played in a regular-season game since Jan. 27.