76ers

NBA Notes: Ellis officially signs with Mavs

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NBA Notes: Ellis officially signs with Mavs

DALLAS -- The Mavericks have signed free agent shooting guard Monta Ellis, finishing off the final piece of their new starting lineup.

Terms of the deal announced Tuesday weren't disclosed. It is reportedly a three-year contract for between $25 and $30 million.

Ellis will start alongside point guard Jose Calderon, another free agent addition. The third new starter is center Samuel Dalembert. It's the second straight year the Mavericks have put three new starters around Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.

The 27-year-old Ellis will start the season with a different team for the third straight year after spending his first six seasons with Golden State. The Warriors traded Ellis to Milwaukee in 2011-12, and he led the Bucks last season at 19.2 points per game, slightly below his career average.

Warriors: Jermaine O'Neal signs
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent center Jermaine O'Neal, who had reached agreement on a contract two weeks ago.

The Warriors announced the deal for the six-time All-Star on Tuesday.

Golden State is likely to use the 34-year-old O'Neal as a backup to Andrew Bogut. Festus Ezeli is working back from right knee surgery and is not expected to be ready to return for months.

O'Neal played in 55 games with four starts last season for the Phoenix Suns, averaging 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.7 minutes. The 6-foot-11 center is entering his 18th season in the NBA.

USA: Cousins gets second chance
LAS VEGAS -- DeMarcus Cousins has everything USA Basketball is looking for in a big man.

He has the size and strength to be an imposing presence in the paint on a roster that is lacking in the frontcourt. He has the shooting touch and passing skills to make him a perfect fit in international play and in coach Mike Krzyzewski's system. And he has the confidence not to back down against the best competition the United States has to offer.

The best-case scenario for this young American team going forward would be to have Cousins emerge as a future building block and reliable contributor to a team that will compete for the World Cup in Spain next summer. And the best-case scenario for Cousins would be to get the kind of structure and guidance that Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo can provide to a 22-year-old who has had precious little of either during a volatile first three seasons in the NBA.

"I believe I mature after every season," Cousins said after working out with 27 other young players at a USA Basketball minicamp on the UNLV campus. "I believe people forget I am just 22. At the same time I've got a big responsibility. It's going to take me time, and I'm still learning. But I believe I do improve every year" (see full story).

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 as 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.