76ers

Wroten's versatility impressing at Sixers camp

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Wroten's versatility impressing at Sixers camp

At Garfield High in Seattle, Wash., the alumni rolls are very impressive. Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix were students at the school at the same time, making Garfield the breeding ground for groundbreaking hipness.

Quincy Jones also went to Garfield along with Irvine Robbins of Baskin & Robbins fame. From the NBA, All-Star Brandon Roy nearly jumped to the pros straight out of Garfield before settling in for four years at the University of Washington. That’s nearly the same path followed by Tony Wroten.

The difference is Wroten spent just one year at the University of Washington -- just like Sixers teammate Spencer Hawes -- but that’s not where the similarities end.

Roy was a big guard who could handle the point, defend against bigger players and could get to the basket seemingly at will. Wroten, at 6-foot-5, is also a big guard who reminds coach Brett Brown a little of Tyreke Evans, the Chester, Pa. native playing for New Orleans. It was during Monday’s scrimmage during the Sixers’ training camp at Saint Joseph’s University where Wroten let the fawning comparisons commence with some high-energy and spirited play.

“Tony was the star of the day,” Brown said after the scrimmage.

Matched up against rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams, Wroten was a blur in the open floor. He got to the rim easily in transition where he was able to make some impressive passes to teammates for dunks or finish it off himself.

On a young team with a slight, rookie point guard, chances are Brown will call on Wroten a lot come game time, not so much because of his energy and ability to play the point, but also because of his versatility.

“I think he’s just a big wing,” Brown said. “He passes so well, I suppose like a Tyreke Evans type. He's just a big player. He can play some two and some one and you instinctively think he can play the one because he sees the court so well. And I love that he can pick up full court and harass other point guards.”

Brown intends on having the Sixers play an up-tempo, running offense, which suits Wroten fine. Actually, after appearing in just 35 games for an average of 7.8 minutes per game for the Memphis Grizzlies last year, Wroten won’t have to blend in and wait for his shot behind veteran players.

Instead, it seems as if Wroten will be an integral part of the Sixers whether it is as a starter or as a sixth man.

Either way is fine by Wroten.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes, whatever my role is. Whether it’s coming off the bench or if I’m starting, I’m going to try and change the game every chance I get,” Wroten said.

That could even be while playing at the three spot, which is another position Wroten says he can handle. Wroten might be a little undersized at the three, but because of his athleticism, Brown says he has a pretty versatile wing man.

“He plays with tremendous energy when he stays focused,” Brown said. “And when he stays focused and in the game, he really can do some things because he’s so physically gifted. He’s an excellent athlete.”

Wroten was all over the place on the floor during Monday’s workout session and when he hit the floor with what looked like a sore shoulder from a blindside pick, Brown whistled practice closed for the day.

When the star of the day goes down, that’s a good time to wrap it up.

NBA Notes: Bulls' Mirotic suffers broken bones in fight with teammate Portis

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NBA Notes: Bulls' Mirotic suffers broken bones in fight with teammate Portis

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls say forward Nikola Mirotic suffered multiple broken bones in his face as well as a concussion in a fight with teammate Bobby Portis during practice.

The team says Mirotic will likely need surgery and is out indefinitely. They say they are "evaluating disciplinary action" after Tuesday's incident.

Mirotic averaged 10.8 points over his first three seasons with Chicago. A restricted free agent, he signed a two-year contract that could pay as much as $27 million in September. The club holds an option on the second season.

A 2015 first-round pick, Portis has averaged 6.9 points and 5 rebounds.

The Bulls open at Toronto on Thursday. Chicago is rebuilding after trading Jimmy Butler and parting with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (see full story).

Nuggets: Jefferson reportedly agrees to deal
DENVER -- Michael Malone knows all about Richard Jefferson. Just not Tuesday, with the deal for the veteran forward still waiting on official word.

"Who's Jefferson?" the Denver Nuggets coach coyly said after practice.

Jefferson will join the Nuggets on a one-year deal, a person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement hasn't been disclosed by the team. ESPN first reported the deal, which it said is worth $2.3 million.

After weeks of fine-tuning his roster through training camp and the preseason, Malone suddenly has to juggle things around. Not that he minds carving out minutes for a player he can't even name just yet. Jefferson adds another leadership presence to a young, playoff-hopeful roster (see full story).

Jazz: Timeline unknown for injured Exum
SALT LAKE CITY -- Dante Exum knew he had a significant injury the moment he awkwardly hit the floor during a preseason game against the Suns on Oct. 6. The diagnosis was a separated shoulder, and the Jazz guard and the team took the next 10 days to decide what to do.

Exum saw three doctors and spoke to several more before deciding to have a surgery on Oct. 24 that will keep him out for an unknown amount of time.

"Even just walking back (to the locker room), obviously I was frustrated," Exum said. "Everything was going through my head. I remember just looking up at everybody and they were just speechless. Didn't know what to say. A lot of people within the Jazz organization know how hard I've worked to get to the point I was. To get an injury like that and the way it took place just sucked."

There were non-surgical options for Exum, but the decision was made in his long-term interest after talking to family, his agent and the organization. That, however, complicates things in the short term financially. The 2014 No. 5 overall pick was hoping to have a breakout year as a restricted free agent.

Exploring the Sixers' 3 options to back up Joel Embiid

Exploring the Sixers' 3 options to back up Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid will be restricted to less than 20 minutes per game early in the season, that much is known (see story). How Brett Brown fills the remainder of the minutes at the center position remains to be seen.

Brown has three healthy big men he can play behind Embiid: Amir Johnson, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric. Richaun Holmes, an early candidate for backup minutes, is sidelined by a fractured wrist.

“Even without Richaun, you like the depth and versatility, the variety that is available to me at the five,” Brown said Tuesday. 

Each player is unique in their skill sets and experience levels. There’s the proven veteran in Johnson, the undersized center in Saric, and the sometime-starter-sometime-reserve-sometime-DNP in Okafor. 

Let’s take a look at Brown’s options and why he may lean toward one player over another. 

Okafor
Okafor finds himself in another season of uncertainty. The third-year Sixer still doesn’t have a consistent role in the rotation. In the past, his biggest opportunity for minutes has come when Embiid is out for the entire game. Could the slimmed-down Okafor return to the starting lineup when Embiid doesn’t play? The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games of the season on Saturday. 

Brown on Okafor 
“[His role is] evolving … it’s always fluid. There are times we’ll assess Joel, say, in a back-to-back situation that might free something up. We have one in Toronto coming up. … We all respect his attitude and we respect his body. I think he’s had a good preseason.”

Johnson
The 30-year-old Johnson gives the Sixers a veteran presence and assuring presence on the court. He started in 77 of his 80 games for the Celtics last season and will be an in-game leader for younger players like Markelle Fultz in the second unit. 

Brown on Johnson
“He started for a really good team last year. He’s been in the league for a while. He’s a great pickup. Bryan (Colangelo) did a really great job of signing him. He’s good people.” 

Saric
At 6-foot-10, 223 pounds, Saric is the most unlikely candidate of the three backups. Brown has seen enough from Saric in the NBA and internationally, though, to feel confident in shifting him from the four to the five. Saric showed he can hold his own against traditional bigs when he shot 5 for 8 against the Nets in the preseason. 

Brown on Saric
“He’s stronger than you think. He’s been used to guarding behind people over in Europe on switch outs with four-five pick-and-rolls. … He gives up some weight, he gives up some height. But the trade-off might be he pulls them out and makes threes like he did against (Timofey) Mozgov. You weigh it all up. It’s a little bit unconventional but it is there in our arsenal if we choose to go there.”