Emeka Okafor

Jacob Pullen's contract converted to 2-way deal as Sixers make series of roster moves

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Jacob Pullen's contract converted to 2-way deal as Sixers make series of roster moves

UPDATED: 6:35 p.m.

The Sixers made a series of moves to shape their roster five days before the start of the regular season.

The team converted the contract of point guard Jacob Pullen to a two-way deal. In this new contract created by the league for this season, Pullen will play for the Delaware 87ers in the G League and can spend a maximum of 45 days with the Sixers (excluding time with the Sixers before the Sevens’ training camp). Each NBA team can sign two players to this deal. The Sixers previously inked James Michael McAdoo to one.

Pullen came to Sixers' training camp with a lengthy international resume. He averaged 2.8 points and 1.0 assists in 6.8 minutes in four games during the preseason.

“He's been an A-plus teammate, A-plus worker, no back down,” Brett Brown said of Pullen Friday (see story). “I think all those things have made him a really professional addition to our roster.”

The Sixers also waived six players: guards Andrew Andrews and James Blackmon Jr., forwards Kris Humphries, Marc Loving and James Webb III and center Emeka Okafor.

Initially, Humphries seemed like he had a chance to break into the roster. At 32, he could bring a veteran presence to the bench. He was physical in early practices and the scrimmage at the Palestra, looking like someone who could push his younger teammates competitively. Humphries, though, scored three points in as many preseason games and did not make an impact on the court.

Okafor was attempting an NBA comeback with the Sixers. He suffered a herniated cervical disc in 2013 and had not played in the league since then. The veteran was a long shot to make the team, but the Sixers needed depth at the center position because of the restrictions on Joel Embiid and later the wrist injury of Richaun Holmes. The 35-year-old Okafor will play in the G League for the 87ers, according to a report from ESPN's Ian Begley.

Blackmon Jr. had been with the Sixers since their minicamp in June. He played for their summer league teams as well. Blackmon Jr. averaged 3.0 points in 5.6 minutes over four preseason games.

Webb III is a familiar face within the organization. He went through Sixers training camp last year and played for the 87ers last season. Webb averaged 13.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in 34.8 minutes before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in March.

Andrews, a guard, averaged 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for Best Balikesir Basketbol Kulubu of the Turkish Basketball Super League last season. He played four years at Washington, the same school as Markelle Fultz.

The forward Loving went undrafted out of Ohio State this summer. He played four seasons of collegiate basketball and averaged 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds as a senior.

The Sixers open the regular season Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. against the Wizards.

Sixers' Richaun Holmes out at least 3 weeks with fractured wrist

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Sixers' Richaun Holmes out at least 3 weeks with fractured wrist

Updated: 1:45 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. — The injury bug already has hit the Sixers.

Richaun Holmes suffered a non-displaced fracture in the radial bone of his left wrist, the team announced Sunday. The injury took place while Holmes was playing in the third quarter of Friday’s preseason loss to the Celtics. The Sixers will reevaluate Holmes in about three weeks.

“[I feel] disappointment for him,” Brett Brown said after practice Sunday. “He grabbed a chunk of those minutes where he was performing well enough to earn that.”

Holmes entered training camp ready to fight for minutes at the competitive five spot. He made a strong case for the backup role last season and earned the start in the first preseason game. Holmes posted nine points, three rebounds and three blocks in 17 minutes in that game against the Grizzlies.

“Just having that much talent, having that much depth, you have to earn everything you get,” Holmes said before Wednesday’s game. “It’s kind of how I like it.”

This injury could impact how the Sixers address the center position, particularly Jahlil Okafor’s future with the team. With Holmes sidelined and Joel Embiid not yet cleared to play, the Sixers will need healthy centers. That leaves Okafor, Amir Johnson and Emeka Okafor on the roster with three preseason games remaining. The Sixers have been open about the possibility of trading Jahlil Okafor, but he has been solid off the bench in his first two games of the preseason (11.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 18.0 minutes).

Brown’s game plan at center depends on the availability of Embiid, who participated again in a complete practice Sunday.

“I’m not in game shape yet but it’s going to come together as long as I keep working,” Embiid said after practice.

Brown said he may consider moving Dario Saric to center. Saric sat out the first two preseason games for rest after a long summer of international basketball. He is probable for Monday’s game against the Celtics.

Sixers wrap practice by singing 'Happy Birthday' to Emeka Okafor

Sixers wrap practice by singing 'Happy Birthday' to Emeka Okafor

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The Sixers had one more area of business to take care of before practice wrapped.

As the players and coaches gathered on the court, they broke out in a familiar song.

“Happy Birthday to you …”

Emeka Okafor turned 35 on Thursday. 

“The younger guys sing the loudest,” Brett Brown said. “You’re reminded all the time of how much they actually enjoy this part of our program.”

Brown is so into acknowledging birthdays that assistant director of player development Chris Babcock is tasked with reminding him of the dates. 

This is the first time in four years Okafor has been in the NBA on his birthday. He was diagnosed with a herniated C4 cervical disc in September of 2013. Okafor has not played in an NBA game since April of that year. 

“It’s part of the camaraderie,” Okafor said of the celebration. “It’s part of the things I miss from being out here on a team.”  

Even though Okafor is the oldest player on the roster and 15 years older than his youngest teammate, 19-year-old Markelle Fultz, being in training camp has been a trip to the fountain of youth. 

“I’m 35,” Okafor said. “I feel like I’m 25.”