Nicolas Batum

NBA Notes: Norman Powell inks 4-year extension with Raptors

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NBA Notes: Norman Powell inks 4-year extension with Raptors

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors signed guard Norman Powell to a four-year extension Thursday.

The deal begins next season and is reportedly worth $42 million.

The 24-year-old Powell averaged 8.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 76 games last season. The former UCLA player was drafted 46th overall in 2015, and averaged 5.6 points in 49 games as a rookie.

"I'm ready for it," Powell said. "It's what I've worked for. It's what I've fought for my first two years. . . I've worked, I've pushed myself in a totally different way this offseason. I'm preparing myself for a full 82-game season, for increased minutes, taking care of my body, just training and trying to improve. So I'm ready for it. I'm excited to get the season started."

Hornets: Batum to miss 6-8 weeks with elbow injury
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks with a left elbow injury.

The team announced that an MRI on Thursday revealed the nine-year NBA veteran tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his non-dominant arm in the first quarter of Charlotte's preseason road contest against the Pistons on Wednesday.

The Hornets have not decided if Batum will need surgery or will attempt to rehab the injury.

Batum, who signed a five-year, $120 million contract in 2016, was expected to start for Charlotte. Batum's injury means Jeremy Lamb could be thrust into a starting role to open the regular season.

Batum last year became the first Charlotte player to score more than 1,000 points, grab 450 rebounds and hand out over 450 assists in a season.

Wizards: Morris rejoins team after trial, hernia surgery
WASHINGTON -- Washington Wizards power forward Markieff Morris had a busy month.

"I'm in a great position. I just had a beautiful young daughter. I just had successful surgery, and of course we beat the case," Morris said Thursday in his return to the team for the first time since his wild ride began.

The most recent milestone occurred Tuesday, when a Phoenix jury acquitted Markieff and his twin brother, Boston Celtics forward Marcus, after a two-week trial on aggravated assault charges. The Morris brothers were accused of being part of a group that beat a former friend in January 2015 outside a high school basketball game.

"Our lawyers did a great job the entire case," Morris said. "We were positive the entire time, confident that we were going to win. Just happy it's behind us and not a distraction anymore" (see full story).

Mavericks: Team leaves Carlisle, veterans at home
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not make the trip to Orlando for a preseason game against the Magic due to illness.

Dallas officials said associate head coach Melvin Hunt will stand in for Carlisle on Thursday night.

Carlisle was not alone in not making the trip. Veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel, J.J. Barea, Josh McRoberts and Devin Harris also will not be in Orlando to face the Magic.

The Mavericks (2-0) are coming off a 118-71 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. Assistant coach Kaleb Canales also did not make the trip to Orlando so that he can remain in Dallas to work with the veteran players who remained at home.

Sixers shrug off Nicolas Batum's guarantee to beat Hornets

Sixers shrug off Nicolas Batum's guarantee to beat Hornets


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Sixers are over it.

They are tired of being viewed as a so-called “easy win” or on the receiving end of victory proclamations.

When Nicolas Batum guaranteed a victory in Monday’s game in Charlotte, the Sixers had enough.

“You can’t say that with us,” Nerlens Noel said. “We’re not the team that we used to be in the past few years.”

On Saturday, Batum vowed to end the Hornets’ recent struggles at the Sixers’ expense. The Hornets had lost nine of their last 10 games and were tumbling down the standings. The Sixers, Batum decided, would be their next ‘W.’ 

"We're going to win this game on Monday,” Batum said to the Charlotte Observer. “We will."

Former Hornet Gerald Henderson caught wind of this statement. He made sure his teammates were aware of Batum’s comments before the game. The Sixers responded with a 105-99 win at the Spectrum Center, their first win in Charlotte since Nov. 30, 2012 (see Instant Replay)

“It’s not the first guarantee that’s ever been issued, but it’s something I think some guys on our team would look at and use in the game for sure,” Henderson said. 

The Sixers, playing without Joel Embiid for the 10th straight game, rallied for a collaborative team win. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Robert Covington followed right behind with 17 points. Henderson, Noel, T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas also scored in double digits while Ersan Ilyasova pulled down 10 rebounds (see featured highlight).

“I know he has a lot of confidence in his team and whatnot but — I’m not calling anyone out — but I think it’s a little absurd to guarantee a win,” McConnell said. “And if you do, I think you should just back it up. I’m not taking shots at anyone by any means, but it’s disrespectful towards our team and I thought we responded well today.”

Batum scored 16 points with one board and four assists. Following the Hornets’ loss, he stood by his comments and cited the context of his guarantee. 

“I don’t know why people are getting mad about it,” Batum said. “The question was like, ‘Are you going to win the next game?’ I wasn’t going to say we were going to lose the next game.”

When asked if he had any regrets about the situation, he replied, "No, why should I regret? I have done it a couple times this season."

His previous words, regardless of how they came about, resonated with the Sixers. After losing 199 games in the last three seasons, they are finally moving toward a new phase with direction and clearer vision of what their future could look like. When an opponent points to them as a way out of a slump, they don’t take it lightly. 

“[It was] more than motivation,” Noel said. “It definitely adds to the chip on all these guys’ shoulders to come out here and show what we’re capable of. I think we have throughout the season. I’m proud of these guys for being able to come out and step up and play with a little more heart, play with a little more passion, and give it to them.”

As for Henderson, it was mission accomplished for the eighth-year player the Sixers signed to add leadership to the locker room. 

“We like to just worry about us and what we’re doing,” Henderson said. “But stuff like that happens. It’s worth a look.”

Sixers-Hornets 5 things: Nicolas Batum guarantees Charlotte win

Sixers-Hornets 5 things: Nicolas Batum guarantees Charlotte win

The Sixers (20-34) head back on the road to face the Charlotte Hornets (24-30) at the Spectrum Center (7 p.m./CSN, and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. It's a guarantee
When it comes to sports guarantees, this one is way down the list.

Monday night, when the Sixers and Hornets step on the court, the outcome will have already been decided. At least if you ask Nicolas Batum.

"We're going to win this game on Monday. We will," Batum told the Charlotte Observer.

When asked if he was guaranteeing a victory, Batum followed it up with a simple, "yeah."

That's bold talk from a Hornets team that has dropped nine of its last 10 games to tumble to ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.

2. Streak stoppers
Perhaps it's the Sixers that should be doing the boasting. After all, with Joel Embiid sidelined with a knee injury and Jahlil Okafor held out because of trade talks, the shorthanded squad was still able to take down the NBA's hottest team.

The Sixers had seven players score in double figures on Saturday to notch a 117-109 win over the Miami Heat. The Sixers' victory snapped the Heat's 13-game win streak, the longest in the league this season.

"They’re the hottest team in the NBA,” T.J. McConnell said. “But with the crowd that we have, we expect to win at home. Yeah, there is a surprise to it and it feels really good any time you get a win. To stop that streak feels even better.”

Now the Sixers will try to carry that momentum into Charlotte and capture their first road win in nearly three weeks (Jan. 25 at Milwaukee).

3. Move the ball
One of the main reasons the Sixers were able to knock off the Heat was their ball movement. They racked up 27 assists on 39 made field goals in the win.

That type of sharing has allowed the Sixers to climb among the NBA's elite in assists — they are ninth in the league with 23.5 per game.

The Hornets are actually right behind them at 10th with 23.4 assists a night.

In each of the first two meetings this season, the team that had more assists finished the game on the winning end. The Sixers had a 26-11 assist margin during a 102-93 win on Jan. 13, while the Hornets took the assist battle 25-23 in a 109-93 victory on Nov. 2.

4. Injuries
Okafor did not travel with the Sixers amid trade rumors. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Cody Zeller (quad) is a game-time decision. Ramon Sessions (knee) is out for the Hornets.

5. This and that
• The Sixers' win in the last matchup between the two teams snapped a six-game skid against the Hornets.

• Dario Saric is averaging 14.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in February.

• Kemba Walker has averaged 18.8 points, 5.5 assists and 4.4 boards against the Sixers during his career.