Russell Westbrook

Joel Embiid doesn't want Sixers to end up like OKC

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Joel Embiid doesn't want Sixers to end up like OKC

Joel Embiid doesn't want the Sixers to end up like the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Not the 2017-18 Thunder, but OKC circa 2011-12.

Embiid is convinced that at some point soon, the media will turn on him and the Sixers. 

Speaking specifically about the core trio of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, Embiid told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:

"I think with everything, the main thing we have to do is just stay together because I feel like there's going to be some type of situation where people say who is better between us three. And that's how it splits."

Shelburne, who wrote a long and interesting feature on Embiid this week, told more of the story Wednesday on Zach Lowe's podcast.

She recalled talking to Embiid about his social media presence at All-Star weekend in 2016, when he told her, "I'm just trying to have as much fun before everybody turns on me."

Shelburne pointed out the uniqueness of a then-22-year-old — who had been in the United States just seven years — understanding the "fame cycle" well enough to know that things could soon turn.

"I saw what happened in Oklahoma City with (James) Harden, (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant and I don't want that to happen here," Shelburne recalled Embiid saying.

If the Sixers get to that point ... it'll probably be a good problem to have. Just prior to the 2012-13 season, the Thunder traded Harden to Houston in one of the worst trades in recent NBA history. OKC did it for several reasons — salary cap, personalities, only having enough shots to go around. And really, who knows if Harden would have been able to grow into this superstar had he been sharing the ball the next handful of seasons with two other alphas?

Embiid and Fultz have already grown close, and it's important to Embiid that the three young Sixers don't get caught up in the "Who takes the last shot?" conversations or "Who should be the All-Star" questions that inevitably come up. 

Luckily for the Sixers, Embiid, Simmons and Fultz have different enough skill sets that they should be able to coexist. It's not directly analogous to the OKC situation where all three players needed the ball in their hands. The Sixers were built this way for a reason. 

Right now, it's clear Embiid is the alpha of the group. He's the go-to guy in crunch time and again has a top-five usage rate. When Simmons eventually becomes more comfortable with his jump shot and Fultz finally makes his impact on the court, we'll see whether or not Embiid was prescient.

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.

NBA Notes: Dwyane Wade to reportedly join Cavs, reunite with LeBron James

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NBA Notes: Dwyane Wade to reportedly join Cavs, reunite with LeBron James

CLEVELAND -- Together again: LeBron and D-Wade. Just like old times.

Dwyane Wade has decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and reunite with LeBron James, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Wade is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday and then join the Cavs, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed until the 12-time All-Star goes through the waiver process.

In Cleveland, Wade will be reunited with James, his close friend, former Miami teammate and a player he confided in before signing with his hometown Chicago Bulls last year.

Wade and James won two NBA titles together during four seasons with the Heat and will now chase another one with the Cavs, who have been revamped after losing to Golden State in last season's Finals.

On Monday, James said he would love to play with Wade again.

"He brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA," James said at Cleveland's media day. "He brings another player to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind. ... I hope we can bring him here. I would love to have him" (see full story).

Suns: Warren signs 4-year, $50 million extension
PHOENIX -- T.J. Warren has signed a $50 million, four-year contract extension with the Phoenix Suns.

The 6-foot-8 forward, nicknamed "Tony Buckets" by teammates, is entering his fourth NBA season. He averaged career highs of 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds over 66 games last season. After the All-Star break, he averaged 17.6 points and shot 56 percent from the field.

The team announced the deal Tuesday.

Warren was the 17th overall pick out of North Carolina State in the 2014 draft after earning ACC player of the year honors and breaking the school's season scoring record, set 39 years earlier by David Thompson.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough says Warren has improved every year and is expected to continue his development as he approaches his prime.

Thunder: GM Presti evolves, surrounds Westbrook with stars
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sam Presti has evolved with the times.

Oklahoma City's general manager is perhaps best known for drafting Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Over the years, instead of adding big-name free agents and making blockbuster trades, he has added relatively inexpensive players around his stars and built through the draft.

His plans have mostly worked. The Thunder have played in the Western Conference Finals four times and the NBA Finals once since Presti took the job in 2007, and both Durant and Westbrook have won MVP awards.

Not everything has been rosy. Presti couldn't work out a contract extension with Harden in 2012. And last year, Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State. Durant recently criticized Thunder management for failing to put the right players around him to compete for a title.

In a perfectly timed move, Presti shook the NBA by trading for 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder already had traded for four-time All-Star Paul George in the offseason. With the addition of the kind of talent Durant so desperately wanted in Oklahoma City, it appears Presti has turned over a new leaf. The man who always has focused on the process has shifted gears and built a super team in a matter of months (see full story).