Embiid to Noel: 'I'm going to cook your a--'

Embiid to Noel: 'I'm going to cook your a--'

DALLAS -- Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel are best friends. The kind of friends who are so close they can say things like this to one another without causing a stir:

“I’m going to cook your ass,” Embiid informed Noel. 

Embiid and Noel will be opponents for the first time Saturday night when the Mavericks host the Sixers. They were teammates for over two years before Noel was traded to Dallas in February. Embiid relished in the highly competitive practices against Noel. He credits battling against Noel and Jahlil Okafor early in his career to making him better. 

So when Embiid told Noel of his intentions for the game, Noel laughed and told Embiid, “We’ll see.” 

“He knows what happened in those practices,” Embiid said at shootaround Saturday morning. 

To get a reference point of how the two bigs are faring this season, Embiid enters the game averaging 20.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Noel is posting 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 while splitting his six games between the starting lineup and bench. 

Embiid expects he will be double-teamed by the Mavericks and see a zone defense as well. If he eyes an opportunity to take on Noel at the basket, he’s got a plan in mind. 

“Any time I get the matchup to go one-on-one against him," Embiid said, "I’m going to try to dunk on him.” 

While Noel’s time with the Sixers was marked by his vocal displeasure with his role, he still remains tied to his first home. Embiid and Noel spent time together this offseason when Noel made trips back to Philadelphia. Noel also had dinner with his former teammates, including Ben Simmons and Richaun Holmes, the night before the game in Dallas.

“I love the city, love the fans and the people there,” Noel said. “Regardless of what I went through, it was a great experience. I grew as a man, a young man and a person.” 

Embiid and Noel will add an extra punch to Saturday’s game. Expect them to push one another to play at a high level with animated banter along the way. As for all that trash talking, it will be in good nature. 

“It doesn’t matter if he got traded,” Embiid said. “We’re still great friends.” 

Injury notes
JJ Redick is questionable because of lower back tightness. If he cannot play, Brett Brown will look to Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Nik Stauskas to fill the void. T.J. McConnell and Simmons could receive additional minutes as well … Okafor remained at the team hotel during shootaround with an upper respiratory infection. He is officially out for the game. 

Sixers hire Elton Brand as general manager

Sixers hire Elton Brand as general manager

The Sixers have found their man.

The Sixers have hired Elton Brand as their general manager, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the news, Brand will be elevated from his previous role as vice president of basketball operations. Brand was also already on board as the Delaware Blue Coats’ general manager.

The Sixers conducted an exhaustive search for a new GM after Bryan Colangelo resigned in June following his highly-publicized Twitter scandal. Brett Brown filled the role until the franchise made Brand the choice.

The search included external candidates such as Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris, Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas.

The team also heavily considered in-house candidates assistant GM Ned Cohen, senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley and senior vice president of analytics and strategy Alex Rucker.

In the end, the Sixers went with a familiar face who is expected to operate in their desired collaborative method to run the front office.

“What I've learned is that GM job has got many facets and that it's a learned skill,” Sixers managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN last month. “It's certainly got a public-facing nature to it, but management and very strong relationships are important — and very few people who are not sitting GMs have all of those components. We have strengths in all those areas around our front office right now.”

Players on the Sixers’ roster seemed to think the organization made the right call.

Brand’s NBA career spanned 17 seasons that included two stints with the Sixers (2008-12, 2015-16). He garnered plenty of accolades over the years from Co-Rookie of the Year to being a two-time All-Star.

However, in recent years Brand shifted focus from the hardwood to the boardroom. After being named a player development consultant for the Sixers in 2016, the 39-year-old quickly worked his way up the ranks to become the team’s top executive.

“Really working in Chicago, working pre-draft, going to Utah, Vegas with the summer league team, being in those high-level meetings with Josh Harris, Dave Blitzer and Bryan Colangelo really piqued my interest,” Brand said in 2017 when he was named Blue Coats GM of turning his attention to a front-office role. “I like this. I can really work basketball instead of playing it. That’s how it started. 

“ … The appeal was to get the repetitions in, transactions, and management, and day-to-day operations, trades. Just calling the shots, getting an opportunity to call the shots. People were like, ‘Oh, your name can get you the opportunity to call shots.’ I don’t want a job because of my name. I want a job because of what I can bring to the table and potential. That’s why I really want to do it.”

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Brett Brown expects Sixers will have a GM by start of season

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Brett Brown expects Sixers will have a GM by start of season

Soon enough, the Sixers will have their next general manger.

Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown told reporters on Tuesday he expects the team will have a GM before the season starts. The Sixers kick off their 2018-19 campaign on Oct. 16 against the Celtics.

Brown has been serving as interim GM since Bryan Colangelo's chaotic departure on June 7, navigating the Sixers through the draft and free agency with the help of assistant GM Ned Cohen, senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversely and the rest of the front office. 

The team has reportedly interviewed internal candidates Cohen, Eversley, vice president of basketball operations Elton Brand and senior vice president of analytics and research Alex Rucker. Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas both reportedly had second interviews with the team.

Brown told reporters that he'll have a big role in choosing the next GM. While he's embraced the difficult dual responsibilities of interim GM and head coach, being able to focus on coaching his team would be beneficial heading into the season.

The Sixers begin training camp with media day on Friday. Their first preseason game is Sep. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center against Melbourne United.

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