76ers

NBA Notes: Chris Paul looks to get over playoff hump with Rockets

NBA Notes: Chris Paul looks to get over playoff hump with Rockets

HOUSTON -- Chris Paul didn't talk about his legacy, and never uttered the word "championship" on Friday when he was officially introduced as the newest member of the Houston Rockets.

Still, Paul's motivation for opting into the last year of his contract so the Los Angeles Clippers could orchestrate his trade to Houston was clear. He and the Rockets believe that adding him to a team headlined by James Harden gives both parties a much better shot to chase a title.

"It's not just about me coming here to help him," Paul said. "He's going to help me. We're going to help each other, and we're going to help this team hopefully get to where we want to be at."

The Rockets haven't won a championship since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95, and knew they had to add another superstar to this team which was ousted by the Spurs in the second round last season to have any chance to get another one.

"This is a moment that our whole organization has been working toward to get ourselves back to a championship," general manager Daryl Morey said. "We really do think this is a historic pairing with Chris Paul and James Harden and the great players we have around them ... that really gives us an unbelievable chance at getting back and getting our third championship" (see full story).

Celtics: Hayward officially signs 4-year max deal
BOSTON -- Brad Stevens was just a week or so into his new job as Butler head coach when Gordon Hayward was his first recruit to visit.

A decade later, they've been reunited with the Boston Celtics.

There was an "immediate familiarity" when the Celtics pitched Hayward on the team, he said in a conference call with reporters Friday after signing his four-year deal worth about $128 million. "It brought back memories of when I was being recruited in high school by Coach Brad. This time it's at the next level."

Ten days after announcing that he had accepted the Celtics' offer and agreed to leave Utah, Hayward officially joined a team that earned the No. 1 seed in the East last season and reached the conference finals.

One of the most coveted free agents of the offseason, the Celtics lured Hayward from the Jazz with a max contract and the chance to rejoin his college coach. At Butler, Stevens and Hayward were together for the first of the Bulldogs' back-to-back NCAA championship game appearances in 2010.

"It's really an unbelievable thing to be sitting with a guy in your office when he's 16 or 17 years old, and to again be sitting with him when he's 27," Stevens said (see full story).

Pacers: Guard Joseph acquired from Raptors
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have acquired guard Cory Joseph from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for the draft rights of forward Emir Preldzic.

Joseph, who is 6-foot-3, averaged 9.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 25 minutes last season. He made 22 starts.

Joseph, who turns 26 next month, played in Toronto for two seasons after spending the first four years of his pro career in San Antonio.

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a release that Joseph "has been on our radar for a while."

Preldzic has spent the last two seasons in the Turkish League. The Pacers had acquired his draft rights in a July 2016 trade with the Dallas Mavericks. He was selected by Phoenix in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Knicks: Mills promoted to president, Perry hired as GM
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks promoted Steve Mills from general manager to president Friday and hired Scott Perry as general manager.

Mills takes over the position left vacant by Phil Jackson's departure last month.

"Today marks a culture change for our organization where we re-establish the pride, work ethic and responsibility that comes with playing for the Knicks and representing New York," owner James Dolan said in statement released by the team. "I'm confident that Steve is the right person to take on this role, and ensure that we return to one of the elite teams of the NBA."

Mills returns to the role he held briefly before Jackson was hired in March 2014 and Mills was made general manager.

"I want to thank Jim for having the confidence in me to lead this team at such a critical time," Mills said in the team release.

Perry was the executive vice president of operations for the Sacramento Kings and previously held front-office roles for other organizations.

Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as second female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

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AP Images

Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as second female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

The Sixers have made a historic hire in their scouting department.

The team has hired former WNBA star Lindsey Harding as a full-time scout starting next season. 

"I think when you have this goal in mind, your gender shouldn't even matter," Harding told ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. "It should be about if you can do it, if you're good, you're experienced, if you know what you're doing and what you're talking about."

Harding, a Duke product and the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 WNBA draft, is just the second woman to be hired by an NBA team as a scout after a career in the WNBA. Jenny Boucek, who is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, was the first former WNBA player to be hired as a scout back in 2006 by the Seattle SuperSonics. Becky Hammon, one of Harding's former opponents who urged Harding to pursue this path, was hired as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Hammon has since been interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks' GM job and been promoted to Gregg Popovich's top assistant.

Harding completed the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season after retiring in 2017. The 34-year-old guard spent nine seasons in the WNBA and represented Belarus in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Lindsey has quickly become one of the game's bright young minds in basketball operations," Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown said to Shelbourne. "Having graduated from the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season, Lindsey is applying the same grit and basketball IQ she used as a player in her move to the front office. We look forward to the work Lindsey will do to help grow our program and further solidify a culture of winning.

"It's no secret how much I value the culture we've built in Philadelphia and how much a family-like atmosphere means to our program. Lindsey is a leader, and she is a welcomed addition to the 76ers family. I look forward to working with her."

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Metta World Peace tweets that Joel Embiid will win MVP next season

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USA Today Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Metta World Peace tweets that Joel Embiid will win MVP next season

Joel Embiid didn’t wait long to share his expectations for next season.

“This is my first year going into a summer healthy and I’m excited about it. I feel like next year is definitely going to be a type of MVP season for me,” Embiid said during the Sixers’ exit interviews just one day after being eliminated from the playoffs.

The summer months haven’t done much to curb the All-Star center’s enthusiasm.

“I want to win the MVP because if I play better I think the stats show that my team plays better too,” Embiid said during an interview with KweséESPN prior to this month’s NBA Africa Game. “That’s the goal. I’ve got to set the bar high if you want to go somewhere.”

You can’t blame the man for being confident in himself. And now Embiid even has the support of a former colorful NBA player in his own right.

Metta World Peace (or Tru Warier or The Panda’s Friend or Ron Artest) sent out a simple tweet earlier this week.

That’s about as cut and dry as you can get. Although World Peace did have another hot take this week that might call his crystal ball skills into question.

Whoa. You lost us on that one, World Peace.

Embiid has a much better chance at earning MVP honors than those two teams (mainly the Knicks) have of reaching the Eastern Conference finals. In Bovada's MVP odds released this week, the center came in at 16/1 (seventh best) to win the award.

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