76ers

NBA Notes: Clippers acquire Danilo Gallinari in 3-team trade

NBA Notes: Clippers acquire Danilo Gallinari in 3-team trade

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Clippers acquired sharp-shooting forward Danilo Gallinari from Denver as part of a three-team trade that also involved Atlanta on Thursday.

In the swap, Los Angeles sent Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone, cash considerations and a protected 2018 first-round pick to the Hawks. The Nuggets receive a 2019 second-round pick from Atlanta.

Gallinari joins a Clippers team that recently traded Chris Paul to Houston, but agreed to a five-year deal with Blake Griffin. They also have DeAndre Jordan in the frontcourt.

The 28-year-old Gallinari was originally selected by New York with the sixth overall pick in 2008. He wound up in Denver as part of the blockbuster deal in February 2011 that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.

A fan favorite, Gallinari averaged 16.2 points and made 535 3-pointers for the Nuggets. He missed the 2013-14 season as he recovered from a torn left ACL.

"Danilo has been a special player for the Nuggets organization as well as a prominent figure in the Denver community for the last six years," said Tim Connelly, the president of basketball operations for Denver. "He was a consummate professional throughout his time with us and we want to wish him all the best as he begins this new chapter" (see full story).

Mavericks: Nowitzki agrees on 2-year, $10 million deal
DALLAS -- A person with knowledge of the agreement says the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki have agreed on a two-year, $10 million deal that assures a 20th season for the star forward.

The second year of the contract carries a team option, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced the deal. The 39-year-old Nowitzki is set to join Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as the only players to spend 20 seasons with one franchise.

The deal is similar to the one the Mavs and Nowitzki reached last year, although for significantly less money. Last year's contract was for two years and $50 million, and the club declined the option before free agency opened this year (see full story).

Knicks: Hardaway Jr. inks $71 million offer sheet
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks are trying to bring back Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks signed the guard to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet Thursday, agent Mark Bartelstein said.

Hardaway is a restricted free agent, so the Atlanta Hawks will have two days to match the offer.

The deal was first reported by ESPN.

Hardaway was a first-round pick of the Knicks who spent two seasons in New York before they traded him to Atlanta for the rights to point guard Jerian Grant. The Knicks later dealt Grant to Chicago in a trade for Derrick Rose.

Hardaway struggled early in Atlanta but played well last season, averaging 14.5 points.

Pacers: Team says George deal was best for future
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Pritchard struggled to make the deal.

Eventually, he figured dealing Paul George was the best way to protect the Indiana Pacers.

On Thursday, Pritchard finally made the blockbuster trade official by announcing the four-time All-Star was heading to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

"It was difficult both on a personal and professional level," Pritchard said in a statement issued by the team. "Everyone here knows what Paul meant to this franchise; he was both a tremendous human being as well as player here for seven years. We thank Paul and his family for their contributions to the Pacers and wish him well."

George essentially forced the move when word leaked that he intended to leave the team as a free agent next summer just before the NBA draft.

That disclosure put the Pacers in a bind: Build around George for one final run at an NBA title, lose their star player and get nothing in return or shop George for the best deal they could find with his public plans hurting his trade value. Pritchard called the news a "gut punch" during last month's draft. He hasn't spoken to reporters since then, but under NBA rules the deal could be announced Thursday.

"We feel very strongly about the potential Victor and Domantas bring to our team and what they mean for the future of the franchise," Pritchard said. "Both are highly competitive, highly skilled and both are winners. That is why both were lottery picks. That is why we sought them out to be part of this deal" (see full story).

Grizzlies: Team to retire Randolph’s No. 50
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies are planning to retire the No. 50 jersey worn by Zach Randolph, who is leaving the team after eight seasons to sign with the Sacramento Kings.

In a tweet on the Grizzlies' official account , majority owner Robert Pera says that No. 50 "will never be worn by another member of the Memphis Grizzlies." Pera also thanks Randolph for helping "turn a lottery team into a perennial playoff contender" and helping "make a basketball team a model of community service."

Randolph, a free agent, is joining former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger at Sacramento. He agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal.

Randolph, who helped Memphis earn seven straight playoff appearances , will become the first player to have his number retired by the Grizzlies.

Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson out for Saturday's game vs. Cavs

Sixers Injury Update: Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson out for Saturday's game vs. Cavs

The Sixers will be down two starters Saturday night when they return to Wells Fargo Center to play the Cavs.

Josh Richardson will miss his fifth consecutive game with right hamstring tightness, while Joel Embiid is out with a left hip contusion.

A team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Embiid reported discomfort after the Sixers' 119-113 loss to the Wizards on Thursday night and is being treated for the injury.

Embiid had 26 points, 21 rebounds and eight turnovers Thursday.

Richardson and the Sixers have been cautious with his hamstring. He told reporters in Washington, D.C., that this is the first hamstring injury he's dealt with and admitted that it's been a frustrating process.

“A hamstring is one of those things where you can think that you’re fine and then you take a wrong step and it’s a week or two-week setback," he said. "I don’t really want to get into that whole cycle. ... It’s just one of those things where I just don’t really know where I’m at most of the time. It always feels like I’m tiptoeing, trying not to do too much.”

The Sixers' preferred starting five of Embiid, Richardson, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford have played just 102 minutes together this season, posting a plus-21.3 net rating. 

Furkan Korkmaz has started the past four games in place of Richardson. Without Embiid, the Sixers will need to plug in another spot starter and perhaps search for further big man depth. Kyle O'Quinn hasn't played since Nov. 23, but he might be called upon vs. Cleveland.

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How Joel Embiid can improve with the subtleties of screening and rolling

How Joel Embiid can improve with the subtleties of screening and rolling

The Sixers, through 22 games, have run the fewest pick-and-rolls in the NBA, and at the worst efficiency

Joel Embiid is in the bottom top 10 percent of the league in efficiency as a roll man. 

None of those stats are encouraging at first glance.

That said, are there any positive signs for Embiid’s progress as a screener and a roller? And how can he get better?

Rolling isn’t always the right option

While Brett Brown said after practice Wednesday that he wants Embiid “screening and rolling more than popping,” rolling isn’t always the right option for the All-Star center.

Because Ben Simmons frequently stations himself in the “dunker spot,” Embiid often needs to float out behind the three-point line for the Sixers to maintain proper spacing.

When opposing big men drop on the pick-and-roll, there’s typically not much to be gained by Embiid rolling.

Embiid pops on the play below against the Raptors, and it’s a reasonable move with Marc Gasol dropping into the paint on Josh Richardson’s drive. Ultimately, the bigger issue is he settles for a mid-range jumper instead of either taking an open three or putting pressure on Gasol to guard a drive to the rim. 

A game-winning variation  

Before Richardson’s hamstring injury, the Sixers were incorporating the action above more into their offense. It’s a basic look — Richardson rubs off a screen to the top of the key, then Embiid steps up to give him a ball screen. 

Embiid’s game-winning dunk on Nov. 12 vs. the Cavs came from a smart variation. After Embiid’s roll to the rim, he set a strong down screen for Tobias Harris, flowing into a perfectly executed high-low.

On most of the occasions Embiid rolls to the rim and doesn’t receive the ball initially, a deep post-up is the next best option. Instead of finding Embiid on the high-low Nov. 15 in Oklahoma City, Al Horford swung the ball to Harris and created a good angle for a post catch. Embiid will score or get fouled in these positions more often than not. 

Getting snug

The “snug pick-and-roll” is, in theory, a way to allow Embiid and Simmons to both be near the rim at the same time without the only result being claustrophobic spacing. 

Embiid set a hard screen on RJ Barrett, forced the desired switch and got an and-one Nov. 29 against the Knicks. 

“We've been trying to do that bit by bit over the years,” Brown told reporters. “I think that you have a deep pick-and-roll with those two, a lot of times they do switch. I thought Ben did a good job of finding that and if they don't switch you got Ben going downhill, and we're trying to just continue to work on his finishing. And it is a look that I think, especially in crunch-time environments, interests me a lot.” 

The obvious problem with the snug pick-and-roll is there’s minimal space for anything to develop. Simmons has little margin for error with his first read. 

Though Embiid eventually had the switch the Sixers wanted against the 6-foot-5 Malcolm Brogdon on the play above, Simmons had already committed to a righty jump hook on Myles Turner and didn’t have room to change his mind. 

Developing the tricks of the trade 

Embiid’s value as a roller increases against teams that aggressively hedge the pick-and-roll.

He didn’t even roll very far on this play from Nov. 8 in Denver — just a couple of feet after screening for Richardson — but the scheme the Nuggets were using meant Will Barton had to tag Embiid before flying out to Furkan Korkmaz. Barton couldn’t recover in time.

Embiid’s chemistry with his new teammates is predictably not yet at an advanced stage. Richardson has a tendency to snake back in the opposite direction of his initial drive, and Embiid still seems to be figuring that out. 

They were on different wavelengths here. 

Since Embiid draws so much respect from opposing defenses, many pick-and-roll actions involving him are going to be inelegant. Especially late in games, teams often know what’s coming and load up to stop it.

He can still be helpful in those situations by focusing on doing the simple things. The technique isn’t textbook on this play, but his screen on Donovan Mitchell gets the job done. 

One of the next steps in Embiid’s evolution as a screener and roller will be applying a few of the dark arts that are prevalent across the NBA, whether it’s stealthily using his upper body like Horford or giving the ball handler space to drive by sealing his man in the lane.

He did the latter well vs. Larry Nance Jr. and the Cavs. 

As a 7-foot, 280-pound player with diverse offensive skills, Embiid is a threat as a roller, at least on paper.

It often won’t be as easy for him as just rolling with purpose to the rim and being rewarded with dunks, but he’s shown he has the ability to help himself and his teammates get good looks. 

For Embiid, it’s clearly important to work on dealing with double teams, refining his post game, limiting turnovers and hitting open three-point shots at a decent rate. 

But the 25-year-old big man also has plenty of room to improve as a screener and roller. 



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