76ers

NBA Notes: Timberwolves sign Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague to finalize overhaul

NBA Notes: Timberwolves sign Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague to finalize overhaul

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have suddenly become one of the "it" destinations for NBA free agents.

Potential and reputation are beating out palm trees and postseason history.

After finalizing contracts Monday with power forward Taj Gibson and point guard Jeff Teague, two complementary additions to a roster that has undergone a significant enrichment and pruning over the last three weeks, the Wolves introduced the pair of 2009 first-round draft picks during an introductory news conference.

Gibson (two years, $28 million ) and Teague (three years, $57 million ) agreed to terms earlier this month before they were allowed to sign their deals.

"They look at the teams and the players that they have, and then they see how they fit into that, and I think it's very attractive to players in the league," said president and coach Tom Thibodeau.

When Gibson and Teague jumped at the chance to join them, they were driven by more than just the tantalizing trio of newcomer Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They willingly sought the demanding and intense coaching they'll get from Thibodeau and his staff, too.

"He really helped turn my career. He believed in me when a lot of people really didn't," Gibson said (see full story).

Knicks: Hardaway ready for 2nd chance in New York
NEW YORK -- Tim Hardaway Jr. thought that with Phil Jackson gone, maybe there was a chance someday he could come back to New York.

Even he was surprised it was this soon.

With Jackson and his triangle offense gone, the Knicks reached back to their past to sign Hardaway, a former first-round pick who didn't fit under Jackson but they hope can flourish without him.

"I definitely left with a bad taste in my mouth and just to have that opportunity to come back here is very rare, so you've got to make the most of that," Hardaway said Monday.

Jackson and the Knicks parted ways last month after three dismal seasons and were quiet at the start of free agency until signing Hardaway to an offer sheet for a four-year, $71 contract. When the Atlanta Hawks decided not to match the offer for the restricted free agent, Hardaway was officially a Knick again on Saturday.

"You play here for two years and then you're gone and then two years after you get a phone call and it's like, `Wow, I wouldn't expect it coming from them,'" Hardaway said (see full story).

Kings: Team officially signs 40-year-old Carter
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento Kings have signed guard Vince Carter, the team announced Monday.

Carter, who entered the league with the Toronto Raptors in 1998, is joining his seventh team. He played the last three seasons in Memphis, where he averaged 8 points and 1.8 assists per game last season.

The 40-year-old Carter ranks 27th all-time in points scored (24,555), fifth in 3-pointers (2,049) and 13th in games played (1,347).

Carter set records for a player 40 and over last season, passing Michael Jordan as the oldest to score 20 points off the bench at 39 years and 287 days against Denver on Nov. 8, only to surpass the mark six days later with 20 points at Utah.

Bulls: Justin Holiday signs contract
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls say they have signed guard Justin Holiday.

The team did not announce the terms of the deal on Monday, though the Associated Press reported last week he agreed to a $9 million, two-year contract.

Holiday averaged 6.5 points in 27 games for the Bulls two years ago. He played in all 82 games for the New York Knicks last season, averaging 7.7 points, Holiday has averaged 5.7 points over four seasons with Philadelphia, Golden State, Atlanta, Chicago and New York.

The Bulls made the playoffs on a tiebreaker and lost to Boston in the first round.

Report: Sixers thought about packaging Markelle Fultz and picks to go top 5

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Report: Sixers thought about packaging Markelle Fultz and picks to go top 5

As you buckle in for what might end up being a pretty wild NBA draft night, there’s already a bit of news that’s bubbled to the surface. 

This possible trade might be dead, but according to The Athletic’s Michael Scotto, the Sixers internally batted around the idea of packing last year’s No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, along with No. 10 and 26 to move up into the top five.

That would qualify as a pretty huge move. And it’s interesting, considering the Sixers are reportedly reluctant to include Robert Covington or Dario Saric in a deal.

The target of this possible move to the top five? 

“The target was (Michael) Porter during these discussions,” Scotto writes.” However, that thinking dampened with Porter’s back remaining a major question mark. If JJ Redick leaves in free agency, Fultz is the favorite to start at shooting guard.”

That’s certainly interesting. 

Porter is a pretty big question mark heading into draft night. He’s talented and the Sixers’ obviously really like him as a player, but it seems like no one is sure what to make of his back, which needed surgery in November. 

The top of Scotto’s mock draft is full of juicy nuggets like that involving possible trades. 

Eventually, Scotto has the Sixers taking Villanova’s Mikal Bridges at No. 10, a move that would make plenty people very happy. He then has them taking Grayson Allen at 26 before going back to Nova to draft Jalen Brunson at 38. 

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Haughton's 2018 Sixers mock draft 2.0: Kevin Knox now at No. 10

Haughton's 2018 Sixers mock draft 2.0: Kevin Knox now at No. 10

Now that NBA draft night is officially upon us, we take one final crack at what the Sixers might do with their selections. Here is Matt Haughton’s final Sixers mock draft.

First round (10th overall): Kevin Knox, SF/PF, 6-9/215, Kentucky
Brett Brown is new to this whole front office thing, so forgive him if the typical draft smoke screen scenario isn’t yet his forte. 

That means while reports keep circulating about the Sixers looking to move up for a top-five prospect, their actions have shown they’ve zeroed in on Knox. After all, Knox worked out in a group setting for the Sixers last Friday and was already back at their training facility for an individual session on Tuesday.

Knox made his mark during his lone season at Kentucky by averaging 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 32.4 minutes per game. The versatile forward proved he could contribute while at the same time just scratching the surface of his ability.

It’s that potential that I believe will make the Sixers pull the trigger on Knox. While there could certainly be more established commodities on the board at No. 10 such as Mikal Bridges or Miles Bridges, the fact that Knox is still just 18 years old and possesses a sky-high upside will be too much for the development-minded Brown to pass up.

First round (26th overall): Gary Trent Jr., SG, 6-6/209, Duke
With 11 players currently under contract and plans to chase big-name players in free agency, this pick could certainly be on its way out of town or devoted to a draft-and-stash prospect. 

If they do hang onto it, the Sixers obviously have eyes for Texas Tech high-flyer Zhaire Smith, who also worked out twice for the team. But he’s unlikely to make it to No. 26.

Instead, the Sixers opt for a Duke guard here, but perhaps not the one you were thinking (Grayson Allen). Trent has arguably the best shooting stroke in the entire 2018 class and has been trending up draft boards.

Trent, who averaged 14.5 points per game for the Blue Devils as a freshman, hit 40.2 percent of his shots from long range on a healthy 6.5 attempts per game.

With another former Duke guard potentially walking in free agency in JJ Redick, the Sixers could slip Trent in to help take on some of those dead-eye shooting duties.

Second round (38th overall): Elie Okobo, PG/SG, 6-2/180, France
The Sixers already started dealing off their stockpile of second-round picks on Wednesday when they reportedly shipped No. 39 to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 2019 second-rounder and cash.

Look for them to find a way to keep their final roster options open by selecting Okobo, who has even been getting some first-round consideration as of late. The Sixers hosted him for a workout a season ago before he removed his name from draft consideration and again during this pre-draft process.

The French combo guard increased his production virtually across for France Pro A squad Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez this past season as he recorded 12.9 points on 47.6 percent field goal shooting and 39.4 three-point shooting to go along with 4.7 assists and 2.7 boards a game.

Second round (56th overall): Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, 6-10/220, Lithuania​
In another decision to keep roster slots fluid, the Sixers go the international route again with Kulboka.

The wing has tremendous size for the position and is just beginning to see his potential. Kulboka made his first foray into Italy’s second division league, Serie A2 Basket, this past season. He played for Orlandina Basket and posted 9.0 points on 39.0 percent field goal shooting and 37.4 percent from distance. He added 4.0 rebounds in 26.7 minutes a contest.

Kulboka definitely needs to bulk up and add some more seasoning against a higher level of competition, but if he develops, he could be a steal at this point in the draft.

Second round (60th overall): Trade
There are always teams that jump up with a trade offer at the last minute in an attempt to get a coveted player in those final few slots. Expect that to happen here and the Sixers to oblige.

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