76ers

NBA Notes: Underdog Isaiah Thomas now facing biggest challenge of career

NBA Notes: Underdog Isaiah Thomas now facing biggest challenge of career

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas' basketball journey is littered with decision-makers who have underestimated the diminutive guard.

He was selected last in the 2011 NBA draft coming out of Washington, and when he arrived in Boston he looked only to be a role player for the storied franchise. Thomas has had to prove his worth with every stop.

Now, following the biggest slight of his NBA career, he'll have to do it again.

All eyes will be watching how he rebounds after Tuesday's blockbuster trade . The Celtics sent the two-time All-Star packing from a franchise and city that he'd embraced with every ounce of his 5-foot-9 frame. He's now bound for Cleveland in exchange for a bigger star -- and what the Celtics believe is a better point guard for them -- in Kyrie Irving.

For all the praise Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge showered on Thomas in explaining what he's meant to the Celtics, the organization took Irving -- a four-time All-Star, Olympic and NBA champion -- over the scrappy underdog who's just beginning to build his resume (see full story).

Celtics: Irving switches to No. 11 with new team
BOSTON -- Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce's No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

Spurs: Undrafted Perrantes signs contract
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs have signed guard London Perrantes.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed Wednesday

The 22-year-old Perrantes wasn't drafted out of Virginia this year but made summer league appearances for the Miami Heat in Las Vegas and Orlando.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 10 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1.5 steals in the MGM Resorts Summer League. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals in Orlando summer league action.

Perrantes set school career records at Virginia with 138 games and 4,425 minutes. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3 rebounds during his senior season. He made 40.9 percent of his career 3-point attempts (211 of 516).

Clippers: Team reportedly close to deal with Winger as GM
LOS ANGELES -- The expansion of the Los Angeles Clippers' front office isn't done yet.

After removing Doc Rivers' title as president of basketball operations earlier this month, the team has reached an agreement with Oklahoma City's Michael Winger to become their general manager, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Winger will replace Dave Wohl, who is staying with the team as a special adviser, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced publicly.

Winger had been an assistant GM and team counsel for the Thunder for the last seven years. Previously, the 37-year-old executive worked for the Cavaliers (see full story).

Report: Sixers interested in talking with Timberwolves about trade for Jimmy Butler

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Report: Sixers interested in talking with Timberwolves about trade for Jimmy Butler

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Timberwolves want to move discontented star Jimmy Butler soon. And the Sixers are among the teams interested in talking with Minnesota about acquiring the four-time All-Star.

The Butler saga has intensified in recent days, with owner Glen Taylor inserting himself prominently. Taylor and Butler reportedly want a trade to be completed before the Timberwolves begin practicing Tuesday, contrary to the wishes of president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau.   

Wojnarowski writes:

So far, few franchises, if any, are engaged in serious conversations with the Timberwolves on Butler, sources said. But the list of organizations interested in talking further with Minnesota is significant, league sources said: Brooklyn, Detroit, Houston, the LA Clippers, Miami, Philadelphia and Portland are among the teams interested in probing for deals.

Wojnarowski later added Cleveland to that list. 

Paul Hudrick already covered why the Sixers may want to stay away from Butler. He’s not the ideal on-court fit, and from an outsider’s perspective, Butler does seem to have a bit of an abrasive personality. He’d also cost the team a good chunk of cash if they wanted to re-sign him once his contract expires after this season, although Wojnarowski reports that “several teams are willing to take Butler without an assurance that he would re-sign with them in the summer.” 

The Sixers are also not on his reported list of preferred trade destinations, which includes the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.

Still, it’s far from a huge shock that the Sixers would at least want to talk with the Timberwolves about Butler, one of the best two-way players in the game. While he’s not a perfect fit, his abilities to score in isolation and defend on the perimeter would boost the Sixers’ title hopes in the short term.

Head coach Brett Brown said Saturday his goal for this season is to make the NBA Finals (see story).

It may not be likely, but there’s evidently a chance that new GM Elton Brand makes a massive splash and fulfills Brown’s “star hunting” mission as the team pushes toward that goal. 

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Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: What already has team seeing red?

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: What already has team seeing red?

CAMDEN, N.J. — NBA courts measure out 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. 

For the Sixers, they’re making sure to use every inch. 

One of the courts at the team’s training complex had all four corners marked with red boxes per the request of head coach Brett Brown.

“If you look at our court there are four distinct markings on the court that I have anointed things that are important to me. That’s one of them,” Brown said after Day 1 of training camp Saturday.

Brown explained the boxes are displayed as a reminder for players. Offensively, it’s to let them know someone must be in both corners in the first three to five seconds of the shot clock to jump-start the squad’s motion. On the defensive side, it serves as a hint to close out on shooters. 

“Whether it’s defensive reasons or offensive reasons, those four spots, for me, have a reason,” Brown said. “We game-ify, we chart it, we talk about it, take the notes, film, success or failure. That’s how I communicate with the guys. It’s one of four floor spots that are important to me.”

Hello again
Forgive Emeka Okafor if he’s a little bit off at the moment. It’s been a wild week.

The veteran big man was released Wednesday by the New Orleans Pelicans. He quickly landed a new deal with the Sixers and arrived in Philadelphia on … well, we’re still not sure.

“I found out Wednesday. I got here Friday,” an uncertain Okafor said. “Thursday or Friday. I’m all screwed up right now.”

Either way, Okafor was in uniform and went through practice Saturday as he tries to extend his career again.

Work to do
Talk to Landry Shamet for any amount of time and you would think he’s a fringe player trying to stay in the league, not a first-round rookie. 

He often mentions areas that need improvement, mainly his body and ball-handling.

But no one would dare add long-range shooting to that list of question marks. The Wichita State product connected on 43.7 percent of his threes while in school.

Now he’s getting a masters-level education in jump shooting.

Quotables
“Of course we can accomplish it. This team is young, talented. Maybe a championship will not come this year, maybe next year. But I think this team has potential to show up on the court, enjoy and play tough both ways and win the games. Ben (Simmons), Joel (Embiid), Rob (Covington), T.J. (McConnell), Markelle (Fultz), the new guys – I think everybody’s excited about this season.”

- Dario Saric on goal of reaching the NBA Finals

“Let’s face it, my situation and our situation over the years that I’ve been here is kind of unique. Elton (Brand) and I are going to do this together. Elton’s gonna do what I read that he has said and what has been articulated to me. He’s the general manager of the team and he’s going to go do his thing. I’m going to coach basketball. I like how it’s played out.”

- Brown on Brand being named general manager

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