Alex Poythress

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving was tired of being teammates with LeBron James.

Now he has to figure out how to beat him.

Cleveland's All-Star guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics for fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.

"It's extremely rare to trade for a 25-year-old player that's done what he's done, the offensive weapon that he is," Celtics president Danny Ainge said. "We feel like his best basketball is still ahead of him.

"We have a player that's proven to be a sure thing. We know how unpredictable the draft can be. You do pay a heavy price for a player of that age and that caliber."

Irving, whose late 3-pointer helped Cleveland win the 2016 NBA championship -- and the city's first title since 1964 -- is on his way to Boston, where he'll join a Celtics team that lost to the Cavs in last season's conference finals.

And as fate will have it, the Cavs will host the Celtics in their season opener on Oct. 17.

"Of course we know who our competition is, and we know who are biggest threats are each year," Ainge said. "But we feel like this is a trade that can make us better, and that's why we did it" (see full story).

Pacers: Poythress signed to 2-way contract
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have signed forward Alex Poythress to a two-way contract.

Poythress spent most of last season playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA's G-League, where he averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in 46 games.

The 6-foot-7, 238-pound former Kentucky player joined the 76ers on April 1. He averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in six games with Philadelphia.

The Pacers signed Poythress on Tuesday.

5 observations from Sixers-Jazz: Poythress imposes his will; Korkmaz struggles in debut

5 observations from Sixers-Jazz: Poythress imposes his will; Korkmaz struggles in debut

SALT LAKE CITY – Another down-to-the-wire finish didn't go the Sixers’ way. After struggles in the second and third quarters, the Sixers made the Jazz sweat it out in the final minute before falling 100-94 to Utah at the Huntsman Center (see game recap).

Markelle Fultz provided fourth-quarter heroics and paced the team with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Alex Poythress finished just shy of a double-double, going for 17 points and eight rebounds.

With one game remaining in the Utah Jazz Summer League, the Sixers will try to close out on a positive note without Fultz in the lineup. He will earn some designated rest and sit out against the Spurs. Given the dynamic role Fultz has played on offense in the first two contests, that will be a steep hill for the Sixers to climb without him.

Here are five more observations from Wednesday's game:

1. The Sixers imposed their will on the glass against the Jazz and it paid off nicely late in the game. The overall rebound margin favored the Sixers 39-36 and they had a 15-10 edge on the offensive boards. What they did with those boards made a huge impact in turning the game around. The Sixers finished with a 36-12 advantage in second-chance points.

2. It looks like Utah may have fleeced Denver again on draft night. The Nuggets famously traded away Rudy Gobert to the Jazz after selecting him. They did the same with Donovan Mitchell and he appears poised to be another special player. Mitchell hit several big baskets and played tenacious defense against the Sixers. He scored 15 points and tallied three steals.

3. Furkan Korkmaz will be better. It's hard to rag on his performance against the Jazz given that the Turkish rookie hit the court only a day after signing a contract and flying out to Utah. His shot was rusty, but he played with great energy. Once his shot starts falling in summer league play, he could be a major thorn in the side of opposing defenses.

4. The Sixers need to find some consistency with their outside shooting. They went 6 for 13 from distance in the fourth quarter, but were only 6 of 21 from the perimeter in the other three quarters combined.

5. Poythress is doing his best to show his strong performances in April were no fluke. He did a good job having his way around the rim. The Sixers want him to figure out how to better impose his will in games during summer league play. Poythress showed he is well on his way to doing that.

Markelle Fultz, Sixers show fight as rally falls short against Jazz

Markelle Fultz, Sixers show fight as rally falls short against Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — Much like a punch-drunk boxer, the Sixers were on the ropes for much of the second half Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. During the third quarter, they wilted under a barrage of three-pointers from Utah that doubled as effective body blows and rabbit punches.

Markelle Fultz made sure the Sixers didn't stagger to the canvas in the fourth quarter.

Fultz scored 13 points and had four assists over that final 10-minute stretch to help the Sixers whittle a double-digit deficit to one point in the final minute. The Jazz ultimately held on for a 100-94 victory in the end (see Instant Replay), but the Sixers came away feeling good about their refusal to quit. 

Fultz finished the game with 23 points (9 of 16 shooting from the field, 4 of 8 from three-point range), five rebounds, five assists and six turnovers in 26 minutes (see highlights).

He grabbed the spotlight with his playmaking down the stretch, but gave credit to his teammates for cutting a 24-point deficit almost in half while he was on the bench. It opened the door for a bigger rally to even take place.

"I just came into the game and just tried to not let the team down," Fultz said. "Just tried to go from there. I give all the credit to my teammates with them bringing us back in the game and me coming in and doing what I can to contribute."

Such performances are starting to breed an identity for Fultz as a fighter in a good sense of the word. Through both summer league games thus far, he has put the Sixers on his back. While the outcome hasn't been a victory yet, his play is inspiring teammates to play harder. They, in turn, are inspiring him to give an even more determined effort.

It has brought to light the sorts of traits the Sixers saw in him as a basketball player from Day 1.

"What he did in terms of his stats and his plays, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone," Sixers Utah Jazz Summer League coach Billy Lange said. "He's the No. 1 pick in the draft. He's a terrific basketball player. He's got crazy skills and they're only going to get better. What it says about his character — which are the things we've been touting about since Day 1 — is that he watched those guys come off the bench and fight and then went in and picked the same attitude up again."

Fultz will earn some designated rest on the final day of the Utah Jazz Summer League. He will not play against the Spurs on Thursday night.

Korkmaz makes debut
One day after signing with the Sixers, 2016 first-round draft pick Furkan Korkmaz made his debut with the team. Korkmaz started and played 17 minutes against the Jazz.

It turned out to be a bigger struggle for him on the offensive end than he anticipated. Korkmaz finished with three points and went 0 of 5 from the field. He tried to give energy, but could not overcome some fatigue associated from making the trip to Utah a day earlier.

"Tomorrow is a new day and a new challenge, so I'll be ready for tomorrow's game," Korkmaz said. "We will see how I'm going to play then. I hope I will play."

Lange liked the effort he saw from Korkmaz even while the shots weren't falling. He thinks Thursday's game will likely be a different story once Korkmaz settles in some more and regains some energy.

"He looked smooth, but he probably didn't get the results he wanted," Lange said. "Probably will be a little bit better tomorrow night."

Imposing their will
Fultz grabbed the fourth-quarter spotlight, but Alex Poythress and Brandon Austin played a major assist in helping the Sixers get in a position to challenge Utah late.

Poythress scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half, including the team's final basket that made it a one-point game again with 11.8 seconds left. He also collected eight rebounds — with four of those coming on the offensive glass.

Poythress appeared in six games for the Sixers last season and averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in those contests.

"Alex has a high level of athleticism," Lange said. "He's in this situation right here to really work on imposing his will and using that athleticism on both ends."

Austin was the top scorer off the bench, finishing with 16 points.