Storyline: Philadelphia 76ers Turmoil?

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Embiid is well-aware of these comments. And recently, he mocked them and shrugged it off as he shot down the speculation regarding his on and off-court relationship with his fellow teammate, Ben Simmons, during an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “I was actually right,” Embiid claimed. “A few years ago, I predicted it. I’m sure if you go into the archives and stuff, you can see I predicted the media, with my social media and Ben, [the media] were going to try and drive us apart. At the end of the day, we know what we gotta do. I love playing with [Ben Simmons]. He’s a special talent. I think we can accomplish something special.”

Joel Embiid has heard all of the chatter about the awkward fit between he and fellow Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons on the court, and whether the two of them are capable of winning at the highest levels playing together — noises that have only grown louder as the Sixers entered the All-Star Break in fifth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. He has a message for the doubters: just wait. “I think it’s BS,” Embiid said here Saturday morning before All-Star practice, “because when you look at the last couple years, the last two years that we’ve been playing together, it’s not a problem. This year it’s only been a problem because our offense has struggled.”

The 76ers didn’t respond to the meeting with a win, as the Bucks continued to show how they’ve separated themselves from the rest of the league, let alone the East. Philadelphia thought it would be up there with the Bucks, and perhaps would be — if it played every game at home. The 76ers haven’t defeated a team with a winning record on the road since Dec. 12 in Boston. “It’s baffling to us all,” Brand said. “We have an uphill battle. As of now, we’re going to start the playoffs on the road and we haven’t been good on the road. We need to figure this out and we have to figure it out fast but we have the group that can do it.”

That’s what happened on Sunday when the fans began booing superstar Joel Embiid for what they judged as subpar effort. Embiid then gave a hand gesture to quiet the home crowd and he appeared to yell something not too flattering as well. Back at practice on Monday, coach Brett Brown gave his thoughts and reaction to the gesture. “I’ll speak with Jo to learn what actually happened, but I think in general, it goes like this,” he prepared to say. “This city is a uniquely, aggressive city. Look at how they handle their stars from Carson Wentz to (Bryce) Harper to Joel Embiid, they’re on coaches and some of it is we just got to play better and we just got to coach better.”

OK so there is really only one way to read that, right? Problems in Sixerland. At least, that’s how Horford’s comments were perceived nationally. I asked him about it Thursday morning and he said, “No, not at all. Every year that I’ve been in the league, teams, internally, there’s always stuff that I guess goes on. What I was referring to was, I always like keeping that stuff in the group. People shouldn’t know the things that we are addressing or that we’re talking about. Sometimes the reality is people take things how they want to take them. Right now, everyone, all eyes are on us. We’re not performing to a level that we’re expected to, so people are just firing away.”

The frustration levels were clearly shown in the second half as they had their issues on both ends of the floor. Tobias Harris, who had a miserable night scoring just six points on 3-for-12 shooting and he missed all six of his attempts from deep, knows the frustration is there, but they need to stay positive. “I mean, obviously, we’re frustrated,” said Harris. “We have to stay positive and battle through. It’s just a part of the season. You have your highs and you have your lows. It’s really how you weather that storm and get through it. Obviously, we want to play better and be better. We have expectations for one another. We have to keep our head high and just be ready for the next one and go out and learn from this game and keep going.”

The Sixers, you may have heard, laid an egg on New Year’s Eve. In the words of head coach Brett Brown, they “stunk,” and did so badly enough to trigger a post-game rant from Josh Richardson on a lack of accountability in the locker room. Not the sort of thing you want to hear from a team allegedly fighting for a title. Thursday, the faces of Philadelphia had their chance to publicly weigh in on the accountability issue, having conducted a team meeting in the morning to talk things out in-house. For the time being, they’re putting on their best appearances.

“Everybody has the freedom to do whatever they want, we’re not entitled. I’ve been here the longest, Ben has been here, we’re not entitled. The way I get better, I like people telling me what I don’t do best, and I feel like every time if I do something wrong, these guys let me [know]. We’re humble, we want to learn, we want to get better…there’s no sense of people being afraid to speak up, everybody has the freedom, and that’s the culture that we have. There’s nothing going on.”

He did not mention him by name, he did not point the finger at anyone individually, but it is not hard to figure out who and what he is referring to when he uses specific examples in response to broader questions: REPORTER: Starting lineup has struggled offensively. What have you seen in that regard? EMBIID: We just got to look at ourselves and see what we can do individually, we’ve got to help each other even if it means being outside of your comfort zone for the greater [good] to help the team win. Meaning that, if you’ve got to space and shoot it, you’ve got to do it. We need everybody to buy into that and we’ll be fine, we’re going to be fine. We’re still finding our groove, we haven’t been totally healthy, the whole starting lineup. Like I said, we’ll be fine.

But Brown seemed like he had a few things he still wanted to get off his chest about that report from ESPN, which said Butler confronted Brown in a way that was outside the norm between a player and coach. He addressed the report again. “When you go into a team film and you say, this is what I see, what do you see? I’m the instigator … ” Brown said. “This is why I like coaching. I like that communication, the relationship. Sometimes, there’s subtle, respectful confrontation. There is in my home. I got no problems with any of it. I think where the thing pivots to ‘Oh, this isn’t typical,’ I don’t agree with that. “It’s happened many times. This is just the first time it’s public.”

It’s been three days since a report surfaced that Jimmy Butler “aggressively challenged” Brett Brown and that the dialogue between the two was “disrespectful” during a film session in Portland. Brown stated his case again Saturday that the report was “overrated” and normal dialogue between NBA player and NBA coach in 2019. Butler agreed. We’ve been talking damn near every day. Trying to figure everything out and how we can make everyone work. Not just for myself but for everybody. I’m telling you it’s a player and a coach conversation. I think that if you’ve followed me long enough, you know if I was being confrontational because I don’t think I could hide it very well.

A report published on Friday said that Butler recently challenged Brown in a disrespectful way and wants to be utilized differently in the coach’s offensive scheme. Brown dismissed the report before Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. “I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line,” Brown said. “He’s vocal. He’s all in and he has opinions, but it’s instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He’s got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard.”

A report published on Friday said that Butler recently challenged Brown in a disrespectful way and wants to be utilized differently in the coach’s offensive scheme. Brown dismissed the report before Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. “I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line,” Brown said. “He’s vocal. He’s all in and he has opinions, but it’s instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He’s got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard.”
1 year ago via ESPN

Brown has told people within the organization that he had no issues with that exchange and considered it within the confines of the relationship that he’s developed with Butler, sources said. While a source close to Butler contends that his intense, direct style can come off as combative as he’s trying to make clear his viewpoints, Butler’s sluggish assimilation into the Sixers environment is causing some concern about his long-term viability and fit with the organization, league sources said. Nevertheless, the franchise’s full focus and resources remain on making this new partnership work this season and beyond.
1 year ago via ESPN

“I mean, I wouldn’t say I don’t totally like [shooting them],” Embiid said. “I mean, it’s cool and all that. But when you look at yourself and see how dominant you can be inside … it doesn’t matter. “I can score in so many ways. [But] it’s also about just feeling comfortable. Right now, I’m not feeling comfortable being in that situation. I’m sure I’m gonna take some. I’m sure some games I’m going to take 10, some games I’m going to take 15 … you’ll see.”

Williams has been more than a coach, knowing Fultz since he was 7 years old via a relationship with the family and treating him like a son or nephew. In the lead-up to the draft, Williams served as Fultz’s representation, connecting him with sponsorships from such brands as Nike, Tissot and JBL. But as things started to derail, Fultz’s mother, Ebony, and Brothers took control of the player’s off-court life. Williams said he backed off to avoid conflict, but he believes the forced separation might have affected Fultz.

Fultz is now a professional on a four-year contract worth $33 million, but close associates said Ebony still goes to great lengths to shield him. During Fultz’s first season in Philadelphia, Ebony had cameras installed inside his New Jersey home, according to several people familiar with the setup who described the indoor surveillance as unusual. The cameras have since been removed. Multiple people said Ebony has asked some who have dealt with Fultz to sign nondisclosure agreements for reasons that are unclear to them. “There’s definitely crazy [expletive] going on with the mom and how involved she is and how overprotective she is,” said a person with a close connection to Fultz. “The best possible situation is if the mom just backs off for a period of time and gives him a chance to breathe.”

When Brett Brown surveyed the smoking wreckage of Sunday’s loss in Brooklyn, he didn’t take refuge in the just-one-of-those-nights explanation. There was something deeper that went wrong, something “unacceptable,” according to the Sixers coach. “That is not who we are,” Brown said, although the box score was actually an accurate reflection of the team’s worst tendencies. He was right that it didn’t portray the better angels of their nature, but he also knew it wasn’t so out of character that it could be dismissed as a freak loss devoid of greater meaning.

“It’s the reality of the ages of the people that we have,” Brown told the media after the game, partially excusing, at least for public consumption, what happened in Barclays Center. What he said to the team privately was much harsher. “They hear me talk way deeper than what I get into with you guys. We spoke candidly,” Brown said after practice Tuesday. “You weigh up your bullets throughout the course of the year and you use them. That was one of them. That game didn’t sit well with me.”

He denied being connected to those four accounts. The problem with Colangelo’s denials, however, is that those tweets were aligned with some of the frustrations and beliefs inside the organization. According to several sources, that’s why several players believe Colangelo is linked to the tweets even if he did not directly post from the burner accounts. “I think the damage is done,” said an NBA executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I don’t know if the players can trust him. I think he lost the trust of the players unless it’s proven definitively that it wasn’t him.”

Colangelo is in Los Angeles attending agent-run workouts for NBA draft prospects this week. A league source said Colangelo was visibly shaken in a hallway as The Ringer report broke Tuesday while he was attending a BDA Sports Management workout. Along with having two first-round draft picks (10th and 26th overall), the team is preparing to make a big splash in free agency, which begins on July 1. James is the Sixers’ most sought-after target, but they are also eyeing Oklahoma City Thunder all-star Paul George, among others, according to sources.

Bryan Colangelo: Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news. While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events. This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.

The five accounts pinpointed by the unnamed source included one that followed media members, Sixers employees, and NBA agents but never tweets (its handle is @phila1234567, and it has no account name), and four that have posted tweets or replied to other users. Of those, one was active between April 2016 and May 2017 (its account name is Eric jr, and its handle is @AlVic40117560), two were active within the past five months (HonestAbe / @Honesta34197118 and Enoughunkownsources / @Enoughunkownso1), and one was posting several times a day (Still Balling / @s_bonhams) and as recently as last week.

On February 12, while Okafor was home in Philadelphia as the team traveled, a writer for the blog The Sixers Sense named Brian Jacobs posted a highlight from then-Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Eric jr replied, seemingly off topic, “I must be nuts, I cannot sleep because I worry Jah will not pass physical exams and sent back.” The next day, Jacobs posted a prospective trade that would ship Okafor to the Pelicans for E’Twaun Moore and a pick. Eric jr responded again. “I feel it in my bones, deal was done and Jah did not pass physical,” the account wrote. “Let’s wait & see, only possibility at this point.”
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April 9, 2020 | 9:12 pm EDT Update
Will the NBA’s indefinite suspension limit what the Warriors do with the checkbook in the offseason? “We’re looking at all of those questions and the possible answers. But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out,” Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on Thursday morning. “We don’t know what the salary cap is gonna be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is gonna be. We don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios. That’s what we’re doing right now. It could make a huge difference, it might make no difference.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic. As announced on March 25, our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting with food storage for hunger relief, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.

Moving forward, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, will be utilizing the United Center as a satellite storage facility in response to the increased need for food. By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols. These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.
Storyline: Coronavirus

April 9, 2020 | 7:56 pm EDT Update

Pau Gasol contemplating retirement

With the league’s current campaign suspended indefinitely due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Gasol, who will turn 40 years old in July, is contemplating retirement at this point of his career. “With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, via NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, [retirement] is definitely on my mind.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 14 more rumors
“It’s something that will come one time, sooner or later,” Gasol said of retirement. “We hope that time hasn’t come yet. But I also take the opportunity to focus on the Gasol Foundation and other off-court projects. And also think of what my next professional stage may be, my next challenges. All this while I’m still recovering, trying to give myself a chance to keep playing. Now, the priority is to overcome this pandemic among all. Everything else is completely secondary.”
In 2011, Jacob Hamilton was a 26-year-old cinematographer looking to expand his portfolio by directing a documentary. He came across a two-minute interview online titled, “The Man Who Invented the Jump Shot.” Four years later, Hamilton was screening his short film in Kevin Durant’s backyard, shocked to see one of the NBA’s best-ever jump shooters geek out over footage he’d gathered of Kenny Sailors from the 1940s. The film was still only halfway to the finish line. “Jump Shot” premiered at South by Southwest in 2019, but still hasn’t been released to the public. That will change next week, when the feature-length documentary will be available online April 16-18. Pre-order is underway at jumpshotmovie.com.
“Jump Shot” got two of its most important assists from NBA superstars Steph Curry and Durant. Hamilton had simply hoped for an interview when, through a connection between an executive producer and a chaplain for USA Basketball, the former Golden State Warriors teammates were introduced to Sailors’ legacy. The crew flew to Oakland and were invited to Durant’s home. Partway through the screening, KD asked for the film to be paused. Hamilton feared the worst, a bored millennial. In reality, the former Longhorns star was mesmerized. “These are moves that I’m doing today,” Hamilton recalls Durant telling them. “I was literally working on this in practice this week, and Kenny was doing this 60-70 years ago? This is unbelievable.”
Curry took his adoration a step further when he told Hamilton he was not only up for an interview, but wanted to get more involved. That’s how basketball’s greatest jump shooter became an executive producer. Both players are interviewed in the film, along with a lineup of basketball legends — from Dirk Nowitzki to Bob Knight, Nancy Lieberman and Clark Kellogg. Their astonishment at Sailors’ pioneering shot, particularly a photograph that appeared in Life magazine in 1946, will resonate with basketball fans.
April 9, 2020 | 6:35 pm EDT Update
When this all ends, whenever that is, what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to doing on that first day? Dion Waiters: Just trying to hoop. Just vibe out and hoop. I’ve had damn near the whole season off. I’m trying to get back and hoop. I got something to prove at the end of the day. During this quarantine I’ve been dieting, getting my weight down, getting in shape. For me, it’s just playing basketball.
“I am in such debt to the people who worked so incredibly hard on the technical side to make what I believe is still magic — there might be some elves involved, it is Disney after all,” ‘The Jump” host Rachel Nichols told Insider. “I can’t believe that they were able to figure out a way to produce an entire television show with everybody at home, not a single person in our television facility.”
April 9, 2020 | 6:29 pm EDT Update
If nothing else at a time when the Clippers have more questions than answers amid the NBA’s hiatus because of COVID-19, the team is confident in at least one thing to be true. Should the season resume, the same roster that had been dogged by injuries since last summer is on track to be the healthiest it has been. “The Kawhi [Leonard] we’ll see will be in phenomenal shape,” coach Doc Rivers said, adding that Paul George “is another guy that’s goig to be in phenomenal shape. Reggie [Jackson], who was injured when we got him, will now be healthy.”
Since there is a pause on all roster transactions across the league, the 10-day contract Noah signed remains in effect one month later. That has left the former defensive player of the year able to work into shape under the supervision of the team’s medical and performance staffs. “It’s been great for him,” Rivers said. “There are certain individuals who this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit, and Jo is one of them for sure because he’s got a chance now to get healthy, and to get in shape and that will be a factor for him. He will be a guy that will be able to help us.”
A whopping 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Storyline: Coronavirus
NBA star DeMarcus Cousins first hired Noordin Said to be his personal security guard in 2015 during All-Star weekend in New York. From there, the two hit it off, and Said worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 All-Star weekend in New Orleans at Cousins’ side. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green hired Said to be his personal security guard during the 2018 playoffs, and Said worked this season with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo at most home games.
Storyline: Coronavirus
April 9, 2020 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, NBA owners are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The league plans to keep all options to resume the season available for the time being, sources told ESPN, but the financial realities of the situation demand near immediate action. That has become clear in talks between the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and player agents, sources told ESPN, as the league tries to get its finances in order in the event the rest of the season must be canceled.
Storyline: Salary Reductions
The league’s CBA includes a force majeure clause, enabling owners to cancel games and recover salary in the event of a pandemic. This clause also gives the league a 60-day window within which it can rip up the CBA entirely — effectively beginning a work stoppage. No one wants to do that. But it underscores the gravity of the situation. Still, in recent years the two sides have worked as well together as ever, and the CBA isn’t set to expire until 2024.
The agreement between owners and players in the last CBA calls for roughly splitting revenue 50/50 and also splitting the coming losses. So, the owners want to hold back a percentage of players’ checks going forward — both giving them extra money they can use now, if needed, and also to help balance the books in the event some, or all, of the remainder of the season is canceled. From an economic standpoint, both sides would prefer to limit the pain of the shutdown to only this season and not start next season with IOUs on the ledger. Setting the money aside now would help do that.
Karnisovas will have full decision making over basketball operations, including the futures of Forman, head coach Jim Boylen, and the entire coaching staff. He was even asked about Paxson, and had the option of having the organization move on from the long-time Bulls executive if that’s what he desired. However, a source indicated that Karnisovas had no issues with the Reinsdorfs keeping Paxson around.
There were multiple reports that the search angered a handful of African American executives around the league, who felt like people of color weren’t involved in the searching process by the Bulls. A source close to the situation, however, indicated that not only did Michael Reinsdorf reach out to multiple minority candidates to try and get interviews – but was denied permission to do so by their current organizations, and in some cases simply turned down.
April 9, 2020 | 5:10 pm EDT Update
One of the most indelible images from the night the NBA shut down was a young girl crying at a Sacramento Kings game. Her tear-stained face and broken heart reflected how many people felt about the temporary end of life as we knew it and the indefinite stoppage of sports. That girl’s name is Sophie, and Kings player Harry Giles wanted to make her feel better. So he recently sent her and her brother a sweet video message. He apologized for the way their last game ended, and to make up for it, he invited them to a Kings game when sports are back underway. Not surprisingly, Sophie was extremely excited.

Shelby Delaney of the Summit Medical Center in Oakland was one of the first nurses to volunteer to help coronavirus patients at the hospital. Curry made sure the 27-year-old knew how important that was. “I can’t thank God enough for what you’re doing and just the sacrifice, the selflessness and the way everybody’s coming together,” Curry told her on the call. “Thank you so much for just what you do, your heart and the inspiration you provide for everybody.”
April 9, 2020 | 5:02 pm EDT Update
“I have an organization who basically gave me the keys,” Beal said. “‘We’re going to build around you. We’re going to get guys around like’ – if I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here is, I love what it is. I love [Scott] Brooks. I love what we have. I love our young guys. I think the fact that we actually have guys that are committed to getting better.”
Lowe opened the podcast by giving Beal the opportunity to address the omission: “I was angry, but I wouldn’t say I played angry because of that,” Beal said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to make the playoffs. The All-Star game was what it was. I’m not mad at you for your votes. For me, I will never take that moment away from the other 24 guys. Because that was me two years ago and a year ago. I can’t sit here and take that moment away from Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell and guys who got their first one.
April 9, 2020 | 4:50 pm EDT Update
Eric Gordon said he would not object to having a season restarted in a sequestered location, one of the ideas the NBA is considering. But he also indicated it is too soon to know if even that will be possible. “That sounds like almost our only option,” Gordon said. “That’s the only thing that can make sense. Just coop us up in a hotel for months and see if we can have that chance to have the season. It’s still a dicey situation, so we’re just hoping this virus calms down and goes away quickly. As of right now, it doesn’t seem like it is.”
Storyline: Season Suspension