Joel Embiid takes step towards return

It’s been years of health updates on talented still-young Sixers center Joel Embiid. Here’s the latest, from CSN Philly:

Joel Embiid takes step towards return

On Friday, Joel Embiid participated in half-court 5-on-5 during the final day of training camp. He had not done 5-on-5 activity since undergoing left knee surgery in March.

“To see him with us, sweating and playing against people, and them playing against him was a good day,” Brett Brown said.

The Sixers have not set a specific date for Embiid’s return. He is targeting opening night, Oct. 18 against the Wizards in Washington, D.C. Embiid has not played in a game since Jan. 27.

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Thunder sign Russell Westbrook to contract extension

The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed guard Russell Westbrook to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

“Russell represents everything we could have ever hoped for when building a basketball team for Oklahoma City,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His character, integrity and relentless drive have been a great unifier that has deeply and positively affected the spirit of our fans inside our arena, in our classrooms and in our neighborhoods. We recognize and deeply appreciate Russell’s rare and unique abilities as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder, but also understand his presence and impact on our community will be felt for decades to come. On behalf of the entire Thunder organization, our ownership group and all of Oklahoma, I want to express my deepest appreciation to Russell and I know that the very best days for the Thunder are yet to come.”

According to the Oklahoman, “the Thunder guard agreed to a five-year contract extension Friday that will keep him in Oklahoma City through the 2022-23 season. The extension is the largest in NBA history, estimated at $205 million over five years. His average salary ($38.8 million) over the length of the total six years he’s under contract is projected to eclipse that of former teammate James Harden ($38 million).”

This past season, Westbrook was named the 2016-17 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player after becoming just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook established a new NBA record with 42 triple-doubles while averaging a league-best 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds (10th in the NBA), 10.4 assists (third in the NBA) and 1.63 steals in 34.6 minutes per game. He earned All-NBA first team honors for the second time in his career.

“Russell’s commitment to the Thunder organization since its inception in 2008 has helped propel us to great heights and stare down great challenges over our first decade,” said Presti. “We are extremely fortunate to have an athlete, competitor and person such as Russell wear the Thunder uniform. To have him cement his legacy as a leader as we enter into our 10th season in Oklahoma City is extraordinary. I am extremely grateful to Russell, his family and to our ownership for the commitment and support that they have demonstrated in supporting our vision for the Thunder.”

The six-time All-Star and two-time All-Star game MVP recorded triple-doubles in seven consecutive games on two separate occasions this past season (11/25-12/9 and 3/22-4/4), to become the first player in NBA history to accomplish the feat. He was named Western Conference Player of the Month for November and February and earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors four times.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no place I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” said Westbrook. “I am so honored to have the opportunity to continue my career here with the Thunder. From day one the support that Mr. Bennett, Sam, Troy and the entire organization have given me and my family has been incredible, and we are so grateful. When you play in Oklahoma City you play in front of the best fans in the world, I’m looking forward to bringing everything I’ve got, for them, this city and for this organization. WHY NOT?”

Originally selected by Oklahoma City with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Westbrook has helped guide the Thunder to the postseason in seven of the last nine seasons. During that time Oklahoma City has advanced to the Western Conference Finals four times and the NBA Finals once. The Thunder is one of three NBA franchises (Houston and San Antonio) to have finished the regular season with a .500 or better record in each of the last eight seasons.

The UCLA product owns career averages of 22.7 points, 7.9 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 1.73 steals and 34.1 minutes in 668 games (651 starts). Westbrook won a gold medal in 2012 as a member of the United States Olympic team that went a perfect 8-0 during Olympic competition.

Nuggets exercise options on Trey Lyles, Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jamal Murray

Nuggets exercise options on Trey Lyles, Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jamal Murray

The Denver Nuggets have exercised the fourth-year options for both Trey Lyles and Emmanuel Mudiay and exercised the third-year options for Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jamal Murray, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Lyles, 6-10, 243, was drafted out of the University of Kentucky with the 12th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. He was acquired by Denver, along with Tyler Lydon, in a draft-night trade on June 22, 2017. He appeared in 151 games (37 starts) in his first two seasons with Utah, averaging 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game.

Mudiay, 6-5, 200, was selected by Denver with the seventh overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He has played in 123 games (107 starts) over his first two seasons, posting averages of 12.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 28.2 minutes per game.

Beasley, 6-5, 196, was drafted out of Florida State University with the 19th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft by Denver. He appeared in 22 games (one start) for the Nuggets as a rookie, averaging 3.8 points in 7.5 minutes. He also appeared in 16 games (12 starts) for Sioux Falls of the NBA G-League, averaging 18.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.10 steals in 31.9 minutes.

Hernangomez, 6-9, 230, was selected by Denver with the 15th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. The Madrid, Spain native played in 62 games (nine starts) as a rookie last season, posting averages of 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game.

Murray, 6-4, 207, was selected by Denver with the seventh overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky. He appeared in all 82 games (10 starts) as a rookie last season, averaging 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 21.5 minutes per game. The Kitchener, Canada native earned All-Rookie Second Team honors, was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for Oct./Nov. and won the MVP award at the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.

Kings announce basketball staff updates

The Sacramento Kings announced today several Basketball Operations updates and an addition within the team’s scouting department, according to General Manager Vlade Divac.

Peja Stojakovic will serve as Vice President of Basketball and Team Development after spending the previous two seasons as VP of Player Personnel and Development. He will continue to assist Divac and the front office in all aspects of team and talent evaluation as well as player development. The former Kings standout and NBA champion is entering his third campaign as an executive with Sacramento after a 13-year playing career.

Joelle Terry enters her third season with the organization and first as Senior Vice President of Communications. In this capacity, Terry leads business and basketball communications strategy and oversees the team’s digital media, production and broadcasting efforts. Prior to joining the Kings, she served as Director of Government Communications at Comcast NBCUniversal and also worked in the White House from 2009 to 2011 as Deputy Director of Message Events. A Sacramento native, Terry graduated with a B.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego.

Anthony McClish has been named Director of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Reno Bighorns, the Kings G-League affiliate after spending the previous four campaigns in various capacities, most recently as a senior operations manager. McClish will assist with talent evaluation and day-to-day operation of the Kings front office in addition to his duties as Bighorns GM. The Lima, Ohio native is a 2012 Ohio State University graduate and former manager of the Buckeyes Women’s Basketball team.

Bill Pope is entering his first season as the Kings Director of Pro Personnel after serving the previous four years as a personnel and advance scout. Prior to joining the organization, he spent nine seasons with the Detroit Pistons serving in similar roles. Pope’s resume includes 15 years in the collegiate ranks, including six as Head Coach at Lincoln University where he garnered Heartland Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2001. The 1988 University of Kansas graduate was a manager of the Jawhawks Men’s Basketball team.

Mark Toyoda was named Senior Manager of Basketball Administration after serving the previous two seasons in a similar capacity. In addition to oversight of administrative expenses, Toyoda manages departmental finances and helps coordinate basketball operations logistics. The Chicago, Illinois native is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds a law degree from the University of Indiana, Bloomington.

Gene Cross returns to the Kings as a regional scout for his second stint with the organization after spending the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach with the Reno Bighorns. Cross brings more than two decades of coaching experience to his new role, including stops as a head coach for the Erie Bayhawks (2012-14) and most recently, Rayos de Hermosillo (Sonora, Mexico). A Chicago native, he played collegiate basketball at the University of Illinois from 1989 to 1994.

Robbie Lemons begins his second season with the organization and first as Basketball Operations Coordinator, responsible for helping prepare, maintain and distribute all scouting materials. A Sacramento native, the 2015 Stanford graduate earned First-Team PAC-12 All-Academic honors as a member of the Cardinal basketball team (2010-2014). Lemons secured his public policy MA in Palo Alto and MSC in banking and finance from Newcastle University.

Ramsey Nijem, entering his fourth season in Sacramento and nearing completion of his Ph.D. in Human and Sport Performance, has been named Head Performance and Strength Coach. A Bay Area native and UC Santa Barbara alumnus, Nijem oversees aspects of sports performance, including strength and conditioning, sport science and nutrition.

Aung Aye begins his third campaign with the Kings and first as Manual Therapist and Assistant Athletic Trainer following two seasons in a similar capacity. A certified member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA) and licensed massage therapist, Aye also spent five years with the Seattle Sounders FC. The Pacific Northwest native earned degrees in humanities from the University of Washington and athletic training at Chapman University.

Ernest DeLosAngeles joins the Kings organization as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Reno Bighorns after spending two years as the Assistant Director of Athletic Training at the University of the Pacific where his responsibilities included medical coverage and rehabilitation and recovery for the soccer and track and field teams. A certified Athletic Trainer, DeLosAngeles also has experience working with the San Francisco 49ers and Stockton Heat (IHL).

Akachi Okugo starts his second season with the organization and first as Player Development Coordinator. In his new role, he will assist Kings player development coaches to define, organize and facilitate individual skills workouts. A Jesuit High School (Carmichael, CA) alumnus, Okugo went on to play collegiate basketball at Grand Canyon University, Yuba College and Cal State San Marcos.

Penny Chatzis joins the Kings as the Executive Assistant to the General Manager and Player Services Administrator responsible for assisting Vlade Divac in basketball administration as well as coordination of the Kings player services efforts. A Sacramento native, Chatzis is a Sacramento State graduate with a master’s degree in education.

Melanie Stocking enters her 13th season with the Kings and first as Manager of Basketball Operations. In her new role, Stocking provides broad administrative support to the coaching staff and front office, while being the department liaison on facilities, contracts, supplies and equipment related issues. A native of Winters, California, Stocking is a Sonoma State University graduate.

Grizzlies sign JaMychal Green to multi-year contract

Grizzlies sign JaMychal Green to multi-year contract

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today announced that the Grizzlies signed forward JaMychal Green to a multi-year contract.

According to The Vertical, it’s “a two-year, $17 million-plus deal.”

Green (6-9, 227) started in 75 of his 77 appearances last season with the Grizzlies and set career highs across the board with averages of 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 27.3 minutes while shooting 50.0 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from three-point range and 80.0 percent from the free throw line. He led the team in games played for the second straight season and also paced the club in games started.

The 27-year-old has appeared in 179 games (91 starts) during his three-year NBA career and has averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in 20.7 minutes while shooting 48.7 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from three-point range and 78.0 percent from the free throw line for the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies. Green also has competed in 15 postseason games (two starts) and has recorded 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.2 minutes for the Grizzlies, with whom he originally signed consecutive 10-day contracts and a multi-year deal during the 2014-15 season.

Undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft following a four-year collegiate career at the University of Alabama, the Montgomery, Alabama native played professionally in the NBA G League for the Austin Toros/Spurs (2012-13, 2014-15) and in France for Chorale Roanne before making his NBA debut with the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 18, 2015.

Cavs sign Dwyane Wade

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Dwyane Wade, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.

“We’re extremely happy that Dwyane chose to join us in Cleveland and become a core part of helping us achieve success at the highest level,” said Altman. “Dwyane has proven time and time again that he is a leader and competitor of the highest caliber and that his focus is centered on the ultimate goal. The deep commitment and consistency that he has shown to the game as a 12-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Champion is remarkable and he’s going to be a difference maker on the court and in the locker room with our team.”

According to ESPN.com, “The deal is worth $2.3 million, league sources told ESPN.”

Wade (6-4, 220) appeared in 60 games (59 starts) with the Chicago Bulls in 2016-17, averaging 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.43 steals in 29.9 minutes. He scored at least 20 points on 26 occasions, including 30 points or more five times, and was one of only six players in the Eastern Conference to average at least 18.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals last season.

More from ESPN.com: “Wade agreed to a contract buyout with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Wade, 35, gave back $8 million of his $23.8 million 2017-18 salary to reach a buyout agreement with the Bulls, league sources said.”

The Chicago native was originally selected by the Heat in the 2003 NBA Draft (fifth overall pick) and has gone on to earn 12 NBA All-Star selections (2005-2016), including nine as a starter, as well as MVP honors for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game in Dallas. Wade has reached the playoffs 12 times with three NBA Championships under his belt (2006, 2012, 2013) and was the 2006 Finals MVP. He has also been selected to the All-NBA First Team twice (2009, 2010), All-NBA Second Team three times (2005, 2006, 2011) and All-NBA Third Team three times (2007, 2012, 2013). The 6-4 guard has garnered All-Defensive Second Team honors on three occasions (2005, 2009, 2010) and was an All-Rookie First Team selection in 2004.

Over his 14-year NBA career, Wade has played in 915 regular season games (904 starts) with averages of 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.64 steals in 35.4 minutes. Entering the 2017-18 season, he ranks 34th in NBA history for points scored with 21,317. In postseason play, he has averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.55 steals and 1.01 blocks in 38.2 minutes over 172 contests (all starts). Wade ranks 11th on the NBA’s all-time postseason scoring list with 3,871 points, and his 174 blocks in the playoffs rank first among guards in NBA history. He spent his first 13 NBA seasons with the Miami Heat and left as the franchise’s leader in scoring (20,221 points), assists (4,944), steals (1,414) and games played (855), while ranking second in blocks (759) and fourth in rebounds (4,126).

Wade has represented his country on the USA Basketball Team two times, winning a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. Wade is involved in many philanthropic efforts through his Wade’s World Foundation, which has a goal of providing support to various education, health and family service programs, particularly those that benefit underserved communities. He was recently awarded the Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award at this year’s Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dario Saric to come off bench for Sixers

Dario Saric came up big for the injured Sixers last season. But although Joel Embiid isn’t healthy just yet, the rest of the squad looks ready to go. So Saric, despite his production, will be coming off the bench. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting:

Dario Saric to come off bench for Sixers

The power forward was the Eastern Conference’s rookie of the month in February and March. He scored in double figures in 22 straight games. It was the longest streak by a rookie that season.

Saric had a career-high 32 points on March 24 versus the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

His previous career high of 29 points came against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on March 12. Two games before that, Saric scored 28 versus the Trail Blazers in Portland…

Yet, the 23-year-old, who thrived as a starter, will have a backup role this season.

“Everybody wants to start, you know,” Saric said following Wednesday’s training camp practice. “Sometimes it’s easier to start.

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Kurt Rambis no longer in charge of Knicks defense

Some aspects of a team’s coaching are primarily handled by one coach. Other aspects are more of a group effort. Here’s the New York Post reporting on the latest Knicks coaching responsibility shift:

knicks

Jeff Hornacek indicated Kurt Rambis won’t be in charge of the defense this season, losing his title of defensive coordinator. The Knicks head coach said it will be done by committee.

In the opening week of last season, with the defense struggling, Hornacek said Rambis would be the assistant in charge of defense. Things improved only marginally as the club changed how it defended pick-and-rolls.

In Phoenix, Hornacek carried Mike Longabardi as defensive coordinator. After Longabardi was fired by the Suns, he hooked on with the Cavaliers. Sources said Hornacek would have loved to have brought Longabardi, who has New York roots, to the Garden with him.

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Kings retain services of Vlade Divac and Dave Joerger

The Sacramento Kings have extended the contract of General Manager Vlade Divac and exercised their fourth year option on Head Coach Dave Joerger, keeping both in Sacramento through the 2019-20 season.

“I am so excited to continue to build this team with incredible partners and want to thank Vivek and the entire Sacramento Kings organization for their support,” said Divac “Together, from ownership to the front office to Dave and his team, we’re unified in our vision for the future of this franchise. I look forward to the hard work and fun ahead as we strive to make Sacramento proud.”

“It is a great time to be in Sacramento and I’m thrilled by the opportunity to continue working alongside Vlade and the entire Kings organization,” said Joerger. “Together, we are bonded as a group focused on working hard and developing our team.”

Divac enters his third year as General Manager after taking the helm of Sacramento’s front office during the 2015-16 season. Most recently, he is credited with uniting young assets with proven veterans via free agency, trades and the NBA Draft. Over the course of the offseason, the former All-Star center augmented the Kings roster with first-round selections De’Aaron Fox (fifth overall), Justin Jackson (15th overall) and Harry Giles (20th overall) and National Player of the Year Frank Mason with the 34th overall pick. Additionally, Divac brought in future Hall-of-Famer Vince Carter, two-time All-Star Zach Randolph and veteran point guard George Hill to complement the young roster.

Hired in May of 2016, Joerger kept the Kings competitive with an eye on developing young talent during his first campaign in Sacramento, fostering growth from rookies Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson, Georgios Papagiannis and after a late season trade, 2016 sixth overall pick Buddy Hield. In his last 25 games since joining the Kings in February, Hield scored in double-figures on 22 occasions, averaging 15.1 points (.480 FG%, .428 3pt%, .814 FT%), 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 29.1 minutes per contest, earning Rookie of the Month honors for games played in March and garnering NBA First Team All-Rookie honors. Similarly, Labissiere demonstrated significant improvement as the season waned, increasing his scoring and rebounding averages by 8.3 points and 4.5 per game, respectively.

Joerger joined the Kings after spending three years as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, where he accrued a 147-99 regular season mark (.598) and guided the franchise to postseason berths in each of his seasons at the helm. Prior to entering the NBA ranks, Joerger won accolades as one of the most successful minor league coaches in history, piloting five teams to championships in three different basketball leagues from 2000-07.