The fact that Hasheem Thabeet was projected by many to be an NBA bust didn’t deter the Memphis Grizzlies from selecting him second overall in the draft this past summer. Nor did the fact that they already had a more than serviceable center on the roster in Marc Gasol. Nor did any of the obvious warning signs (Thabeet’s struggles to rebound at the NCAA level despite his incredible size, his lack of offensive refinement, etc.).
Thabeet is still just 23 years old and his career is anything but over, but Grizzlies’ coach Lionel Hollins sent a message on Thabeet’s play with perfect clarity when he announced that Iranian center Hamed Haddadi would be supplanting Hasheem as Memphis’ back-up center. Haddadi has played in just four games this calendar year, but it was his defense against the Lakers last night and his work in practice that won him the spot.
I’m sure that Haddadi is giving it his all in practice and he did provide a burst of defensive energy last night, but this move is more about how bad Thabeet has been rather than how well Haddadi has played. The Grizzlies’ biggest weakness is likely their lack of depth across the board, and with Thabeet struggling to produce on either end of the court, Hollins is looking for a spark.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.