Before Dallas can sign Peja Stojakovic after he clears waivers next week — both of those things will happen — they have to clear out a roster spot for him.
Meet Alexis Ajinca, the project big man out of France who has been languishing at the end of the Mavericks bench. Toronto is the kind of place young project centers can get some burn, and the Raptors have interest in him.
“Ajinca is not here tonight because he’s inactive. We’ve sent him to the hotel because there is a possibility that he will be traded. … Nothing has happened yet and I’m not sure anything is going to happen tonight.”
The trade likely would be for a second round pick.
Ajinca is a physical specimen — 7-foot, 220 pounds — but one who is still figuring out the game and how he can impact it, now entering his third year in the league (with some time in the D-League as well). This past Summer League you could see moments of progress — games where there were more good plays than bad, games where he was a beast on the boards — but there were always mental errors. The game does not always flow naturally for him.
The Mavericks are in it to win it, they don’t have time for a raw youngster to learn on the job (although they were so banged up for a while he got two starts). The Raptors have room to let him learn. This might be a good fit. Maybe better than Peja in Dallas, but that’s another discussion.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
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