Now that the Raptors have locked up the services of a superstar general manager on the rise, the next order of business for Masai Ujiri is to correct the mistakes that have been made under the previous regime.
The biggest of those involves Andrea Bargnani, the former number one overall pick who still has two more years and more than $22 million remaining on his contract.
It’s no surprise, then, that trying to rid the team of that burdensome commitment is at the very top of Ujiri’s to-do list.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
It would be difficult to see a willing trade partner lining up to take on what has become a terrible contract for two more seasons, and that’s putting it mildly.
Bargnani has been limited by an elbow injury in each of the last two seasons, and he was forced to miss the Raptors’ final 19 games of the one that just concluded. He doesn’t defend well, he’s never been anywhere close to consistent as a rebounder despite his seven-foot frame, and his shooting numbers would be seen by most as barely being average.
Stranger things have happened, and remember, Ujiri did get quite a bit of assets in return for Carmelo Anthony, even when he was dealing from a position of considerable weakness. But even if no one wants Bargnani and his contract at any price, the good news is that the Raptors may still waive him under the league’s amnesty provision, thus giving Ujiri and the fan base in Toronto their highly coveted fresh start.
Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.
But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.
This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.
It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.
Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.
Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.
“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”
That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.
Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.
LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.
It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?
It’s a summer tradition — tall NBA players swatting away the shots of young kids at camps/clinics.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has yet to step on an NBA court — this fall, finally? — but he is part of the youth tradition now, destroying this young man at the Sixers Beach Bash event Saturday.
This summer Embiid has arm wrestled Justin Bieber and looked good working out in an empty gym, and to add to that list here is Embiid overpowering an average guy at Beach Bash then throwing it down. The man at least provided a little more resistance than a chair.