The Indiana Pacers have already handed out 13 guaranteed contracts for next season, leaving two spots available for potential role players ready to contribute. One of the players vying for that opportunity will be Ron Howard, a longtime standout for the Pacers’ NBA Development League affiliate Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Howard will attend vet camp with the Pacers, a league source told Pro Basketball Talk, after averaging 19.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists this past season in the D-League. The man known as Mr. Mad Ant will turn 31 in November, but he’s continued to improve since entering the D-League through an open tryout prior to the 2007 season.
Howard put up a career-best 18.2 PER for the Mad Ants last season while helping lead the team to its first playoff berth in six seasons. He showed that an old dog can learn new tricks in the process, too, as the 6-foot-5 swingman played more point guard than he had at any other point in his career.
The former Valparaiso standout has participated in three previous vet camps — two with the Milwaukee Bucks and one with the Knicks — but has never appeared on an NBA team’s regular season roster. He’s hoping that changes this year, however, considering another only five other players have played more career minutes in the D-League’s history … and that’s a list nobody wants to move up on at this stage of their career.
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.