Anthony Bennett working on ignoring criticism, finding his game

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In a historically bad season for a No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett is trying to measure his progress.

Since the Andrew Bynum suspension he is getting 15 minutes a night. If you want some positives look at it this way: In his first 10 games he averaged 1.3 points a game on 13.5 percent shooting; in his last five games he’s up to 3.4 points a game on 31.6 percent shooting — not good, but not as dreadful.

The criticism piled on the rookie would weigh on anyone and he spoke to the News Herald about trying to deal with that.

“I don’t pay attention to all that,” Bennett said. “That’s people’s opinions. I have to focus on what’s going on here and win some games….

“I’m trying to get back to my old days like I was in college,” he said.

Of course he said it’s not bothering him, what is he going to say?

Coach Mike Brown had a more honest assessment.

“He’s getting better (dealing with it),” he said. “It’s helped him become a stronger individual. At first, I think it bothered him. He wants to play better and prove to everybody he was worthy of where he was selected.

“At first, I think it wore on him. Now, it does bother him, but he’s strong enough to fight through it.”

Bennett being taken No. 1, while it had been rumored a little on draft day, was still a big surprise and considered a reach. It put a lot of pressure on a guy seen as athletic but raw and a bit of a project.

Shoulder surgeries kept him out of Summer League and summer workouts, so when he got to camp he wasn’t in shape. He’s worked on getting his conditioning right and finding his game in the NBA.

At this point it’s still too early to call him a bust, but he looks more like a guy who maybe could develop into a rotation player rather than what one expects out of a No. 1 pick.

At some point when does the finger pointing fall on Chris Grant and Cavaliers management? They had a number of picks and while they nailed Kyrie Irving there are questions about Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and now Bennett. That’s a lot of high picks for a 10-20 team.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.

Report: Cavaliers nearly traded Richard Jefferson last year when he revealed championship rings on Snapchat

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Richard Jefferson announced his retirement after the Cavaliers won the 2016 championship, changed his mind, re-signed with Cleveland then played another season there. He played big playoff minutes for the Cavs both years.

But they traded him to the Hawks (who waived him, allowing him to sign with the Nuggets) in a rather abrupt end to his Cleveland tenure.

His exit could have been far more strained.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Then he was nearly traded the summer after the championship because he revealed what the Cavs’ rings looked like on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to release them to the public. Then-GM David Griffin was so ticked that he was ready to ship him out of town, sources told ESPN, before eventually calming down and accepting Jefferson’s apology.

Talk about some petty nonsense. And Griffin was known for soothing tension!

Thankfully for Jefferson – at least if he wanted to stay in Cleveland – he revealed the ring design in September. As a newly signed player, he couldn’t be traded until Dec. 15. That gave Griffin time to cool down.

Carmelo Anthony: Phil Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips”

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Carmelo Anthony wanted to be traded to the Houston Rockets. Badly. (Whether that was good for Houston is a different discussion.) His time in New York was over by mutual consent, but now was time to move on, however, thanks to a no-trade clause Phil Jackson gave him, Anthony had leverage. And he wanted to be a Rocket with James Harden and Chris Paul.

It looked at one point like a deal would get done between New York and Houston, then it fell apart. So what happened?

Phil Jackson was booted, that’s what happened, Anthony told Marc Stein the New York Times.

The delay to find a workable trade, in Anthony’s view, stemmed from the fact that Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” while Scott Perry, who became the Knicks’ new general manager after Jackson’s departure, took a harder line in trade talks with Houston and Cleveland that eventually fizzled.

“They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak,” Anthony said with a laugh.

‘Melo can laugh, he landed in a good spot with Oklahoma City. He’s on a potential contender.

As for his feelings on Jackson and leaving the organization? Still some hard feelings there.

“There was no support from the organization,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”