NEW YORK — The Sixers continued along their path of considering the long-term over the short- by selecting Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft, and worked even further away from trying to win in the present by the trade they made involving the player they selected tenth.
Philadelphia is sending Elfrid Payton to the Orlando Magic for the draft rights to Dario Saric, reports Ken Berger of CBS Sports. The Sixers will reportedly also receive a couple of draft picks in the deal — Orlando’s 2017 first-rounder, which is top-11 protected and top-eight protected should it fall to 2018, along with a second round pick in 2015.
Embiid, much like Nerlens Noel the season before him, could very well miss the entire year due to the foot injury he suffered that required recent surgery. And Saric is expected to stay in Europe for at least two more years, although if he develops quickly and Philadelphia sees a need, they could try to buy him out of that contract and bring him over sometime sooner.
Payton happened to be at the podium as the news of the deal began to break, and it became a bit comical to hear him answer question after question about playing in Philadelphia before someone finally told him the news, and asked what his feelings were about now playing for the Magic.
“I mean, I don’t know, I guess that would be nice too,” Payton said. “Anything is a blessing, man.”
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.