Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel want to play together; Brett Brown says not yet

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Philadephia coach Brett Brown has said he plans to stick with the Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor front line a little longer, he wants to see how they fit together over a stretch of time. So far, they are a defensive disaster together — allowing 111.7 points per 100 possessions, 6.2 worse than the Sixers season defense — but Brown wants a longer look.

Meanwhile, Embiid and Noel want to play together and see what that looks like. Embiid lobbied for it the other day, speaking to Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I also want to get on the court and see what we can look like together because I like him and I want to play with everybody,” Embiid said after the Sixers’ 108-93 loss to the Pelicans. “I feel like if we’re trying something, I feel like we should try the other thing too. Hopefully in the future they do that.”

“I loved (the fan support Noel got entering the game). He’s my best friend on the team and I was really happy for him,” Embiid said, also noting, “I thought he should have played more.”

Thursday Noel made the same pitch, suggesting it would be a good defensive front line.

“I think it will be very interesting,” Noel said. “I think it will have some positives and we’ll work through the negatives. But I think defensively, we’ll be something to reckon with.”

The Sixers start a four-game road trip Thursday, and here is what Brown said about his front line rotation for now:

“We’re now at four games starting Jahlil and Joel, and my intention is we’ll see this road trip out and begin the new year and reassess,” Brown said. “I think with eight games as a body of work, we can judge it more accurately and feel what’s best for the team and the players. Ultimately, the whole program needs to be based on defense. Whatever that equals in relation to who’s on the floor is the direction I’m going to take the program.”

Noel wants to play, he’s also clearly been open to the idea of being moved from the Sixers’ crowded frontcourt. But to get moved, he needs to be showcased a little.

Brown can be patient, there are no expectations of racking up wins to reach the playoffs in Philly. Brown can take his time to see what the pairings look like. But the Noel and Embiid one can’t really be worse than the Okafor/Embiid one, can it?

Shabazz Muhammad awkwardly mentions Collective Bargaining Agreement during halftime interview (video)

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The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.

Muhammad:

We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective – Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Um. What?

To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation – let alone something that qualifies as both.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.

hat tip: reddit user cjsplash

Duke’s Jayson Tatum, California’s Ivan Rabb declare for NBA draft

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Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.

As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.

Duke announced Tatum’s decision.

Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?

Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.

PBT Extra: What coaches are on hot seat? Alvin Gentry at front of list.

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This season, for the first time in 46 years, no NBA coach will be fired during the season (nobody is getting canned at this point).

However, once the off-season starts, there will be a few changes.

Alvin Gentry in New Orleans and Fred Hoiberg in Chicago are the names most mentioned, but there will be an unexpected firing somewhere around the league. Some GMs are on the hot seat also (Rob Hennigan in Orlando leads that parade).

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, Bulls’ Robin Lopez each suspended one game for thrown punches

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It was obvious this was coming. Get in a shoving match “fight” in the NBA and you get a fine. However, actually throw punches and…

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez each have been suspended for one game by the NBA “for throwing punches at one another during an altercation,” the league announced. What that works out to is a $120,715 hit for Lopez and a $111,364 ding for Ibaka.

Also, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire earned a $15,000 fine shoving the Bulls Nikola Mirotic and “acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.”

This all came out of what seemed a rather innocuous play. Ibaka and Lopez were battling for rebounding positioning, it went on for a second after the ball went through the hoop, Ibaka caught Lopez with a little chicken wing elbow in the back, Lopez spun, and, boy, that escalated quickly. Lopez’s punch missed, while Ibaka’s caught Lopez in the hair more than the body.

Both men got technicals and were ejected.