Ben Simmons

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Report: Knicks to host 76ers on Christmas

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The NBA is so eager to showcase New York on Christmas, in 2015 – the rare year the Knicks were left off the Christmas schedule – the league reportedly regretted omitting them after they exceeded expectations.

They were 14-16.

New York’s market allows for a low bar. Apparently, the Knicks – despite Carmelo Anthony being on the trade block and the team talking of prioritizing player development – will clear it this year.

Spike Eskin of Sportsradio 94WIP:

The 76ers, another team that gets the big-market benefit of the doubt (though to a far lesser extent), are more deserving. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz comprise an exciting young core. J.J. Redick and Robert Covington fill in nicely to help make Philadelphia competitive now.

Kristaps Porzingis is also a budding star, but beyond him, the Knicks don’t have much – except the New York market. That just matters so much to the NBA’s bottom line.

Variety helps engage fans, too. This will be the 76ers’ first Christmas game since 2001 and just their second since 1989.

They also carry enough potential pitfalls – Embiid getting hurt, the young players not being ready – that they won’t necessarily blow out the Knicks on national TV. Not many viable Christmas-playing teams offer that.

Report: NBA investigated whether LeBron James owns share of Klutch Sports agency

Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Remy Martin
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LeBron James is training with Eric Bledsoe, which sparked rumors about the Suns guard being included in a trade for Kyrie Irving.

But LeBron and Bledsoe have worked out together in previous years, and obviously Phoenix never traded Bledsoe to the Cavaliers.

LeBron and Bledsoe share an agent, Rich Paul. Paul – in addition to bigger names like John Wall and Ben Simmons – also represents Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, who’ve both signed lucrative contracts with Cleveland.

LeBron and Paul are longtime friends, and the superstar has described Paul’s Klutch Sports Group and its clients as family. No player is as connected to an agency as LeBron. Hence, people connecting the dots to Bledsoe being included in an Irving trade.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits players from owning interest in an agency, though. Has LeBron’s arrangement with Klutch crossed any lines?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN on The Basket Analogy:

LeBron doesn’t have any ownership in Klutch Sports.

The NBA investigated it and said LeBron doesn’t have ownership.

The NBA should check things like this. But of course LeBron doesn’t own a stake in the agency.

LeBron has empowered his friends – most notably Paul, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims – professionally. This isn’t about money from agent fees. It’s about influence.

Paul can sell it when recruiting players. The Cavs probably felt it while negotiating with Thompson and Smith. LeBron’s ego might feel it at times, too.

And that’s fine. LeBron has earned influence. I don’t mind him exercising it.

If he gets equity in the deal, that’s a problem. But it’s clear the power is sufficient.

Check out Markelle Fultz’s Summer League highlights from Utah (mostly)

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The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz‘s Las Vegas Summer League was cut short — 15 minutes into his first game there he went down with a high ankle sprain that ended his summer (fortunately, it’s not nearly as serious as other summer injuries Sixers players have had to deal with in recent years.

However, in Utah Fultz showed promise as a smooth playmaker and scorer — he scored 20 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting. He knows how to use the pick-and-roll well for a rookie. Check out his highlights above.

Fultz is going to get his chance this fall, with the ball in his hands and showing what he can do off the ball when Ben Simmons is running the show.

76ers’ Ben Simmons: ‘I’m a starting point guard’

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76ers coach Brett Brown said 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons would be the team’s point guard.

But that was before Philadelphia drafted Markelle Fultz, a more traditional point guard, No. 1 overall.

Don’t tell Simmons the plan has changed, though.

Simmons, via Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

“Once you start playing, it’s one of those games where you just play and you feel it out,” Simmons said. “For me, I think you can move me anywhere. But, I’m a starting point guard.”

“I think it’ll be easy,” Simmons said. “I have no problem sharing the ball, he doesn’t either.”

Simmons and Fultz can play together. That’s why the 76ers traded up for the top pick.

Fultz has spot-up ability to work off the ball, and Simmons’ size will demand he be more of a power forward at times. As Simmons said, their on-court unselfishness and versatility bode well.

But holding the title of starting point guard carries a certain status. If both players want it, the situation could get hairy.

Sixers: Markelle Fultz’s injury not serious, but he’s out for rest of summer league

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Markelle Fultz hurt his ankle at summer league.

But this injury won’t put him in line with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as 76ers first-round picks to miss their rookie year.

76ers:

Missing 1-2 weeks in the middle of the offseason is no big deal. This is more noteworthy only because Fultz’s recovery period will come during summer league, his highest-profile developmental opportunity.

But he’ll be back in the (emptier) gym in a couple weeks, readying for the season.