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Jamal Crawford says Lonzo Ball should not change his shot

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Lonzo Ball‘s shot has become a running gag around the NBA. During pregame warmups this season it looked like LeBron James and Joel Embiid mocked/tried to imitate it. TNT’s Inside the NBA was asking if it was worse than Charles Barkley’s golf swing, and the crew on that show mocks it all the time.

Ball is shooting 30.3 percent overall this season, and 23 percent from three. He’s shooting just 42.1 percent in the restricted area (it’s not just his jumper that is off). He’s shooting 37.5 percent on pull-up jumpers. He’s shooting 22.5 percent on shots when there is nobody within six feet of him (stats via NBA.com).

Is it time to tear down Ball’s awkward release and rework his jumper? Jamal Crawford, a guy who knows something about getting buckets in the NBA, said no, speaking on CBS Sports’ Flagrant 2 Podcast.

“No, I wouldn’t (change his shot). He’s done it his whole life. Even if he struggled, I’m sure he’s struggled, but when he makes 10 in a row you won’t change it then so I’d just keep it consistent.”

Crawford also said he sees a real star in Ball.

“Star. Absolutely a star. I love watching him play. He plays the right way. He doesn’t play for stats. He’ll give the ball up early when he could easily hold it to get an assist. He’s making the right play if it was a hockey assist he’d get 20 a game cause he’s always passing up early. He seems like a great teammate. If you look at all his interviews…he’s always well spoken he’s always about the team.”

Luke Walton has the Lakers players taking and making 100 threes at each practice, and he continues to encourage Ball to shoot his way out of this slump. Magic Johnson has said the Lakers would not change Ball’s jumper during the season.

But if Ball does not find a rhythm and is under 40 percent for the season on jumpers, come next summer the Lakers have some decisions to make. And tearing down and rebuilding Ball’s shot is a long process that will take more than one summer of hard work.

Three Things to Know: It’s Joel Embiid’s world, Lonzo Ball has to live in it

Associated Press
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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Battle of the young point guards turns into career night for Joel Embiid, who dominates. Don’t make Joel Embiid angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry… unless you’re a Sixers fan. Embiid had a Twitter beef with LaVar Ball, that (as has happened to him more than once) Lonzo Ball got sucked into but tried to avoid.

There were a lot of steps in the process, but it included Embiid getting a $10,000 fine for language from the league for saying “f*** LaVar Ball” on his Instagram account after LaVar was on a Philly radio station saying the crap he always said. Before the Sixers and Lakers met for the first time, Embiid said it was “all love” and just for fun.

Then he went out and destroyed the Lakers Wednesday night — 46 points on 14-of-20 shooting, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocks. The Lakers defended him (Andrew Bogut got a lot of extra run in that role), but he was 8-of-10 on contested looks. It was a historic stat line, and they weren’t empty calories — Philadelphia was +19 in Embiid’s 34 minutes and -13 when he was on the bench. Apparently, 69 percent of Embiid is this good.

WHAT A NIGHT !!!!! #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Ben Simmons dominated the point guard battle with 19 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. The Lakers matched their own star rookie on Simmons — Kyle Kuzma. Who did you think we were talking about? Kuzma had a career-best 24 points, and Brandon Ingram had 26. They kept the Lakers in it.

Lonzo Ball had 2 points on 1-of-9 shooting, with 2 assists and 5 rebounds. It’s been a rough week for the Ball family, on and off the court. Maybe that quiets LaVar for a while… Nah, that’s just the dream, it won’t happen.

This was a game won inside the arc as the teams combined to shoot 10-of-52 from three, and that included an uncharacteristic 0-of-8 from deep for J.J. Redick.

The Sixers looked like a playoff team and the kind of team on the rise the Lakers still aspire to be. Mostly though, consider this a reminder that Joel Embiid can be a dominant force, and it turns out he plays well angry and motivated.

2) Sixers also about to make Robert Covington quite wealthy. When the Philadelphia brass talks about their young core, they talk Simmons and Embiid and the injured No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, but they also always mention Robert Covington. When Sam Hinkie was just rotating cheap contract young players through the end of the bench (rather than putting a solid veteran or two on the roster), he was panning for gold. The Sixers found something in Covington as “3&D” specialist, who at age 26 is just entering his prime.

Now they are going to pay him a lot of gold. The Sixers and Covington are about to agree to a renegotiation and extension that will pay him about $62 million over this season and the next four. While the details are not yet known, the 76ers can bump his salary up to $16.7 million for this season (using existing cap space), then extend him off of that. Which sounds like the plan (if you want the salary details, our own Dan Feldman has them here).

Good for Covington, and smart of the Sixers to lock up another quality player, they still have cap space and flexibility going forward.

3) We spent much of Wednesday looking forward to Thursday in the NBA. Thursday night is going to be must-watch television for the NBA.

The first TNT game is the Golden State Warriors going into Boston for a showdown of the top teams in each conference right now. Call this a potential Finals preview if you want, although LeBron James will have his say about that. The Celtics have won 13 in a row and have the best defense in the NBA. The Warriors have won seven in a row, all by double-digits, and the best offense in the league, and have looked like their dominating selves again. Consider this a measuring stick game for the Celtics — we know what the Warriors are and what they will be come the playoffs, but the Celtics are still figuring that out about themselves. Boston as beaten Toronto and Milwaukee and San Antonio during its streak, but Golden State is something else entirely. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have looked great, but going against Kevin Durant and Draymond Green is a different level of challenge. The crowd in Boston will be pumped, but will one of the Warriors’ patented third quarter runs turn this game into another comfortable win for the champs?

The late TNT game doesn’t look like much, the Rockets should handle the Suns easily despite Devin Booker putting up good numbers, but it became far more interesting with the news Wednesday that Chris Paul will return to the Rockets lineup for the game. CP3 will start next to James Harden and play about 20 minutes, coming off resting a sore knee. We haven’t seen Paul since a rough opening night of the season when he didn’t look himself, now we can see where he stands and how he starts to mesh with Harden.

Joel Embiid posts insane 46-15-7-7 in 76ers’ win over Lakers

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Good thing Joel Embiid can play more minutes now.

In a 115-109 win over the Lakers on Wednesday, the 76ers center posted:

  • 46 points
  • 15 rebounds
  • 7 assists
  • 7 blocks

Nobody has equaled that stat line in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 1983-84 season. Only Hakeem Olajuwon came within 80% of those numbers.

These weren’t empty stats, either. The game was competitive until the final moments of the fourth quarter, and Philadelphia was +19 in Embiid’s 34 minutes and -13 when he stat.

Embiid overshadowed a couple high-profile rookies – Ben Simmons (18 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) and Lonzo Ball (two points on 1-of-9 shooting), who probably didn’t mind ceding the spotlight.

Report: 76ers, Robert Covington finalizing $62 million renegotiation-and-extension

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The 76ers found a steal in Robert Covington when they signed him to a four-year, team-friendly contract three years ago. Covington has blossomed into one of the NBA’s better 3-and-D forwards, and at 26, he’s in his prime.

Philadelphia won’t let him hit free agency.

Covington became eligible for a renegotiation-and-extension today, and to the surprise of nobody considering how much cap space the 76ers saved for just this occasion, the deal will soon become official.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington is finalizing the framework of a four-year, $62 million contract extension, league sources told ESPN.

Covington has a $1,577,230 salary this season. With $15,120,873 in cap space, the 76ers can bump his salary up to $16,698,103 for this season. His salary in the first year of his extension, which would begin in 2018-19, must land between 60% and 120% of his salary last season. His salary in each subsequent season in the extension can rise or fall by 8% of his 2018-19 salary.

Presumably, the 76ers will use all their remaining cap space to renegotiate Covington’s salary this season. What better use do they have for it? In exchange, Covington will accept less than his perceived market value over the four years of the extension – which means taking a big drop next season.

Here’s a guess at the structure of Covington’s contract:

2017-18: $1,577,230 $16,698,103

2018-19: $10,018,862

2019-20: $10,820,371

2020-21: $11,621,880

2021-22: $12,423,389

That’s the maximum renegotiation this season, the maximum drop next season and the maximum increase in each subsequent season. It’s a a total of $61,582,604, right in line with Wojnarowski’s reporting. I wouldn’t count the money Covington was already due this season, but whoever leaked this information might. Perhaps, the drop next season won’t be quite the maximum 40%, though.

No matter the exact terms, this is a savvy use of cap space by the 76ers, who will have more financial flexibility during the primes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as a result of paying Covington more now.

Joel Embiid plays career-high 35+ minutes, irritates Willie Reed, leads 76ers to win

Harry How/Getty Images
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The 76ers have played at a 65-win pace with Joel Embiid on the court and a 13-win pace when he sits this season.

Fortunately for Philadelphia, Embiid – after initial frustration – looks increasingly capable of handling bigger loads.

Embiid played a career-high 35:48 in the 76ers’ 109-105 win over the Clippers last night. That was more than three minutes more than he’d played in any other game, and Philadelphia needed every moment. The 76ers were +23 with Embiid and -19 without him.

He played long enough to score 32 points, grab 16 rebounds and get under Willie Reed‘s skin:

Embiid even hung around after the game to take a shot at Reed:

Embiid:

I just wanted to go inside, especially against D.J. and – I don’t know, what’s his name? But that boy fouled out.