Kurt Helin

Markieff Morris trying to add three-point touch to physical reputation

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In today’s NBA, the power forward position has largely been replaced with the stretch four. Each season there are fewer and fewer traditional, old-school, physical bangers at the four; more and more they are players who can spread the floor and get out in transition.

The Wizards’ Markieff Morris is a bit of a throwback — he’s physical. He sets hard screens, he bangs inside on defense, he brings a little intimidation to the court.

But he sees the way the NBA is going, so he is trying to be more of a three-point threat, as he told Candace Buckner at the Washington Post.

“It’s kind of like you have no choice now with the way the league is,” Morris said. “You got to be able to make that shot at the four. I’ve been working all summer trying to get better at it, continuing to get better at it.”

Morris shot 30.3 percent from three last season (split between Phoenix and Washington). This season he’s shooting 33 percent in the preseason, although a massive small sample size warning must be applied here. Morris said he feels more comfortable at the arc, we’ll see if that happens as the games get real. But if his footwork is better he will hit more shots.

Morris’ development is one of the many questions around the Wizards that makes them challenging to predict. Does Bradley Beal stay healthy? Do John Wall and Beal find better chemistry? Can Otto Porter take a step forward? How much can Tomas Satoransky contribute? What will Scott Brooks bring to the table?

It’s going to be an interesting season in our nation’s capital — even after the election.

LeBron James, Cavs teammates fire up crowd before Indians’ playoff game

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Maybe a little playoff luck will rub off on the Tribe.

Last June LeBron James ended Cleveland’s 52-year title drought — with a little help from his friends — when the Cavaliers came back from 3-1 down to beat the Golden State Warriors. Now the Indians are at home for their first-round playoff showdown with the Boston Red Sox, and before Game 2 Friday LeBron, J.R. Smith, and a few other Cavaliers came out to fire up the crowd.

LeBron — the hometown kid from Akron, although he has said in the past he’s a Yankee’s fan — and the Cavs had already done a good luck video for the Indians.

So far so good. As of this writing, Cleveland was on the verge of going up 2-0 in the best-of-five series.

Joel Embiid wants to be known, introduced as “The Process”

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Starting at center, out of Kanas, Joel “The Process” Embiid!

That is how Sixers rookie Joel Embiid wants to be introduced.

Philadephia Daily News columnist John Smallwood wrote about it.

Earlier this week, Joel Embiid asked longtime Sixers public address announcer Matt Cord to add his new self-claimed middle name “The Process” to his official introduction.

It didn’t happen Thursday night when the Sixers played the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center.

Embiid, who has used the phrase “trust the process” a lot on his Twitter account, now has renamed his Instagram account Joel “The Process” Embiid.

Embiid was drafted by the Sixers and was a very highly rated prospect, but he was sidelined all of his first two NBA seasons with foot injuries that required surgery. The 25 minutes in two preseason games he has played so far is his only time in an NBA game — he became the epitome of trusting the process.

If you’ve spent the past two years with farmers in rural Thailand and aren’t up to speed with all this, “the process” was former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie’s term for his take-it-deeper-than-anyone-else-could-stomach get bad to get good rebuilding process. It was also what he told and sold to players — just trust the process and get better every day. “Trust the process” became the rallying cry of Hinkie’s supporters.

Current Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo — who took over when ownership could no longer stomach the level of losing Hinkie could — would like to ban the phrase “the process.” He’s brought in veterans and repeatedly spoken about changing the losing culture that was there.

But Embiid had adopted The Process nickname. Just don’t expect him to get announced that way.

 

Memphis Grizzlies waive guard Tony Wroten

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have waived guard Tony Wroten after he played in one preseason game.

General manager Chris Wallace announced the move Friday.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound guard played six minutes Thursday night in a 104-83 loss by Memphis to Atlanta.

Memphis originally drafted Wroten at No. 25 overall in 2012 after his freshman year at Washington. Wroten has played in 145 games with 34 starts in four seasons in the NBA with the Grizzlies and Philadelphia.

The Grizzlies currently have 19 players on the roster.

Utah’s Gordon Hayward breaks finger on left hand, out six weeks

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Gordon Hayward is the most underrated star player in the NBA — at 19.7 points a game and the focal point of the Jazz offense, he is an efficient scorer carrying a heavy load in the Jazz on that end of the floor. He is the go-to guy on everybody’s pick as a breakout team this season (they also were last season until injuries did them in). He could be an All-NBA player this season, he’s on the cusp.

Except, now he’s going to miss some time to start the season due to a dislocated and broken ring finger on his left hand. Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the news, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News added to it, and eventually the Jazz sent out a press release confirming it.

The good news is that is off hand. The Jazz confirmed that it was the ring finger on his hand, and treatment options — including surgery — are being considered. Other reports said Hayward’s hand got caught up in a teammate’s jersey, which led to the fracture.

Six weeks means he will miss at least some of the start of the season (he will be re-evaluated in three weeks).

This is a setback for Utah, they will likely use a combination of Joe Johnson and Chris Johnson to fill in (maybe some small ball lineups with Alec Burks), but neither of those are the shot creators and threat that Hayward has become. The Jazz do have more stability and depth on offense this season after adding George Hill at the point (and getting Dante Exum back from injury), plus veterans such as Johnson who can step in and contribute now. But the Jazz need Gordon to make the entire thing work. He will be missed.

Plus, Gordon is in a contract year, so you know he wants to be out there.