Michael Carter-Williams knows where he can find the bright future of the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s not at NBA games, where he’s the last significant positive contributor standing from last year’s tank job. It’s at places like the draft and the World Cup.
Carter-Williams went to Brooklyn for the draft and had a mixed experience. He looked shocked when Philadelphia drafted point guard Elfrid Payton at No. 12, unsure of his own future during an interview and then relieved when Payton was traded for forward Dario Saric.
In fact, Carter-Williams is so excited about Saric, he travelled to Spain – with teammates Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid – to watch Saric in the World Cup.
A trio of the biggest future stars for the Philadelphia 76ers – Michael-Carter Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid – flew across the Atlantic Ocean to come to the Croatia-Puerto Rico game at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup to support a fourth future cornerstone of the organisation – Croatia’s Dario Saric.
“We came out here to support Dario. He’s a great player. It’s my first time seeing him and I’m very impressed and excited about the future and having him be a part of what we’re building in Philadelphia,” said Noel
76ers general manager Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown (who’s also impressed with Saric) are at the World Cup, too. Philadelphia’s talent is more concentrated in Spain now than it will be on the court during the NBA season.
I really like the 76ers’ upside, but it will take time to get everyone healthy (Embiid) and signed (Saric). Then, it will take longer for the core to develop chemistry. This nice gesture by Carter-Williams, Noel and Embiid will only accelerate the process. Slowly, but also as quickly as possible, everyone is getting on the same page.
Now, it might take three – rather than four – more years for Philadelphia’s tanking to really pay off.
Marcus Johnson is a Milwaukee legend. He averaged 21 points a game in his seven seasons with the Bucks and is sixth on the all-time franchise list in points (10,980), is its all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,468), is third in total rebounds (3,923), and made 4,546 during his time in Milwaukee. He is now a color commenter for the team.
Johnson will be the ninth Bucks player to have his number retired and the first since the team’s move to its new home Fiserv Forum.
Current Bucks legend Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Journal-Sentinel he was happy. Antetokounmpo turned to Johnson at points for help with footwork, post moves, and more.
“I’m really happy for him, I think he deserves to have his jersey retired,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s amazing. He’s just sitting down there like a normal person, but this guy was one of the best players in the league when he was playing. … He’s a legend.”
Johnson won an NCAA national championship at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden before going on to an NBA career that included five All-Star appearances and three All-NBA teams.
Paul George hits game winner, lifts Thunder past 76ers 117-115
PHILADELPHIA (AP) —Paul George converted a four-point play with 5.1 seconds left, sending Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to a wild 117-115 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
George’s clutch shot capped a wild finish that included another memorable exchange with Westbrook and Embiid. Westbrook hit the floor out of bounds under the basket after a foul by Embiid late in the game, and Westbrook fouled out with 14.9 seconds remaining after he got Embiid while shooting a 3-pointer.
Embiid made all three foul shots, tying it at 113, and Jimmy Butler‘s driving layup put Philadelphia in front with 6.9 seconds to go. But George drained a 3 while being fouled by Butler and made the foul shot.
Philadelphia had one last chance, but Butler missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The 76ers have lost 19 in a row to the Thunder.
George finished with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Westbrook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, and reserve Dennis Schroder also scored 21 points.
The Thunder had dropped five of six, including a 138-128 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.
Embiid, who was a game-time decision because of back tightness, had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. JJ Redick scored 22 points for Philadelphia, and Ben Simmons finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.
Oklahoma City led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, but Philadelphia rallied in the second and trailed 59-56 at the break.
Rumor: Suns, Magic have inquired about Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina
Despite the Knicks’ clear lack of confidence in Ntilikina, teams have inquired about the 20-year-old, with the Magic and Suns expressing interest, according to a source. And this is where it gets interesting. There seems to be a debate within the Knicks on whether to deal Ntilikina. He was drafted by Mills and has supporters in the front office. But, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Perry, who took the job after Ntilikina was drafted, recently approached the Atlanta Hawks to gauge whether the team was interested in dealing for the guard (Hawks have Trae Young and weren’t interested).
The Suns and Magic both desperately need point guards. However, neither are offering much in trades knowing that come free agency next July there will be better, more established targets — D'Angelo Russell, Terry Rozier, among others.
Ntilikina is a good perimeter defender whose skills could be developed in the right situation into a rotation point guard. Probably. But because the offers will be lowball, the Knicks would essentially just be dumping the No. 8 pick of a season ago, a guy who is only 20 years old. That would be a mistake — if the Knicks can’t get decent value back, keep Ntilikina and try to develop him themselves. Point guards take longer to come around in the NBA, maybe Ntilikina will develop into a player the Knicks want to keep.
But the rumors are out there and it’s something to keep an eye on.
Markelle Fultz returns to Philadelphia to do shoulder rehab with team
There is no timetable for Fultz’s return, although his agent has said he expects Fultz to be back on the court this season. Whether that would be with the Sixers is another question, teams have called about the availability of the No. 1 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, but the offers have been so lowball that none of them have been seriously considered by Philadelphia.
After consulting with a number of specialists just a few weeks into the season (and just after the Jimmy Butler trade), the 20-year-old Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a pinching of the nerve through the collarbone area. Since December he has been in Los Angeles is doing physical therapy to relieve the issue.
Fultz has returned to Philadelphia and is continuing that therapy.