Joel Embiid sitting in on Sixers’ Draft Combine interviews

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Joel Embiid sat out the entire season after being selected third overall by the Sixers in the 2014 NBA Draft, but he remains an important part of the team’s plans to rebuild for the future.

If there was any doubt about this, then the team wouldn’t even consider allowing Embiid to take place in the activities at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago this week.

Embiid is there, along with head coach Brett Brown and GM Sam Hinkie. And he’s not just an idle bystander as the Sixers move through the talent evaluation process.

From John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com:

“I mean, really, this was his initiative,” Brown said. “He asked about it and we extended the invitation and he was all in. I think that for him to come here to Chicago and share in the selection and opinions of people that we may draft is an impressive quality that he has shown us. We get a workout in the morning. We a get lift in the morning. We’re going to a see a playoff game [Thursday night], the Cavaliers-Bulls game, let him take all that in. But I think to just digest this whole purpose in Chicago, something that he didn’t have an experience to look at last year, as well as help us grow the program that we’re trying to build, is a good thing.”

If Embiid’s initial intention was to simply accompany the Sixers’ contingent, his purpose on the trip quickly evolved. In addition to undergoing various tests and measurements, as well as 5-on-5 scrimmages, the prospects are also interviewed. Each team decides who sits in on those sessions. General managers and coaches are almost always in each private question-and-answer period, along with key player personnel staffers. The Sixers had all those people in their interviews, and one more: Embiid.

“I think it was fantastic,” Brown said. “For him to look across and see somebody on the hot seat and a fellow 20-year-old being grilled by coaches and management on all things related to basketball, family, outside interests, we give them a pen, they go to a board, they draw. All those types of things for him to see and share in some questions and go back and forth with people that he’s actually played against. I just think it’s healthy and I think it’s got to be accumulative effort that we’re putting out there where these guys have a say in the design and the growth of their own program.”

Some of the players at the combine said that Embiid being present and participating in the interviews helped make them feel more at ease. But no matter how it plays out, the Sixers are showing one of their young building blocks that his input matters, and that he’s a valued member of the franchise.

Kevin Love tries to ignore trade rumors, “let the chips fall where they may”

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Cleveland Cavaliers GM said he has no interest in trading Kevin Love.

You can count the number of people around the league who believe him on one hand. There’s a good chance Love is still on the Cavaliers at the end of this season, but that’s more about him being in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension than it is Cleveland’s willingness to trade him (or interest from other teams, if money was not an issue). The Cavaliers are rebuilding, and if they can get young players and picks for Love, they have to consider it.

With Portland off to a slow start, and Love growing up in the Pacific Northwest, that rumor has floated around. There are others. Love is just trying to ignore them and play ball, he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times.

“I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” Love said. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization. If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”

Love, who has been open in recent years about his struggles with anxiety and mental health, said dealing with the trade rumors that constantly swirl around him can be a challenge on that front.

“A big aspect of mental health is just staying in the present but it’s so hard,” he said. “You have to try to not get too far ahead of yourself or get worked up. You can get that anxious feeling or fear for the future, but you have to try to stay focused on getting better and let things work out the way they should.”

Kevin Love has played well to start the season, averaging 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, shooting a respectable 34.7 percent from three. He could help a lot of teams, particularly ones in the West who want to be in the mix for a ring but who look at the Lakers and Clippers and think, “we have to get better fast.”

The rumors around Love are just going to get louder the closer and closer we get to the trade deadline. Love will have to do a lot of work to tune all that out.

 

Bulls big man Luke Kornet out following surgery on sinus obstruction

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Just before last Christmas, Luke Kornet broke his nose. Apparently, that never healed quite right.

Kornet underwent surgery to repair a sinus obstruction on Monday, the Chicago Bulls announced. There is no timetable for his return, although coach Jim Boylen suggested it could be less than two weeks.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen added this at practice, via NBC Sports Chicago.

“Kornet had sinus surgery this morning. He had blockage and some issues from a previous fracture from when he was in New York. We just felt it was time to go in there and clean that thing out. That happened this morning at 6 AM. He’s out. Surgery went well. We’ll have more to report as we go. Originally, it was a seven-ten-day thing where he’d be back. I think it’s one of those things they don’t know until they get in there how extreme it is. But he had blockage and it needed to be done.”

This does not impact the Bulls much on the court as Kornet has fallen out of the rotation in recent games (in part because of the sinus condition, in part because he just hasn’t played well). Kornet signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Bulls over the summer.

D’Angelo Russell says weather played ‘major part’ in picking Warriors over Timberwolves

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D'Angelo Russell wants to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Russell last summer.

Why did Russell join the Warriors instead of Minnesota?

Russell, via Chris Hine of the Minneapolis StarTribune:

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said after Warriors shootaround Friday. “It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me.”

“I did my first winter in New York and that was tough,” Russell said. “So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

I don’t blame him one bit.

Russell grew up in Kentucky then finished high school in Florida. He spent his first couple NBA seasons with the Lakers.

He also played collegiately at Ohio State and a a couple years for the Nets. In other words, he spent enough time in cold-weather locations to know how miserable they can be.

This is an issue that will always hinder teams like the Timberwolves. It doesn’t mean they can’t attract free agents. It’s just a disadvantage.

There will always be players who don’t have multiple max offers. Minnesota can separate itself with money, playing time and other considerations.

But good for Russell for playing himself out of that group and earning a max contract in the Bay Area.

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out for Nets-Pacers

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Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.

He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.

Nets public relations:

Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.

Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.

But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.

I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:

  • Nov. 24 at Knicks
  • Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
  • Nov. 27 at Celtics

That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.