The Suns have a promising stock of big men: rookies Dragan Bender (No. 4 pick) and Marquese Chriss (No. 8 pick) and Alex Len, who was the No. 5 pick three years ago.
That trio just gained an excellent tutor.
The Phoenix Suns announced on Tuesday the team has added Mehmet Okur as player development coach and Jason Hervey as advance scout.
Okur, a 2007 NBA All-Star, will specialize in the skills development of the Suns’ post players.
Okur played with Suns coach Earl Watson in Utah, where Okur had been working as a Jazz ambassador following his retirement.
Well-liked, Okur set himself up for post-playing opportunities. His offensive proficiency – including outside shooting and ball-handling impressive for his 6-foot-11 frame – could help him succeed in this role.
Markelle Fultz said his shooting problems were due to injury, and just a couple weeks ago, he insisted he was generally healthy.
But something is clearly amiss.
The 76ers guard finally appears to be acknowledging it.
David Aldridge of The Athletic:
Should we read into Brothers – usually identified as Fultz’s agent – being referred to as Fultz’s attorney? That sounds ominous.
There has been back-and-forth between Fultz’s and the 76ers about who deserves blame for his struggles.
J.R. Smith said he wants the Cavaliers to trade him.
But that was right after they told Smith he’d be shut down. He has been playing regularly lately.
Still, Smith isn’t pleased with Cleveland.
J.R. Smith, via Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:
“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”
And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it.
“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.
If that’s what the Cavaliers are doing, that’s smart. They need premier young talent, and a high draft pick is the best way to acquire it. Because they owe the Hawks a top-10-protected first-rounder, the Cavs need to tank hard rather taking half-measures.
But I also understand why Smith wants no part of it. He’s 33 years old, and he doesn’t have time to wait around for a rebuild. He wants to win now.
Smith should shame the Cavaliers for tanking. That should be a consequence of their plan, even if it’s the right one. He is a casualty of it. If he shames Cleveland into trading or buying him out, all the better.
Kevin Durant once said he appreciated hecklers.
That didn’t appear to be the case during the Warriors’ loss to the Mavericks on Saturday.
Durant – who’s been sour after his highly public argument with Draymond Green – confronted Dallas fans and told them to “watch the f—ing game and shut the f— up.”
One witness who was sitting in spitting distance from the incident tells us … the heckler was just saying the typical NBA fan trash talk — calling KD names like, “Cupcake” and other insults.
Another witness tells TMZ Sports … the hecklers had been bombarding KD with the “cupcake” insults to the point where it became unbearable.
That witness tells us KD complained to the refs at one point but the fans were not removed or disciplined in any way.
We’re told the group laughed off the incident because they knew they got to him and ramped up the trash talk even more for the rest of the game.
Durant obviously has a history of confronting critics. But that’s usually online, not in person.
The NBA generally fines players for getting caught on video talking to fans this way. The league doesn’t seem to have a problem with players responding to fans when it’s not on video. Hecklers’ days are made when players respond, but the league doesn’t seem to account for that.
It’s an unfair system, but it’s the one Durant is in.
He and Golden State are also in a three-game losing streak. Snap that, and Durant will probably become more friendly.
Joel Embiid had a brilliant game Monday night, scoring 33 points with 17 boards. He’s a guy whose name deserves to come up when talking about guys playing at an MVP level early this season.
Plus we saw a motivated Embiid Monday going against No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, who Embiid said would get his a** kicked this year around the NBA. Embiid did his part, basically doubling Ayton in points (33-17) and rebounds (17-9).
But Embiid also had one spectacular fail — this missed windmill dunk.
Ben Simmons is not going to let Embiid forget about that one for a while.