Getty Images

Joel Embiid: “Nowadays the league is kind of soft. I’m trying to dominate.”

26 Comments

The Philadelphia 76ers have been slower out of the gate than expected — a lot of fans expected a leap forward from the Sixers, for them to be at the top (with Boston, also a little slow to start). Instead, without the shooting of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, plus with Markelle Fultz starting and trying to find a role, the Sixers have been just okay — 7-5 by record, but their -0.6 net rating is that of a .500 team.

Joel Embiid has been the exception — he has been a force of nature. Embiid is averaging 27.7 points and 12.4 rebounds a game, is a beast around the rim (40 percent of his shots come there and he’s shooting 69 percent), he’s dishing out assists on 19 percent of his possessions used, and the Sixers have been 14.8 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court (most of that coming on the offensive end, although their defense is elite when he plays). If one were to put together an early season MVP watch list, Embiid’s name should be on it. He has carried the Sixers early while the perimeter players clank shots off the rim.

This is just how Embiid wants it — he wants to dominate. His trash talking is just part of that, as he told Michael Lee of The Athletic.

“I want to dominate,” Embiid told The Athletic recently, when asked why his colorful, playful trash talk has become an essential part of his game…

“It’s fun. One thing when I started playing in the league, I saw that a lot of guys are friendly. It’s OK to be friendly, especially off the court. But on the court, I want to dominate,” Embiid continued. “I don’t really care about the friendships on the court. I got my friends. I got my family, which I’m close to. I got a couple of friends that I’m always around. I don’t do anything. I don’t need to hang out with a lot of people.

“So me always talking trash … nowadays the league is kind of soft. I’m trying to dominate and if you dominate, you’re going to be hated because you’re going to talk so much stuff.”

Love him or hate him — most people are in the former camp right now, but that pendulum will swing, fame is fickle like that — Embiid makes the game more entertaining. Finally healthy on the court he can do it all there. He can go out and outscore  Andre Drummond 32-0 in a half.

But it’s the trash talking after that is the kind of personality the league could use more of.

Tell me you don’t want Embiid to be one of the two All-Star Game captains, picking players on live TV. This guy is just fun.

We’re just waiting for the rest of the Sixers to catch up to him.

Bulls’ Otto Porter out at least one more month with fractured foot

Associated Press
Leave a comment

The Chicago Bulls miss Otto Porter. He was a starter on the wing for nine games, scoring 11.2 points per game, hitting 40 percent of his threes, playing solid defense, and the Bulls offense was 8.3 points per 100 possessions better on offense when he was on the court. He’s a steadying influence as a veteran.

However, he has been out the last 16 games with a foot injury, and he’s going to miss at least another month, the Bulls announced Tuesday. The Bulls said Porter saw a specialist and he “confirmed the bone injury and healing response in Porter’s left foot consistent with a small fracture that has become more clearly defined with repeated imaging over the last five weeks.”

What that means for Porter is another month in a boot.

Chandler Hutchison‘s bruised shoulder has him in street clothes, too, which means Kris Dunn will remain the starter for now. Denzel Valentine has used a bump in minutes to show some growth in his game, play fairly well, and make a push for even more run of late.

But without Porter, the Bulls are not the same.

 

 

Report: Kevin Love would prefer to play for Portland if traded

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cleveland Cavaliers are listening to trade offers for Kevin Love.

Love’s reaction to this is essentially “whatevs.” He’s been in the middle of trade rumors for four years now, it’s as constant and annoying in his life as taxes.

However, if he is going to get traded, he’d prefer to go home to Oregon and play for Portland, reports Kevin O’Conner at The Ringer.

Love would prefer to play for his hometown Portland Trail Blazers, according to multiple league sources. The Blazers make perfect sense as a destination for Love; they need help for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum after the team has been decimated by injuries….

The Blazers have the salaries to make a deal work with the expiring contracts of Hassan Whiteside ($27.1 million) or Kent Bazemore ($19.3 million).

There were previous reports Love just wants to go to a contender. That said, there is logic to him wanting to go home, and there is a good fit in Portland, a team that needed help at the four before injuries rocked the roster. Love is averaging 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, is shooting 37.1 percent from three, and remains one of the best outlet passers in the game.

Making a trade work is trickier. Bazemore has to play a much larger role after Rodney Hood was lost for the season with a torn Achilles, his availability is up for debate.

Hassan Whiteside can make the trade numbers work with his expiring contract, and Whiteside won’t be missed once Jusuf Nurkic (and even Zach Collins) returns from injury. However, the Cavaliers are going to want draft picks or young players to help with their rebuild to make this trade. Would the Blazers throw in a protected first to make this happen?

There also is this question any team trading for Love has to ask itself: Do we want to take on the three-plus years remaining on his four-year, $120 million contract? That’s a lot of money and years for an All-Star player who is productive but aging, and also has a lengthy injury history.

Portland can also try to trade for Danilo Gallinari and his expiring contract with the Thunder, which has a lot less risk involved.

Love, however, would be popular in Portland, and he would help the team.

Jaylen Brown: Celtics nicknamed Grant Williams ‘Ben Simmons’ due to missed 3s

2 Comments

Celtics rookie Grant Williams on 3-pointers in his first 20 games: 0-for-25.

0-for-25!

Nobody else has ever started a season that cold.

Of everyone else to attempt at least 25 3-pointers in their first 20 games, nobody made fewer than two. Of everyone else to miss all their 3-pointers in their first 20 games, nobody attempted more than 17.

Finally, Williams made a 3-pointer in Boston’s win over the Cavaliers yesterday.

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, via NBC Sports Boston:

We were calling him Ben Simmons for the longest. But he knocked one down, and knocked them down, too. So, shoutout to both of those guys.

Yes, 76ers guard Ben Simmons barely shoots, let alone makes, 3-pointers. But it seems as if Brown realized mid-answer he shouldn’t provide bulletin-board material to a rival.

Too late.

Simmons has gotten called a coward numerous times by people in Boston due to his refusal to shoot 3s. Becoming the butt of the joke with fellow NBA players? That’s something else entirely.

We’ll see how Simmons responds, but many around him – including Philadelphia coach Brett Brown – have been urging him to hoist more 3s. It’s hard to see this inspiring Simmons to actually change his game.

Paul George says there’s more to his Pacers exit: ‘I promise you, I’m not the one to boo’

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In 2017, Paul George told the Pacers he planned to leave in free agency the following year. It wasn’t a trade request, but George knew his message would likely prompt Indiana to deal him. He wanted out.

George said he preferred the Spurs. (Or was it the Lakers?) The Pacers dealt him to the Thunder.

Now with the Clippers, George returned to Indiana and got booed.

George, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:

“You know, someday I’ll do a tell-all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana,” George said. “And I promise you, I’m not the one to boo.”

“… I’m not gonna share the teaser,” George later added. “… I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year. The people they should boo is here a lot longer than I am.”

Maybe George felt he got wronged. Maybe George actually got wronged.

But fans generally side with their favorite team over a star player who chose to leave.

It’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances where Pacers fans would boo someone other than George for his exit. My hunch: His grievances are significant to him but wouldn’t persuade Indiana fans. Still, I’m at least curious about his full story.