Getty

Joel Embiid: Andrew Wiggins says Sixers will win East with Jimmy Butler

9 Comments

Things weren’t exactly buddy-buddy between Jimmy Butler and fellow Minnesota Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins leading into the season. Butler was actively pursuing a trade, and the rep around the NBA was that he did not believe in the work ethic of either Towns or Wiggins.

Now Butler is headed to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the deal should be completed early this coming week. As Butler departs, it appears the tone has changed in Minnesota somewhat, at least publicly.

On Saturday night, Sixers big man Joel Embiid said that both Towns and Wiggins had talked to him and said that they thought Butler was going to fit into the Philadelphia culture.

Wiggins even went so far as to make a proclamation about the 76ers’ playoff hopes, according to Embiid.

Via ESPN:

“They thought that he was going to be good for us,” Embiid told ESPN after a 112-106 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. “They thought that we were definitely going to get along. He wants to win. Wiggs told me that he thought that we were going to win the East for sure.”

This could just be the Timberwolves youngsters feeling relieved that Butler is no longer clouding the situation around their franchise. Or perhaps they really do mean it? In either case, it will be massively interesting to see what happens with both of these teams moving forward.

The Timberwolves are just 4-9, but get some rotational help out of Robert Covington and Dario Saric through the trade with the Sixers. The situation with Tom Thibodeau is still tenuous, and expectations are for him to leave the franchise at the end of the year.

For Philadelphia, things remain complicated. Butler is a bonafide star and that should help them rise above the rest in the East. However, what the Sixers have desperately needed is more shooting and Butler is a ball-dominant player. Combined with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, it will be interesting to see how smooth they can get their offense to run even the tendencies of their top players.

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
2 Comments

Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Boston, Philadelphia, Denver? (And some playoff talk)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?

Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?

What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?

I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Nikola Jokic’s All-NBA first-team selection shows his meteoric rise

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Just four years ago, Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick still playing in the Adriatic League. Just three years ago, he was battling a struggling Jusuf Nurkic to be the Nuggets’ main center.

Yesterday, Jokic made the All-NBA first team.

Jokic has risen incredibly quickly. Before this season, he had never even been an All-Star.

That makes Jokic the first non-rookie in NBA history to make an All-NBA first team without a prior All-Star season (including ABA All-Stars).

The No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, Jokic is just the fourth second-rounder to make an All-NBA first team since the NBA-ABA merger. The others: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Marc Price.

For most players not immediately deemed to hold first-round talent, it takes a while to build stature in the NBA. Jokic made the All-NBA first team in just his fourth season. That’s way sooner than Gasol (seventh season), Price (seventh season) and Jordan (eighth season):

image

The Nuggets didn’t wait for this honor to make Jokic their franchise player. They gave him a near-max contract last summer, and by leading them into the second round of the playoffs, he triggered incentives to reach a max salary.

Denver has built a young supporting cast – mainly Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – to grow with Jokic. The Nuggets also signed veteran Paul Millsap, whose defense complements Jokic’s offensive-minded game.

So much is coming together so quickly for Denver, and Jokic’s honor is just the latest example.

Report: Trail Blazers sign president Neil Olshey to contract extension

AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens
1 Comment

Just after a rumor emerged about the Wizards trying to hire Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey…

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

It’s nice to be wanted. It always adds leverage in contract negotiations.

Olshey has done well in Portland, building a winner around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum after LaMarcus Aldridge left. But Olshey’s job will get harder now.

Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless each have another season on the expensive contracts Olshey gave them in the wild summer of 2016. That’ll inhibit flexibility this offseason.

Then, Lillard is set to sign a super-max extension that will take effect in 2021. As great as Lillard is, it’ll be difficult building a contender around someone projected to earn $43 million, $46 million, $50 million and $53 million from ages 31-34. There’s so little margin for error, especially if ownership is less willing to pay the luxury tax than the late Paul Allen was.

But Olshey has earned a chance to handle these dilemmas.