NBA Notes: Boylan won't return as Bucks head coach

slideshow-050113-bucks-boylan-uspresswire.jpg

NBA Notes: Boylan won't return as Bucks head coach

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Jim Boylan will not return as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The announcement Wednesday, long expected, comes three days after the Bucks were swept out of their first playoff appearance in three years. General manager John Hammond says a search for a new coach will begin "immediately."

Boylan took over Jan. 8 after the Bucks and Scott Skiles parted ways. Though Milwaukee won its first two games under Boylan and eight of his first 11, the Bucks fell apart at the end of the season. They lost 12 of their last 16 games to finish with a losing record for a third straight year, and had to play the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Boylan finishes with a 22-32 record (see full story).

Spoelstra pulling right strings
MIAMI -- Erik Spoelstra has spent three years talking about sacrifices made by Miami Heat players, how individual egos get checked at the door of the locker room in pursuit of greater goals.

The Heat coach applies the same rules to himself.

Spoelstra doesn't want to know how many coaches have won back-to-back NBA championships -- it's seven, by the way. He shakes off any talk about his own legacy or how some around the league think he should be a coach-of-the-year candidate this season. And when conversation is sparked about how he manages such a deep roster, he usually gives credit to his staff.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade says Spoelstra's talent as a manager of talent is overlooked. "He's done it," Wade says (see full story).

Summer league adds championship round
MIAMI -- The NBA Summer League is adding a championship round.

The league announced Wednesday that for the first time since the summer league's inception in 2004, it will feature a format that includes preliminary games followed by a single-elimination tournament leading to an eventual champion.

This year's summer league starts in Las Vegas on July 12, and the champion will be crowned on July 22. All teams will play at least five games, with the tournament set to begin after teams are seeding following the conclusion of games played July 16.

Several of the league's top eventual rookies have played in the league in recent years, including Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard (see full story).

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."