NBA Notes: Ellis officially signs with Mavs


NBA Notes: Ellis officially signs with Mavs

DALLAS -- The Mavericks have signed free agent shooting guard Monta Ellis, finishing off the final piece of their new starting lineup.

Terms of the deal announced Tuesday weren't disclosed. It is reportedly a three-year contract for between $25 and $30 million.

Ellis will start alongside point guard Jose Calderon, another free agent addition. The third new starter is center Samuel Dalembert. It's the second straight year the Mavericks have put three new starters around Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.

The 27-year-old Ellis will start the season with a different team for the third straight year after spending his first six seasons with Golden State. The Warriors traded Ellis to Milwaukee in 2011-12, and he led the Bucks last season at 19.2 points per game, slightly below his career average.

Warriors: Jermaine O'Neal signs
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent center Jermaine O'Neal, who had reached agreement on a contract two weeks ago.

The Warriors announced the deal for the six-time All-Star on Tuesday.

Golden State is likely to use the 34-year-old O'Neal as a backup to Andrew Bogut. Festus Ezeli is working back from right knee surgery and is not expected to be ready to return for months.

O'Neal played in 55 games with four starts last season for the Phoenix Suns, averaging 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.7 minutes. The 6-foot-11 center is entering his 18th season in the NBA.

USA: Cousins gets second chance
LAS VEGAS -- DeMarcus Cousins has everything USA Basketball is looking for in a big man.

He has the size and strength to be an imposing presence in the paint on a roster that is lacking in the frontcourt. He has the shooting touch and passing skills to make him a perfect fit in international play and in coach Mike Krzyzewski's system. And he has the confidence not to back down against the best competition the United States has to offer.

The best-case scenario for this young American team going forward would be to have Cousins emerge as a future building block and reliable contributor to a team that will compete for the World Cup in Spain next summer. And the best-case scenario for Cousins would be to get the kind of structure and guidance that Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo can provide to a 22-year-old who has had precious little of either during a volatile first three seasons in the NBA.

"I believe I mature after every season," Cousins said after working out with 27 other young players at a USA Basketball minicamp on the UNLV campus. "I believe people forget I am just 22. At the same time I've got a big responsibility. It's going to take me time, and I'm still learning. But I believe I do improve every year" (see full story).

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here:

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

In a preseason full of unexpected turns, the Sixers' final cuts were as anticipated.

The Sixers on Monday waived guards Cat Barber, Dionte Christmas, Brandon Paul and forwards Shawn Long and James Webb III to trim their regular-season roster to 15. 

Long, Paul and Webb had been with the Sixers since summer league. Barber signed with the team for training camp. Philadelphia native Christmas was the newest addition. He joined the Sixers the day of the deadline (see story)

The Sixers own the D-League rights to Barber, Christmas, Long and Webb. They are expected to land with the affiliate Delaware 87ers. 

Paul’s D-League rights are owned by the Cavaliers. He has received interest from other NBA teams, according to a source, and has not discussed playing in the Development League. 

Long appeared in each of the Sixers' preseason games. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Webb posted 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in six games. 

Paul averaged 7.3 points (36.4 percent from three) and 2.3 rebounds in four games. Barber was sidelined during the preseason by a right hand/wrist injury. He played two games, averaging 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. 

Christmas, 30, had planned to play this season in Greece and decided on Sunday to sign with the Sixers instead of returning overseas. 

The Sixers waived 17-year veteran Elton Brand last weekend after he announced his intention to retire. 

Here's the Sixers' complete roster:

2016-17 Sixers
Robert Covington, SF, 6-9/215
Joel Embiid, C, 7-2/250
Jerami Grant, F, 6-8/210
Gerald Henderson, G, 6-5/215
Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10/245
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F, 6-6/205
T.J. McConnell, PG, 6-2/200
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11/275
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, 6-3/176
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/223
Nik Stauskas, G, 6-6/205
Hollis Thompson, G/F, 6-8/206

Inactive list
Jerryd Bayless, PG, 6-3/200
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, 6-11/228
Ben Simmons, F, 6-10/240