NBA Notes: Ewing still eyes head coaching job


NBA Notes: Ewing still eyes head coaching job

The Sixers were able to land what was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in last month's NBA draft by trading for Nerlens Noel. However, the team had other plans in place in case it couldn't acquire the Kentucky big man (see story).

That's just the latest sign of big ideas flowing from a revamped front office that is all business (see story).

Now, let's look at some news and notes from around the NBA:

Bobcats: Ewing not angry about being passed over
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As a player Patrick Ewing never envisioned himself as an NBA head coach.

Now he can't wait to become one.

The Hall of Famer who played 17 seasons in the NBA and has spent nine more as an assistant coach said he's not angry about being passed over again for a head coaching job.

The 50-year-old Ewing said it's only going to drive him to work harder to reach that ultimate goal.

"Every now and again I'm discouraged, but I look at it like, `Hey, I'm going to keep on working," Ewing told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Right now I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be coaching in the league. Every experience is a learning experience" (see full story).

-The Associated Press

Rockets: Team fined $150K for Howard comments
NEW YORK -- The Houston Rockets talked too much, too soon about Dwight Howard.

A league spokesman confirms the team and its personnel were fined $150,000 by the NBA for comments made about the All-Star center during the moratorium period.

Howard committed to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and join the Rockets on Friday, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey gave an interview later that night with Comcast SportsNet Houston in which he talked about the recruitment and landing of him. Coach Kevin McHale also discussed Howard over the weekend at the Orlando Summer League.

Though free agency opened July 1, deals can't become official until Wednesday, after the 2013-14 salary cap is set. first reported the fine.

-The Associated Press

NBA: Salary cap set at $58.7 million
NEW YORK -- The NBA has set next season's salary cap at $58.7 million, paving the way for contracts to be signed starting Wednesday.

The tax level is $71.7 million, with harsher penalties starting this season for teams that exceed it. Teams formerly paid $1 for every $1 they were over, but the penalties now start at $1.50 per dollar for teams up to $4.9 million over, with increases from there.

Contracts such as the one Dwight Howard agreed to with Houston couldn't be signed during the league's moratorium period while the cap was calculated.

The cap is a slight increase from this season's $58 million.

The mid-level exception for non-taxpayers is $5.15 million. It's $3.2 million for teams over the tax, and there's a mid-level worth $2.7 million for teams with room under the salary cap.

-The Associated Press

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

MIAMI — It’s a cautious optimism to be sure — there can be no other type for the Sixers right now given their history of injuries — but you can tell the team is starting to get excited about Joel Embiid.

In Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat (see game story), Embiid scored 18 points in 18 minutes before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

The 7-0 center, who missed his first two NBA seasons because of foot surgeries, made 8 of 16 shots and 2 of 2 on free throws, adding a game-high nine rebounds.

“I’ve always felt like I’m a complete player — that’s what I do,” Embiid said. “I’m starting to get easy points.

“I just got better every game [in the preseason], defensively, offensively.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said he is still learning how to best use Embiid.

Brown added that the rust is apparent in Embiid’s game. But …

“He is as self-taught as any player I’ve ever been around,” Brown said. “He grew up in Cameroon and hasn’t played a lot (because of injuries). But he studies, he looks at stuff. He pays attention. He’s instinctively curious.

“There’s a lot of stuff in his head that he thinks through. His mind is quicker than his feet. At times, his core, his balance and his decision-making are off because his mind is working faster than his body.”

Embiid scored most of his buckets on Friday at close range — a finger roll, a tip-in, a couple of put-back dunks, an alley-oop dunk and a fast-break layup. But he did make a 10-foot jumper and took — but missed — a three-point try.

“He does stuff in a game that makes you step back and say, ‘Wow,’” Brown said. “He will trail and hit a three. He will have a pound, pound drop-step, dunk.

“Like a traditional post, he will turn his face and make a bank shot. He has that up-and-under stuff.

“But he’s raw. His preseason has been highlighted by those few things that you notice, all under the umbrella of, ‘He really has a chance to be very, very good.’"

Brown was asked to summarize the Sixers' 2-5 preseason, and he called it a “completely erratic” exhibition season because of injuries.

“Jahlil [Okafor] hasn’t practiced,” Brown said. “Joel has been steady and incremental. I think we all see that Dario Saric has got a lot to offer. I think the pairing of Joel and Dario was solid.

“We’ve seen Jerami [Grant] have a really good preseason. Richaun Holmes has taken his opportunity to play big minutes. Those type of things come to my mind.”