NBA Notes: Knicks move Kidd to bench

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NBA Notes: Knicks move Kidd to bench

Andrew Bynum continues to experiencing swelling in his right knee after practicing with the Sixers last week and he is no longer sure if he will play this season (see story).

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

Knicks bench Kidd
WASHINGTON -- Jason Kidd is out of the New York Knicks' starting lineup against the Washington Wizards.

Kidd is being replaced by James White on Friday night, alongside starters Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert.

Kidd, who turns 40 later this month, had started 48 of the other 49 games he appeared in this season for New York.

But Knicks coach Mike Woodson says he's making the move to get Kidd more chances "to run our team" with the second unit, rather than needing to share the ball with Felton on the first unit.

Kidd is averaging 6.8 points and 3.5 assists in 27.5 minutes this season.

It's the seventh start of the season for White, who has been averaging 1.7 points and 0.3 assists in only 6.5 minutes (see full story).

- The Associated Press

Ex-Sixer Smith out for season
NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Hornets general manager Dell Demps says 7-foot reserve forward and center Jason Smith will miss the rest of the season because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Meanwhile, the Hornets also say rookie forward Anthony Davis will be out for Friday night's game against the Detroit Pistons because of a left shoulder sprain which occurred Tuesday night against New Jersey and also sidelined him Wednesday night at Oklahoma City. Davis will be listed as day-to-day.

Smith has played in 51 games this season, averaging 8.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in a little more than 17 minutes per game. He's shot 49 percent (167-for-341), giving him the third-best shooting percentage on the club.

He is now slated to have surgery early next week (see full story).

- The Associated Press

Jordan target of paternity suit
ATLANTA -- An Atlanta woman has filed a lawsuit saying basketball Hall of Famer and Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is the father of her teenage son.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 6 by Pamela Smith in Fulton County Superior Court. It requests Jordan take a paternity test, pay child support and share medical, dental and hospital costs that are not covered by insurance.

The lawsuit also requests the boy's last name be changed to Jordan, and for a judge to order the Georgia Department of Vital Records to issue him a new birth certificate.

Publicist Estee Portnoy says Jordan has no comment and calls to Smith's home and office were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

According to court documents, Smith does not have an attorney and a court date is scheduled for March 12 (see story).

- The Associated Press

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Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.