NBA Notes: LeBron, Beckham talk MLS team

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NBA Notes: LeBron, Beckham talk MLS team

MIAMI -- LeBron James has had "preliminary talks" with David Beckham about possibly bringing an MLS team to Miami.

The talks were first reported in the British media and confirmed by James after the Miami Heat's practice Monday.

"There's some interest on both sides," said James, the four-time NBA MVP who already has a small ownership stake in the English club Liverpool through his involvement with Fenway Sports Management. "David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years. And I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure. So there's interest on both sides but it's preliminary talks. But there (is) some open dialogue."

The Associated Press first reported last month that Beckham decided to start an MLS expansion team in Miami. Several matters, however, must first be taken care of, including league approval (see full story).

Cavaliers: Waiters denies involvement in fight
CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers starting guard Dion Waiters returned to practice and denied reports he was involved in a fight during a players' meeting.

Waiters, who missed the past two games with flu-like symptoms, said Monday that he did not get into a physical confrontation with anyone last week when the Cavaliers had a meeting following a 29-point road loss in Minnesota.

Reports of a possible altercation surfaced over the weekend. They were fueled by Waiters' absence from games against Charlotte and Washington as well as All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving's black eye and broken nose.

Waiters said the Cavs "got everything off our chests" during the meeting. He said he'd rather "fight somebody else on the other team than one of my teammates."

Cavs coach Mike Brown expects Waiters to play in Wednesday's home game against Washington (see full story).

Warriors: O'Neal has knee bruise, groin strain
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors say an MRI exam shows backup center Jermaine O'Neal has a bruised right knee and a strained right groin.

O'Neal didn't travel with the team for Monday night's game at the Utah Jazz and is considered day to day. He was injured early in the fourth quarter of Golden State's 102-88 victory over the Jazz on Saturday night in Oakland when he slipped along the baseline.

O'Neal is in his 18th season in the NBA. He has battled numerous knee injuries throughout his career, though the most serious have been to his left knee.

Reserve center Ognjen Kuzmic will likely be counted on more in O'Neal's absence. The Warriors also could play power forwards David Lee and Marreese Speights at center (see full story).

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”