NBA Notes: Nets' Joe Johnson close to return

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NBA Notes: Nets' Joe Johnson close to return

Even though the Sixers' chances at making the playoffs have all but disappeared, Doug Collins and his squad want to finish strong in their final nine games.

Here is a look at the news around the league:

Joe Johnson nears return
Joe Johnson should make his return to the court sometime this week for the Nets.

Johnson, who has been dealing with a quadriceps contusion and a sore heel, practiced fully on Tuesday for the first time since Match 23, according to SNY.tv.

"Practice went great, it felt great to get up and down a little bit and see where I'm at," Johnson said. "I felt great, finished practice and we'll just see how it feels [Wednesday]."

Johnson should return for either Wednesday's game at the Cavaliers or Thursday's game versus the Bulls.

In his first season with the Nets, Johnson is averaging 16.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Okafor to stay with Wizards
Emeka Okafor will remain with the Wizards next season after choosing to not opt out of his contract, according to CSNWashington.com (via ProBasketballTalk).

"My plan is to be here next year," Okafor told CSNWashington.com. "My mindset is to be here next year. I just think that this team has a lot of potential. If we had everybody healthy, it would be different around here. We'd be playing for (playoff) position."

Although it won't be official until signing period beginning on July 1, Okafor will make $14.48 million next season.

Okafor is averaging 9.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season.

44,000 tickets requested in Seattle
SEATTLE -- The man who's trying to bring the NBA's Sacramento Kings to Seattle says fans have requested 44,000 season tickets in the event the team actually relocates.

Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen had urged Seattle fans to join a "priority ticket waitlist" to show the NBA how strong support is for bringing professional men's basketball back to the city and calls the result "nothing short of stunning."

Seattle has been without an NBA franchise since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.

Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer have agreed to buy a majority stake in the Kings from the Maloof family for $341 million, but the deal needs league approval.

Owners are meeting Wednesday to discuss the sale and a counter-offer to keep the Kings in Sacramento. A decision expected this month.

--The Associated Press

Ex-Wizard indicted on murder charge
ATLANTA -- Former NBA player and Atlanta native Javaris Crittenton has been indicted on charges of murder and gang activity.

Fulton County District Attorney's spokeswoman Yvette Jones said Tuesday that 25-year-old Crittenton and his cousin, Douglas Gamble, are charged in the death of an Atlanta woman and the attempted murder of another man.

Julian Jones was shot and killed while walking with a group in August 2011. Authorities say that incident and a second shooting were gang-related, and may have been retaliation after Crittenton was the victim of a robbery.

Crittenton was drafted by the Lakers in 2007 and has also played for the Wizards and Grizzlies. He was suspended in 2010 for pulling a gun in the Wizards' locker room.

--The Associated Press

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber. 

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above.