Sixers' veteran trio braces for trade deadline

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Sixers' veteran trio braces for trade deadline

He made it sound simple. And it is.

“The whole purpose of this year,” Brett Brown said, “has been about identifying people to move forward with.”

The Sixers made their plans plain the moment Sam Hinkie was installed as the president and general manager: Sacrifice today in favor of tomorrow. They adopted a super-subtle slogan to underscore the reality: “Together we build.” And to reinforce their intentions, they handed out faux blueprints on Tuesday evening before the Cavaliers throttled the Sixers, 114-85, at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay). (It was the Sixers' 40th loss of the season. They’re getting really good at not being good.)

Once unrolled, the blueprint mapped out how the Sixers are “building the next big thing for Philadelphia.” An “NBA draft tracker” was at the bottom of the blueprint (along with a line about “2 potential 1st round picks” written in red). In the center, there were pictures of Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and Brett Brown.

Not pictured: Everyone else.

Noel, MCW and Brown have already been identified and will move forward with the Sixers. As for the rest, nothing is certain. The trade deadline looms. It is Thursday afternoon -- not that any of the Sixers need to be reminded.

Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young have spent much of the season answering questions about various reports and rumors. They’ve exhausted so much time on the subject that Turner recently said he’s “excited” for the trade deadline because it’s “like a riddle” (see story). (That would make Hinkie the Riddler, which makes for interesting imagery.)

If the Sixers extend a qualifying offer during the offseason, Turner will be a restricted free agent. Or they might not extend an offer, at which point he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Or they might trade him before Thursday. Lots of possibilities -- for him and Hawes and Young.

Hawes will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Young is under contract for next season and has a player option for the season after that. You could imagine all sorts of possibilities -- scenarios in which they’re unloaded now or later or not at all.

“The situation being an expiring deal, and the situation with the team, it’s kind of a perfect storm for that kind of chatter,” Hawes said.

Has it bothered him? Like Turner, will he feel any sense of relief, one way or the other, to finally learn his fate?

“To be a successful athlete, you really have to be in a routine,” Hawes said. “Not having that certainty, I think, can disrupt that pattern. I think that’s what can kind of get on your nerves.”

Across the locker room, Young was asked essentially the same questions. He said Philadelphia has been home for the past seven years and the Sixers have been like family. He said he’d like to stay, even though he knows he might have to go.

“The trade deadline is almost upon us and whatever happens, happens,” Young said. “Like I’ve been saying, if they see fit to trade me, Spence or Evan, we have to move on like anybody else. It’s one of those deals where, hey, it’s an unfortunate situations. You just have to play it out and be a business-like professional.”

What about Hawes? When he was asked what he’d like to happen in advance of the deadline, his answer was a bit more opaque.

“Play it out and see where it goes,” Hawes said. “One way or another, part of being a professional is being ready and seeing where the road takes you. This time of year, it’s different than free agency when you have a lot of control over it. At this point, you don’t.”

Hawes said there are a lot of variables between now and free agency. And there are. There are also a lot of variables between now and Thursday afternoon. How will they spend their time between now and then? Will they read everything and watch everything and listen to every report? Or will they try to ignore the speculation and wait until something concrete occurs?

Young -- ever the business-like professional -- said he’ll do what he always does: Show up for work until someone tells him to do otherwise.

“Next game, Dallas Mavericks,” Young said. “We’ve got to be ready.”

Yes. That will be the Sixers' next game, but you wonder who will be getting ready.

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

AVALON, N.J. -- Joel Embiid has been waiting since 2014 to make his NBA debut. Two years later, the former third overall pick is nearing that day.

“I feel a hundred percent,” Embiid said Saturday at the Sixers Beach Bash. “I’m ready to get started. My summer has been great. We’ve been working out a lot this past summer, just getting some runs in. I’ve gotten a chance to play a little bit against the guys.” 

Embiid’s pro career has been sidelined by injuries, undergoing two foot surgeries in as many years. The first was to repair a stress fracture in his right navicular bone. The second, a bone-graft operation on the same bone. 

The 7-foot-2 big man has been rehabbing since then, traveling as far as Qatar in the process. This offseason Embiid was cleared for monitored, five-on-five drills. He joined the Sixers during the Las Vegas Summer League to continue his recovery away from game competition.

“It’s been really tough,” Embiid said. “The main thing is, I haven’t gotten a chance to get on the court and play, or help my teammates, or play in front of Sixers fans. I look forward to it and I can’t wait.”

Embiid said he “definitely” plans to be a go for training camp. He expects there will be a transition period once cleared to play given the length of his rehab, but notes he is a quick learner. Embiid also anticipates having restrictions, but has not discussed the specifics with the Sixers. 

“Probably,” he said. “But I think the restrictions would probably be about the fact that I haven’t played in two years. It’s not going to be about because people are worried that I’m going to re-injure myself, which I don’t think is going to happen.”

One player who is eager for Embiid’s return is rookie first overall pick Ben Simmons. The two have been friends since high school. They easily gel off the court, and plan to do the same in games. 

“He has great footwork, he has great touch, so I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Simmons said, continuing, “Off the court, we’re like brothers. We have fun.” 

Embiid has been present with the Sixers for games and practices. He has had numerous conversations with head coach Brett Brown about his days on the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff and how the organization achieved success with fellow big Tim Duncan, one of Embiid’s basketball role models. 

With an abundance of bigs, the Sixers will have to determine how they share the floor. For Embiid, who can also knock down long-range shots, he plans to fill whatever role the coaches outline for him.

“I think I’ll take a couple threes, but I’ll do what’s best for the team and whatever I’ll feel comfortable doing,” he said. “Obviously they’re going to need my presence inside and that’s what I’m going to do. But when I’m open, I might fire some threes.”

After a series of setbacks, Embiid is enthusiastic about the thought of making his NBA debut. 

“It feels great,” he said. “Especially after the past two years, I haven’t been able to do what I love. It just feels great.”  

Sixers trade Kendall Marshall to Jazz for center Tibor Pleiss, draft picks

Sixers trade Kendall Marshall to Jazz for center Tibor Pleiss, draft picks

The Sixers on Friday traded point guard Kendall Marshall to the Utah Jazz for center Tibor Pleiss, two future second-round picks and cash. 

Both second-round picks are in the 2017 NBA draft. The Jazz have four second-rounders — their own, as well as the ones belonging to the Warriors, Knicks and Pistons. The Sixers will receive the highest and lowest of those four picks.

The Sixers are likely to waive Pleiss. The team made a similar move in July, waiving center Sasha Kaun two days after acquiring him in a trade with the Cavaliers.

Marshall, who was later waived by the Jazz after the deal, was likely to be cut by the Sixers. The team signed guards Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez this offseason. The deal gives the Sixers future assets and cash while unloading a player signed by the previous front office.

Marshall was one of the few free agents Sam Hinkie added, signing a deal for the 2015-16 season and options for the next three seasons.

It looked initially like Marshall would be the starting point guard last season. However, Marshall, was hurt to begin the season and struggled when he got on the court. He played just 30 games and started six, averaging 3.7 points per game in 13.3 minutes. His field goal, three-point and free throw percentages all regressed from his 2014-15 season with the Bucks.

Pleiss was originally a second-round pick by the Nets in the 2010 NBA draft. The German center's rights were dealt in three separate deals, eventually ending up with the Jazz last offseason. He signed a multi-year deal and spent the 2015-16 season bouncing between the Jazz and their D-League affiliate. He averaged 2.0 points per game in 6.8 minutes. 

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers fans packed Los Angeles City Hall chambers to witness the mayor and other officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in honor of the retired NBA superstar.

Councilman Jose Huizar said Wednesday's declaration is the city's way of thanking Bryant for his excellence on the court and philanthropic efforts across Los Angeles.

Bryant attended with his pregnant wife and their two daughters. He called the experience "surreal" and jokingly said someone would have to explain to his unborn daughter why "daddy has a day named for him."

Fans cheered and chanted Bryant's name as he was presented a framed proclamation by Mayor Eric Garcetti and council President Herb Wesson.

Bryant played his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, leading them to five NBA championships.

Lakers: No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, vet Yi Jianlian signed
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have signed top draft pick Brandon Ingram and Chinese NBA veteran Yi Jianlian and re-signed center Tarik Black.

Ingram was the No. 2 overall pick in this summer's draft. The Duke product's rookie contract is expected to be worth more than $23 million over four years.

The 28-year-old Yi hasn't played in the NBA since 2011-12 with Dallas. The former No. 6 overall draft pick by Milwaukee spent five seasons in the NBA, averaging a career-best 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds for New Jersey in 2009-10.

Yi spent the past four seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangdong Southern Tigers. He is an eight-time MVP of the CBA, winning four championships.

The 6-foot-11 Yi averaged 20.4 points per game for China at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Black has averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in two seasons with the Lakers.

Timberwolves: Towns chosen as face of 2K mobile app
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has been tabbed to be the face of 2K's mobile companion application to NBA 2K17 video game, which is set to launch on Sept. 8.

The reigning rookie of the year will be the icon cover athlete for MyNBA2K17, the latest in a series of high-profile endorsements for Towns. The NBA 2K franchise has been the No. 1 selling NBA video game for the last eight years.

"I've been a dedicated NBA 2K fan since I was young, and being selected as the face of MyNBA2K17 is an incredible milestone this early in my career," Towns said on Wednesday. "Playing MyNBA2K and NBA2K is an essential part of my offseason and keeps me grounded during the season with all my travel. I love that I will have the opportunity to connect further with my fans through MyNBA2K17."

The free app connects players to the NBA 2K17 console game and includes facial scanning technology. That allows fans to design players for the game on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 using their own facial features. The app also allows users to watch 2KTV on their mobile devices and play quick games and season tournaments against users around the world.

Towns also has deals with Nike and Samsung among others and made a guest appearance on the Disney television show "Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything" this summer.

On the court, he is teaming with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn to try to end the Timberwolves' 12-year playoff drought.