Charles Barkley: 'The playoffs are a definite for the Sixers this year'

Charles Barkley: 'The playoffs are a definite for the Sixers this year'

Joel Embiid tweeted last month about playoff spots opening up in the Eastern Conference thanks to several star players moving out west (see story).

Embiid presumably meant that would allow the Sixers to snag one of the precious postseason slots. However, former Sixers great and Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, left no doubt.

“The playoffs are a definite for the Sixers this year,” Barkley said Friday to CSN’s Danny Pommells from the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe.

While other teams have been weakened by core players changing conferences, Barkley still believes the Sixers’ rise will have more to do with the squad coming into its own.

“If Embiid is healthy and (Ben) Simmons is healthy, I think they’re definitely gonna make the playoffs,” he said. “Obviously the injury thing has really hurt them the last couple years. But if those two guys are healthy, I think both of them are terrific players. Now you’ve got (Markelle) Fultz, you’ve got JJ (Redick). They’ve done some good things with the guys coming off the bench. (Dario) Saric was fantastic last year.

“If they don’t make the playoffs, I’d be totally shocked.”

A big key to the Sixers' reaching that level will be how Simmons and Fultz mesh together on the court. The last two No. 1 picks could make up the team’s starting backcourt in a non-traditional pairing.

“One or the other is probably going to have to defer a little bit because they both want the ball,” Barkley said of the Simmons-Fultz pairing. “They’re both dominant guys with the ball. I think coach (Brett) Brown is gonna have to really talk to them about that. That could be an interesting dynamic of their team because they’re both ball-dominant guys and they both will probably have to sacrifice a little bit in that area.”

No matter which of those players ultimately has to take a back seat on the floor, Barkley is confident the Sixers will figure things out and move up the NBA ranks.

“The Sixers, man, they’ve just got a really bright future,” he said.

For more from Barkley on the Sixers and LaVar Ball, watch the full video above.

Joel Embiid among several NBA players to participate in Basketball without Borders

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Joel Embiid among several NBA players to participate in Basketball without Borders

Joel Embiid is giving back, joining several NBA players for the Basketball without Borders camp in Africa.

The NBA and FIBA will host 80 boys and girls ages 17 and under from 26 African countries, including Embiid's native Cameroon. It'll be the 15th edition of Basketball without Borders.

The camp will be held from Aug. 2 to Aug. 5 at the American International School of Johannesburg, culminating with the NBA Africa Game 2017 at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa. The exhibition pits Team Africa, which includes players born in Africa and second-generation African players, against players from the rest of the world.

It's already been announced that Embiid is on the roster, but not playing, for Team Africa. Embiid, 23, missed the final 37 games of the 2016-17 season with a knee injury. His first NBA season came after he missed the first two years of his career with a foot injury.

There will be a heavy local vibe at BWB this year. Embiid will be joined by assistant coach Lloyd Pierce as well as former Sixers Bruce Bowen, Elton Brand and fellow Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute. Philly native Kyle Lowry and Chester native Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will also be there. 

Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and budding star Kristaps Porzingis will also be among the players on hand.

NBA Notes: Derrick Rose, Cavs reach agreement on 1-year deal

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NBA Notes: Derrick Rose, Cavs reach agreement on 1-year deal

CLEVELAND -- For the moment, the Cavaliers have one content, proven point guard.

Free agent Derrick Rose agreed Monday to sign with Cleveland, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Rose, a former NBA MVP who has struggled with knee injuries, will get a one-year contract at the veteran's minimum of $2.1 million, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the agreement.

The deal is expected to be finalized and announced Tuesday.

Rose played for the New York Knicks last season and averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists. The 28-year-old Rose's role with the Cavs is still to be determined. He could be used as a backup or even start depending on what the team does with All-Star Kyrie Irving, who recently asked for a trade.

Irving's demands have complicated things for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who were beaten by Golden State in the Finals. They'll certainly find interest in Irving, but it may be challenging to find comparable talent in return.

That's where Rose comes in. If healthy, Rose is a dynamic scorer capable of taking over a game, and paired with LeBron James, he could be even more dangerous (see full story).

Spurs: Gasol signs 3-year deal
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs have signed Pau Gasol to a three-year contract.

The Spurs announced the signing on Monday. Gasol opted out of the two-year deal he signed last summer to give the Spurs more salary cap flexibility to supplement the roster in free agency. But he always intended to re-sign with San Antonio, where he averaged 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in just over 25 minutes per game last season.

Gasol played 64 games, filling a starting role and coming off the bench for a team that won 61 games and lost to Golden State in the Western Conference finals.

Gasol's help allowed the Spurs to add Rudy Gay and Brandon Paul in free agency.

Cavaliers: Altman officially named full-time GM
CLEVELAND -- Koby Altman's summer job has turned into something permanent.

The Cavaliers, who have had a bumpy few weeks since losing in the NBA Finals, named Altman their full-time general manager on Monday. Altman's promotion had been expected for days and is a reward for the 34-year-old, who has been serving as Cleveland's interim GM this summer after David Griffin parted ways with the club.

Altman came to Cleveland in 2012 and was promoted to Griffin's assistant last summer after the Cavs won the championship. He will be the fifth GM for owner Dan Gilbert since 2005.

Gilbert said he's been impressed with the job Altman -- and other members of Cleveland's front office -- have done over the past five weeks.

"Koby Altman has led our front office group through this transition period, impressing many inside the franchise and outside the organization, as well," Gilbert said in a statement. "We are very excited that he will now be officially leading the basketball side of our franchise. Koby has the credentials, knowledge, experience and instincts to be an outstanding general manager. In addition to these positive attributes and outstanding relationships around the league, Koby will inspire and impact the best possible culture throughout the organization" (see full story).

Pistons: Montego inks 2-way contract
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have signed Luis Montero to a two-way contract.

The team announced the deal Monday. The 6-foot-7 Montero played 49 games last season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Reno Bighorns of the NBA G League. He played in 12 NBA games with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16, averaging 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.1 assists.

NBA teams are allowed two two-way players on their roster at any time, in addition to the 15-man, regular-season roster.