Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Notes: MJ says he'd beat LeBron 1-on-1

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NBA Notes: MJ says he'd beat LeBron 1-on-1

CHARLOTTE, NC -- NBA legend Michael Jordan believes he could beat LeBron James in a one-on-one basketball game when he was in his prime.

He's not sure about Kobe Bryant.

"I don't think I would lose," Jordan said in promoting NBA 2K14, before smiling and adding, "Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves."

Responded James: "MJ said that?"

"Absolutely, I thought about the matchup, but no one would ever see it. It's not going to happen. But it's good for people to talk about," James said (see full story).

Thunder: Westbrook out to start season
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the NBA season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday.

General Manager Sam Presti said Westbrook had knee swelling that would not subside, and the procedure was intended to solve the problem once and for all. He said doctors found that the source of swelling was due to a loose stitch and Westbrook's meniscus has healed properly.

The team said the procedure was successful.

Westbrook had surgery in May to repair cartilage in his right knee after he was hurt in Game 2 of Oklahoma City's first-round playoff series with Houston. He had had never missed a game in his five NBA seasons before the injury (see full story).

Timberwolves: Budinger out indefinitely
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is out indefinitely.

The Wolves made the announcement on Tuesday that Budinger had a procedure on his left meniscus. Budinger had a similar injury last season that caused him to miss more than four months.

Last year, Budinger had his torn meniscus repaired in surgery. This time around, Budinger had the damaged portion removed by Dr. James Andrews. The Wolves and their medical staff took a different course this time in hopes of reducing the recovery time and the risk of re-injury.

The Wolves say they cannot put a specific timetable on Budinger's recovery time until they see how his knee responded to the procedure.

Give and Go: Our predictions for the Sixers this season

Give and Go: Our predictions for the Sixers this season

With training camp starting next week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we discuss our predictions for the Sixers going into the 2017-18 season.

Camerato
My prediction for the 2017-18 season has to do with an issue nagging the Sixers for years now. I expect the team to figure out the frontcourt logjam and establish more clearly-defined rotations.

The utilization of the bigs has not been consistent. Joel Embiid started when healthy. Jahlil Okafor started when Embiid was unavailable and was benched other times. Richaun Holmes’ season was a mix of starts, DNPs and G League appearances. And (there’s more), Nerlens Noel was on the roster up until the trade deadline. 

How much longer will this overcrowding at the five spot last? The situation is a bit tricky because of Embiid’s health. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 and it remains to be seen how many games and minutes he will play. Okafor, in that case, has been the go-to fill-in starter. The Sixers remain open to trading Okafor. The current situation isn’t, and hasn’t been, beneficial for either team or player. 

Holmes’ improvements should not be ignored this season just because he had accepted that backup-to-the-backup role. He made a strong case to become the backup center last season and the Sixers should give him the opportunity. 

The Sixers also will have to address the shooting guard position, where they are stacked since the addition of J.J. Redick, who will see major minutes. Markelle Fultz, a point guard, also will play at the two spot. So what will that mean for Nik Stauskas or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot? (Furkan Korkmaz is expected to spend time in the G League.) 

In enhancing their team this offseason, the Sixers now have to become a more balanced roster. My prediction is they will make moves to accomplish that.

Haughton
By now you’ve heard just about every prediction for the Sixers. So what’s one more?

The talk this summer has been about the Sixers finally getting through “the process” and reaching the postseason. Both current and former Sixers have guaranteed a playoff berth.

While I tend to agree, I also know it won’t be as easy as they are making it seem.

The Sixers are loaded with talent and potential. Neither of those qualities actually guarantee wins. Just ask the 2016-17 Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Sixers will have to incorporate several new key players and adopt an entirely different mindset of expecting to win instead of hoping to come out on top each night.

Then there’s the competition. The Eastern Conference remains top heavy with the best four squads likely still holding firm (Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Washington).

After that, things get a little more wide open. Three of the bottom four seeds from last season’s playoff participants in the East lost their best players either to free agency or via trade (Atlanta: Paul Millsap, Indiana: Paul George and Chicago: Jimmy Butler).

That should definitely clear up some room for the Sixers to make a push for one of those back-end playoff spots, but don’t expect them to jump from the basement to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Hudrick
My prediction for the Sixers, much like everyone else's, is that they'll make the playoffs.

There is a caveat, however. If they don't make the playoffs, it's not the end of the world.

The Cavaliers and Celtics are the class of the East. And really it's not very close. After them, the second tier is the Raptors and Wizards. After that it gets a little murky. Given the landscape of the Eastern Conference it's certainly realistic to say the Sixers could make the playoffs.

But the Sixers shouldn't be worried about that. It would be outstanding for this young team's confidence (and how could you not feel great for Brett Brown after what he's dealt with the last four years) to make the playoffs, but their goals should be improvement and health. This team has some serious work to do to jell together and Brown has serious questions to answer about his rotation. It won't all be sorted out over night.

Having the NBA playoffs back in Philly is going to be a blast, but let's focus on this team's development above all else. 

Sixers reportedly ink Kris Humphries to non-guaranteed deal; sign Jacob Pullen

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USA Today Images

Sixers reportedly ink Kris Humphries to non-guaranteed deal; sign Jacob Pullen

The Sixers are busy just days before the start of training camp. 

The team plans to sign veteran forward Kris Humphries to a non-guaranteed deal, according to The Vertical

Humphries fits with the Sixers’ plan for a versatile system. At 6-foot-9, he can knock down a long-range shot. Last season on the Hawks, he averaged 42.9 percent from 16 feet from the rim to the three-point line and 35.2 percent from three, according to Basketball-Reference.com. 

Humphries also averaged 3.7 boards in 12.3 minutes. The 32-year-old is entering his 14th NBA season and will add to the Sixers’ growing group of veteran players. 

The Sixers also signed 6-foot-1 guard Jacob Pullen, who was a member of BC Khimki in the VTB United League (Russia) last season. Pullen, 27, also has played in Italy, Israel, Spain, and Croatia. He was a standout at Kansas State (2007-11) and reached the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons. 

Pullen has been getting acclimated to the city. Earlier this month, he tweeted:

The Sixers will hold their media day Monday and open training camp Tuesday.