NBA Notes: Paul George hopes to play in '14-15


NBA Notes: Paul George hopes to play in '14-15

INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George hopes to make it back on the court next season despite the "freak accident" that caused a compound fracture in his right leg.

On Friday, the two-time All-Star responded to questions for the first time since the gruesome image of him colliding with a basketball stanchion.

George says the leg broke in two spots and that a rod was inserted during surgery Aug. 2. Doctors placed pins in the knee and ankle to hold the rod in place. The leg is now protected by a hard cast.

Coach Frank Vogel and Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said Tuesday that George has not been ruled out for the season though they didn't expect to have him.

George has been told he will make a full recovery (see full story).

Warriors: Livingston out six to eight weeks
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston is expected to be out six to eight weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on the big toe of his right foot.

The Warriors said Friday that Livingston's toe will be in a splint for the first three weeks of his recovery. The team says the procedure was performed Wednesday by Dr. Richard Ferkel at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Van Nuys.

Golden State signed Livingston to a three-year contract worth about $16 million in July. The team says he was diagnosed with a sprained right big toe at the time and his foot was placed in a cast. The Warriors say Livingston was re-evaluated last week and it was determined that surgery was needed.

Kings: Bhullar, first Indian player, inks deal
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sim Bhullar has signed a contract to join the Sacramento Kings in training camp, becoming the first player of Indian descent to ink a deal with an NBA team.

The Kings announced Bhullar's deal Friday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The 7-foot-5, 360-pound center was born in Toronto and played two seasons for New Mexico State, where he averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks to lead the Aggies to back-to-back NCAA tournaments. Undrafted this spring, Bhullar was part of the Kings team that won the NBA's summer league tournament in Las Vegas last month.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, the league's first Indian-born majority owner, says in a statement he's "long believed India is the next great frontier for the NBA" (see full story).

U.S.: National team cancels Senegal trip
The U.S. national team has canceled a trip to Senegal after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo says Friday the Americans were disappointed to call off what would have been the national team's first trip to the African continent, but "didn't have any other choice" because of the risk.

The Americans were scheduled to travel to Dakar on Aug. 27 and conduct a joint clinic with the Senegal national team. They planned to tour Senegal's Goree Island and attend a reception hosted by the Senegalese government.

More than 1,000 people have died in West Africa in the last six months after the outbreak quickly spread to major cities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (see full story).

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here:

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

In a preseason full of unexpected turns, the Sixers' final cuts were as anticipated.

The Sixers on Monday waived guards Cat Barber, Dionte Christmas, Brandon Paul and forwards Shawn Long and James Webb III to trim their regular-season roster to 15. 

Long, Paul and Webb had been with the Sixers since summer league. Barber signed with the team for training camp. Philadelphia native Christmas was the newest addition. He joined the Sixers the day of the deadline (see story)

The Sixers own the D-League rights to Barber, Christmas, Long and Webb. They are expected to land with the affiliate Delaware 87ers. 

Paul’s D-League rights are owned by the Cavaliers. He has received interest from other NBA teams, according to a source, and has not discussed playing in the Development League. 

Long appeared in each of the Sixers' preseason games. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Webb posted 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in six games. 

Paul averaged 7.3 points (36.4 percent from three) and 2.3 rebounds in four games. Barber was sidelined during the preseason by a right hand/wrist injury. He played two games, averaging 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. 

Christmas, 30, had planned to play this season in Greece and decided on Sunday to sign with the Sixers instead of returning overseas. 

The Sixers waived 17-year veteran Elton Brand last weekend after he announced his intention to retire. 

Here's the Sixers' complete roster:

2016-17 Sixers
Robert Covington, SF, 6-9/215
Joel Embiid, C, 7-2/250
Jerami Grant, F, 6-8/210
Gerald Henderson, G, 6-5/215
Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10/245
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F, 6-6/205
T.J. McConnell, PG, 6-2/200
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11/275
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, 6-3/176
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/223
Nik Stauskas, G, 6-6/205
Hollis Thompson, G/F, 6-8/206

Inactive list
Jerryd Bayless, PG, 6-3/200
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, 6-11/228
Ben Simmons, F, 6-10/240