Tagged in: guard

Ben Simmons reports to Philadelphia 76ers

After staying away for the first two weeks of the preseason, 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons reported to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Monday night, sources told ESPN.

As the Sixers played the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons took a COVID-19 test in the arena, sources said. The initial test starts several days of testing required by the NBA to clear him for a return to the team.

Simmons’ arrival settled several weeks of discussions between the organization and Simmons’ representative, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, to get Simmons back into the marketplace, sources said.

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Simmons had held out in hopes of accelerating a trade. However, under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, for each preseason game he missed, he lost roughly $360,000 for failing to show up — totaling more than $1 million for the three games that he missed.

In addition, the 76ers could fine Simmons for missed practices: $2,500 for the first, $5,000 for the second, $7,500 for the third and for every practice after that it being left to the discretion of the team, with the ability to go up to $50,000.

Simmons, 25, has four years and $147 million left on his contract.

Simmons hadn’t spoken directly to team officials since a late August meeting in Los Angeles in which he reiterated his desire for a trade, sources said.

He had recently become more open-minded about the possibility of ending his time away from the team and reporting to Philadelphia, but the next step will be him committing to not just a return to the city — but returning the team on the court.

The Sixers have canvassed the league throughout the offseason for trades but have been unable to find a deal that would bring them a comparable star they’d want to continue to build a championship contender around All-NBA center Joel Embiid, sources said.

Those trade talks would likely continue with a Simmons return, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers are hopeful to keep working to convince Simmons on remaining long-term with the franchise, sources said.

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Dallas Mavericks sign free agent Frank Ntilikina, No. 8 pick in 2017 draft

The Dallas Mavericks bolstered their backcourt by signing former New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina.

The Mavericks revealed the signing of Ntilikina on Thursday. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.

Ntilikina played four seasons for the Knicks, who selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In that same draft, the Mavs took Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth selection, later trading the guard to the Knicks in the blockbuster deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas.

The 23-year-old Ntilikina averaged 5.5 points, 2.7 assists and two rebounds over 211 career games (55 starts) with the Knicks. He had career-worst averages of 2.7 points and 0.6 assists over 33 games (four starts) last season, his final in New York before becoming a free agent.

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Born in Belgium, Ntilikina moved to France when he was 3 years old and started his professional basketball career in 2015 in a French pro league.

Ntilikina competed in the Summer Games in Tokyo for the French national team, which lost to the United States in the gold medal game.

The Mavericks have focused on guards this off-season, previously adding veterans Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown in free agency. Dallas also re-signed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Mavericks made a point guard selection of their own during that draft. With Ntilikina off the board by the pick prior, Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 overall selection.

Neither Ntilikina nor Smith Jr. had successful tenures with their original NBA team. They are each looking to put together a strong training camp performance to earn a contract for the 2021-22 season.

There was speculation that Smith Jr. could receive a camp invite from the Mavericks, but instead, he received and accepted one from the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Donovan Mitchell returns to practice, expects to play in Sunday’s playoff opener for Utah Jazz

All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell practiced Thursday for the first time since spraining his right ankle more than a month ago and plans to play in the Utah Jazz’s playoff opener.

“That’s the goal,” Mitchell said. “Barring any setbacks, God forbid — knock on wood — that’s the goal. I’m just trying to go out there and be there for my teammates and try to help to go out there and win a championship. That’s the goal. It’s been the goal all year.”

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Mitchell, who averaged career bests of 26.4 points and 5.2 assists per game this season, sat out the last 16 games as the 52-20 Jazz wrapped up the NBA’s best record and the top overall seed.

Utah will open the playoffs Sunday at home against the winner of the Western Conference play-in game between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies.

Mitchell suffered the injury April 16 against the Indiana Pacers when he jumped to try to deflect a long outlet pass and came down awkwardly with his foot underneath Indiana guard Edmond Sumner.

Mitchell has ramped up his on-court work in the past two weeks, staying in Salt Lake City when the team was on the road to work out with assistant coach Keyon Dooling, but hadn’t participated in competitive, full-contact action until Thursday.

Mitchell said that the ankle still has some soreness but that he didn’t experience any significant pain. “Practice was good,” Mitchell said.

“I got out there and competed. You could definitely tell it was the first time in four or five weeks, but that’s to be expected. I’m just trying to find ways to get back in a groove.”

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Los Angeles Lakers’ Dennis Schroder to miss extended period of games for health and safety protocols

Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder will miss 10-14 days due to the league’s health and safety protocols, coach Frank Vogel confirmed Monday.

The veteran point guard sat out L.A.’s 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday because of the protocols. It was the second COVID-19-related absence for Schroder. He missed four matches in February because of exposure found by contact tracing.

It’s unknown if Schroder has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Lakers had several meetings about the vaccine — first in December and then a few days before the organization arranged for the team to receive the first shot on April 16 — and team members were encouraged to receive it.

“We definitely pointed out to our whole team the benefits of as many guys getting vaccinated as possible. And how there’s competitive advantages to it. There’s just, for lack of a better word, lifestyle advantages of doing it,” Vogel said.

“We can do more team-oriented stuff if we reach 85% [vaccination rate]. All those types of things. Less testing. All those things were laid out very clearly for our guys and we showed all of them the benefits.

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“But at the end of the day, like I said, it’s their own personal choice and we respect that.”

The Lakers have eight games left on their regular-season calendar.

L.A. is currently the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference but has the same record as the Portland Trail Blazers (36-28), who are No. 7, making it a real possibility the defending champions could start their repeat title bid by participating in the play-in tournament.

LeBron James alluded to Schroder’s absence during his postgame remarks following the loss to the Raptors.

“I think our team is predicated on health,” James said. “That is the No. 1 thing for our ballclub. We’re a team that we need to be healthy and we need to be full. And if it’s not one thing, it’s the other. And then we show up today and the starting point guard is not in the lineup. So it’s like another blow for us.

“That’s going to be the biggest thing for us down the stretch, more than the games that we’re playing. Just how healthy we’re going to be going into the stretch run.”

The Lakers started Alex Caruso in Schroder’s place versus the Raptors. Schroder, who will be a free agent this summer, has averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds this season, his first as a Laker.

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Las Vegas Raiders guard Richie Incognito out for season after foot surgery

Las Vegas Raiders left guard Richie Incognito recently underwent “season-ending foot surgery,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden stated Monday on his weekly videoconference with the media.

Incognito, 37, initially went down with what the team described as an Achilles injury early in the Raiders’ Week 2 triumph over the New Orleans Saints.

“I hate to admit that, but we’ve tried everything we can,” Gruden said. “Richie’s tried everything he can to get back on the field. His season is over.”

Incognito was coaxed out of retirement by the Raiders on a one-year “prove it” deal in the spring of 2019 and earned a two-year, $14 million extension, with $6.365 million guaranteed, as well as a Pro Bowl alternate nod despite missing four matches. 

Denzelle Good replaced Incognito at left guard; he has played so well that Gruden called Good the team’s “unsung hero” and quarterback Derek Carr referred to Good as the team’s MVP.

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Still, Incognito was part of the heavy financial investment the Raiders made in their offensive line.

But due to injury and COVID-19 issues, the projected starting O-line of left tackle Kolton Miller, Incognito, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown played all of three snaps together this campaign, in the season opener.

But due to injury and COVID-19 issues, the projected starting O-line of left tackle Kolton Miller, Incognito, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown played all of three snaps together this campaign, in the season opener.

In fact, Brown, who signed a record four-year, $66 million free-agent contract with $36.75 million guaranteed in 2019, has appeared in just two games this season — three snaps in the season opener and at the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 11.

Brown, who injured his calf in training camp, suffered a mishap while being administered a pregame IV and has been on the reserve/COVID list twice, the most recent since Nov. 5. Gruden said Brown’s return was “still up in the air” for the Raiders, who fell to 6-4 after Sunday night’s heartbreaking 35-31 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the final minute.

“He’s still, hopefully, about to get started here and resume his playing,” Gruden said of Brown. “It’s a day-to-day operation and I’ll know more from the trainer here on Tuesday morning.”

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