Wednesday, July 2, 2014
When the Philadelphia 76ers held an introductory press conference for their latest acquisitions this past weekend, a certain 7-foot center from Cameroon, by way of Kansas University, didn’t get a chance to join the organization’s 2014 NBA draft picks.
Joel Embiid, of course, remained in Los Angeles while recovering from surgery on the fractured navicular bone in his right foot — the same one that led to him dropping to the Sixers at No. 3, instead of going No. 1 to Cleveland or second to Milwaukee.
The injured big man at least got to meet the Philly press via teleconference on Monday, and the name so often associated with Embiid’s — Hall-of-Fame Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon — came up once again.
However, the new 76er said it was two other legendary big men that Sixers head coach Brett Brown hopes to hear mentioned in the same breath as Embiid and the franchise’s previous top lottery pick, Nerlens Noel.
The 6-foot-11 former Kentucky rim protector missed the entire 2013-14 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Embiid, expected to miss five to eight months with his own injury, shared that Brown envisions the two big men as a twin towers type of combo, similar to what San Antonio once had with David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
Embiid told reporters he looks forward to eventually playing alongside Noel.
“That’s a great fit,” he said. “You know, we’re both excellent shot-blockers. That’s really a plus.”
The one-and-done Kansas center projected that he would play center for Philadelphia, but didn’t rule out one day becoming more of a power forward.
“My shot is getting a lot better,” Embiid said, “and I’m working on my handles.”
Even if that never happens, the adaptable big said he could just as easily make a living on the blocks, posting up — “Don’t do like all the centers, like shooting threes,” he added. “Obviously, I kind of want to do that, but not a lot.”
Noel spoke to Sean Deveney, of The Sporting News, about his fellow paint-dweller and agreed they would aspire to be a new twin towers for 2010s.
“Regardless, I’m going to be in his corner making sure he’s good,” Noel told Deveney. “I’ll always be there to give him my advice and feedback. He’s new coming into Philadelphia and I’ve been here and been through a lot of what he’s going to go through, so I’ll be there if he needs me.”
Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks for Kentucky in 2012-13, while Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 boards and 2.6 swats the following season for the Jayhawks. It remains a possibility that the duo won’t play together until the 2015-16 season if Philadelphia decides to let Embiid take his time in recovering, which is the route the Sixers took with Noel this past season.
At the very least, Embiid’s first trip to Philadelphia, he said, should happen next week. Watching video of the Sixers and getting comfortable with Brown’s system are on the center’s to-do list, but he heard from agent Arn Tellem that the City of Brotherly Love has something else to offer.
“I like food, so the Philly cheesesteak, I’m already on that,” Embiid said, chuckling. “As soon as I get there, that’s the first thing I’m getting.”
White in green?
Former Kansas basketball guard/forward Andrew White III will make an official recruiting visit to Notre Dame today and Thursday, he reported in a text message to the Journal-World’s Gary Bedore. White, who will have two years of eligibility remaining after electing to transfer from KU, recently visited Nebraska.
Little gets summer gig with OKC
Former KU guard Mario Little reported via a Facebook message he will be playing for Oklahoma City’s NBA summer league team. The Thunder are scheduled to play five games in the Orlando Summer league starting July 5.
Other confirmed Jayhawks for NBA summer leagues are: Tarik Black (Houston), Thomas Robinson (Portland) and Ben McLemore (Sacramento).