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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Basketball

Markelle Fultz ready for trash talk from former teammate Joel Embiid

Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz knows full well what the Joel Embiid experience consists of, and he is ready for it now that the two are lining up on opposite sides.

Speaking Wednesday ahead of his first regular season game against the Philadelphia 76ers since they traded him, the Orlando Magic guard joked about trash talking with Embiid.

“He’s going to be telling me to shoot it and talking trash,” said Fultz, per John Denton of the Magic’s website. “That’s what we did all the time when we were in practice together.

“I’m ready for it and I’ve got some stuff for him, too,” the former No. 1 overall pick went on. “But it should be a fun, entertaining game tonight. I’m going to talk trash regardless, no matter where we at. It just goes back to having fun.”

Embiid will not play against Orlando Wednesday due to injury maintenance for his left knee soreness, but he will almost certainly be going at it with Fultz from the bench.

Though Embiid would often stand up for Fultz when they were teammates, there should be lots of good-natured trash talk now that they are opponents.

Caris LeVert to miss several weeks with thumb injury

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert suffered a thumb injury on Sunday that forced him to sit out Tuesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz, and he is now going to miss an extended period of time.

LeVert underwent tests this week that revealed he has ligament damage in his right thumb, and Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that he will be sidelined for several weeks.

The Nets are signing veteran guard Iman Shumpert now that LeVert is expected to be out for several games.

LeVert is averaging 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season, so his absence will be tough for the Nets to overcome. Brooklyn considers him an important part of their core and signed him to an extension during the offseason that reflects that.

LeVert fell to the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft because of foot issues, and he has battled his fair share of injuries since joining the Nets.

Report: Masai Ujiri, Sam Presti could be possibilities for Knicks’ front office

Masai Ujiri Raptors

The New York Knicks have already put head coach David Fizdale on the hot seat and may also look to make changes to their front office. If the Knicks change up their front office, some names have already emerged as potential targets for the team.

The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported on Tuesday that Masai Ujiri and Sam Presti have emerged around the league as executives the Knicks might target.

Bondy further reported Trajan Langdon could be another name in the mix.

Steve Mills has served as Knicks team president and Scott Perry as GM since 2017. The two are in their third season leading the team, and the tenure has not gone well. The Knicks had the worst record in the league last year (seemingly by intention), and at 2-8, they have started out as one of the worst teams this season.

The Knicks have been a bad franchise for a while, and most of that is due to poor ownership. Hiring Ujiri or Presti would help them turn things around, but one has to wonder whether either of the two would have interest in working for James Dolan.

Lauri Markkanen revealed to have nagging oblique issue amid slow start to season

Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen has not looked like himself to start the season, and there now appears to be a legitimate reason why.

Chicago Bulls coach Jim Boylen told the media on Tuesday that Markkanen has a sore oblique and has been been playing through it for the last two weeks, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Johnson also says that Monday was the first time that the team disclosed the issue.

The 22-year-old Markkanen has regressed from last season, putting up 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on a mere 38.5 percent from the field and 27.9 percent from deep through the Bulls’ first ten games.

Considering that Markkanen also missed significant time last season, his injury history, especially at seven feet, may quietly be becoming a concern.

Doc Rivers cracks funny joke about Kawhi Leonard’s demeanor

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is known for being one of the most “boring” players in the NBA, but his even-keeled personality has served him well throughout his career. If you expected to see a big change in him when the Los Angeles Clippers faced his former team, you would have been wrong.

Leading up to Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked by a reporter if he had noticed anything different about Leonard’s “demeanor” this week. Doc’s response was hilarious.

Leonard scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in his team’s 98-88 win, and he probably felt no different about the performance than he did when he was dominating the postseason last year en route to a title. The most emotion you’ll ever see from Kawhi was when he shared his big celebration plans following the NBA Finals.

Some confuse Leonard’s lack of visual emotion with indifference, but that is clearly not the case. He’s a competitor who is capable of taking over a game at any moment. Showcasing his feelings has just never been his thing, so it’s no surprise Monday night’s showdown with his former team was no different.

Stephen Curry calls out Michael Jordan for being a ‘hater’

Stephen Curry

Michael Jordan made headlines recently when he said Stephen Curry has not earned a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame with his current body of work, and the Golden State Warriors star obviously took note.

During a recent interview with the “Full Size Run” show for sneaker magazine Sole Collector, Curry was asked if he has ever autographed a pair of shoes and sent them to a hater. The two-time NBA MVP said he has not done that yet, but he joked that he “might have to send some to MJ.”

Jordan has said in the past that the four teammates he would take if he could form his ideal starting five would be Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, James Worthy and Scottie Pippen. He was asked during an appearance on “Today” recently if that still stands, and NBC’s Craig Melvin brought up Curry. Jordan called Curry a “great player” but said he is not a Hall of Famer just yet.

While the opinion of arguably the greatest NBA player of all time is certainly noteworthy, most people disagree with Jordan. Curry has already won three championships, made six All-Star teams and been named league MVP twice. He’s also the greatest shooter in basketball history and has revolutionized the way the game is played. He would not have to play another minute to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Of course, Jordan has a history of trying to knock great players down a peg. That could be his way of trying to motivate them, or it might be a means of preserving his own legacy against any potential threat to the throne.

Watch: Draymond Green becomes first player ever ejected from Chase Center

Draymond Green

Congratulations are in order for Draymond Green, who earned a very worthy distinction on Monday night.

Green became the first player ever ejected from Chase Center when he was tossed from the Golden State Warriors-Utah Jazz game in the fourth quarter. Green was upset with being called for a reach-in foul and received two technicals, which triggered the automatic ejection.

Green was playing his first contest since missing five games due to a finger sprain. He had four points, seven rebounds, and four assists in 22 minutes before being ejected.

The Warriors’ woes continue. They’re now 2-9 following the loss and are 1-5 at their new home in San Francisco. The team has been playing without Steph Curry, who said before the game that he expects to return from a broken hand in the spring.