No. 1: Jahlil Okafor in a sophomore slump? — There’s a young big man wholesale jerseys who ’s slowly capturing the imagination of starved basketball fans in Philly, but enough about Joel Embiid. The forgotten big man in Philly, with all due respects to the injured Nerlens Noel, is Jahlil Okafor. The No. 2 overall pick two summers ago isn’t seeing improved production this season, which the Sixers counted on after his somewhat rocky transition from college a year ago. Here’s Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News on the enigmatic second-year center:
The reactive fans in this city, as most are, go right to Okafor’s defensive struggles and insist, for now, that his isn’t a place easily found on this team and that he is the team’s most valuable trade commodity. Okafor undoubtedly has struggled, mightily at times, at the defensive end. He knows it. The coaches know. The fans know it. But there is so much more to it all than just saying it’s time to ship him. That is just too reactive and narrow-minded, for now. And when viewing this organization, that isn’t the proper lens too look through.
In Okafor, the team has a wonderfully talented offensive player who possesses the footwork and post moves rivaled by few others in the NBA for a man his size (6-10, 275). That part of his game has always been there. That is a big reason why he was a college recruit in eighth grade; the reason he has been the best player at his age since anyone can remember. And it’s an area that can still use improvement. See, Okafor never had to run a pick-and-roll before; giving it to him and clearing out is what was done for him in high school, on the U.S. national team and during his one season at Duke.
Defense was passable in high school simply because Okafor was so much bigger and stronger, and smart enough to know how to use his talent. Rarely was he relied upon at Duke for stoppages or much rebounding; mostly, he had to stay out of foul trouble.
That is how stars are treated, and Okafor has always been that. Now, however, he finds himself as an NBA backup to one of the most electrifying players this town has seen in quite some time in Embiid.
It’s a big difference for me and something that I’m trying to adjust to,” said Okafor, who scored 10 points in 27 minutes in the Sixers’ 105-89 loss to Chicago on Friday night. “I haven’t even played a full NBA season, and I’m already trying to adjust to something new. I’m trying to get it down. I know the fans, they want everything to come right away, and I understand where they are coming from. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make it happen as soon as possible.
“With me, there’s a lot that goes into the role that I’m playing – with Joe not being able to play some nights or more than 24 minutes on others usa jerseys wholesale.
Once his restriction is off and we have the opportunity to play together, I’m anxious to see how it all plays out.”
Perhaps it will play out that way. More likely, it could be a case of Embiid getting his 30 minutes, Okafor relieving him and the two getting some time on the floor together. Seeing Okafor display displeasure at a lack of minutes because of Embiid’s play isn’t a bad thing. It means he wants to be out on the court. The next step is to do everything possible to ensure that, which directly points to his play at the defensive end.
No. 2: Evan Turner looking to get on track in Portland — To say that Evan Turner’s transition from blue collar worker in Boston to highly-paid sub in Portland has been rough is an understatement. Turner hasn’t found his groove in the Blazers’ system and at least initially looks like a poor fit. The Blazers thrive on 3-point shooting, which he doesn’t do well at all, and low-post rebounding, which he does fine for a swingman. There’s an urgency to put Turner in a thriving role but so far the results are mixed at best. Turner spoke recently with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe and sounded upbeat nonetheless:
The thing Evan Turner said surprised him about Portland? The rain. Turner said he was unaware that it rained so much in Oregon, despite being in the Pacific Northwest location and its proximity to Seattle.
Like in his other NBA stops, it’s taking time for Turner to adjust to Portland, which signed him to a four-year, $70 million deal this summer after two successful seasons with the Celtics. Turner earned $3.42 million last season in Boston, and he’s making $16.3 million this season in rainy Portland. Hence his decision to leave, despite his attachment to the Celtics.Through 17 games for the Trail Blazers, the versatile Turner was averaging 8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, and shooting 40.4 percent from the field. Eventually he’ll catch on, but it will be on Turner Time.
“I was just excited about the Trail Blazers and how they ended [last season], and obviously the money was great as well, so I thought it was a great mixture,” he said. “I think the culture here is good and we’re going to keep getting better and better and hit our stride.”
Turner revived his career in two years in Boston. Celtics coach Brad Stevens helped Turner discover his calling as a ballhandling forward who could score, rebound, and distribute the ball. After years of trying to shake the tag of being a flame-out in Philadelphia, Turner became comfortable in his own skin and found happiness with the Celtics’ roster of journeymen and afterthoughts from other organizations.
“I was most definitely comfortable there,” he said.
“Going through certain situations where there were coaches who didn’t comprehend my game and I wasn’t always in position to be comfortable sometimes. When you finally find that mixture of great basketball and off-the-court [things], you definitely don’t take it for granted.”
The Celtics have missed Turner in terms of offense and team chemistry. They could use a player besides Isaiah Thomas who is capable of hitting a key jumper down the stretch or pulling down a big rebound. Perhaps it was what he experienced in Philadelphia or even at Ohio State, but Turner was fearless in Boston. He played with no hesitation and no regrets.Turner chose to wear No. 1 with the Trail Blazers.
No. 3: A labor primer from the expert wholesale jerseys for cheap– When it comes to the nuances of the labor agreement, few are as well versed as Larry Coon, the guru of collective bargaining. The next labor contract between NBA owners and players is nearly done with regard to most money issues, but there are still remaining issues to be settled. One of the key issues will be free agency; Coon believes there’s a push to limit the freedom of certain players, especially the superstars from leaving their teams. Here’s his take on what’s probably coming soon, maybe before the All-Star Game:
Here are three issues the two sides appear to be addressing in the next CBA, according to media reports over the past month or so.
1. Slowing down the formation of super-teams
Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors sent shock waves through the entire league. It shouldn’t have been so easy for a team to win so many games and then sign a recent MVP in his prime without touching the core of its roster. But because the stars aligned just right in 2016, that’s exactly what happened.
2. Making restricted free agency less restrictive
Restricted free agents have always been akin to second-class citizens. They don’t enjoy true freedom of movement, because their prior teams can match any contract they sign, which puts the brakes on their departure.
And because of the three-day window to match a contract offer, teams are hesitant to make offers to restricted free agents. They often feel they can’t risk tying up their cap room for three days in the crucial free agency period, only to have their offer matched — not only do they miss out on the free agent, but other free agents are getting signed in the meantime.
It appears the new agreement will feature several rule changes aimed at leveling the playing field for restricted free agents. Teams will be able to sign them to offer sheets as early as July 1, while unrestricted free agents will still have to wait several more days until the end of the July moratorium. The window to match an offer will be shortened to 48 hours, and teams will no longer be able to scare off other teams by proclaiming they will match any offer game jerseys wholesale, then wait the entire match period before pulling the trigger.
3. Taking the D-League to the next level
The sides are making a number of changes to increase the value of the D-League as a true minor league. Some D-League salaries will rise from their current $19,000 — $26,000 to a much healthier $50,000 — $75,000.
The league will introduce two-way contracts, in which the player will earn a higher salary when he’s with the parent NBA club and less when he’s playing for the D-League affiliate. The league also will add two additional roster spots for two-way contracts.