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Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to free agency over post #1  quote:



PHILADELPHIA -- As word spread through NBA inner circles that Kansas prospect Joel Embiid suffered a foot injury, the Philadelphia 76ers wondered if his misfortune was just the break the downtrodden franchise needed. Brad Smith Youth Jersey . "I sniffed opportunity," Sam Hinkie, the teams president and general manager, said Friday. "The moment he got hurt, we thought we might get him. We might be just the organization with just the set of owners, and we might be the one to do it." When the 7-foot centre was available at three, the Sixers pounced, even though he could miss up to a full season because of a broken foot. The 76ers are used to big men sitting out the season. Former All-Star centre Andrew Bynum never played a second because of bad knees in 2012-13. And rookie Nerlens Noel sat out all of last season because of a torn ACL. Noel, the No. 6 overall pick out of Kentucky, was antsy to play toward the end of a 19-63 season. The Sixers refused to rush him, not wanting to risk additional injury in what was always planned as a lost -- or, tanked -- season. Embiid recovery from a stress fracture in his right foot could take five to eight months. So will the Sixers play him in another season where the Sixers are building again toward a high lottery pick instead of a post-season berth? "Guess what our approach will be," Hinkie said, smiling. "Well focus on the long-term health of the player." Embiid wont be Philadelphias only lottery pick sitting out next season. Croatian forward Dario Saric, the 10th overall pick, signed a three-year deal last week to play in Turkey. The Sixers hold the rights to the 6-foot-10, 230-pounder for the next three years, and it could be that long until he plays for Philly. By the time hes set to join the Sixers, the organization hoped a playoff berth would be within reach. Hinkie said the Noel-Embiid frontcourt will be a "menace" at the rim. Coach Brett Brown was already drawing up plays for the duo -- Xs and Os hell have plenty of time to perfect. "I do think that Joel and Nerlens can co-exist," Brown said. "I think I can find a way to play those two guys together. Its a really good problem to have." Hinkie credited Philly fans for their "patience and understanding" for another lean season where the best outcome would be a No. 1 draft pick and not a seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Outside of rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams and veteran forward Thaddeus Young, the Sixers have few other credible players, and will likely stack the roster again with D-League castoffs and 10-day contract stopgaps. "Its not even close to demoralizing," Brown said. Brown tried his best at an optimistic spin on the seasons ahead. Knowing the security of three more years left on his contract makes it easier to wait for a project like Embiid. The versatile 7-foot Embiid had a fantastic freshman season with the Jayhawks, averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds while blocking 72 shots to earn Big 12 defensive player of the year honours. Embiid, who grew up playing soccer and volleyball, only decided to pursue basketball a few years ago. He started to blossom as a senior at The Rock School and ultimately chose to attend Kansas, where he arrived with less fanfare than fellow freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden. Embiid hurt his back while landing awkwardly during a game late in the season, and missed the Jayhawks final two regular-season games and the Big 12 tournament. He also missed a victory over Eastern Kentucky and a season-ending loss to Stanford in the NCAA tournament, after which he said that he would have been able to play had Kansas advanced to the second weekend. Hinkie said the Sixers consulted various doctors and felt confident there was little long-term risk to his health once the foot healed. Embiid was projected as Clevelands No. 1 overall pick before the draft. The honour went to Wiggins. "In this scenario, and only this scenario, does he fall to three," Hinkie said. "If he can remain healthy, he can have a fantastic, fantastic NBA career." Notes: 76ers G Jason Richardson exercised the $6.6 million player option for next season and will return. The 7-foot C Byron Mullens declined his $1.1 million option and will become a free agent. Jaylen Watkins Jersey . The Vikings announced Saturday they downgraded Peterson from doubtful on the original injury report to out against Detroit Sunday, when the Vikings and Lions will play the last game at the Metrodome. Josh Huff Youth Jersey . PAUL, Minn. LOS ANGELES -- In their first game with the Lakers and coach Mike DAntoni, MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore made sure Los Angeles came out a winner in the latest matchup of the NBAs most storied rivalry. Brooks scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter against his former club, spearheading a 101-92 victory over Boston on Friday night and helping snap a franchise-record eight-game home losing streak. Bazemore had 15 points, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers less than 2 minutes apart during the final 4:20 as the Lakers outscored the Celtics 38-18 in the final period. "Me and Kent just wanted to come out here and play with some energy," Brooks said. "I was tired -- real tired. But DAntoni gives you that confidence and he lets you go out there and play your game. So I felt free doing that. The difference in the game was on the other side of the ball. We played real good defence, forced some turnovers, and that really got us going in the fourth quarter." The Lakers are Brooks fifth NBA club and third this season. He played 10 games with the Celtics before he was dealt to the Warriors on Jan. 15 in a three-team trade that brought Joel Anthony to Boston. "You know what, man? A lot of people think I should be mad at the Boston Celtics. But I guarantee you, no one is happier for me than (coach) Brad Stevens and (assistant coach) Jay Larranaga," Brooks said. "Theyve seen all the work Ive put in, and its paid off." The two guards barely had time to get acquainted with their new teammates following Wednesdays trade that sent Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors. But Brooks and Bazemore both turned the game around after the Lakers fell behind by as many as 13 points late in the third quarter. "Jordan Farmar did a great job down the stretch leading us. Hes been around a while, and he told us to just go out there and have fun and leave it all out there on the floor," said Bazemore, who played more than 33 minutes. Gasol had 16 points and seven rebounds in his first game since Jan. 31 after missing seven games with a groin strain. But teammates Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Xavier Henry and Nick Young were still among the walking wounded. Jeff Green scored 21 points during a foul-plagued 33 minutes for the Celtics, who have lost eight of their last 11 games against thee Lakers at Staples Center. Brad Smith Jersey. Brandon Bass had 20 points. Rajon Rondo had 11 assists, six points and six rebounds. The four-time All-Star point guard, who tore the ACL in his right knee almost 13 months ago, is averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 assists in 12 games since his return to the lineup on Jan. 17. The Celtics have lost 10 of them. The Celtics pulled away to a 72-59 lead with 2:48 left in the third quarter, their largest advantage to that point, with a 12-2 run capped by Bass dunk. But the Lakers opened the fourth with a 13-2 surge, which Brooks helped fuel with eight points, including a fast-break dunk that tied it at 76 with 9:15 to play after he stole the ball from Jerryd Bayless. "MarShon can score and get can get going," Stevens said. "... As difficult as change is sometimes, its also an opportunity -- and (Brooks and Bazemore) both took great advantage of that opportunity today." The Lakers and Celtics have combined to win 32 championships and have met each other in the finals 12 times -- most recently in 2010, when Los Angeles beat Boston in seven games and avenged the Celtics six-game triumph over them two years earlier. But the teams have experienced a severe reversal of fortune. The Lakers (19-36) are 6-23 since Dec. 21, and the Celtics (19-37) are 7-23 since Dec. 18. Their combined winning percentage of .342 is the lowest since the rivalry began in 1948-49. Lakers players have missed a combined total of 200 games because of injuries, forcing DAntoni to employ 28 different starting lineups -- and six different players at the starting point guard spot. Rondo missed Bostons first 40 games, after the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to free agency over the summer -- and coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers. Only once have the Celtics and Lakers missed the playoffs in the same season. That was 1993-94, Robert Parishs final season in Boston and Laker great James Worthys final season in the NBA. NOTES: Lakers team physician Stephen Lombardo examined Bryant, Henry and Young at halftime. Bryant still has pain, swelling and soreness in his knee and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Henry has been given clearance to resume basketball activities on Saturday, and Young got the green light to play Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets -- another of Brooks former clubs. ' ' '

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