Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Oct. 5) -- Ben Simmons shows off skills in preseason debut staff reports

This morning’s headlines:

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Simmons dazzles in preseason debut — Philadelphia 76ers know all too well the old adage about good things coming to those who wait. They experienced it last year with the (long-awaited) debut of rookie Joel Embiid and may be looking at that again after the (long-awaited) preseason debut of Ben Simmons last night. Jessica Camerato of has more:

Simmons stuffed the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, nine assists, a block and a turnover in 22 minutes on Wednesday. He eased into the point guard role and was comfortable scoring on the break or finding his teammates.

Even though the Grizzlies took over the game in the second half and beat the Sixers, 110-89, Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale was impressed.

“I don’t want to see that for the next 15 years,” he said of Simmons. “That kid, they’re not talking about him enough. … Once he gets confidence in his shot where you really have to close out all the way to the three, wow. He’s a big-time talent.”

Simmons dished five assists in just under 10 minutes in the first quarter alone. He was the main ball handler when paired with Markelle Fultz in the starting lineup. The Sixers also got a look at Simmons and veteran Jerryd Bayless, the initially-planned backcourt duo before both were injured last season.

Brett Brown considers Simmons to be “an advanced” rookie compared to Fultz given the year the 2016 No. 1 pick spent with the Sixers while rehabbing from a Jones fracture. During that time, Simmons was able to observe and study the NBA game even if he wasn’t playing.

“His breakaway speed, his ability to get to the rim, the pace of which he plays, I love,” Brown said. “His ability to see things, find corners. When defensive players just nudge him over, he can find stuff well.”

“I’ve got to work on different plays and sets and reading the defense, seeing what’s open,” Simmons said.

Simmons was a willing help defender on that end of the floor. As one of the Sixers’ best defenders, Robert Covington said he is “taking Ben under his wing.” Justin Anderson has been talking with Simmons about his D as well.

“Ben brings everything,” Covington said. “He’s a monster on both sides. He doesn’t even realize how good he is just yet because he’s only played one game.”

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Morris set to join Celtics today — The Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus, were recently acquitted of assault by a Phoenix jury for an incident in 2015. Both brothers are in the Eastern Conference (Markieff is on the Wizards and Marcus is on the Boston Celtics) and are itching to get back to practice soon. According to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, Marcus Morris should be with his new team today:

Before Marcus Morris, along with his twin brother Markieff, was even acquitted of felony assault charges in Phoenix late Tuesday night, the Celtics forward already was going through a daily regimen with his new team.

The Celtics had dispatched basketball operations assistants Jake Eastman and Alex Barlow to Phoenix to work with Morris, who is expected to be on hand for today’s practice in Waltham.

And according to Danny Ainge, Morris shouldn’t need much time fitting in, with the Celts about to play their second exhibition game tomorrow night in Philadelphia.

“That won’t be a problem,” the president of basketball operations said. “There’s not much of a challenge for a veteran player in this situation.It’s good news. He’ll be in town (tomorrow), and we can start getting him acclimated. We had a couple of coaches out there with him, so we were trying to bring as much of training camp to him as possible.”

Though there has been speculation the Morris brothers could still be subject to the league’s mandatory 10-game suspension in the case of a violent felony, under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the suspension can only be triggered by a conviction.

This new chapter of Marcus’ career will add an interesting element to the bad blood in the Celtics-Wizards rivalry. The brothers face each other for the first time this season on Christmas.

In the short term, Ainge is confident Morris’ conditioning is far enough along to pick up the pace starting in today’s practice. Morris’ work with Eastman and Barlow, the latter the team’s assistant video coordinator last season, included extensive video work.

“He’s fine,” said Ainge, who talked with Morris Tuesday night. “It’s not as if he hasn’t been working out on his own. He’s very excited to come to Boston, and he’s anxious to get on with the season.

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Ginobili not worried about his Spurs legacy — In his 14 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Manu Ginobili has racked up four NBA championships, a Kia Sixth Man of the Year award, two All-Star appearances and been a vital part of the team’s winning ways. As he nears the twilight of his career and his role diminishes in San Antonio, thoughts of his legacy come to mind for many — but not for Ginobili himself. That’s what he told SiriusXM NBA Radio yesterday:

When asked on SiriusXM NBA Radio about his Spurs legacy once he decides to retire, Ginobili said, “I been asked about my legacy and I really don’t care much about the legacy.”

“Earlier or later I want to be remembered as a good person, a good dude, that I was here around in town, and fun to watch, and good to hang out with but after a few years it’s going to be forgotten. The legacy thing is very overrated,” Manu said.

“We’re going to be gone soon and somebody better is going to come up, always! There’s always somebody better than you. If you live your life thinking about your legacy or what you’re going to leave, you don’t worry than you add another concern,” Ginobili said. “Just live your life every single day, do the best you can and that’s more of my motto than leaving a legacy.”

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Whiteside motivated by GM Survey slight — The annual GM survey hit the Internet yesterday and, as is to be expected, some were not happy with the results. Among those feeling a little slighted, writes Andre C. Fernandez of the Miami Herald, is Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside. He was not only unranked among the league’s best centers, but received no votes from NBA GMs in that category as well:

Being overlooked is nothing new for Hassan Whiteside.

So when results from the NBA’s preseason annual survey of general managers released Wednesday morning didn’t have his name among the league’s best centers, Whiteside’s reaction was pretty clear.

“I’ll just keep killing whatever team they’re on,” Whiteside said. “I’ll just keep killing their teams.”

Whiteside led the NBA in rebounding last season averaging 14.1 per game and ranked fourth in blocks per game (2.10). He also ranked fourth in scoring among centers (17.0 points per game) behind only Karl-Anthony Towns (25.1), Brook Lopez (20.5) and Marc Gasol (19.5).

Whiteside, however, did not receive any votes for the league’s best interior defender as he did a year ago after he went from being the league’s leading shot blocker in 2015-16 to fourth last year.

“I didn’t see that [survey], but that’s ridiculous,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I don’t care what anybody else says. Hassan is one of the best centers in this league. Fact. Period.”

Whiteside, who has been vocal about being overlooked for accolades in the past, said he isn’t surprised anymore when it happens.

“I don’t care what them GM thinks,” Whiteside said. “Four years ago, they didn’t think I could play in this league. I care about what Pat Riley and Coach Spo think.”

“I kind of draw from myself,” Whiteside said. “If I listened to everybody around me, I would never have come back from Lebanon, China, being cut four-plus time. I just kind of always draw from myself and that self-wish and I know the player I can be.”

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Kanter sees ‘triple-double’ potential in McDermott — Finding a niche in the NBA hasn’t come easy for former college star Doug McDermott. The No. 11 pick in the 2011 Draft — whom the Bulls traded up to get — was dealt from Chicago to Oklahoma City at midseason last year and was traded again (this time to New York) only weeks ago in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Enes Kanter, who was also dealt to New York in the Anthony deal, however, sees a big chance for McDermott to shine, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post:

It has been nine days since Anthony’s trade to the Thunder became official and Kanter, who netted 17 in his debut, arrived from Oklahoma City with McDermott, a fellow 25-year-old.

“First of all, with Doug, he can get an easy … triple-double,’’ Kanter told The Post. “Teams sending double-teams, and if you find him, he’ll make shots. In practice, I’m trying to pass to him all the way on the other end because I know he’s going to make it. I love playing with Doug — nice locker-room guy. [The fans] should be really excited about him.

“He’s probably the top 3-point shooter in the league. When I say it, I believe it. He’ll show himself, especially in this big market.’’

“It’s tough for anyone to follow in [Anthony’s footsteps] but to hear your name called in the Garden in the starting lineup was a dream come true,’’ McDermott said. “But it’s not about starting. I’ll be fine either way. I know I can provide shooting and play hard every night.’’

Hornacek marks McDermott’s fourth coach in his fourth NBA season. Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loved him and traded up in the draft to get him in 2014. So far, Hornacek is a big fan, sticking up for McDermott’s defensive smarts. Creighton coach Greg McDermott, Doug’s father, has known Hornacek for years, having coached at his alma mater, Iowa State.

“McBuckets’’ said he thinks he has landed in a more suitable spot amid a young, rebuilding core, playing with what he calls “unselfish guys.’’

“I think it is [better] for me individually — a good place for me,’’ McDermott said. “Coach Hornacek runs some great stuff. We got some really good young players. I fit that mold and can grow with them. It’s one of the teams you dream of playing on.’’

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Jazz have a life-size mannequin of star center Rudy Gobert in their new team shop … Former Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio says he’s found a new home with the Jazz … Kendrick Perkins is working to try and find a way back into the NBA … 5 things to takeaway from the Bulls’ preseason win last night … Arron Afflalo is giddy about getting a second chance to play in Orlando … Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is working with a much deeper roster this season