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A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Monday, April 29, 2013

EXIT INTERVIEW: Acquisition of a post player can only help Sixers’ development of Thad Young

(Associated Press)

For a guy without a true position, Thaddeus Young had himself a solid 2012-13 campaign.
He started all but six games, the ones he missed with a hamstring strain, while developing into a bona fide leader for the 76ers. He established career-highs with 34.6 minutes, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.8 steals, and scored 14.8 points per game – the second-most in his career for a single-season. And the small forward/power forward/center actually turned up his play AFTER returning from the injury report.
One caveat, though: Young was told by the Sixers’ coaching staff during his exit interview that it would be in his best interest to work on his outside game.
And … there’s that.
Young, who will make $8.2 million next season, is a high-energy, hustle man. He plays his best on the break and, considering the Sixers had him matched with opposing teams’ top post players, he held his own under the rim. Beyond that, well, he needs some work.
Consider: Young shot 59.3 percent (398-for-671) from the rim to within nine feet of it. From 10 feet to just inside the 3-point arc, Young struggled. He shot 39.4 percent (110-for-279). 
Quick assessment: Young is a guy who will not complain … even after putting the finishing touches on a down season.
“I think it was still a fun season,” he said, following the Sixers’ last game of the regular season. “We tried our best to keep fighting. We're a team that never quit.”
And because he won’t complain, the Sixers will never hear Young say what it’d be like if he was to align himself with a legitimate post player. That’s exactly what the Sixers should do for Young. It won’t be easy, either. The free agency market will be thin, and people within the Sixers have interest but are naturally hesitant to get into the Andrew Bynum sweepstakes. But adding someone with whom Young can pair in the paint – and no, Spencer Hawes is not that someone – would only continue Young’s development into one of the best low-post tweeners in the game.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

EXIT INTERVIEW: Damien Wilkins' leadership would be welcome for next season's Sixers ... but at right price

(Associated Press)
For the sixth time in six seasons, Damien Wilkins played for a different team.
His one-year experiment with the 76ers bore some unexpected success: The ninth-year man went from deep reserve to rotation-cracking role player to starter. Counted on for vocal leadership, he gave the Sixers so much more (with 21 starts among his 61 games played, including a .459 shooting percentage in that span – second-best on the team).
The downside to Wilkins? Wilkins, whose 18 minutes per game were the most he’s logged since the 2009-10 season, played far too much time. For a winning club, he’s a well-rounded reserve at the beginnings of the second and fourth quarters, and in instances of foul trouble at the small forward spot. For the Sixers, he was clearly stretched him beyond his means.
Not like that mattered to Wilkins.
“As a competitor, a guy who gets paid to play, I want to play,” Wilkins said. “I love the game. I work hard in the offseason to play, not to sit.”
Quick assessment: Wilkins made the league minimum for a guy with as much experience as he has. If the Sixers can ink him to a similar deal, have at it. If Wilkins elects to try to parlay his increased playing time into a big pay day, the Sixers will go in a different direction.
For a green team like the Sixers, whose leaders Jrue Holiday and Thad Young sometimes are too youthful to command the locker room, having Wilkins around wasn’t a bad thing. And Wilkins hopes teams were watching him this season.
“All of the NBA is watching,” he said. “The logo on the top of your jersey is the biggest logo on your uniform and every night you go out there is your interview.
“Whether or not I found a home here is to be determined. Once free agency starts, this league is funny, man. You go out there and play the best you can, hope for the best in the offseason and it only takes one team to like you. Hopefully it's back here, it's great. If not, hopefully it's somewhere else that's as good an opportunity.”

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Friday, April 26, 2013

EXIT INTERVIEW: Dorell Wright’s down year might be to the benefit of the Sixers

Every way you slice Dorell Wright’s season, it was a downer.
His scoring average – down. His shooting percentage – down. His rebounds – down. 
With Wright, confidence bred success. So when the swingman actually knew his role, toward the end of a playoff-free campaign with the 76ers, he played better. His averages went up. A jumpshooter by trade, Wright even became proficient at driving the lane. And for a team that had the second fewest free-throw attempts in the NBA, that wasn’t such a bad thing.
Wright was a $4 million hit to the salary cap, but a worthwhile one. He played defense, something his counterpart Nick Young did not. He stayed healthy, unlike his other wing-mate Jason Richardson. And believe it or not, his 3-point shooting percentage (37.4) was above his career average.
Quick assessment: All of that manifests in this fashion: It would be in the Sixers’ best interests to re-sign Wright, a free agent.
Wright, when asked toward the end of the season whether he’d be back in Philly, said, “I'm the type of dude who thought I'd be in Miami my whole career, so it's always good to be somewhere you're comfortable with and familiar with and happy with. I've had a good year here. I definitely wouldn't mind. I wouldn't mind hanging with new guys, a new staff, a great group of guys and in an organization that cares and with passionate fans.”
Wright has said it took a while to feel comfortable, but when he did, he thrived. The Sixers, assuming they free up some cap space via trade or are willing to sign Wright at or near his salary from this past season, will undoubtedly offer Wright. And that’s not necessarily such a bad thing.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

EXIT INTERVIEW: Arnett Moultrie will find strength in offseason weight room visits

Before the season, Arnett Moultrie said he had a goal in mind: Play 10 to 15 minutes per game, every game, in his first NBA season. It sounded attainable to him – if only he had known how much that pre-draft ankle injury would set him back

Moultrie, a rookie, made only 15 appearances in the 76ers' first 46 games. It took some time for the 6-10 forward to shake off the ill effects of his lingering ankle sprain and get himself in game shape to play in 33 of the team's final 36 games, posting a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds in the Sixers' season finale.

“The playing time was the only thing,” Moultrie said. “The game at this level is a business. It's all about playing time and to continue getting playing time. I'm satisfied with my playing time (at the end of the season). I'll be even more satisfied if we go to the playoffs (next season).”

Moultrie demonstrated good hands and stout play at or above the rim, something the Sixers so desperately needed without Andrew Bynum in the picture. He averaged 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting a team-best 58.2 percent.

Quick assessment: Moultrie will be a starter before his sophomore season is up. His rise through the Sixers' rotation could be attributed largely to a lack of bodies his size, but he played increasingly well as the season progressed. Moultrie said he and outgoing Sixers president Rod Thorn agree that Moultrie's focus this offseason should be strength and conditioning. Should Moultrie build up his stamina, he should be able to not only meet but also exceed his expectation for playing time.

“Me and Rod – Rod Thorn, the president – both say I've got to work on my strength,” Moultrie said. “That's conditioning. This summer, I'll be able to spend a lot of time in the weight room. Last summer I was getting ready for predraft (camp). This summer, that's first thing I'm going to do.”

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Friday, April 19, 2013

EXIT INTERVIEW: Lavoy Allen's improvement hinges upon critical offseason

(Associated Press)
Whether it's his playing style, which gives off a lackadaisical impression, or his deadpan style of humor, Lavoy Allen often rubs people the wrong way.

Fans look at Allen, who recently finished the first season of a two-year, $6 million contract, and wonder 'what could be' if only the 6-9 forward asserted himself some more. His former coach, Doug Collins, wondered the same thing, always questioning Allen's “motor.”

Allen labored through a sophomore season in which he failed to meet the expectations others set out before him. He averaged 5.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 79 games played, including 37 starts. The absence of Andrew Bynum put even more pressure on Allen to perform, but that didn't seem to take hold with the Temple product.

“The one guy that really needs to (improve) is Lavoy,” Collins said. “Lavoy is very important to this franchise. If Lavoy will bounce back and have a good year next year, and you put Lavoy and Spencer (Hawes) out there, and Thad (Young) and Arnett (Moultrie), you've got four young bigs and how can you keep adding to that?”

Allen, who said he'll take two weeks off before beginning his offseason workouts, will focus on his strength and conditioning drills in the offseason. Allen has shown a preference for launching outside shots. Sure, he can hit them, but he's unable to harness the full potential of that facet of his game because of his reluctance to put the ball on the floor and drive every now and then. Allen shot 33 percent (152-for-444) from 10 feet to just inside the arc.

Quick assessment: The Sixers would be thrilled to get eight points and six rebounds per game from Allen, but they never seem to know what they're going to get from him. He scored in single digits in 60 of his 79 appearances and pulled in single-digit rebound totals in 75 of 79 games played. Strength and conditioning would improve Allen's approach to rebounding while also helping him feel a little more comfortable going to the rim to score.

It's an important offseason for Allen, and it'll be interesting to see how he uses the downtime to improve his game.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

EXIT INTERVIEW: Did Nick Young do enough to earn that “big contract”?

(Associated Press)
When Nick Young enters, people take notice. Case in point: The man was wearing a leopard-print sport jacket Wednesday as he left the locker room en route to the team bus.

The same could be said for the way he played in the season finale, entering a game the 76ers led by 21, only to draw attention by playing six woeful minutes, going 0-for-3 from the floor with one turnover.

Young, who made $6 million this season, has an expiring contract. He's said all along that he wants “a big contract,” though it's unlikely he'll get it from the Sixers. Young's rise and fall is peculiar. He was a solid sub off the bench before earning 11 consecutive starts. He shot himself out of the starting lineup, then played only seven of the final 25 games.

The guy they call Swaggy P shot 41.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range, both ranking second-worst in his career for single-season averages. He also averaged 10.6 points with 1.4 assist-to-0.8 turnover-per-game ratio. They're not sterling numbers.

Because Young's instinct is to jack shots at will, he came a defensive liability in crunch time of winnable games … or even in games in which the Sixers had early leads. His specialty, which worked for a team with a losing record, was helping the Sixers rally. But a team that has an interest in turning around its fate might not have a spot next season for a guy like Young.

Quick assessment: Unless Young is willing to take less money, he won't be in a Sixers uniform next season. A guy who's paid to shoot didn't do so all that well and, because his game is so one-dimensional, it's difficult to rationalize him fitting in with what likely will be a more defensive-minded coach than Doug Collins. The Swag has left the building.

Young, when asked whether he thinks he'll return next season, was candid.

“Probably not, no,” he said. “We'll see. Free agency is tough, but, you know, it's always fun when you know you're going to be somewhere.”

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SEASON WRAP: Doug Collins goes from coach to adviser; owner Josh Harris says Sixers will look into signing Andrew Bynum

(Associated Press)
Well, it's official.

That sentence applies on a couple levels. Here are the more pertinent ones:
  • The season is over. Yeah, you knew that already.
  • You knew this, too: Doug Collins officially resigned Thursday in a press conference at the team's practice facility, ending his three-year tenure as head coach and beginning his five-year run as an adviser to Sixers owner Josh Harris.
  • The Sixers – in case you didn't want to believe it – will look into signing free-agent center Andrew Bynum in the offseason, Harris confirmed. The owner said he and the team have not ruled out going after Bynum, saying the ownership group knows just about everything they need to know about Bynum's bum knees, which is somewhat of an advantage in the negotiating process, Harris said.

Before his presser had ended, Collins made sure to put in his endorsement of
Read more »

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

It's official: Doug Collins is stepping down as 76ers head coach

PHILADELPHIA Doug Collins' time on the 76ers' bench is up.

Collins told the 76ers' ownership group Sunday night that he will not return to coach the team for a fourth season, according to a league source who confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report.

It's believed that Collins and the Sixers are working toward an amicable arrangement  regarding the final year of the coach's contract. The Sixers' ownership group would prefer that Collins, who is owed somewhere in the vicinity of $4.5 million, stay on board in some capacity with the franchise for which he also played.

The future for Collins had been under fire for the last week, after a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer made it sound as though ownership would prefer if Collins stepped down. Collins had refused to comment on it, saying he would speak to Sixers owner Josh Harris at the conclusion of the regular season, April 17 at Indianapolis, before making any decisions.

Guess that's an unnecessary conversation at this stage.

After the Sixers' 91-77 victory Sunday over Cleveland, John Langel – Collins' agent – told reporters that the coach will be “here for another year.” What a difference a few hours make, with Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski first reporting that Collins' days in Philadelphia are numbered following this season.

Collins has guided the Sixers to a 33-47 record, with his team failing to meet the lofty expectations laid out before them after acquiring All-Star center Andrew Bynum in an Aug. 10 trade. Bynum never played, missing the entire season with balky knees, and the Sixers spiraled.

The Sixers have gone 108-119 under Collins.

Collins, 61, has never coached beyond three seasons in any of his previous NBA stops: Chicago, Detroit and Washington.

If the Sixers aren't in Collins' future, he has a couple options.

His son, Chris, was hired away from Duke last month to become the new head coach at Northwestern. Doug Collins' roots are in Illinois, which could present an alluring opportunity. Collins also could return to his broadcasting career, something he did between head coaching stints.

Collins' departure also means that members of his coaching staff could be headed out the door.

Michael Curry, the Sixers' associate head coach, is head coach material and was a top candidate for the vacancy in Orlando last offseason. Brian James, Collins' top assistant coach, is expected to join Northwestern's staff with Chris Collins, who played for James in high school. The others are good guys who likely will be without jobs – Aaron McKie, Jeff Capel and Monte Shubik.
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Jrue Holiday said Sixers' season, Andrew Bynum's injury have taught him "that nothing is guaranteed"

(Associated Press)
After Sunday's game – a meaningless 91-77 victory over Cleveland – it happened.

Right there beside the scorer's table, after a handshake and an embrace with Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, but not before the confetti cannons could spew their contents, Doug Collins smiled. Those expressions of joy have been few and far between this season.

With two games remaining, and two wins required to match last season's win total, the Sixers are at a crossroads. They're benching veterans (like Royal Ivey and Nick Young) with expiring contracts, playing rookies (like Justin Holiday and Arnett Moultrie) for 20-plus minutes and looking to next year – whether that involves Collins or not.

So … what did the Sixers learn about their postseason-less campaign?

“That nothing is guaranteed,” Jrue Holiday said. “Even though the two years before that, we did a good job making it to the first round and then the second round, and even this year, when everybody thought we had a really good chance with Andrew (Bynum) probably making it pretty deep in the playoffs – nothing is guaranteed.”

The Sixers have plenty to improve upon before the playoffs become a reality for next season. They have an important offseason, a lottery selection, a Bynum decision, possibly a coach search and who knows what else.

Though he wasn't referring to the upcoming summer offseason, Holiday's words about turning around the Sixers seem to apply.

“Take it one game at a time,” he said, “and don't let time get away.”

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Doug Collins: "The focus is not me"

(Associated Press)
WASHINGTON -- Doug Collins isn't interested in talking about himself.

Don't believe it? Keep reading.

In a presser with reporters outside the 76ers' locker room, prior to gametime against the Wizards, Collins spent 83 seconds saying a whole bunch of nothing regarding a report in Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer -- that the Sixers' brass would prefer it if Collins stepped down after the season.

Collins didn't address specific. Here's what he had to say:
Read more »

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson miss Sixers' photo day

(Associated Press)
Andrew Bynum wasn't present for 76ers' photo day, a team spokesperson said.

“Might've seen the last of the big guy,” one player said, when asked whether Bynum was around for the team photo.

Like Jason Richardson, Bynum skipped out on the photo shoot to focus on rehabbing their surgically repaired knees.

Bynum, who hasn’t spoken to reporters in more than a month, missed the entire season with a series of knee setbacks. His contract, which paid him $16.5 million, expires this summer.

A jersey hung in Bynum’s locker, which seemed like a strong indicator that he might have made the trip from New York, where he’s doing his rehab, for a semi-reunion with the Sixers teammates with whom he never shared the court. Wasn't the case, though.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Evan Turner says Sixers "got lucky" in 2010 draft lottery to select him No. 2 overall

(Associated Press)
NEW YORK – If you ask Evan Turner, this year's NBA Draft class isn't a good one. If you ask him whether the 76ers got a fortunate ping-pong ball bounce in 2010, when they drafted him second overall, he'd agree.

“They got lucky,” Turner said Tuesday, before the Sixers played Brooklyn at Barclays Center. “But it depends who you ask.”

The third-year forward out of Ohio State, Turner got taken at No. 2 in 2010 thanks to some “lucky” bounces of the ping-pong balls at the NBA Draft lottery. The Sixers rose from ninth to second overall and took Turner at that spot.

Turner is one of two Sixers, along with Spencer Hawes, who is on pace to play in all 82 games. He's averaging 13.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 35.5 minutes per game.

Knowing what can come of a favorable draft spot, you'd think Turner would support the notion that the Sixers should tank. Not so.

“I don't think you really play rookies in general,” he said.

Not like Turner, who played 23 minutes per game as a rookie, would know anything about that.

“If we lose, we lose, but that's not anybody's style to do that,” Turner said. “You want a good pick, but they say this draft isn't that strong. If you don't get the first pick, you're really out of the situation. I think the whole thing is finishing off strong. Tanking disrespects the game.”

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Doug Collins, on whether mathematically eliminated Sixers will tank: "No"

(Associated Press)
At first, Doug Collins didn't hear the verb being lobbed in his direction. Then, when it was repeated, the Sixers coach's head looked to be on a swivel, shaking back and forth.


Defiantly and confidently, the Sixers will not tank. There are several definitions for that word. The Sixers won't embrace any of them. They won't lose games intentionally. They won't sit veterans or play rookies for any more minutes than they'd earned. They won't accept defeat for the chance at a better spot in the NBA Draft lottery.

Collins offered a few reasons why.
Read more »

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Sixers sign Justin Holiday, Jrue's brother

(Associated Press)
As though two guys with the same last name weren't enough for one team …

Justin Holiday, the older brother of All-Star point guard Jrue, signed a contract with the 76ers. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed. To make room for Holiday, a 23-year-old guard out of Washington, the Sixers waived Jeremy Pargo.

Holiday, a 6-6 guard, appeared in 47 games with 42 starts for the Idaho Stampede in the D-League this season, averaging 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.43 steals and 1.17 blocks in 34.7 minutes per game while shooting 42.1 percent from the floor, 41.2 percent from 3-point range and 81.6 percent from the line.

Holiday is the 31st call-up from the D-League to the NBA this season.

The casual fan won't be able to tell with the Sixers without a scorecard, between Justin and Jrue Holiday and Nick and Thad Young (the latter of whom are not related).

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