It’s always good to have players who can step in and help a team out. That definitely can’t be overlooked. The Philadelphia 76ers have a great bench with Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. That’s already been established and we’re only 10 games into the season.
Aside from Williams, Young and Turner, guess who can also come off the bench? His name: Tony Battie. He started in place of Spencer Hawes, out with a lower back strain, against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Battie, a 6-foot-11, 240-pounder, scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field in a losing effort.
But statistics don’t tell the whole story with Battie or his value to the team. At 35, he understands his role as a veteran. This is his 13th season in the NBA. He’s been around the league a few times. His knowledge and experience is invaluable to all the younger players. And the Sixers have a quite a few.
If you watch him play, he gives you everything he has on the court. It seems as if he’s never out of position in regards to rebounding. He plays good defense. He looks for the open man. Battie does all the little things. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, only played Battie for 13 minutes against the Knicks. But you got the impression he could have played longer if the Sixers needed him.
Battie played his college basketball for Texas Tech. His older brother, Derrick Battie, played for Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at Temple. Derrick Battie played with Aaron McKie, Eddie Jones and Rick Brunson.
During the summer months, Tony Battie would come to Philadelphia to take part in the late John Hardnett’s workouts. Those practice sessions were loaded with outstanding players like McKie, Jones, Brunson and so many other NBA players with Philadelphia connections. The workouts were at Gustine Lake Recreation Center, Ridge Avenue and School House Lane.
Tony Battie would polish his skills in preparation for the upcoming NBA season. The hard work, discipline and competition have really paid off for him. He knows what it takes to play a long time in the NBA. That’s why he is still around.
Tony Battie was with the Sixers last year. He knows the players, the system and understands Collins’ coaching philosophy. He plays within his limitations. He is the perfect veteran for this team.
The Sixers have a 7-3 record. They’re in first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division. They’re playing the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. After that, the Sixers will head down to Washington D.C. to play the Wizards on Saturday, January 14 in a back-to-back game. The Sixers will have Sunday off, but they’ll be back on the court for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks. That’s a lot of basketball. But Tony Battie has been around this game a long time. He knows how to pace himself. If the Sixers need him, he’ll be ready.
A group led by Joshua Harris, a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, who has watched the Sixers play for a long time, officially purchased the Philadelphia 76ers from Comcast-Spectator this week. Actually, Harris, 46, became a fan of the team during the 1982–83 season.
That was a big year for professional basketball in this town. The Sixers, led by Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, won an NBA championship.
Adam Aron, an Abington High graduate, is the Sixers’ new chief executive officer. Aron has watched the Sixers play even longer than Harris. He remembers the 1983 championship team, but also the 1966–67 team, which featured basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker, Wali Jones and Luke Jackson.
Harris and Aron are joined by investor David Blitzer, who will serve as co-managing owner and an alternate governor of the NBA.
Other investors include Martin Geller, David Heller, Travis Hennings, James Lassiter, Marc Leder, Jason Levien, Michael Rubin, Philadelphia’s own actor Will Smith, and his wife and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Handy Soetedjo, Erick Thohir and Art Wrubel.
All of the aforementioned have made personal investments in the team and would like to give pro basketball a boost in this town. Harris bought the Sixers for a reported $280 million.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the Palestra, the city’s legendary basketball arena, which has provided basketball fans with some of the most exciting games this town has ever seen. Harris and Aron talked about slashing ticket prices in addition to receiving input from fans on basketball and other marketing efforts.
The two things Harris and Aron seem to bring to the Sixers is a sense history and genuine interest in the organization beyond money. They’re both successful businessmen. Harris is a managing partner of Apollo Management, L.P., which he co-founded in 1990. According to Forbes, Harris is worth $1.45 billion. Aron was the former chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, the world’s second largest ski resort operator, which under his direction became one of the nation’s premiere ski destinations.
When Harris was a student at Penn, the Quakers’ big stars were Karl Racine and Perry Bromwell. They won a lot of games for Penn along with a couple Ivy League championships. So, The Palestra was a good backdrop for him. He has a good flavor for basketball in this city and what he would like to accomplish with the Sixers.
“I’m going to be a great fan,” Harris said. “I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be upset when we lose and excited when we win. Having said that, we are going to try to be rational when it comes to making decisions about how we run the team and I think it’s pretty simple. We want to be world class and cutting-edge up and down. Everything we do with this team we want to reflect well on us and to be positive to the community. That’s on the court, that’s off the court and it starts with how we all conduct ourselves.”
Harris and Aron will have a lot of help with running the organization. Rod Thorn, Sixers president, will have a bigger role with the departure of Ed Stefanski, who was the team’s general manager.
As followers of the team, Harris and Aron are aware of what Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, was able to do with this team. Collins led the Sixers to a playoff appearance with a 41-41 record after a 3-13 start. Philly lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Heat went to the NBA Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks. The Sixers key players were Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
“Well, I’ll have to be careful with what I say, because I lived in Miami last year,” Aron said. “I watched every game of the Heat-Sixers series, and I can sure tell you, as Josh said, our allegiances are Philadelphia 76ers all the way. Not just to basketball, but maybe to all professional sports. We’re going to be watching a lot of Sixers basketball.”
They’ll be very busy.
Wali Jones is one of the city’s greatest basketball players. Jones was a big time player at Overbrook High School and Villanova, along with being a key member of the 1966–67 Philadelphia 76ers NBA championship team.
The sharpshooting guard will be recognized for his basketball exploits. Jones will be inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. The ninth induction class was announced on Thursday, July 19 at a press conference. The ceremony will take place on November 8 at the Society Hill Sheraton, 1 Dock Street.
“I’ll be there,” Jones said. “This is a real honor for me. It’s great to be inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. They have a lot of great people in their hall of fame like Wilt (Chamberlain) and Billy (Cunningham) who were my teammates with the Philadelphia 76ers championship team.
“I’m going in with some special people like Doug Collins (Sixers coach). Doug and I played together for a year with the Sixers. I know Debbie Black who played at St. Joe’s and in the WNBA. Harold Johnson was a great fighter. Johnny Callison played for the Phillies. Mike Piazza was a great baseball player, too. So, this is really something for me.”
Jones had quite a basketball career. He led Overbrook High to two Public League championships in 1958 and 1959. He played with some great players like the late Walt Hazzard, Ralph Heyward and Wayne Hightower.
The former Public League star played some great basketball at Villanova. He shared the Geasey Awards as Big 5 MVP (1963 and ’64) with Jim Lynam and Steve Courtin, respectively. He was named to the NCAA tournament’s All-East Region team. He finished his college career with 1,428 points. He is a member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame.
Jones played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Baltimore Bullets, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons. Jones was a starter on the Sixers championship team, which included Chamberlain, Cunningham, Chet Walker, Hal Greer and Luke Jackson. Jones also played one season with the ABA’s Utah Stars.
For more than 20 years, he worked in community relations with the Miami Heat. He still does basketball clinics for kids around the country. Every year he has the Little Bobby Jones Memorial Basketball Clinic at the Carousel House in Fairmount Park. The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia presents high school basketball awards on an annual basis to some of the area’s top players. The club established the Phoenix Award College Player of the Year in honor of Wali Jones. Michael G. Horsey, who organized the Phoenix Awards, started this award in 2011.
“I really appreciate all these things,” Jones said. “I had a great time at the Phoenix Awards. Mike Horsey does a wonderful job with the high school basketball awards. We had another good year with the Bobby Jones Memorial Basketball Clinic. It’s nice to be recognized by so many good people. I’m looking forward to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of people from Philly there. It should be a wonderful event.”
Jason Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers new shooting guard who came over in the four-team blockbuster deal that brought center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers, knows what it’s like to play with an all-star center. Richardson played with Dwight Howard in Orlando for the last two seasons.
Now, he’s looking forward to playing with another big-time player in Bynum. Richardson knows the importance of a dominant big man.
“Andrew is a great player,” Richardson said. “He’s one of the best centers in the game right now. He’s only 24 years old. So, he definitely has some room to improve. He’s not even in his prime yet.”
Richardson, 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, brings the Sixers a lot of experience as well as a great outside shooter. He averaged 11.6 points a game last season. He shot 36.8 percent from three-point range. He connected on 40.8 percent from the field overall. Perimeter shooting was a big weakness for the Sixers. That’s one of the most improved areas with the addition of Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell Wright.
Richardson, 31, believes the Sixers have a good nucleus coming back. He was impressed with the team’s accomplishments last season.
“They have a good young team and that’s an attest to Doug Collins [Sixers head coach] with what he’s done with the team,” Richardson said. “Thaddeus Young is one of the most athletic power forwards in the league. Jrue Holiday has played well. He’s one of the best point guards in the league. We’re just excited about this year.”
Richardson was originally the fifth overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2001 NBA draft. He has appeared in 805 games with 794 starts, averaging 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.17 steals in 34.6 minutes a game while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from three-point range.
During the 2004-05 season, Richardson hit the second most three pointers of any player in the league (1,238), trailing only Miami’s Ray Allen (1,441), who was playing for the Boston Celtics. Richardson hit a career-high 243 three-pointers for Charlotte in 2007-08, the fourth-most by any player in a single season.
Richardson knows his role. His shooting talent could help the Sixers go a long way.
“I’m going to be aggressive,” he said. “I’m going to play hard and do whatever I can to help the team win games.”
PHILADELPHIA — Amid the uncertainly that surrounds the Philadelphia 76ers, coach Doug Collins has kept some routine.
He's also maintained his optimism.
Collins concluded a week of meetings and film sessions with his staff on Friday, and more sessions like it are planned, even as the start of the NBA season is in jeopardy because of the lockout.
Collins wants to keep operations running as usual and have the Sixers raring to go whenever a labor deal is reached.
"We should be able to hit the ground running, which is exciting," he said by phone Friday.
Collins planned this week exactly as he did at this time last year when he started his first season coaching the Sixers. He's taking a weekend break to travel to Durham, N.C. for a celebration of Duke basketball (his son is an assistant on the men's team), but then it's back for more work next week.
"We're planning our season," Collins said. "We're getting together, we watched a lot of tape, watching a lot of things on film that we want to teach. We put together some practice plans. It was really to get together and start planning our training camp."
When that starts, no one knows for certain. The Sixers would usually open camp the first week of October, but the lockout has thrown a dose of confusion into the league. The two sides return to the bargaining table Tuesday, this time with more players and owners, to try and find a way to end the league's lockout and save the 2011-12 season.
Collins spent the summer in San Diego, enjoying a relaxing summer as a satisfying reward for an exciting first season in Philadelphia. He left the TNT broadcast booth to take over a team that won only 27 games. He led them from the draft lottery to the playoffs, where they lost a five-game series to the Miami Heat.
Without the stress of prepping for a game, he relived the fun this week over film sessions. His staff broke down the season into 90-minute highlight reels and they took an up-close look at how the Sixers shook off a slow start to playing some of their best basketball in years.
"It was really fun to go back and watch how well our guys were executing and how well they started doing things," Collins said. "It gives us a great blueprint so that when we get started this year, it's going to be so much different. I know the guys now. I know the things that were good to us on the floor. I know what we like to do."
He just can't personally pass along the rave reviews to his players. Like around the rest of the league, Collins and the rest of his staff and management are banned from communicating with his players.
Collins formed a tight bond with his team a year ago and was never afraid to become emotional around them. Sixers forward Elton Brand said in an interview last month how much he missed receiving the upbeat text messages from Collins.
Collins' lessons on the value of teamwork made an impact. Led by Brand and Andre Iguodala, a large group of Sixers participated in team workouts last month in Los Angeles. Guard Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, stayed in Philadelphia this summer and was tutored on shooting by Hall of Fame college coach Herb Magee. Other players posted on Twitter their detailed offseason workout plans.
It's a nice way to keep updated — but it's not the same as a personal connection.
At least the Sixers are easy to find.
The new ownership has been in the NBA's version of the witness protection program. Comcast-Spectacor sold the team to a group led by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris. The deal is still awaiting approval by the NBA, and that could come later this month.
Harris and other members of the group have been eerily silent since the deal was announced. Interview requests have been declined and there's no idea how they plan to run the franchise. Collins has yet to meet his new boss, though they've talked on the phone.
"I think they want to feel that they own the team before they get front and center," Collins said. "They've been very adamant in the fact that they want to keep a very low profile until they own the team."
Once the group gets settled, Collins will hire an assistant to replace Quin Snyder, who left for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Collins says he feels great and is recovered from a concussion he sustained on Memorial Day 2010.
He missed two preseason games last year because of symptoms related to the concussion, then had neurological testing and treatment for what was diagnosed as vertigo. He saw the Sixers earn their first victory of the season in the locker room on his back, not the bench because of dizzy spells.
Collins will visit Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation on Monday to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of concussions.
"I got two treatments for this positional vertigo and the concussion symptoms and it went away," after the Indiana game, he said. "I had absolutely no problem with it the rest of the year. I feel better than I've ever felt."
All he needs is a team to coach. -- (AP)
Andrew Bynum has given the Philadelphia 76ers somebody this organization hasn’t had in a long time. And that’s a dominant big man at both ends of the floor. Of course, the Sixers had Dikembe Mutombo when they made their run to the 2001 NBA Finals. But Mutombo was mostly a presence at the defensive end of the court.
The most renowned Sixers big men were Wilt Chamberlain and Moses Malone. Chamberlain led the 1966–67 Sixers to an NBA championship. Malone guided the 1982–83 Sixers to a league title. Nobody is making any comparisons among the three players or even Mutombo. Nevertheless, when the Sixers have been a force, they usually have had a big time player around the basket. Now Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has that luxury with Bynum in the paint.
“Obviously, we’ve become a power team,” Collins said. “We went from an under-sized team two years ago. I think our finishing team had Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young on the frontline. Now, you look we got Andrew, Spencer (Hawes), Kwame (Brown), Lavoy (Allen), Thad (Young) and (Arnett) Moultrie. We got such a big line-up.”
Bynum will be the driving force behind the Sixers power game. He also opens things up for the perimeter players such as small forward Dorell Wright, and guards Nick Young, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and the newly acquired Jason Richardson. When the defense collapses, he can kick the ball back out for what should be an easy outside shot from one of the guards or small forwards.
“The good part about it is we’ve added shooting,” Collins said. “If you go back to the day we met after our last game, we said we wanted to get bigger, more athletic on the frontline and we wanted to get more shooting. You draft for talent and you trade for need. When you get some good players, especially a team that wants to rebuild, you got a chance for things to happen.”
The Sixers made a big impression with the fans earlier this week during a public press conference for Bynum and Richardson. Both players came to the Sixers as a part of a four-team trade involving Denver, the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic. The Sixers traded forward Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets while sending forward Maurice Harkless and center Nik Vucevic to the Magic along with a protected first round pick. The Lakers received all-star center Dwight Howard from Orlando.
Bynum, a 7-foot, 285-pounder, was originally selected by the Lakers with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft out of St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J. This past season, he averaged career-highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game and was selected as a starter for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game. Bynum, 24, was very impressed with the welcome and the enthusiasm from the fans.
“Hopefully, they can match my energy and keep it going,” Bynum said. “They came out in a big way to support us. It’s amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this and to be honest I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like when we get a sold out arena.”
Bynum grew up in Plainsboro, N.J., just beyond Princeton. He’s expecting to have a lot of fans at the Wells Fargo Center. Bynum has a chance to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. But he had some great things to say during the press conference, which excited the fans.
“My first experience here’s been so great,” Bynum said. “I’m really leaning toward making this my home.”
The Sixers finished the shortened NBA season with a 35-31 record. They defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Sixers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in seven games in a tough Eastern Conference semifinal matchup. Bynum sees a lot of potential with his new team.
“I looked over the roster,” Bynum said. “I said, ‘They’re actually pretty deep.’ They lit us up the last time they played us. I know they have skills. I know Spencer (Hawes). I know Kwame. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the guys.”
Bynum will be heading to Germany to undergo an experimental procedure on his knee in September. This procedure doesn’t require surgery. Bynum is expected back in time for training camp, which starts October 2. In the meantime, Collins believes next month to be really important for his players.
“I think everybody is going to be committed,” Collins said. “We’re going to try to get guys in after Labor Day and get them to start working out with one another. We have some guys coming back we’ll be counting on to be leaders. You have Jrue, Evan, Thad and Spencer who have been around a little bit. I want them to be vocal about how we do things.
“I think all these guys will want to be committed. They’re all really good players. We’re going to hit the ground running. It’s going to be a little different. We know everybody. We got off to a great start (last year). Every day in practice is going to be important.”
NOTE: Bynum has won two NBA championships with the Lakers (2009, 2010). Last season, he ranked 20th in the league in scoring, third in rebounding, sixth in blocks (1.93) and fourth in field goal percentage (55.8 percent).
Kobe Bryant will make his annual trip to the Wells Fargo Center Sunday night with the Los Angeles Lakers to face the Philadelphia 76ers. Bryant, one of the leaders in the NBA all-star balloting with LeBron James, recently became the youngest player in NBA history to reach the 30,000 point mark for his career.
Bryant, 34, joins an elite group of Hall of Famers that includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. He is just one of five players in league history to reach this plateau.
Although the Los Angeles Lakers have been struggling this season, Bryant continues to play outstanding basketball. The 6-foot-6, 205 pound shooting guard, leads the NBA in scoring (29.3 ppg). Bryant has put together an amazing career winning five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals and a bevy of other accolades. There are still a number of people who remember the former Lower Merion star’s early days playing basketball and growing up in Philadelphia. His success can be attributed to a good foundation beginning with his family.
He’s the son of Joe and Pam (Cox) Bryant. His father was a sensational basketball player at John Bartram High and La Salle. He played eight years in the NBA including four with the Philadelphia 76ers (1975-79). In fact, he played with Doug Collins, Sixers head coach. His mother Pam is the sister of John “Chubby” Cox, who starred at Roxborough High and the University of San Francisco and the NBA’s Washington Bullets. Kobe has two older sisters, Sharia and Shaya, who were fantastic volleyball players. John Cox, Chubby’s son, was a spectacular basketball player for Engineering and Science, The University of San Francisco and now plays professional basketball in France. John and Kobe played a lot of pickup basketball together on the playgrounds.
Ollie Johnson, former Temple and NBA standout, used to watch Bryant play basketball at Community College of Philadelphia. Johnson knows his family roots. He could see a lot of ability in Bryant at a young age.
“He was a special talent in the ninth and 10th grade,” Johnson said. “He was unbelievable, but he comes from good stock. You know his dad. The family is really big. You’re talking about Joe, Pam, Chubby and everybody. He was an amazing athlete early on. He had great footwork. He just took it to another level.”
Joe Bryant and Chubby Cox played basketball in the Sonny Hill League during their scholastic careers. A big part of Kobe Bryant’s development was in the Sonny Hill League. Michael Jordan, former Penn basketball star, played in the league too. In 1995, Jordan played with Bryant on the same team in the Sonny Hill League’s Tony Samartino Future Stars Tournament.
“I tell people that I played with Kobe Bryant back in the day, but they don’t want to believe me,” said Jordan, who is currently an assistant basketball coach at Colgate. “For me, it was great. You knew way back then he was going to be a special player. I remember back in the Future Stars he was our go to guy. I really enjoyed playing with him. My job was to get Kobe the ball. The Future Stars was packed that year. We played at (Temple) McGonigle Hall. We won the championship. Kobe was our best player. John Hardnett was our coach. We also had Claude (Gross), Tee Shields, James Flint, Mr. (Fred) Douglas, Sonny Hill and Kobe’s dad. A lot of people had their hands in that team.”
Bryant also attended several of Hardnett’s workouts at Temple during summer months. His practice sessions were loaded with some of the city’s top college and NBA players. Aaron McKie, Sixers assistant coach and former Temple star, was a regular at the workouts along with his college teammates Eddie Jones and Rick Brunson, who both played in the NBA. Jones played with Bryant during his early years with the Lakers. McKie played one NBA season with Bryant.
“It’s incredible,” McKie said. “You don’t really find guys like him in this era that is driven as he is. He’s wanted greatness ever since he was a young kid. It’s a credit to his burning desire to want to win. He’s extremely talented, driven and wants to be great. He has it all and it shows. When we were in college, he used to come up and play with us. He was very athletic. He would sit in the gym and play all day. You could see he was talented.”
Bryant exhibited those talents in high school. He averaged 30.8 points a game as senior. In 1996, he led Lower Merion to the PIAA state championship. He was a McDonald’s All-American. Gregg Downer, Lower Merion head coach, has followed his exploits in the NBA.
“Obviously, he’s had an amazing career especially with the 30,000 points,” Downer said. “It’s a great accomplishment. When I saw his talent in combination with his work ethic, I knew there was potential for something special. Rarely, if ever, had I seen in my 23 years at Lower Merion that type of work ethic. Just that desire to be great was on display from day one.”
The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off a pretty successful season, making a second consecutive trip to the NBA playoffs under head coach Doug Collins. The Sixers had a strong run in the postseason defeating the Chicago Bulls in the first round before losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games.
The offseason is here. The Sixers have made some strides over the last few seasons, but they need to make some additional improvements in order to get to the next level. That could be a better position in the conference standings, which could help them get to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Sixers will be working out a number of NBA prospects in the coming weeks. The NBA draft will take place on June 28. The team will take a good look at the list of free agents. Of course, they have their own free agents who require some attention such as Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Jodie Meeks. Guard Lou Williams has an early termination option in his contract and could opt out if he chooses to exercise that right.
There are some interesting names on the NBA free agent list. The Sixers could definitely use some help in the frontcourt. Three names that stick out right away are restricted free agents JaVale McGee (Denver Nuggets), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers) and Jason Thompson (Sacramento Kings).
McGee, a 7-foot, 252-pounder, was a first round pick of the Washington Wizards four years ago. The Wizards traded him to the Denver Nuggets in March. McGee helped the Nuggets land a spot in the playoffs. In fact, he played extremely well against the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason. The Nuggets took the Lakers to seven games, losing in the final game. McGee averaged 8.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks a game. He was a big factor around the basket. He ran the floor and caught a number of alley-oop passes from playmaker Andre Miller.
Hibbert, a 7-foot-2, 260-pounder, was a real force around the basket. He had a big year for the Pacers. He made the all-star team this season and carried the Pacers to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat where they lost in six games. He averaged 11.7 points and 11.2 rebounds a game in the playoffs. He can score from the outside. He can rebound, defend and score around the basketball.
Thompson, a former Rider College and South Jersey basketball star, can play in the post. The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder, averaged 9.1 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
For restricted free agents, teams can match any offer that’s made from other teams.
Kris Humphries is an unrestricted free agent from the Brooklyn Nets. Humphries would be a great addition to the Sixers. He can run the floor, score inside, rebound and play good defense. The 6-foot-9, 235-pounder, averaged 13.8 points and 11.0 rebounds a game.
In the backcourt, the Sixers may want to grab a point guard to help the run offense. They could sign a good playmaker that would help their young tandem of Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday like Jeremy Lin (New York Knicks) and Raymond Felton (Portland Trail Blazers).
Lin is a restricted free agent. He exploded onto the NBA scene with his spectacular play this season. Lin came out of nowhere to make a name for himself on the NBA’s biggest stage. He was quite a fan favorite in New York City. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game. He missed the playoffs with knee surgery. He could have been a big help to the Knicks in the postseason.
Felton, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, is an unrestricted free agent. He averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists a game. Felton would be a solid lead guard.
These are just a few names on the free agent list that should get a lot of attention in the coming months.
Magic Johnson has watched Andrew Bynum play a lot of basketball during his years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson, former Lakers star and Hall of Famer, knows that the Sixers biggest offseason acquisition will play a major part in how far the team goes this season.
Of course, Bynum has missed the entire preseason with right knee pain from a bone bruise. The 7-foot, 285-pound center, could miss the season opener on Oct. 31 against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center. Nevertheless, Johnson seems to be pretty knowledgeable about his basketball skills.
“Well, the good thing is I don’t have doubts in his ability,” said Johnson, a basketball analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown. “I’ve seen Andrew dominate. I saw the game against San Antonio where he went and grabbed 30 rebounds. Andrew Bynum is our – right with Dwight Howard, talented –second talented most big man in the game today. And offensively he probably got—he’s got more moves than Dwight Howard. Andrew Bynum can play basketball.
“The problem with Andrew is when he gets down or when he has a confrontation with a coach or if he’s not feeling good about a teammate, then he lets that come to the court instead of leaving that in the locker room. He then goes out and gets five rebounds or he plays and is 10 and 5 or he pouts, and it not only hurts his teammates. So is he mature enough to handle the fact that now it is his team, he is the man. When it’s not going good, will he still come and play 150 percent?
“And then last but not least, will he be able to make his teammates better, because Andrew Bynum got all the talent in the world, and when he wants to dominate, he dominates; we’ve seen that. Shoot, every year he goes through a stretch of about I would say 10 to 15 games where he just dominates the league. I mean, it’s unbelievable the numbers that he puts up.
“But then after he reverts back to a guy we scratch our head about. So I’m just hoping that he just plays for 82 games, also stays healthy for 82 games, too, because he hasn’t been healthy every season that we’ve had him here in LA. But when he comes to play, he can play.”
Johnson is impressed with the Sixers offseason moves. He also likes Sixers guard Jrue Holiday and believes shooting guard Evan Turner should be more relaxed this season.
“Now, I think they did a wonderful job because Jason Richardson has been on fire,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen him three times in exhibition, and I think he’s going to be great. Jrue Holiday is just an incredible point guard who’s getting better and better every season. I thought the addition of Nick Young, Dorell Wright, shooters, so when Bynum is in there you can put a lot of great shooters around him.
“And so I think that Evan Turner now will have less pressure on him. It looked like he was forcing — he was trying to be a high draft pick instead of just relaxing and playing basketball, he was pressuring and he was playing under pressure.”
Johnson feels Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, will have to work with Bynum. He also believes Collins brings a lot of qualities, which should make the Sixers an even better team.
“Doug Collins, who I love and respect, is a great coach,” Johnson said. “And Bynum and Collins got to get on the same page. That’s another thing that has to happen for them to really excel.
“But I’m excited about the team. Athletic-wise they’re off the charts. They’re going to play defense because Doug Collins is about defense, and they’re going to play together, and so that’s — I see great things for them now but also in the future.”
The Capel coaching family is savoring every NBA playoff win by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jeff Capel is an assistant with the Sixers, who are on the verge of eliminating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He has two sons in college coaching — Jeff III is an assistant at Duke and Jason is head coach at Appalachian State — and both are able to keep a close watch on their dad’s recent success during their offseasons.
“This is my first win in the playoffs (in Game 2) so I was really excited the other night,” Jeff Capel said. “Both my boys called me and congratulated me on getting my first win in the playoffs. We talk every day pretty much, the three of us bouncing ideas off each other. As much advice as I give them, I get from them. It’s really good.”
His first trip to the NBA playoffs came with the Charlotte Bobcats two years ago; he was an assistant on Larry Brown’s staff. That trip ended quickly though — the Bobcats were swept in the first round by the Orlando Magic. However, the eighth-seeded 76ers are up 3-1 against the Bulls in the best-of-seven series and can advance to the conference semifinals with a win in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Few people can understand Jeff Capel’s emotions during these playoffs quite like his sons, who go through the same thing from November through March with the Blue Devils and Mountaineers.
“The thing is we don’t take it for granted, that’s the big thing,” said Jeff III, who was also head coach at VCU and Oklahoma. “We’re excited. We know this is a very hard profession that we’ve chosen that has very high highs and really low lows.
“One of the things dad tried to teach Jason and I as we were growing up is it’s always somewhere in the middle. Your highs can’t be too high and your lows can’t be too low ... but we’re excited right now.”
They haven’t made it to a game in person yet, but they’ll get more chances the longer the Sixers keep playing in the playoffs.
“It’s awesome because in the coaching profession, nothing’s ever promised,” Jason said. “We’re all really proud of him and I’m definitely glued to the television, cheering on the Sixers. I’m even cheering on Elton Brand, who kicked my butt a few times when he was at Duke.”
Jeff Capel spent 12 years as a college head coach at Fayetteville State, North Carolina A&T and Old Dominion. He also was a head coach in the NBA Development League before becoming an assistant for the Bobcats in their inaugural season in 2004–05 and remaining with the franchise until Brown’s firing in December 2010.
He joined Doug Collins’ staff with the Sixers in November. Doug’s son, Chris, is an assistant alongside Jeff III with the Blue Devils.
Both Jeff III and Jason grew up watching their father work the sideline first in high school and then in college, including when they were Wake Forest ball boys while their father was an assistant there in the 1980s. In fact, an 11-year-old Jeff III appeared on the cover of Wake Forest’s 1986–87 media guide alongside Demon Deacons star and eventual NBA point guard Muggsy Bogues.
Once they reached college, both sons were starters on teams that reached the Final Four. Jeff III was a freshman starter for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke in 1994, while Jason was a junior starter for North Carolina in 2000.
Yet when the sons looked to follow their father into coaching, Jeff Capel tried to sway them to do something else. He even tried to persuade Jeff III to go to law school before ultimately giving him a job as his assistant at Old Dominion.
“It’s a tough way to make a living,” Jeff Capel said. “When you’re a coach and in a bad stretch, everybody suffers. Everybody suffers around you — your wife, your kids, your dog, everybody. I didn’t want them to go through that, but it’s a passion they have, it’s ingrained in them, just like me.”
Maybe that’s why these days are so special to the family.
“They followed us around, taking us to tournament after tournament during our lives,” Jason said. “Now’s a time when we can focus and cheer on dad and cheer on his team.” — (AP)