Allen knows Noel can make difference in paint

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Allen knows Noel can make difference in paint

Last season, the Sixers were definitely lean at the center position. Andrew Bynum never played a game, leaving Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen to man the middle -- serviceable backups but not the preferred starter in either case.

Hawes made 40 starts, averaged 11 points, 7.2 rebounds and played 27 minutes a night. Allen was in the starting lineup 37 times. He averaged 5.8 points and five rebounds, playing 21 minutes per game.

Hawes' rebounding average ranked 14th among NBA centers last year, a statistic that would surprise many. Hawes’ 1.4 blocks per game also ranked ninth at his position.

However, basketball fans like big men who can dominate. They see a 7-footer and they expect statistics that are equally as large.

The franchise hopes down the road that Nerlens Noel is that kind of game-changer and the Kentucky product already has a fan in Allen.

“We have the same agent, but in college he was a great shot blocker. He can get up and down the floor,” Allen said of the Noel, who averaged 4.4 blocks per game during his lone season in college. “A rim-protector can do a lot. We haven’t had that the last couple years here. I used to be one in high school but that was facing 6-3 kids back then. It will be great for us.”

Noel is 6-foot-11 but weighs just 219 pounds. It stands to reason that the Sixers' rookie will need to add bulk in order to survive the rigors of playing in the low post in the NBA.

Allen, heading into his third NBA season, is minus two inches and plus 36 pounds on his rookie teammate. But Allen is not ready to say Noel needs to get bigger in order to reach his full potential.

“What he lacks in size he makes up for in length,” Allen said of Noel. “He’s real athletic, so we will have to see how he does.”

We will have to see how Allen does as well. Critics found Allen’s second NBA season to be a disappointment in comparison to his 2012 postseason performance in which he more than held his own against Kevin Garnett in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“I have just been working out,” Allen said of his offseason. “I have taken a vacation here and there, but mostly I have been in the gym.

“They said we (Sixers) are doing a rebuilding process. Now all our trust is in Sam Hinkie, with the whole coaching search and things like that. We are behind him 100 percent.”

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Wayne, Pa. -- Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q+A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.