Collins wants Holiday to enjoy All-Star experience

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Collins wants Holiday to enjoy All-Star experience

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to stop to smell the roses.

That’s why when Jrue Holiday heads to Houston after the Sixers’ game in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, head coach Doug Collins wants his All-Star point guard to soak it all in.

You know, stop and enjoy the golf course.

Wait … the golf course?

“Sometimes I can be out on the most beautiful golf course in the world and be playing horrible golf and forget that I’m playing on the most beautiful course in the world,” Collins said. “Enjoy the golf course.”

So when Holiday shows up in Houston for his first All-Star Game, Collins wants him to enjoy the course. Holiday should take a look around, says Collins. He should watch what some of the veterans do and pick their brains a little bit.

You know, enjoy the golf course.

“I hope it will be an experience that he remembers forever,” Collins said. “Mine was doubly important to me because it was in Philadelphia. It was 1976 for the Bicentennial game. What I would like him to do is walk in the locker room and just take a look around.

“Look in that locker room. Look who you’re sitting with. You’re 22 years old. Look around. Look at the men in that room. Look at your coach and look at the championships they have won, look at the gold medals they have won. Watch how they prepare themselves.”

Besides, Holiday might have to copy some of those preparation rites for next Sunday’s All-Star Game because there is a decent chance he could be called on to start the game. With Rajon Rondo out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, the Eastern Conference has two point guards remaining on the roster. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has to decide on either Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving or Holiday to take Rondo’s spot in the starting lineup.

Holiday, of course, has had a terrific season. In 46 games he leads the Sixers with 19.1 points and 8.8 assists per game. He also is averaging a career-best 38.3 minutes per game, along with a 45.4 shooting percentage.

Holiday is seventh in the NBA in minutes per game, 13th in points per game and fourth in assists per game.

However, in his second NBA season, Irving is becoming a star among stars. He’s averaging 23.9 points per game, while shooting 47.3 percent from the field with 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Irving’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER), the most important metric for the analytic types in the NBA, is a robust 22.8. The 12 players with a higher PER than Irving are all All-Stars.

Nevertheless, Irving will also be playing in the Rising Stars game on Saturday night. If that effort proves to be too taxing for him, maybe Holiday will get the starting nod.

Regardless of whether he starts the game or comes off the bench for a few minutes, Holiday says he’s going to take Collins’ advice to heart.

“I’m going to take it all in,” Holiday said. “God willing I get back there again, but sometimes it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Take it all in and have fun.”

Who knows, maybe Holiday can pick up a few things from soaking in the atmosphere at the All-Star Game. After all, Holiday spent last summer playing for the U.S. Select team, which spent a week scrimmaging against the U.S. Olympic team in its training camp in Las Vegas. Based on the reports, the U.S. Select team gave the U.S. Olympic team some of its best competition last summer.

So following a stint with the U.S. team, Holiday has enjoyed a breakout season with the Sixers this year. Collins is hoping his point guard picks up some more nuances to add to his game whether through watching or osmosis.

If anything, Collins hopes Holiday sees how the other All-Stars prepare themselves to play and copies it.

“I used to say that Michael Jordan had an internal body clock. It was like a certain time would come and (clap!), it was time to get ready to play,” Collins said. “How do you get yourself in that moment every single night? The biggest part about laying this game is getting yourself ready to play. So watch, pick it up, talk to people. Talk to LeBron (James), talk to these guys you admire. Enjoy the game and enjoy the experience. I just want him to take it all in.”

But most of all, enjoy the golf course.

“Your first [All-Star Game], there is no other like it,” Collins said. “Enjoy the golf course, man. You’re on Pebble Beach. If you hit No. 8 in the water, the hell with it.”

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the most consistent NBA teams for nearly 20 years. They have made 19 consecutive postseason trips and won five championships during that span. 

The Sixers, on the other hand, are entering a phase of building a new foundation with a group of young players. They are working to improve upon a 10-win season, let alone making the playoffs.

Yet four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili saw more than records when weighing his options in free agency. The veteran point guard looked to the Sixers sidelines and was intrigued.

Head coach Brett Brown previously worked in the Spurs basketball operations department and on the coaching staff under Gregg Popovich. He was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. When the Sixers approached Ginobili this offseason, he gave them consideration before returning to the Spurs, where he has spent his entire 14-year career.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical on Thursday. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

The Sixers reportedly offered Ginobili, 38, a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal worth around $30 million. The Spurs first offered him a one-year, $3 million contract. Ginobili ended up re-signing with the Spurs for one-year, $14 million. 

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili said. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.”

Ginobili averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 19.6 minutes coming off the bench last season. The Sixers are adding veteran leadership, and Ginobili is one of the most experienced in the game. In addition to his reliability at the position, he could have been a mentor to the entire team and worked with Ben Simmons to help hone his point guard skills as the rookie big man plays point-forward. His years of international competition would have gelled with incoming players such as Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Sergio Rodriguez. 

The Sixers signed point guards Jerryd Bayless (three years, $27 million) and Rodriguez (one year, $8 million) this summer. T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall still are under contract. Last season's starting point guard Ish Smith signed with the Pistons at the start of free agency.