Evan Turner 'excited' for looming trade deadline

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Evan Turner 'excited' for looming trade deadline

Many trade deadlines have come and gone with nothing happening for the Sixers. With Thursday’s deadline looming, there is speculation that a player or players will be dealt.

Evan Turner thinks that might be the case, and he is looking forward to teams finally showing their hand.

“I am excited to see what’s going to happen because it is like a riddle,” Turner said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

When this season began, Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young were all thought to be trade bait. They were building blocks for the former management group. They were not hand-picked by first-year president and general manager, Sam Hinkie.

But with three days left before the deadline, all three are still wearing Sixers uniforms.

Brett Brown’s feeling about the deadline is that it is a valid concern, but he hopes it is not a thought that monopolizes any of his players' minds.

"When I got this job, speculation and rumors were all around from Day 1,” Brown said. “Nothing changes. We are trying to help these guys get better. We are trying to put them in situations where they can play good basketball.

“I want them to improve. I hope they are enjoying their time with the Sixers. I hope they feel like they have a coaching staff digging in for them, because we are. That is how we have handled it from Day One and that is how we will navigate through this time of year.”

It is no secret the Sixers are not interested in taking on big contracts. They are interested in draft picks.

Young has two years left on his deal with 2015-16 being a player option at $9.7 million. Hawes becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, and Turner will be a restricted free agent so long as the Sixers make him a qualifying offer.

All three veterans have value. The unknown is what teams are willing to give up to get any one of the three.

Turner, now in his fourth NBA season, understands that talk increases as the deadline nears. Whether there's any truth to the talk is a whole different story.

“I was never worried about it,” Turner said. “There is no relief. At the end of the day, so much has been said and there are too many rumors really to concern yourself with.”

Turner insists that he doesn’t read papers or blogs, but in the next breath, he is saying his words often get twisted. The likely truth is he reads or hears what people are saying about him. He's just learned to put little stock in those words.

“It is not for me to read,” Turner said. “I comment on stuff and then I hear how it gets twisted. It is not really about what I say, it’s about what people want the headlines to say.”

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."