Jerry Stackhouse's next goal: Help the NBPA

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Jerry Stackhouse's next goal: Help the NBPA

Jerry Stackhouse is looking ahead.

Life without playing basketball has arrived for the one-time Sixer, and he already knows what that life will be: time spent securing the future for current and former NBA players.

The Brooklyn Nets swingman mentioned recently that he would likely retire after this season to focus more on his role as first vice president with the troubled NBA Players Association.

Stackhouse made his goal clear. He wants changes. He wants communication. He wants full disclosure. He wants to be informed so that the next time the players come face to face with NBA owners to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement, the players will be better equipped.

Why does he feel this way? Simple: He sat back and watched as players went clueless as to what officials inside the NBAPA were doing. The back door dealings. The lack of communication. The lack of information. The misleading.

"I've always been in tune with the union," Stackhouse told CSNPhilly.com last month when the Nets visited the Sixers. "But I wasn't in tune with some of their ways of dealing with things in the past."

Some of those dealings allegedly led to the ousting of executive director Billy Hunter, who was fired unanimously by the NBA player representatives during All-Star Weekend in February.

Stackhouse wouldn't place any blame on Hunter but agreed a change was needed.

"We can easily sit here and point the finger at the executive committee that we voted on and say, 'They didn't do this or they didn't do that.' But as a whole, as a general body, our interest wasn't enough until [there] was a lockout," he said.

With Hunter relieved of his duties, players elected a new executive committee, which includes Stackhouse, former Sixers Andre Iguodala and Willie Green, James Jones, Roger Mason Jr., Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.

"The guys thought that I would be a pretty good fit to help take things in a different direction," Stackhouse said. "I was nominated and I accepted it.

"I take a lot of pride in making some decisions that can help us over these next 15 to 20 years. I think we've made a lot of mistakes over the last 10 to 15 years. We just didn't take enough interest as a body."

The 38-year-old Stackhouse mentioned the 2011 NBA lockout as the turning point. He said that lockout wasn't really a lockout because the season was not lost. Players didn't miss paychecks, but the deal, he feels, could have been better.

"Our strategy, at the particular time, wasn't the best that it could be," Stackhouse said. "We're seeing some of the results of that now, but that's why we're trying to correct it going forward. What's happened has happened, but hopefully the next time we come to the bargaining table we'll come with a little more understanding of not only what's for the best interest of the players, but the best interest of the game."

For that to happen, Stackhouse had to come to an understanding with union president Derek Fisher. Days before Hunter was outed, Stackhouse told The Detroit News, that Fisher "has to go too."

"I just think there wasn't enough, in my mind, disclosure of ideas and thoughts with the player reps, which in turn could try and get some feedback from the general body," Stackhouse said. "That's important to me -- not enough communication.

"Some of those things needed to be shared and we may not have had to go down that track."

The two have since spoken.

"I respect his decisions now that we've talked," Stackhouse said, "but at the same time I feel I probably would've handle things a little differently. And being in the position that I am now, I'll see to it [that] things will be handled differently than they were handled before."

Stackhouse said he intends to focus on retired players more than the superstars and younger players. In his mind, the LeBron Jameses, Kobe Bryants and Kevin Durants of the league will always be taken care of. The younger players, well, "They have their whole future ahead of them."

"It's a cultural shock stepping back into society after playing this game," he said. "I think we want to put some mechanisms in place to be able to educate guys, once they leave the league, how to kind of integrate themselves back into society. Some of the former players who are down or in some tough situations -- put in some programs to try and help them."

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.8 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there."

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

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).