For Justin Holiday, still a chance with Sixers

slideshow-042413-sixers-holiday-uspresswire.jpg

For Justin Holiday, still a chance with Sixers

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Yes, Jrue Holiday will be wearing a New Orleans Pelicans uniform come this fall after being traded on draft night.

However, there still may be the last name Holiday on the back of a Sixers jersey next season.

Jrue’s older brother, Justin Holiday, returned to the summer league team Monday after flying overnight from California after attending his sibling's wedding on Sunday. The flight clearly took something out of the older Holiday because he shot just 2 for 9 in 23 minutes for six points in the Sixers' 96-75 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday. He also had three rebounds and three assists in the defeat.

"I was exhausted, but that is not an excuse,” Holiday said. “I still think I could have helped more than I did, score more than I did, helped defensively more than I did, but the game is done and tomorrow I hope I bounce back. If I don’t bounce back that’s a problem.”

A year ago, Holiday played very well for the Sixers in Orlando and led the team in scoring. He comes back a year older with experience in the D-League and nine games played in the NBA.

Holiday signed a non-guaranteed contract late last season that allowed him to attend camp this season. The 6-foot-6 forward knows what he has to do to stick around with the Sixers.

"Make sure I stay consistent when I play, be the smart player that I am, efficient,” Holiday said. “Today, even some of the things that I did defensively weren’t the smartest. I remember I came to help on the baseline when Micah (Downs) had hit a couple threes before that. It wasn’t the smartest play.

"I mean it is a good thing that I want to help but not the smartest at that time. So continue to improve, play as smart as I can and be efficient and knock down my open shots."

Holiday's ultimate goal is to make the team -- a squad that will look very different than the one he played on last spring.

The biggest change on that roster will be the absence of Holiday's All-Star brother. He said he learned the news of the blockbuster deal from his sibling.

“I thought he was joking,” Holiday said. “I was flying and [Jrue] tells me and I said, 'You're joking' and he said, 'No, for real.' He explained that this is a decision they wanted to make and that is all there really was.

"At first my personal feeling was I am not playing with my brother anymore. I was looking forward to me having the opportunity to doing that this next year. But this is the NBA and it is a business.”

Game time
Michael Carter-Williams promised he would be better taking care of the ball in his second summer league game and the Syracuse product was just that on Monday. He went from nine turnovers on Sunday to zero turnovers in 30 minutes on Monday in the Sixers' loss to Indiana.

However, Carter-Williams failed to shoot the ball well again. He was 4 for 20 with 13 points after going 8 of 23 on Sunday. Carter-Williams did have seven assists against the Pacers.

“He said yesterday that there were some things that he knew that he saw that he would be able to correct," coach Michael Curry said. "With young guys, just like in football with quarterbacks, is the speed in which guys close down open passing angles and where the help is coming from. Once he realizes that, with his size he is going to be able to make those passes. He saw some things on the pick-and-rolls to down the ball as much as he does and make plays and not have any turnovers, that was great.”

Temple product Khalif Wyatt was much improved Monday, scoring 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting. On Sunday, he was 4 for 15 with nine points.

“He scores in so many different ways,” Curry said of Wyatt. “He can catch and shoot out to the three. He is able to make plays. He is not the best athlete, but he has been scoring a long time. What we have to do with him, we probably ask him to play the most defense he has ever played.

"He is going to have to be a guy that can be solid on the defensive end, so that he gets down the court to do some things that he is really good at on the offensive end.”

When asked if Curry’s assessment of Wyatt's defense is correct, the former Owl smiled.

“Coach Curry and Coach (Aaron) McKie in practices have been pushing me very hard to play defense every possession and take no possessions off,” Wyatt said. "I am just taking the challenge and trying to be a better defender and just get better everyday."

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Friday unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, New Jersey (see story).

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, while speaking to media members at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, touched on a variety of topics. That included the team's surplus of big men, an issue that has been years in the making.  

One of the major questions surrounding the Sixers this offseason is how the team plans to utilize all three of its talented young big men in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. With Embiid finally healthy and on track to play this season, the Sixers have some tough decisions when it comes to balancing playing time as well as maximizing each player's potential.  

There have been rumors throughout the summer that Colangelo has been actively trying to shop either Noel or Okafor because of his discomfort with having three big men on the roster. His comments on Friday cleared up the situation. 

"We're excited for the season. We’re excited to have three, talented young players that can play that position," Colangelo said. "I said something this summer that was somewhat tongue and cheek that was taken so seriously and everybody hung on that one word that I would be uncomfortable going into the season or absolutely uncomfortable, it was literally overstated so many different times. It was never a period of discomfort, in fact, it's actually comfortable knowing we have that much talent there.

"The discomfort comes in trying to manage and maintain the happiness of three talented young players and that’s something that I think will work itself out."

This offseason has been one of transition for the Sixers. The days of "The Process" are long gone, and the Sixers seem poised to finally become a competitive franchise again after years of tanking.

During their summer overhaul, the Sixers brought in nine new players in hopes of forming a roster that features actual NBA-caliber players that could compete on a nightly basis. 

The team now not only features a surplus of bigs, but for the first time in a long time, a healthy balance of talent at each position. 

"The availability of those players is going to be an experiment all season long, not just with the bigs but with this entire team," Colangelo said. "We’ve got a good mix of talent and there's going to be a lot of competition at every position."

Colagelo expressed that under the former regime ran by Sam Hinkie, the Sixers lacked any sort of competitive drive and identity, something that he emphasized greatly when first put in charge. 

"We really have brought some things to this team that I think was sorely lacking," Colangelo said. "One was veteran leadership, whether it's Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless or bringing Elton Brand back. Playmaking ability between Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriquez, Dario Saric coming into the mix, Ben Simmons — these are playmakers as much as they are good basketball players and scorers.

"So we’ve got a good mix of talent, but what we actually have will play itself out on the court in the coming months."

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. — The doors to the Sixers' new training complex are officially opened, welcoming players into the 125,000-square-foot facility designed to be a one-stop basketball shop.
 
On Friday, the Sixers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the sprawling building on South Front Street. After years of sharing space at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) on City Avenue, the organization now has its own dedicated facility. 
 
The complex was built with the intention of becoming a “year-round destination." The team has taken each aspect of daily life into consideration to provide players and staff with the resources they need on-hand in Camden.
 
“We’re trying to create a culture of not only excellence, but of maximum performance and trying to give them as many things that can help enhance that and get us there quicker,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said, also noting, “We’re not trying to trap them, but we’ve literally given them so many things that they may not want to leave.”
 
Players arrived at the complex ahead of the official opening, and many were there on Friday as tour groups circled through. Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were among those taking shots on the expansive courts, which account for 20,480 square feet. There are two full-size NBA courts and six additional baskets, comprised of over 16,000 pieces of maple wood athletic flooring.
 
With an extra emphasis on health and fitness, the weight room and training room are located next to each other right off the court. Their proximity fosters communication between the training staff with strength and conditioning coaches to easily discuss medical situations, whereas they were separated on different floors at the previous facility.
 
“It makes for a great place of what we call ‘continuity of care,’” head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson said on a tour of the building.
 
The Sixers now have increased medical resources available, including a dedicated physician’s room. They are implementing a videolink system which allows them to videoconference with players offsite and with other medical professionals. The team is also moving into ultrasound diagnostics to assess tendon health.
 
Right off the weight room are four hydrotherapy pools — cold water immersion, hot tub, warm lap pool/plunge pool and underwater treadmill that can go eight feet deep. The team took the height of the players into consideration when installing the pools. The jets on the hot tub, for example, were placed strategically for their wingspans. A video system in room allows the team to monitor pool work.
 
Following the goal of keeping resources in one place, a video room includes a dual-sided projection screen that enables players to review film directly from the court through glass walls.
 
The Sixers are honing in on nutrition and diet this season. They installed a full-service kitchen with customizable options based on the players’ needs versus a buffet meal. The organization found its head chef in an unconventional way — impressed by the food at the popular Philadelphia restaurant Parc, Colangelo inquired about its chefs and hired Jae Hee Cho.
 
And if the Sixers want to get some rest after a full day’s work, the team also may look into sleeping pods.
 
“I learned years ago they come here and it’s sort of the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come,” Brett Brown said. “You learn that they spend more time here because it’s convenient and they feel like they’re getting better. It’s a chance to bring families together. It’s a chance to bump into a teammate and go up and have lunch … get some shots together. The opportunity to have and form greater relationships exists here. I saw that in 2002 [with the Spurs] and I believe we’re going to see it again in 2016.”
 
The Sixers believe the new complex will set them apart from other teams around the NBA. Players consider more than just wins and losses when choosing teams in free agency, and this facility could give the Sixers an edge.
 
“In the business today, there’s so many things that you’re competing with with other franchises,” Colangelo said. “It’s become a little bit of an arm’s race, if you will, with respect to what player amenities you have, how you travel, what the practice facility is, what kind of creature comforts you give them. ... We’re doing everything possible to maximize performance not only of the players and the athletes, but also of the organization.”
 
The team incorporated aspects of its history in the complex. The reception desks at the main and player entrances are made of the wood from the basketball court of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.
 
The Sixers will hold training camp in Stockton University next week and then will begin practicing at the complex for the rest of the season.
 
“Part of building a winning team, an elite team is culture,” managing general partner Josh Harris said. “Certainly you need talent, but how everyone works together and how people enjoy themselves, that’s one element. The second element is having them available to experience all of the capabilities we can bring, whether it be training, massage, health, wellness, diet, sleep, there’s a lot of things we can put in their hands.”