Motivation not lacking for Sixers' Carter-Williams

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Motivation not lacking for Sixers' Carter-Williams

Sam Hinkie made quite a splash in his first draft calling the shots for the 76ers. By trading the team’s All-Star and captain in Jrue Holiday, the Sixers got two lottery picks in the 2013 draft and received New Orleans’ first-round pick for the 2014 draft, a league source confirmed (see story).

But when it came to the original, No. 11 overall pick, Hinkie played it straight.

“We were pleasantly surprised that Michael Carter-Williams fell to us,” Hinkie said. “We looked at many options to move up to get him and he fell to us at 11 and we were relieved.”

That’s where the Sixers took Carter-Williams, a guard out of Syracuse University and St. Andrews High School in Barrington, R.I. At 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, Carter-Williams averaged just 8.2 points per game in his two years at Syracuse, but set the school record with 111 steals last season.

Defense and passing is Carter-Williams’ forte. He said he sees himself strictly as a point guard in the NBA and with Holiday traded to New Orleans, Carter-Williams will be the only point guard on the roster.

“I’m strictly a one,” Carter-Williams said. “That’s my natural position.”

Interestingly, Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 overall pick the Sixers acquired for Holiday, were AAU teammates in 10th and 11th grade in Massachusetts. Carter-Williams said he and Noel were talking about living next door to one another in Philadelphia.

“We grew up together and we’re really good friends,” Carter-Williams said. “I just got here and he was like, ‘Yo, I can’t believe we’re going to be playing together.’ We were talking about living next door to each other. We’re excited.”

The trade for Noel can’t be announced until it receives NBA approval.

The glaring weakness in Carter-Williams’ game is his shooting. As a freshman, Carter-Williams shot just 7 for 18 from three-point range and followed that up with 35 for 120 (29.2 percent) during his last year at Syracuse.

Carter-Williams said he got in a shooting slump that he couldn’t shake.

“I’ve been working on that and my shot was good in the workouts and I switched some little things and it’s been fine,” Carter-Williams said.

“I think I got caught up in passing the ball and I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been. I got into a slump and I couldn’t get out of it, but I’ve learned how to fix things.”

Based on all Carter-Williams has been through the past season, fixing a shot from the perimeter is the easy part. A fire destroyed his family’s home last March while Carter-Williams was playing in the NCAA tournament. 

Reportedly, the fire also destroyed a player evaluation that the guard kept above his desk that read Carter-Williams wasn’t good enough to play at a school like Syracuse.

The NBA? Forget it.

“He’s wonderfully competitive,” Hinkie said of the No. 11 pick.

When it comes to motivation, Carter-Williams has it covered.

“I think my game is ready and I think the mental part of it is ready,” Carter-Williams said. “I’ve been in a lot of situations and I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to succeed, and I think I’m ready for the NBA right now.”

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.