Sam Hinkie using his past to plan Sixers' future

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Sam Hinkie using his past to plan Sixers' future

The Sixers' president and general manger is an understated gentleman. If Sam Hinkie had his way, he would not be seen or heard. He would just do his job and hopefully be acknowledged for doing it well.

So far, so good for the first-year Sixers exec.

Wednesday night, Hinkie’s former employer, the Houston Rockets, were in town and just as Brett Brown had talked about being mentored by Gregg Popovich a couple days earlier (when the Spurs visited the Wells Fargo Center), so too did Hinkie share thoughts of Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager and Hinkie’s longtime mentor.

“I was in Houston for a year before Daryl came and [Morey] was a godsend for someone like me,” Hinkie said. “He thought the way I think. He did things in a similar way. I feel fortunate to have the time I did to work with him.”

The Sixers' win over the Rockets turned out to be an entertaining affair for 53 minutes of action. Yes, James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams were out with foot injuries.

However, the Sixers' absence of MCW allowed other players to shine, namely James Anderson, who scored a career-high 36 points. Tony Wroten also recorded a triple-double in his first ever NBA start.

Brett Brown’s team improved to 5-4 on the season -- a record no one saw coming, including the architect of the roster.

“I think a lot of the elements that we have seen already the city likes and that is that we are going to get up and down and play aggressively,” Hinkie said. “We are going to spread the floor and not be shy about letting it go and we are going to play both ends. We may not always play it with great success. We put pressure on people and we are an aggressive, attacking team.

“The league is a marathon,” Hinkie stressed. “We have a long way to go in this season and a long way to go to build the kind of thing we want to build, but it will take those elements for us to get where we want to go.”

Where the franchise wants to go is being a championship contender. They believe Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel are cornerstones to making that happen.

Carter-Williams did not play Wednesday, but the rookie point guard’s play has opened plenty of eyes around the league in his previous eight outings.

“He has made some real positive strides early, which has been good,” Hinkie said of Carter-Williams. “I think that is good for him because he is a naturally confident guy. He is a competitive guy and a gamer, and it is good to see him reap some of the rewards of hard work in the summer and training camp.”

Carter-Williams is averaging 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game. But, if not for the stabilizing force around him, he may have felt the need to shoulder the burden for the rebuilding franchise.

“All of our vets have been great and really bought in to what coach is doing fitness-wise and work ethic-wise and player development,” Hinkie said. “I think they like the new system, and I think all of them would say they are in the best shape of their life and they have been given a lot of freedom and a lot of new opportunity. I feel like all of them have grasped it in a way, and we are proud of them.”

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.