The sinking Sixers are a thing of beauty

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The sinking Sixers are a thing of beauty

There was a game before the game. About two hours before tip-off, a handful of Sixers and Bucks shot around on the Wells Fargo Center court. Some media members sat off to the side and watched. Someone wondered how many Bucks anyone could name. Someone else wondered how many Sixers could be identified. One of the arena security guards quickly joined in.

The Bucks and Sixers were wearing warm-ups. No jerseys with helpful numbers. Just random bodies with random faces before the worst team in the NBA faced the second-worst team. The winner named four out of five Bucks. The best anyone could do was three out of six Sixers.

These Sixers should be outfitted with “Hello my name is” stickers. It would be helpful. Does Brett Brown know all the names of all his players?

“Absolutely,” he said. “Yeah.”

Everyone laughed. He laughed, too.

“Absolutely,” Brown continued. “I can name them all. You’ll hear me say ‘Byron, Henry.’ You’ll hear me say ‘Eric, get that pushed.’ It’s part of the landscape. It’s just part of coaching the Philadelphia 76ers in the year 2014. I like it in a sadistic way.”

What’s not to like? If you’re part of the pro-tank faction, this is exactly what you wanted: A roster so shallow that Vegas installed the 10-win Bucks as a three-point favorite on the road on Monday. And why not? The Sixers have Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young and a bunch of other guys you either don’t know or will quickly forget. The Bucks might have the worst record in the league, but the Sixers have the worst on-paper players.

Bucks 130, Sixers 110 (see story).

It was a season-high for Milwaukee. The Sixers have lost 11 straight, and 10 in a row at the Wells Fargo Center. It’s the longest overall losing streak since a 12-game slide in 2009. And it’s the worst stretch at home since they dropped 12 straight on their court in 1997. As the Sixers try to limbo their way to the worst record in the league, you wonder how low they can go.

This is a big stretch for them. In addition to playing the Bucks, the Sixers will also face the Magic (owners of the third-worst record) twice in the next three games. But don’t count their ping-pong balls just yet. At present, the Sixers have a 19.9 percent chance to land the top pick. The Bucks have a 25 percent chance. Even though the Sixers just lost to the Bucks, and even though Sam Hinkie happily (and rightly) gutted an already empty shell at the trade deadline, it’s going to be tough for the Sixers to beat the Bucks to the bottom of the standings.

The Sixers are 15-42. The Bucks are 11-45. The Sixers are just three games up in the loss column. They’re close. But are they close enough? Let’s say the Sixers win three more games. Three victories in their last 25 games is a really small number. That would mean the Bucks -- who are truly awful, despite beating the Sixers -- would have to win seven of their final 26 outings to end with the same record. That’s 26.9 percent of the Bucks’ remaining games. That’s a lot for a team that hasn’t won back-to-back outings all season.

But, hey, it’s not impossible for the Sixers to play considerably worse than the Bucks for the remainder of the year. In fact, it seems likely. Maybe the Sixers will impress everyone with how unimpressive they can be.

Brown used several adjectives to describe the Sixers’ performance against the hapless Bucks. He called it “sloppy” and “hard” and “ugly.” He said they’re going through some “adversity,” but he also said “I guess that’s what we all signed up for.”

“You just stay true to what you know you have to do to get where you want to go,” Brown said. “You know, you can’t blink. We’ve had lots of these types of nights, haven’t we? And so, you stay the course. You just can’t blink. All the things that I’ve stood up here and said for several months in relation to how people prepare and how they practice and how they pay attention in the video room and in regards to their character and toughness as people. It goes on and on. We just can’t blink. We’ve got to make sure the model that we’re setting up is proper, and then you fill in the blanks with people.”

The filling in will come later. For now, the blanks will do just fine.

Source: Sixers to sign veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless

Source: Sixers to sign veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless

The Sixers have been in need of a veteran point guard, and it looks like they have found one on the first day of free agency.

A league source confirmed the Sixers have reached a deal to sign guard Jerryd Bayless. According to the Associated Press, the deal is worth $27 million over three years.  

Bayless, 27, is entering his ninth NBA season. Last season he played for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 10.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game. Bayless shot 42.3 percent from the field and a career-high 43.7 percent from three. He ranked fifth in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season.

The point guard role is unique for the Sixers. First overall pick Ben Simmons can play point-forward. While the Sixers will start him out at the four spot, eventually he will assume some point guard responsibilities as he develops in the NBA. Bayless is a good fit for this situation because he doesn't need to dominate the ball. He also gives the Sixers versatility in the backcourt with his ability to shoot. 

The Sixers have struggled to find consistency at this position. Last season they went through a pool of point guards before trading for Ish Smith in December. That acquisition wasn’t meant as a long-term solution, and Smith reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Pistons on Friday.

The Sixers will be Bayless' seventh team. He previously played for the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Raptors, Grizzlies, Celtics and Bucks. Bayless was the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft.

When Bayless played in Toronto in 2010-11 and 2011-12, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was the Raptors' president and general manager. This is Colangelo's first free agent signing with the Sixers. 

Source: Sixers to hire former head coach Jim O'Brien as assistant

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AP

Source: Sixers to hire former head coach Jim O'Brien as assistant

The Sixers are going to hire former head coach Jim O'Brien as an assistant coach on Brett Brown's staff, a league source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato. 

FOX29's Howard Eskin was the first to report the hire. 

O'Brien, 64, was the Sixers' head coach back in 2004-05, when he led the team to a 43-39 record. He was the Celtics' head coach from 2000-2004 and the Pacers' head coach from 2007-2011. In his nine years as an NBA head coach, he has a 303-327 record. 

O'Brien, who is from Philadelphia and went to Roman Catholic, last coached in the NBA as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks in 2012-13. 

Report: Point guard Ish Smith agrees to 3-year deal with Pistons

Report: Point guard Ish Smith agrees to 3-year deal with Pistons

It seemed like Ish Smith had more value to the Sixers than to another team, but the Detroit Pistons thought otherwise, reaching a three-year deal with the free-agent point guard early Friday morning, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Smith, 28, will be Reggie Jackson's backup with the Pistons.

Smith averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 50 games for the Sixers last season. He shot 41 percent from the field, 34 percent from three and 67 percent from the line.

The Pistons will be the 10th NBA team in seven seasons for the well-traveled Smith.

The Sixers have an obvious need for guards. They exercised their option to keep shooting guard Hollis Thompson, but lost Smith and chose not to extend an offer to Isaiah Cannan, who became an unrestricted free agent.