Sixers Notes: Trade talk and Bynum latest

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Sixers Notes: Trade talk and Bynum latest

The loss of Thad Young not only leaves the Sixers without their most consistent performer and best weapon on defense but also heightens the workload across the board.

Without Young in the starting lineup and unable to log his 40 minutes a night, head coach Doug Collins has opted to start veteran Kwame Brown at center and shift Spencer Hawes to power forward. For Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, it meant Hawes guarded the fleet-footed David West, an assignment normally tagged for Young.

Even with Young out for the next three weeks and center Andrew Bynum still working his way back, don’t expect any blockbuster deals by the Sixers before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

According to general manager Tony DiLeo, the Sixers are still a work in progress.

“We’re talking to every team in the league and if there is something we think that will improve the team, and not just in the short-term, we’ll see what we can do,” DiLeo said prior to Wednesday’s game. “We’re looking to build.”

DiLeo is taking the long-term approach to his team. That means if the Sixers make a move by the deadline, it will be the future in mind.

Besides, the Sixers’ potential trade pieces are players they need right now. Players like Dorell Wright, Nick Young, Royal Ivey and Damien Wilkins have the coveted expiring contracts, but with Young, Bynum and Jason Richardson out, the Sixers likely will stand pat.

Then again, a trade of one of those expiring contracts isn’t going to bring back the value the Sixers seek.

It seems that DiLeo and the Sixers will wait for the team to get together and then evaluate things over the summer.

“We’re in a good position because we have flexibility with contracts. But we’re in a bad position because we just don’t have the answers,” DiLeo said. “We haven’t seen our team out there yet. It’s hard to plan when you don’t have all the answers yet. Hopefully, we’ll have the answers by the end of the year.”

Just chalk it up to a season-wide theme of waiting. The Sixers can’t make a deadline deal because they have to wait to see what kind of a team they have. They can’t see what kind of a team they have because of injuries.

As always, it all gets back to Bynum.

“If we do anything at the trade deadline it will be to improve the team,” DiLeo said.

Practice? We’re talking about practice!
According to DiLeo, he anticipates Bynum taking part in a full-contact practice sometime within the next “seven to 10 days.”

In regard to the report that DiLeo said Bynum could have begun practicing last week, the GM was perplexed.

“I never said Andrew would practice this week,” DiLeo said. “I don't know where that came from.”

Wishful thinking, perhaps?

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."