Sixers standing by amid flurry of NBA moves

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Sixers standing by amid flurry of NBA moves

What an awesome weekend it was with one of the sporting world’s greatest events in our very own backyard.

The U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club featured great entertainment and drama on a course that truly is a gem. Phil Mickelson finished as runner-up for a sixth time at the U.S. Open. Mickelson showed tremendous class throughout and was truly forthcoming in his post-tournament comments regarding his “heartbreak” of finishing second in another Open (see story).

Listening to Mickelson makes you wonder why more people in the sports world aren’t willing to tell the truth?

The Sixers played their last game of the 2012-13 regular season exactly two months ago. Their head coach stepped down one day later, and in early May, Sam Hinkie became the organization’s new president and general manager.

Since then the franchise has drifted into silence. The Sixers have conducted all their pre-draft workouts behind closed doors. If they have interviewed possible coaching candidates, they have done so in relative secrecy.

Hinkie believes the less he says about which prospects the Sixers like, the more he will be able to wheel and deal on draft night. He may be right, but giving fans nothing to talk about is a mistake.

The splash the Sixers made last summer when they traded for Andrew Bynum went so awry that it is hard not to view as one of the worst trades in NBA history. Couple that with a roster that lacks stardom outside of Jrue Holiday and seven free agents to replace or re-sign with $11 to $15 million, and it can be hard for even the most loyal Sixers fans to get excited about the direction of the team.

While team after team conducts coaching searches -- 11 other coaching changes have been made since the end of the regular season -- Doug Collins’ replacement remains an unknown. Brooklyn thought outside the box when it hired Jason Kidd last week and the Los Angeles Clippers are stealing headlines now by reportedly trying to trade for Boston’s Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett.

By the time July rolls around, the NBA draft will be complete. The Sixers will have used the 11th, 35th and 42nd overall picks or traded them away. A coach will likely be in place and free agency will be in season.

That will be a lot of news for a team that has spent the last two months being so quiet. For the Sixers, it’s been a little too quiet.

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. 

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above.