Thad Young ponders future after loss to Grizzlies

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Thad Young ponders future after loss to Grizzlies

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MEMPHIS -- Sixers forward Thaddeus Young watched with his hands on his hips as teammate Tony Wroten flew by him and attempted a 39-foot prayer as the third-quarter horn sounded.

By that time, the Sixers trailed the Memphis Grizzlies by 23 points -- a mountain the Sixers weren't going to climb -- and Young retreated back to the huddle, shaking his head with the team on its way to a 117-95 road loss Friday night at FedExForum (see Instant Replay).

It was the Sixers' third straight loss and fifth in its last six games since snapping its NBA record-tying 26-game losing streak.

And with three games left in the regular season, they could be Young's last as a Sixer.

"Yeah, all the time," Young said before the game when asked about his future. "One thing I've always said: Just like upstairs, they put their GM hats on. I put mine on also. It's not just about basketball. It's about me as a player. This is a business, and it's about doing what's best for my family. It may be here, or it may not be here."

The losing -- the Sixers fell to 17-62 Friday -- has admittedly taken a toll on Young, who at 25 years old and in his sixth season, has become one of the "elder statesmen" on a team with 10 players with no more than one year of experience in the league.

Young has two more years on his contract with the Sixers, but he can opt out after next season.

"It's been very, very difficult," said Young, one of three Sixers returning to his hometown of Memphis on Friday. "But I've been making it through just by going out there and just playing, continuing to try to have fun and and help these guys be better.

"We all know the situation at hand. There's a rebuilding process and restructuring. We have a lot of guys in this room. Some won't be here [next year], some will. We know we have a lot of second-round draft picks and two first-round picks. This is a big draft, and personally I think the future is big for this organization and this team for what we're trying to accomplish right now."

For the rest of the season at least, Young will continue to play the role of leader and mentor, shepherding and offering advice to the team's younger players like fellow Memphian Adonis Thomas, a former University of Memphis forward whom the Sixers signed to a 10-day contract this week.

Thomas saw his first action as a Sixer on Friday, finishing with four points on 2 of 3 shooting while playing the game's final eight minutes.

Young and Wroten both scored a team-high 18 points for the Sixers, who were outscored 24-7 over the final seven minutes of the third quarter after Young picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench.

Elliot Williams, another Memphian and former University of Memphis player whom the Sixers signed this season, added 13 points (on 6 of 11 shooting) and four assists off the bench. It was eighth time in the last nine games Williams has finished in double figures.

"We let the game get away from us in the third [quarter]," Williams said. "We've got three more games -- games against playoff contenders. One against Boston, but we've got Miami and Charlotte (on Saturday) on the road. We just want to keep getting better offensively and defensively in our rotations because it wasn't too good today."

Asked about his future with the team, Williams said: "This year was big for me because it was my first year of being healthy. Just getting my body right. Just working hard in the offseason and coming back better -- that's all I can focus on."

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. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the most consistent NBA teams for nearly 20 years. They have made 19 consecutive postseason trips and won five championships during that span. 

The Sixers, on the other hand, are entering a phase of building a new foundation with a group of young players. They are working to improve upon a 10-win season, let alone making the playoffs.

Yet four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili saw more than records when weighing his options in free agency. The veteran point guard looked to the Sixers sidelines and was intrigued.

Head coach Brett Brown previously worked in the Spurs basketball operations department and on the coaching staff under Gregg Popovich. He was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. When the Sixers approached Ginobili this offseason, he gave them consideration before returning to the Spurs, where he has spent his entire 14-year career.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical on Thursday. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

The Sixers reportedly offered Ginobili, 38, a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal worth around $30 million. The Spurs first offered him a one-year, $3 million contract. Ginobili ended up re-signing with the Spurs for one-year, $14 million. 

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili said. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.”

Ginobili averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 19.6 minutes coming off the bench last season. The Sixers are adding veteran leadership, and Ginobili is one of the most experienced in the game. In addition to his reliability at the position, he could have been a mentor to the entire team and worked with Ben Simmons to help hone his point guard skills as the rookie big man plays point-forward. His years of international competition would have gelled with incoming players such as Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Sergio Rodriguez. 

The Sixers signed point guards Jerryd Bayless (three years, $27 million) and Rodriguez (one year, $8 million) this summer. T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall still are under contract. Last season's starting point guard Ish Smith signed with the Pistons at the start of free agency.