With turnover, some Sixers become early veterans

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With turnover, some Sixers become early veterans

Thaddeus Young is just 25 years old. Yet, when the Sixers held 2013 media day at their practice facility on Friday, Young felt old.

Going into his seventh season -- all with the Sixers -- Young is playing for his fifth different coach, as well as seeing a fourth different person serve as the team’s general manager.

“I have been through a lot of coaches and a lot of players,” Young said. “It is a process that you try to get through -- another rebuilding process, so you have to have a lot of patience.”

Spencer Hawes spent his early NBA seasons playing for the Sacramento Kings, a team that was perpetually rebuilding.

“Going back to it (rebuilding), hopefully I have a different perspective,” Hawes said. “Everybody can talk about that but as players, that is not our mind set. If you listen to what people are saying, whether it is good or bad, it ends up being a distraction.”

In addition to patience, communication will be essential between head coach Brett Brown and his players, most of whom are very young and inexperienced.

“I think that was something Coach [Doug] Collins got away from his third year,” Young said. “His first and second year, he would listen to me, 'Dre ( Andre Iguodala), EB (Elton Brand), and let us dictate a lot of things on our own -- he was very good with that, and then for some reason went away from that and the communication wasn’t as good as it had been in the beginning. I am all about communication and you just telling me what is the plan, and Coach Brown has done that.”

The plan is to have a team that is the most fit and conditioned in the league (see story). Every team works on conditioning but the Sixers’ veteran players admit that Brown’s conditioning regimen is a notch above anything they have experienced in the past.

“I think the fitness is the biggest change of everything,” Young said. “Guys have never really worked this hard and haven’t seen how to work this hard and now they are putting in the time consistently. Guys are realizing what hard work and dedication to the game really is.”

“He is dead serious,” Evan Turner said when asked what he thought of Brown’s commitment to fitness. “Doug was dead serious too, but how he (Brown) plays, you have to be in shape because you are running, running, running. He is no different than any other old-school coach. Doug really preached conditioning and after you see what Brett does, you realize Doug wasn’t so crazy -- he knew what he was talking about.”

Each player had to pass a conditioning test prior to the team’s five-day training camp, which begins Saturday at Saint Joseph’s University.

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.