With turnover, some Sixers become early veterans


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.

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since aggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points and had one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.