Will Bynum, Sixers make long-term commitment?

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Will Bynum, Sixers make long-term commitment?

The clock is ticking on both the Sixers’ season and Andrew Bynum’s chances of being a part of it.

There are eight weeks remaining and 31 games for the Sixers. Bynum says he is still a couple weeks away from taking part in a full practice (see full story), which is diminishing the number of times fans or the front office will see him in uniform in 2013.

Bynum insists his status of becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1 has no impact on his timetable to get back in game action.

“I am focused on getting back and getting right, as opposed to being in a rush,” Bynum said after a rigorous workout on Tuesday. “As I have said before, it doesn’t matter to me. I will play anywhere. I just need to be healthy.”

“He will be able to manage the pain as long as he doesn’t get swelling,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said. “The swelling is what incapacitates you because your joint gets stiff and you can’t move, so if he can keep the swelling out he will be able to manage."

The Sixers want nothing more than a healthy Bynum. After all, they gave up Andre Iguodala, Nik Vucevic, Moe Harkless and a future first-round draft pick for the services of the dominant center.

Iguodala has helped Denver to a 33-21 record, second to Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division and good enough for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Vucevic is averaging 12.4 points and 11.5 rebounds as a second-year center in Orlando. Meanwhile, Harkless is just beginning to scratch the surface of his tremendous potential.

The future for those given up by the Sixers in the Bynum trade looks bright. But what about the Sixers’ future with a 25-year-old with knee issues since becoming a pro straight from high school eight years ago?

Bynum admits the pain this time around is greater than his previous injuries. However, he still believes he will get healthy.

“I want to be healthy,” Bynum said. ”I know what I can do. The question is, is my knee going to hold up? That’s something the organization has to think about. All I have to do is think about going out there and putting up buckets.”

Much of what Bynum said Tuesday sounded familiar to prior answers from earlier this season. In addition to the words being redundant, the way in which they are delivered always seems to be in a nonchalant manner.

A franchise’s future, as well as Bynum’s own, are at stake. Yet, ho-hum seems to be the approach for the center who added yet another distracting hairdo to his resume on Tuesday with half-corn-rowed, half-afro look.

There is an understandable need for caution when it comes to Bynum’s return, but shouldn’t a sense of urgency be overlapping that feeling?

The reality soon could very well be that Bynum is on a team out of the playoff hunt. Therefore, playing this season would no longer be viewed as a necessity.

It’s tough to tell at this point which party is taking the greater risk -- Bynum or the Sixers organization.

“Would I be a risk? I don’t know because I don’t do risk assessment. That is what the front office does,” Bynum said. “Myself, I know what I can bring and I need to get healthy. Every day I am working out. Every day I am running. Every day I am playing basketball.”

When asked if he envisioned himself being a Sixer beyond this season, Bynum was true to his personality.

“I am wide open,” he said. “I want to play. I am here now and I don't have any problem with the Sixers. They have treated me great this entire time. I have had my trainer here. I have been working with KJ (team trainer Kevin Johnson) and the guys, so there are no bad feelings either way.”

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.8 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there."

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

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).