Young enduring trade rumors amid tough season

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Young enduring trade rumors amid tough season

Thaddeus Young, who has been the subject of trade speculation this season, reportedly wants out of Philadelphia.

According to a report Thursday from Jake Fischer of LibertyBallers.com, Young submitted a formal trade request to the Sixers weeks before his name turned up in a potential deal involving disgruntled Houston Rockets big man Omer Asik.

"Thad is ready to leave Philly," a source close to Young said, according to the report. "He isn't with the whole tanking thing.

"Thad is kind of anxious. He just wants them to do the trade if they are. He hates waiting. [Playing for a contender] would be great because the Sixers definitely aren't making the playoffs this year."

Missing out on the playoffs certainly appears to be the route the Sixers are headed this season. They are currently on a season-high seven-game losing skid and are last in the Atlantic Division with a 7-19 record.

Young, 25, is the longest tenured Sixer in his seventh season. He has experienced his share of winning and losing throughout his career, but the way the Sixers have suffered one defeat after another this season has already begun started to wear thin.

“We are going out there and the first half is always great, but that third quarter always takes its toll,” Young said Wednesday. “We get down like 15 points and it is hard to come back from those types of deficits. I think that is the most frustrating thing. We need better outputs in the third quarter.”

Monday’s third quarter is probably stuck in Young’s craw. The Nets outscored the Sixers 42-25 -- another example of how bad their defense has been of late.

“We have to do what we are doing better,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “We don’t do what we do well. Really, a lot that has happened is that we don’t get back in transition defense or we have an inability to contain our own man. That gets us into a penetrate-and-pitch game.

“Our rules are the Spurs’ rules. There is nothing funky going on here. It is nothing that great. It is just doing what we do and doing it better.”

The Sixers make some mistakes that you just can’t believe could happen at the pro level. That's with Brown sticking to relatively vanilla schemes on both ends of the floor.

Young has witnessed opponents use that to their advantage against the Sixers.

“Coach [Maurice] Cheeks used to always say when I first came into the league they just don’t know, and now I really know what that means," Young said. "It’s just a lot of things that go on in a game, especially an NBA game, with a lot of young guys playing against 10-year vets like Paul Pierce and KG (Kevin Garnett). You just don’t know. They have ways that they pick you apart, ways they know but you don’t know.”

Individually, things are going well for Young. He is averaging a career-high 15.8 points and shooting a personal-best 34.9 percent from three-point range.

However, individual numbers without that winning feeling don’t sit well with Young.

“Just play and stay focused,” Young said of trying to stay positive. “I remind myself that I have to be a leader to my teammates and one of the key guys on my team. I just go out and play. I can’t let too much bother me. I have to focus in. You might get frustrated at times but, hey, that’s part of the game. That’s part of life.”

Young has always kept his emotions in check, played hard and did whatever was in the best interest of his team. He still does all that, but his frustrations have become visible at times this season.

Brown understands the irritation but wants to channel those emotions into teaching moments.

“We back up opinion with footage and stats, and we help them get better,” Brown explained. “It’s not meant to be embarrassing to anybody. It’s not meant to be scolding unless it’s just gross effort. When effort isn’t there we have problems, and when it’s execution I need to teach and coach and build something.

“I hope it’s an authentic real environment and they understand we’re here to help them. I’m with them and I’m not going anywhere."

Brown is sticking around. We'll find out if the same can be said for Young.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."