Zoo's Views: Now is the time for Moultrie


Zoo's Views: Now is the time for Moultrie

Exactly when Andrew Bynum finally plays is not the only great mystery of this 2012-13 Sixers season.

Arnett Moultrie, the 6-10, 245-pound rookie, has also been an unknown to this point. However, now we may finally find out what Moultrie can do as an NBA player.

To this moment in the season, Moultrie’s playing time has come in teaspoonfuls. He has 15 appearances in the Sixers' 47 games and a total of just 83 minutes.

It’s not as if the Sixers didn’t need him, with Bynum yet to play a single second and -- until recently, anyway -- the team’s big-man rotation in a state of flux. But Moultrie was hurt by a slow start to the season and troubled by a summertime ankle injury, which equaled a bigger learning curve. The Sixers even sent him down to the NBA’s developmental league, though his production there was noticeably unspectacular.

Then, with 5:46 left in the second quarter on Monday against Orlando, the urgency to see what Moultrie can do suddenly increased. That’s when the energetic Thaddeus Young went skidding out of bounds in front of the Sixers' bench after a loose ball, straining his left hamstring in the process. The diagnosis, an estimated three weeks of rest and rehab for the Sixers' starting power forward, subsequently opened up 35 minutes of nightly playing time for somebody or some bodies.

The best guess is that Lavoy Allen will soak up many of those minutes as a starter. Allen started Monday's second half, looking more like the guy who refused to concede to Kevin Garnett’s shtick during last year’s playoffs. Moultrie got some minutes, too, and seemed to ready to play, hitting a jumper without hesitation, defending, hitting the glass and even blocking a shot. Afterward, he earned a positive response from head coach Doug Collins.

The Sixers thought enough about Moultrie to spend a future first-round pick on him during last summer’s draft. Selected at 27 by Miami, Moultrie spent two years at Texas El Paso before transferring to Mississippi State, where he proceeded to lead the Southeastern Conference in rebounding. He even displayed a noticeable face-up game there, including the occasional college three.

The timing of Young’s injury is such that the All-Star break will eat away at one of the presumed three weeks. That still leaves a handful of games for Moultrie to play important minutes and show that he belongs.

Wouldn’t it be nice for the Sixers if Moultrie plays well, and before the end of the month, Bynum makes his Sixers debut? Add that with the return of last year’s Allen and it could allow Young to take whatever time he needs to come back from his hamstring injury.

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here:

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

In a preseason full of unexpected turns, the Sixers' final cuts were as anticipated.

The Sixers on Monday waived guards Cat Barber, Dionte Christmas, Brandon Paul and forwards Shawn Long and James Webb III to trim their regular-season roster to 15. 

Long, Paul and Webb had been with the Sixers since summer league. Barber signed with the team for training camp. Philadelphia native Christmas was the newest addition. He joined the Sixers the day of the deadline (see story)

The Sixers own the D-League rights to Barber, Christmas, Long and Webb. They are expected to land with the affiliate Delaware 87ers. 

Paul’s D-League rights are owned by the Cavaliers. He has received interest from other NBA teams, according to a source, and has not discussed playing in the Development League. 

Long appeared in each of the Sixers' preseason games. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Webb posted 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in six games. 

Paul averaged 7.3 points (36.4 percent from three) and 2.3 rebounds in four games. Barber was sidelined during the preseason by a right hand/wrist injury. He played two games, averaging 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. 

Christmas, 30, had planned to play this season in Greece and decided on Sunday to sign with the Sixers instead of returning overseas. 

The Sixers waived 17-year veteran Elton Brand last weekend after he announced his intention to retire. 

Here's the Sixers' complete roster:

2016-17 Sixers
Robert Covington, SF, 6-9/215
Joel Embiid, C, 7-2/250
Jerami Grant, F, 6-8/210
Gerald Henderson, G, 6-5/215
Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10/245
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F, 6-6/205
T.J. McConnell, PG, 6-2/200
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11/275
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, 6-3/176
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/223
Nik Stauskas, G, 6-6/205
Hollis Thompson, G/F, 6-8/206

Inactive list
Jerryd Bayless, PG, 6-3/200
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, 6-11/228
Ben Simmons, F, 6-10/240