Zoo's Views: Now is the time for Moultrie

slideshow-020513-sixers-moultrie-ap.jpg

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.

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.