'Dre Rumor of the Day: To Clippers for Chris Kaman

'Dre Rumor of the Day: To Clippers for Chris Kaman

Well, at the very least, it seems like Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski are
legitimately shopping longest-tenured Sixer Andre Iguodala this
off-season. Mere days after he was rumored to be one half of a swap with
Golden State's Monta Ellis, a new proposal has trickled down the
pipeline: One sending him to Los Angeles for odd-Clipper-out Chris
Kaman. An all-star center two seasons ago, Kaman spent much of last year
injured and lost his starting spot to the younger, more athletic, more
defensively inclined DeAndre Jordan, who makes for a better fit
alongside Clips franchise power forward Blake Griffin than does Kaman.
He was effective but inconsistent upon his return, leading to rumblings
that he might be deemed expendable by L.A. brass for the team's future.

In many ways, this is a deal that makes sense on both sides. While
Kaman isn't quite the first-option scorer that Ellis is, he is a
legitimate offensive weapon, scoring 18.5 points a game on 49% shooting
in 34 minutes a game two years ago. More importantly, he's a legitimate
center, a seven-footer with post moves and a jump shot, who rebounds
well (if not spectacularly) and blocks a shot or two a game. Meanwhile,
Iguodala is exactly what the Clippers need—a versatile, defensive-minded
small forward who can defend, pass, and like just about everyone else
on that team, dunk. And with Blake and shooting guard Eric Gordon
entrenched as the top two scoring options for the Clips for years and
years to come, 'Dre could finally focus doing all those things he does
well, without being called on to any of the things he doesn't.

But while Iguodala seems a virtual no-brainer for the Clips—with
him, I'd be pretty shocked if they missed the playoffs last year—Kaman
on the Sixers is a little more of a mixed blessing. Though he can
score—better than Spencer Hawes, certainly—he's not really the
first-option scorer the Sixers need, more of a complementary piece. And
on defense, he's not a huge upgrade over Hawes—in fact, he's not a
particularly high-IQ player, and is prone to lapses in effort and
concentration, hardly the defensive anchor we need in the frontcourt.
And finally, on a team where youth and athleticism is still the core
strength, Kaman is neither particularly young (29 last April) or
particularly athletic (not a complete stiff, but there's a reason the
Clips prefer DeAndre Jordan so much).

All that said, there are advantages to dealing for Kaman beyond what
he does on the court. His deal, which pays him a little over 12 million
next year, expires at the end of the season, two years before
Iguodala's weighty contract finally lapses. He could be hugely valuable
as an expiring contract at next year's trade deadline, or he could help
the Sixers be players in the 2012 off-season—or merely offer them some
relief if they go heavy with the spending this summer. Ultimately, it's a
lower-risk, lower-reward move than dealing for Ellis would be—one that
doesn't lock the team into any long-term commitment or threaten to
interfere with any of their core players, but one which will, barring a
huge leap from some of their young guys, be relatively unlikely to be
the move that helps the Sixers take the next step.

Ultimately, of the two deals, I think I like the
swing-for-the-fences Ellis deal a little more, though both have their
advantages and would be, in my opinion, better than keeping Iguodala
around for another season. The one thing that does worry me about both
deals is that neither help the team in terms of young talent or draft
picks—neither really helps the team start the rebuilding process
straight-up, but rather offers them quality players who might just end
up keeping the Sixers afloat in mediocrity for one more season. Perhaps I
like the Ellis deal more because it has a greater chance of either
elevating the team to the next level, or screwing them up
completely—hopefully guaranteeing that at the very least, we wouldn't be
seeing another 41-41 season.

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”