Old Faces in New Places: Your Guide to Former Sixers' Current NBA Teams

Old Faces in New Places: Your Guide to Former Sixers' Current NBA Teams

In years' past, there'd be no real need for a column about where former
Sixers are playing now, since the team was so focused on keeping its
core intact that if the Sixers let one of their guys go, chances were
pretty good he'd already have one foot out of the league. Not the case
anymore, especially after this last off-season, and now a number of
post-Iverson era Liberty Ballers have found themselves some new digs.
With the NBA regular season kicking off tonight, hooray, here's a brief
refresher about where our old guys are at now.

Elton Brand:

New Team: Dallas Mavericks

Acquired Via: Auction bid, after the Sixers amnestied him in the off-season for cap-room purposes.

Role:
Starting power forward while Dirk Nowitzki is out with knee issues,
primary post defender. When Nowitzki comes back, he may move over to the
starting pivot, or come off the bench behind Dirk and one-time Clipper
teammate Chris Kaman.

First Game: Tonight, the late TNT game against the Lakers.

Samuel Dalembert:

New Team: Milwaukee Bucks

Acquired Via:
Trade with the Houston Rockets, in a H-Town salary dump while GM Darryl
Morey was trying to clear cap space for a potential Dwight Howard
trade.

Role: Starting center, at least at first. We bet they revert to the Drew Gooden high-post offense soon enough.

First Game: Friday against the Celtics in Boston

Willie Green:

New Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Acquired Via: Trade with the Atlanta Hawks for Sofoklis "Baby Shaq" Schortsanitis.

Role:
Third-or-fourth-string shooting guard, behind at least Chauncey Billups
and Jamal Crawford, and possibly Grant Hill too if they need to find
room for him on the wing.

First Game: Tomorrow night against the Grizzlies

Andre Iguodala:

New Team: Denver Nuggets

Acquired Via: Trade, as the final piece of the four-team swap that saw Dwight Howard go to Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum come to Philly.

Role:
Starting two-guard, defensive stopper, secondary play-maker, and—the
Nugs hope—the player the puts them over the top as a contender in the
West.

First Game: Wednesday night—in Philadelphia, natch.

Jodie Meeks:

New Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Acquired Via: Free agency, a one-year, $1.4 million deal.

Role: Floor-spacer off the bench, though if Kobe Bryant sits
tonight with ankle trouble as it is rumored he might—we'll believe it
when we see it—Jodie will be the starting two-guard for the Lakers'
season opener, alongside Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and
Dwight Howard.

First Game: Tonight, the late TNT game against the Mavericks.

Nikola Vucevic:

New Team: Orlando Magic

Acquired Via:
The four-team Bynum/Howard trade, one of the "prospects" received by
Orlando in exchange for the second-best player in their franchise's
history.

Role: Backup center behind the more
defensive-minded Gustavo Ayon, though in the long sense, he and
would've-been Sixers rookie Moe Harkless share the burden of proving
that the Magic at least got something out of the whole Dwight Howard deal.

First Game: Friday night against the Nuggets

Lou Williams:

New Team: Atlanta Hawks

Acquired Via: Free agency, a four-year, $20 million deal.

Role:
Probably a similar instant-offense slot off the bench to the one he had
with Philly, though with similar perimeter scoring issues to ones
enjoyed in Philly during his tenure, it's entirely psosible he'll spend
large times as an offensive focal point, especially in late-game
situations.

First Game: Friday against the Rockets

Also Still Kicking Around:

Lou Amundson, Minnesota Timberwolves
Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers
Raja Bell, Utah Jazz
Reggie Evans, Brooklyn Nets
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets
John Salmons, Sacramento Kings
Jason Smith, New Orleans Hornets
Marreese Speights, Memphis Grizzlies
Sam Young, Indiana Pacers

Jay Wright amazed by Joel Embiid's improvements since Kansas

Jay Wright amazed by Joel Embiid's improvements since Kansas

Jay Wright remembers facing Joel Embiid's Kansas team, and he's shocked by the improvements Embiid made while sitting out the last two years.

"Could you imagine not playing for two years and getting better?" Wright said Friday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad. "We played against him in college and he was not close — he was good, but not close to the player that he was at the start of this year. 

"What [the Sixers'] staff did while he was out is incredible. I don't know what other pro athlete has done that or could do that — not play and improve drastically.

"He's a unique force. We haven't seen a guy that's got this will defensively and ability defensively and then the skill level and mobility offensively. I've heard some people compare him to (Hakeem) Olajuwon. He's far more mobile than Olajuwon. Olajuwon, offensively, had his set of skills, which [Embiid] will develop. But the mobility he's got far exceeds Olajuwon. He's exciting. ... It's nice to feel this vibe with the Sixers right now."

Wright was also asked if he, as a coach, would want a player on a minutes restriction participating in the All-Star Game.

"Yeah, I would," he said. "I think that it's such an accomplishment for Joel Embiid. It would build his confidence so much to be on the floor with those guys and realize he's earned this. And to have that a part of his psyche going into the next season — 'OK, I've already been separated during the regular season with those guys, I belong with those guys.' So next year I'm thinking, 'I wanna beat these guys, I wanna be better than these guys.' 

"I think it'll be great for him. I think it's awesome ... what Brett Brown and his staff have done with this guy."

As lucky as good?
With a national championship and another No. 1 ranking this season, it would be understandable if Wright was feeling himself right about now. 'Nova is 17-1 and back atop the AP poll after a brief stint at No. 3.

National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart is leading the way for the Wildcats with 18.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. A lot of Villanova's success this season is owed to Hart's decision to return for his senior year, so Wright has no issue admitting there's been some luck involved in the Wildcats' recent success.

"It's a tremendous advantage and it's really been probably the most important factor in our success the last three, four years," Wright said of 'Nova's senior leadership Friday on TCN's Breakfast on Broad.

"A lot of it is, on Villanova's side, luck. Josh Hart could have left last year. He just looked at it and kind of said, 'I could be maybe a late first-round, early [second-round pick]. I'd rather come back and get my degree.' 

"Having people that make that choice, you're lucky. If we lose him last year, we're a lot younger team this year. Daniel Ochefu the year before was faced with that decision. He stayed. 

"So when you get those guys that decide they're gonna stay, you catch a break because they're invaluable, a senior of that level. Daniel's playing in the NBA now. So we had a guy for a year that was an NBA player. And we have that with Josh this year. Kris (Jenkins) is developing into one, Darryl (Reynolds) has a chance."

Villanova, which destroyed Seton Hall 76-46 on Monday, hosts Providence Saturday at noon.

Gregg Popovich on Sixers: 'One of my joys in life to watch them win'

Gregg Popovich on Sixers: 'One of my joys in life to watch them win'

When Brett Brown agreed to become the Sixers' head coach, he knew he was embarking upon a unique challenge with a franchise that planned to be as methodical as possible in its rebuild. 

One of the results was a career record for Brown of 47-199 entering this season, a record so lopsidedly poor that Brown may never break the .500 mark.

But the Sixers are finally showing real progress, with a star in Joel Embiid and young players who are turning out to be useful pieces. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine, and there's no one happier to see that than Brown's former boss and mentor, Gregg Popovich.

"It's one of my joys in life to watch them win basketball games because if there's any team that deserves it, it's those guys," Popovich told ESPN.

Brown and the Sixers aren't out of the woods yet. At 14-26, they're still closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but the entire vibe around the team has changed. 

"They've had it really tough for all the obvious reasons," said Popovich, who has been the Spurs' head coach since 1996 and worked with Brown from 2002-13.

"There's nobody in our business that is more positive, and more day-to-day upbeat and ready to teach and love than Brett Brown. He's a unique, unique guy."