NEW ORLEANS Doug Collins walked over to Marreese Speights at the end of Wednesdays shootaround, shook his hand and wished him well. Speights, the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Florida, is moving on as part of a three-team trade.
The deal sends Speights to Memphis, Xavier Henry to the Hornets and two future second-round picks, one from Memphis and one from New Orleans, to the Sixers. With Zach Randolph reportedly out for eight weeks for Memphis, Speights likely will get some playing time with the Grizzlies.
Speights, now in his fourth NBA season, has not appeared in any of the first four games this season. Last season he played in 64 games but averaged a career low 11.5 minutes.
Collins has said how much he likes the Speights but this morning the coach acknowledged that he could never reach Speights in a way that motivated him to do the things he needed to earn a spot in Collins rotation.
Any time you make a trade, for me as a coach, its a tough thing, Collins said. I probably invested as much time and energy in Mo as any player when I took over the job, me and Michael Curry. We really tried to connect and get the best out of him because we know how talented he is and for whatever reason I just wasnt able to get the best of him.
The best of Speights came in his first two seasons. As a rookie he scored in double figures 29 times and in his sophomore season he averaged 8.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Playing in the final year of his rookie contract, Speights welcomed the change of scenery and also tweeted to say goodbye to fans (see blog post).
I feel real good about it, Speights said, still with the Sixers at New Orleans Arena as of 1 p.m. Its a fresh start.
In Memphis, Speights should be able to get backup minutes behind center Marc Gasol and Randolph. No one will root harder for his success than Collins.
I want Mo to go to Memphis and I want him to play great there, Collins said. I want him to sign a new contract and I want him to do well. He knows that because I have shared that with him. Hopefully it will be a new start for him.
What this does is we get a couple second round picks and we get a trade exception. Hopefully, we can develop LaVoy Allen. He is not going to be in the rotation, but from his standpoint he will now dress for games and mentally, I think that is good.
The trade exception can be used any time in the next year and it will allow the Sixers to take on the salary equivalent of Speights this season or add that amount to make money match in a future trade.