Chasson Randle chasing NBA goals with Sixers

Chasson Randle chasing NBA goals with Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. — His name is pronounced ‘chase-in’ — “like you’re chasin’ somebody,” he explained.

Chasson Randle is chasing his NBA aspirations with the Sixers.

The point guard signed a 10-day contract on Tuesday following a four-player workout that included fellow D-Leaguers Cat Barber, Yogi Ferrell and Briante Weber.

Randle was averaging 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 19 games for the Westchester Knicks this season. 

“I just want to bring a lot of energy on both ends of the floor, be aggressive, and try to make plays out there and be a great teammate because we’ve got a lot of great guys here,” Randle said after his first practice. “I’ve only been here 24 hours, but I can just tell these guys are amazing.”

Although listed as a point guard, the Sixers envision utilizing Randle at the one- and two-spots. This versatility addresses multiple needs across the backcourt, which the Sixers took into consideration when making the decision to sign him.  

The Sixers are without Jerryd Bayless (wrist) for the season, and Sergio Rodriguez returned on Sunday from an ankle sprain. They have been starting third point guard T.J. McConnell and shifting shooting guard Nik Stauskas to the backup one position.

Over at the starting shooting guard spot, Gerald Henderson has been battling hip issues. The addition of Randle allows the Sixers to plug in another player during practice when managing Henderson.

“It gives us a balanced practice,” Brown said. “We’re very mindful of Gerald Henderson’s health. At times we don’t spend our money in practice and we need another body there.”

The Sixers also were thinking down the road with the signing. Should Randle still be on the team when Ben Simmons returns (no timetable announced), he has the skillset that could complement Simmons. The first overall pick went through his first five-on-none work on Tuesday and played point guard (see story).

“With the selection of [Randle], you feel like if he was able to continue on, there could be a place for him,” Brown said. “He’s a combo guard like Jerryd Bayless.”

Randle spent last season overseas with ČEZ Nymburk in the Czech Republic. He posted 12.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 47.3 percent from three. 

Randle went undrafted in 2015 following a standout four-year career at Stanford. During his senior year, he was named a Pac-12 All-Academic First Team honoree and Stanford’s first Capital One Academic All-America First Team selection since 2006. 

“He’s the all-time leading scorer in the history of Stanford basketball, and I felt like the gym was smarter today,” Brown said. “There’s intellect, there’s a history, there’s pedigree that we respect and there’s a balance to our team that he allows us to fill.”

Randle’s first game with the Sixers will be Wednesday against his former NBA affiliate, the Knicks.

Sixers 2016-17 Player Evaluation: Richaun Holmes

Sixers 2016-17 Player Evaluation: Richaun Holmes

Richaun Holmes

Position: Center

Status for 2017-18: Under contract for $1,471,382

Holmes in 2016-17
This year very well could have been a lost season for Richaun Holmes. The 23-year-old center was fourth on the Sixers' depth chart to begin the season, sitting behind top-10 picks Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Cracking the lineup, even with Embiid not playing back-to-backs and Noel hurt to start the year, was a daunting task.

Early in the season, Holmes provided solid minutes when he received them, reeling in 12 rebounds in a win vs. the Pacers on Nov. 11 and picking up 11 points and eight boards against the Nuggets on Dec. 5. However, Holmes was sent to the D-League soon after and with centers excelling ahead of him, it seemed his time in Philly may be numbered.

But then Embiid got hurt. This opened the door for consistent playing time for the former second-round pick and he shined. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes during February, then shot up to 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds over 26.4 minutes in March after Noel was traded. He put up 14 games with double-figure scoring despite eclipsing 30 minutes only four times. 

In all, Holmes proved himself to be a force off the bench for the Sixers, as well as when he got into the starting lineup. In 57 games, he started 17 and averaged 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, both increases from his rookie season. He upped his field goal percentage to 55.8 percent and became a viable three-point threat, shooting 35.1 percent, up from 18.2 percent as a rookie. Holmes finished the year with five straight games in double figures as he was one of the only healthy players left on the roster.

Signature game
Soon after returning from the D-League in January, he put up 18 points on 8 for 11 shooting against the Clippers in a win. He also had a double-double against the Wizards in late February after the trade deadline.

However, his signature game is one of two. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and five assists against the Magic on March 20, giving a tremendous effort over 42 minutes. Nine days later, he had 25 points — a career-high — while facing off against Dwight Howard and the Atlanta Hawks, earning the praise of the veteran center (see below).

Looking ahead to 2017-18
It may have seemed unlikely in early January, but Holmes is likely a rotation piece for the Sixers next season. Noel is gone, Okafor may follow soon and Embiid may have trouble with back-to-backs again next season, although president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has indicated otherwise. That opens the door for a lot of playing time, including more starts, for the Bowling Green product. 

The Sixers may bring in veteran help at center if Okafor is dealt, but it likely won't deter the 6-foot-10 forward in securing a role for next season. He proved too valuable at the end of the season. The energy Holmes provides is a necessary element to a second-unit and something the Sixers will gladly take next season.

On Holmes
"He's a kid that I remember the first time he stepped on the court with me, he was just like excited. He kept saying, 'Wow, I'm on the floor with Dwight Howard.' He just kept saying he was excited. Just to see his growth from that moment, he plays with such passion, it's great to see especially from a young guy like him. I'm proud of him."
- Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard

"He just sat there and accepted whatever we gave him: go to the D-League, sit there and clap, start, play behind Joel — whatever it was, he accepted. And he did it where it didn't diminish his work ethic, it didn't diminish his ability to coexist within a team. He found ways to improve individually, and he did it with a great level of maturity."
- Sixers head coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).

Spurs advance: San Antonio beats Grizzlies in Game 6
NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, helping the San Antonio Spurs advance to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-96 Thursday night to take the series 4-2.

The Spurs now have beaten Memphis four of the five playoff series between these teams, and this was San Antonio's second straight win over the Grizzlies in the first round.

Tony Parker added 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Patty Mills had 10 points off the bench for the Spurs. San Antonio outrebounded Memphis 46-28, with 16 of those offensive boards. That led to 17 second-chance points.

Their semifinal with Houston will start Monday night in San Antonio.

Mike Conley scored 26 points, leading the five Memphis starters in double digits. Marc Gasol added 18, Zach Randolph 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Vince Carter had 12 points (see full recap).