What an awesome weekend it was with one of the sporting world’s greatest events in our very own backyard.
The U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club featured great entertainment and drama on a course that truly is a gem. Phil Mickelson finished as runner-up for a sixth time at the U.S. Open. Mickelson showed tremendous class throughout and was truly forthcoming in his post-tournament comments regarding his “heartbreak” of finishing second in another Open (see story).
Listening to Mickelson makes you wonder why more people in the sports world aren’t willing to tell the truth?
The Sixers played their last game of the 2012-13 regular season exactly two months ago. Their head coach stepped down one day later, and in early May, Sam Hinkie became the organization’s new president and general manager.
Since then the franchise has drifted into silence. The Sixers have conducted all their pre-draft workouts behind closed doors. If they have interviewed possible coaching candidates, they have done so in relative secrecy.
Hinkie believes the less he says about which prospects the Sixers like, the more he will be able to wheel and deal on draft night. He may be right, but giving fans nothing to talk about is a mistake.
The splash the Sixers made last summer when they traded for Andrew Bynum went so awry that it is hard not to view as one of the worst trades in NBA history. Couple that with a roster that lacks stardom outside of Jrue Holiday and seven free agents to replace or re-sign with $11 to $15 million, and it can be hard for even the most loyal Sixers fans to get excited about the direction of the team.
While team after team conducts coaching searches -- 11 other coaching changes have been made since the end of the regular season -- Doug Collins’ replacement remains an unknown. Brooklyn thought outside the box when it hired Jason Kidd last week and the Los Angeles Clippers are stealing headlines now by reportedly trying to trade for Boston’s Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett.
By the time July rolls around, the NBA draft will be complete. The Sixers will have used the 11th, 35th and 42nd overall picks or traded them away. A coach will likely be in place and free agency will be in season.
That will be a lot of news for a team that has spent the last two months being so quiet. For the Sixers, it’s been a little too quiet.
Whether or not the Sixers keep Tiago Splitter after acquiring him from the Hawks for Ersan Ilyasova has not been determined (see story). In the meantime, get to know the newest member of the team.
Splitter already knows his coach
Brett Brown was working on the Spurs’ coaching staff when Splitter began playing for the team in 2010. Splitter was a member of the 2013 Spurs squad that won the championship the year after Brown departed to coach the Sixers.
Another international addition
This season, half of the Sixers’ roster is comprised of international players. Splitter is from Brazil and played on the national team. He was unable to compete in the Olympics last summer because of hip surgery. Splitter also played overseas in Europe before coming to the NBA. The location on his Twitter profile is “Smwhere in Usa or Brazil.”
First-rounder in ‘07
Splitter did not play his rookie season until 2010, but he was drafted in 2007. The Spurs selected Splitter with the 28th overall pick. He was chosen one pick after Arron Afflalo and one before Alando Tucker. That is the same draft in which the Sixers chose Daequan Cook at No. 21 and traded him to the Heat for Jason Smith.
Splitter on the mic
Nik Stauskas isn’t the only member of the Sixers with a broadcasting resume anymore. Splitter made appearances on the Hawks’ television broadcast this season and also for a Brazilian network during 2016 Summer Olympics.
Will Splitter raise the cat? He’s already raised his five-month-old puppy in this recent Instagram post.
The Bulls are apparently still after Jahlil Okafor.
Chicago has continued its trade push for the Sixers’ big man, according to a report Wednesday night by The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.
In early February, the Bulls inquired about Okafor, according to a report by CSNChicago.com.
With Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline nearing, the clock is ticking on the Sixers’ possible trade of Okafor, who “will get moved” by the mandatory cutoff date, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge on Tuesday.
The Sixers already have one trade completed. They finalized a deal late Wednesday night that sent Ersan Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks for Tiago Splitter and draft pick considerations (see story).
With Okafor, aside from the Bulls, other teams have reportedly expressed interest in the second-year center, including the Pacers, Blazers, Mavericks and Pelicans (who are expected to be out of the running after landing DeMarcus Cousins).
Okafor is averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per game this season over 38 contests. Last season, he played 53 games (48 starts) as a rookie and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds.
The 21-year-old has taken all the trade buzz in stride.
“Trade rumors are something that’s going to be part of my life probably for as long as I’m in the NBA," Okafor said on Feb. 4 after the Bulls’ reported interest originally surfaced. "I’ve been hearing it since I’ve been in the NBA about me being traded. I just try to focus on what I can. That’s being here on this team and trying to help this team win.”