Tyreek Duren taking lessons from vet to Sixers


Tyreek Duren taking lessons from vet to Sixers

There are only four players in the history of the Big 5 to score 1,500 points, dish out 450 assists and get 200 steals in their collegiate careers.

Of that four, Jameer Nelson, the former St. Joe’s star and 10-year veteran with Orlando and Tyreek Duren from La Salle, work out together. Moreover, both players are hoping to land with a new team in the NBA sometime soon.

Nelson, of course, should have little problem latching on with a team. Testing the free-agent waters for the first time in his NBA career, the former All-Star and rock steady point guard has drawn the interest of New Orleans, Brooklyn, Detroit, Miami and New York.

Duren, on the other hand, is looking for opportunities. Not selected in last month’s NBA draft, Duren, a four-year starter at La Salle and star with Neumann-Goretti in South Philly, will play for the Sixers in the Las Vegas Summer League.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’m trying to make the best of it,” Duren said. “It’s big to be here. Growing up I looked up to a lot of the Sixers like [Allen Iverson] and then to be in this gym, it’s kind of unbelievable.”

A 6-foot point guard, Duren may have to be very impressive to grab a spot with the Sixers. After all, the team has reigning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, at point guard, along with third-year player Tony Wroten. Plus, 5-foot-10 point guard Casper Ware performed well with two 10-day contracts at the end of last season and has stood out on defense in Orlando.

Where Duren may stand out is with his three-point shooting. At La Salle he shot 40.8 percent from deep in his senior year and went 105 for 264 (39.8 percent) in 65 games over his last two seasons.

Defense could be Duren’s ticket, though. Averaging nearly two steals per game at La Salle, Duren’s quickness will help him during the next two weeks with the Sixers. If Duren can stand out in the team’s up-tempo style, he has a chance.

And that’s where the workouts with Nelson come in. If there is one thing Duren has learned from the NBA vet, it’s there are no easy days. Every play matters, Duren said.

“Just the work ethic and how NBA players take everything serious,” Duren said of the lessons learned from Nelson. “Every rep, every drill you just have to max out.”

There’s more, too. At 6-foot and a bit under 200 pounds, Duren will be going up against a lot of bigger point guards.

“The main thing with him and the biggest difference in the both of us is that he’s a lot leaner than me,” Duren said. “He’s very muscular and that’s one thing I want to pick up -- I want to get my body right.”

Otherwise, Duren says he and Nelson have “completely different games.” Except for the fact that Duren, Nelson, Scottie Reynolds and Doug Overton are the only Big 5 players to get 1,500 points, 450 assists and 200 steals in their collegiate careers.

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since reaggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.