With agreement in place, what's next for Sixers?


With agreement in place, what's next for Sixers?

So much to do in so little time. In the next couple of days the NBA will do its due diligence, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts on an agreement that they agreed to in principle in the wee hours of Saturday morning (see story).

There will be no litigation. The NBPA will reassemble itself. A new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be ratified and a 66-game season will begin Christmas Day.

If all goes as planned, NBA training camps will open on Dec. 9, as will free agency. Heres a look at what the Sixers will face before the start of the season:

Free agency
Fortunately for the Sixers, scrambling to sign free agents wont be too big of a deal. They have nine core guys under contract: Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Jodie Meeks, Lou Williams, Craig Brackins, Marreese Speights and Andres Nocioni.

The key guys they must decide on are restricted free agents Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. Under the new CBA the team will have three days to match any offer either receives. Of course they also could re-sign both, beginning Dec. 9.

Young has been a reserve for the Sixers, though there may be teams seeking to make him a starter given his statistics last season, when he averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the floor. His defense was greatly improved and his ability to create matchup problems for the opponent was an advantage.

Hawes was the teams starting center, though he put up reserve numbers. He averaged just 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21 minutes a game. Depending what the Sixers are able to do in free agency, Hawes could be back in the same role or become a backup to a veteran big man yet to be named.

Amnesty clause
Sources say there is an amnesty clause in the new CBA, like in the previous agreement, which allows each team to get rid of a player, though paying the remainder of his existing contract, without the salary counting against the cap. It is a one-time only option for the lifetime of the new CBA.

While there are people who have suggested that the Sixers use the amnesty with Brand, that wont happen. Brand is owed 35 million over the next two seasons. He was the teams leading scorer (15.4) and rebounder (8.4) while shooting nearly 55 percent from the floor.

Brand is too valuable to let go, but Nocioni is a different story. Nocioni has one year remaining on his deal at just under 7 million. His presence caused a problem in the rotation last year because he took minutes away from Turner, which may have slowed the then rookies progress.

If the Sixers use the amnesty clause on Nocioni, they could use the money on a free agent. Regardless of whether they spent that money or use the mid-level exception, they will likely target a center that could battle Hawes for that starting spot.

Last season Brand played many critical minutes at center. It would certainly be a bonus if Doug Collins could use Brand more sparingly at the five position.

New and improved?
Turner took to the hardwood this summer determined to earn more then the 23 minutes he averaged last year. Last year's second overall pick worked diligently on his jump shot this summer with Hall of Fame coach Herb Magee in an effort to improve his 42.5 field goal percentage and 31.8 from long range.

Saturday afternoon, Magee described what Sixers fans can look forward to seeing from Turner this season.

His confidence is really up. He has been in quite a bit, Magee said. His mid-range jumper has really improved and his three-point shot is better. If he is open for a three he wont be afraid to take it. The two things we really set out to work on was his grip and making the ball go straight. He had what I would call a ball that wandered with distance.

By wandered Magee explained that the ball would come off Turners fingers to the right or left as he increased his distance.

The other day we did a drill of 50 balls where he took ten consecutive shots from a spot and he had five spots, Magee recalled. He shot all 50 balls dead straight. I think you are going to see a big improvement. And off the bounce, this guy is really good.

More and more it looks like Turner will fight for and win the starting two-guard spot. Meeks is more of a pure shooter, but this team needs their roles to reverse if they are going to be better then their 41-41 record of last season.

Draft picks
The team has two draft picks to think about: Nikola Vucevic and Temples Lavoy Allen. Vucevic has been playing in his home country of Montenegro while Allen landed on a team in France. Interestingly enough both of them played well in what could be their respective last game overseas given that each has an NBA opt out clause.

The seven-foot Vucevic has scored 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting (1 for 4 from three) grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in 41 minutes while playing in Montenegro.

Allen recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 boards in his last game in France and has three double-doubles in eight games. Allen was a second-round pick, so he is not guaranteed to make the team.

Last year the Sixers carried 13 guys on the roster. The league maximum is 15. Only 12 players dress each game.
Collins plans on keeping things simple in terms of plays the team runs, and he intends to run things he believes his players liked and ran well a year ago. He made this decision having watched what NFL teams did well after their lockout this summer, and keeping it simple seemed to equal early success.

Training camp
Sixers training camp always has been held at a college. Larry Brown used to take the team to the University of North Carolina. At the end of his tenure in Philadelphia, the Sixers headed to Happy Valley and used Penn States facilities. When Brown departed, then President Billy King went back to North Carolina, only to his alma mater, Duke. In recent years the team made the trek a local one and had camp at Saint Josephs.

While the Hawks season has begun, the university could make camp possible for its pro brethren if it so chooses. Otherwise the Sixers will utilize their practice facility, PCOM, which has been upgraded on multiple levels by the new ownership.

Decisions, decisions.

E-mail Dei Lynam at dlynam@comcastsportsnet.com

Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts


Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

As the Western Conference Finals are taking place in Oakland, the Sixers are looking for new talent of their own in California.

This week, members of the Sixers' front office are attending pre-draft workouts organized through multiple agencies, including BDA Sports Management, CAA Sports, Landmark Sports Agency, Octagon and Wasserman Media Group.

While the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, these workouts are opportunities for them to evaluate players that could be fits for their 24th and 26th selections.

On Thursday, the list of workout participants included projected first-rounders Deyonta Davis (Michigan State) and Cheik Diallo (Kansas), according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

The scouting process takes NBA teams coast to coast. Earlier this week, the Sixers reportedly attended a private workout with Excel Sports Management in New York City, in which Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray participated.

The Sixers have held two workouts at their own practice facility, bringing in a total of 12 prospects thus far.

As the draft nears, 57 early-entry candidates withdrew their names from the 2016 draft.

NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination


NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination


OAKLAND, Calif. -- "We ain't going home! We're not going home!" Stephen Curry screamed at the top of his lungs.

No, his Golden State Warriors are going back to Oklahoma City, after keeping their title reign and the winningest season in NBA history alive for at least one more game.

Curry scored 31 points, raising his arms in the early moments to fire up Golden State's raucous crowd, and the defending champions staved off elimination with a 120-111 victory over the Thunder on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

"We just did what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to win at home," Curry said. "We know what we still have to do going forward. ... We knew if we didn't win we were going home. There's no other motivation you need."

For all the speculation about the current state of Curry's beat-up body -- that troublesome ankle, sore knee or tender elbow -- he did it all.

"I thought he looked like 91 percent," coach Steve Kerr cracked. "He came out and played a really good game. That's all I can tell you. He's going to compete every night. He had an excellent night and helped us get it done."

Led by Curry, the Warriors looked like their old winning selves again.

The MVP made a snazzy layup late and dished out six assists, while Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. The Warriors trail 3-2 and are trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit.

"None of us want to go home," Thompson said. "We're having too much fun out there."

Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, trying for the fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and first championship since moving from Seattle.

The record-setting, 73-win Warriors, coming off their first back-to-back defeats all season, had been blown out in two losses at Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.

"We have to take that game and travel," Curry said of keeping momentum.

Durant's 3-pointer with 4:34 left got the Thunder within 103-98, then Curry answered with a three-point play.

Curry scored seven points in a 58-second stretch of the second quarter and hit more big shots late, but the Thunder didn't go away easily.

"I liked our will, I liked our fight," Kerr said. "We were embarrassed in OKC the last couple games."

Trailing 58-50 at halftime, Oklahoma City came out of the break with a 9-2 run. Westbrook's 3-pointer with 6:06 left in the third put Oklahoma City ahead 68-67 for its first lead of the night. But Golden State led 81-77 going into the fourth and began the final period with an 8-0 burst.

"We didn't shoot a particularly good percentage when we got into the lane and got into the deep paint," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "We had our opportunities."

Curry shot 9 for 20 and also had five steals, while Thompson had his 11th 20-point game for the second straight postseason despite shooting 2 for 9 from 3-point range. After struggling the past two games, Draymond Green had 11 points and 13 rebounds a day after receiving some encouraging words from Kobe Bryant on the phone.

"We really relied on the entire team tonight, which is when we're at our best," Curry said.

Kerr figured his Warriors might have an edge against the percentages of teams having trailed 3-1 because they're the defending champs and were playing at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable.

He wasn't surprised to see this team respond so well.

"We played with great desperation," Kerr said. "I knew how we would play. This is a championship team."

Kerr called for center Andrew Bogut to do more and the 7-footer delivered with a playoff career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double this postseason and seventh of his career.

Marreese Speights had a pair of three-point plays on follow shots and a 3 in the second quarter to give Golden State a nice lift off the bench. He had nine points in four minutes during that stretch and 14 points overall for his fifth double-digit scoring game this postseason.

"Their bench came in and made shots, made plays for them," Durant said. "We know we're going home. We can't relax."

Golden State made 31 of 34 free throws.

With his 1,248th career postseason point in the third, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) for second place on the franchise's playoff scoring list.

"That's who he is, that's what he's done, and that's what's made him a very good player," Donovan said.

Thunder: The franchise lost in the finals in 1977-78, 1995-96 to Kerr and the Chicago Bulls and in `12. ... Steven Adams sat down with his second foul at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter. The Thunder had seven fouls to Golden State's one after the first. ... Oklahoma City took Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have lost only three times all season. ... The Thunder started the game 3 for 14.

Warriors: Green picked up his fifth technical of the postseason. He also has at least one steal in 16 straight playoff games. ... Golden State missed six of its first seven 3s. ... The Warriors supported Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager with "Sager Strong" T-shirts for sale to support awareness and research for leukemia and lymphoma, both blood cancers.

57 early-entry candidates withdraw from 2016 NBA draft


57 early-entry candidates withdraw from 2016 NBA draft

NBA prospects have been testing the waters and putting out feelers to the gauge interest levels of organizations during the pre-draft process. As a result, 57 early entry-candidates have withdrawn from 2016 draft eligibility. 

Among those are Villanova’s Josh Hart, who worked out for the Sixers and made his decision close to the deadline (see story), and Kris Jenkins. Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame also worked out for the Sixers and will return for his senior year. 

Below is a complete list of entry entry candidates that have withdrawn:

Abdul-Malik Abu, North Carolina State 
BeeJay Anya, North Carolina State 
Ian Baker, New Mexico State 
V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame 
James Blackmon Jr., Indiana 
Antonio Blakeney, LSU 
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson 
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier 
Amida Brimah, Connecticut 
Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky 
Dillon Brooks, Oregon 
Elijah Brown, New Mexico 
Deonte Burton, Iowa State 
Antonio Campbell, Ohio 
Conor Clifford, Washington State 
Charles Cooke III, Dayton 
Bakari Copeland, Maryland-Eastern Shore 
Moustapha Diagne, Northwest Florida State 
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon 
D’Andre Downey, Stillman College (AL) 
Vince Edwards, Purdue 
Jimmy Hall, Kent State 
Josh Hart, Villanova
Josh Hawkinson, Washington State 
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin 
Ike Iroegbu, Washington State 
Justin Jackson, North Carolina 
Kris Jenkins, Villanova 
Que Johnson, Washington State 
Peter Jok, Iowa 
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
Travion Kirkendoll, Centenary College (LA) 
Dedric Lawson, Memphis 
Marcus Lee, Kentucky 
Makai Mason, Yale 
Jahmal McMurray, South Florida 
Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina 
Dallas Moore, North Florida 
Jalen Moore, Utah State 
Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb 
Malik Newman, Mississippi State 
Marc-Eddy Norelia, Florida Gulf Coast 
Cameron Oliver, Nevada 
Alec Peters, Valparaiso 
QJ Peterson,VMI 
Malik Pope, San Diego State 
Rodney Purvis, Connecticut 
Corey Sanders Jr., Rutgers 
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue 
Rakish Taylor, Anderson University (SC) 
Ethan Telfair, Idaho State 
Trevor Thompson, Ohio State 
Melo Trimble, Maryland 
Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton 
Andrew White III, Nebraska 
Alec Wintering, Portland 
Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State