How would Sixers look if season started on time?


How would Sixers look if season started on time?

Wednesday at 7 p.m., Sixers fans were supposed to be able to turn on their television set and see where Doug Collins team is compared to last May when it gave the Miami Heat stiff competition in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated.

The Sixers and Raptors were set to play at the Air Canada Centre to kick off the teams 2011-12 season. Then, the Sixers were to play host on Friday to Minnesota in their home opener. A 2-0 start was a good bet and would go a long way in forgetting last years 3-13 run out of the gate.

What would we have seen? Who would be in the starting lineup? Would there be any significant free-agent signings?

With the lockout now 125 days old and league personnel still under a gag order, we can only speculate what moves the Sixers have in mind. The organization was clear prior to July 1 when the lockout began that signing restricted free agents Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes were both priorities.

Youngs 2010-11 season had more highlights than that of the Sixers starting center, but both guys are just 23 years old. Young flourished under Collins in a reserve role, averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds, while shooting 54 percent. He needs to continue to work on his jump shot and his production on the glass must increase as well.

Hawes averaged 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds a night. He shot 47 percent from the floor, but just 53 percent from the foul line. However, the most telling statistic for Hawes was that he averaged just 21 minutes a game as a starter.

In the guts of a game, Elton Brand was often moved from playing power forward to the center position. Looking at available free agent centers, one particular name was eye-catching as it pertains to the Sixers needs. Dont worry, the name is not Samuel Dalembert, who is a free agent and will land somewhere with a contract somewhere in the 5 million per year range.

The name is Kwame Brown. Before you utter something about him being a bust, hear us out.

Brown is a 10-year veteran who began his career in Washington playing for, yes, Doug Collins. The No. 1 overall pick in 2001 struggled as a rookie, averaging just 14 minutes. He played for Collins his sophomore season as well, but his best year was his third season, when he averaged 11 points and 7.4 rebounds with Eddie Jordan as head coach.

Brown has never been a shot blocker, but he can defend and his 6-11 body alongside Brand would form a formidable low-post presence. He has been a backup and starter throughout his career, but if the Sixers used him as a starter it would benefit the teams bench.

That acquisition would shift Hawes to a reserve role where the seven-footer would likely see his numbers go up, namely because the level of his competition would go down. Hawes had a dreadful first two games of the postseason last year where he scored a total of six points and grabbed just one rebound. He picked it up during the rest of the series against the Heat and then made a conscious decision this summer to drop weight by changing his eating habits and workout regimen. Hawes is skilled and a good shooter that could get at least the 21 minutes he averaged a year ago.

Hawes change likely would not be the only alteration to the Sixers starting group.

After a summer of seeking out shooting help from Herb Magee and putting in the time to change the mechanics of his jump shot, Evan Turner would have found himself alongside Jrue Holiday in the starting backcourt against the Raptors. No disrespect is meant toward Jodie Meeks, who started 64 games for the Sixers a year ago and averaged 10.5 points, while shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range. Meeks averaged 28 minutes per game and Turner received 23. At the very least, those numbers need to be reversed.

Turner, a No. 2 overall pick, is 6-7 vs. a 6-4 Meeks. The second-year guards length would make it more difficult for opposing two guards to shoot over. Too often Meeks was giving up significant inches to the man he was defending.

And yes, Andre Iguodala and Turner can play together on the floor at the same time. You will see three guards that have unique strengths but are capable of being interchangeable at any given time. Holiday, Turner and Iguodala can all handle the ball and get the team into its offense. None of the three is a pure shooter, but Holiday shot 45 percent from the floor last year and 37 percent from three. As fans saw in Game 4 against Miami, the former UCLA product is not afraid to take the big shot.

Iguodala is great in the open floor and Turner will look more like the slasher he was at Ohio State when he was the National Player of the Year.

Iguodala will have better numbers statistically in 2012 than he did in his first year under Collins and the biggest reason will be his health. Iguodala missed 15 games last year after being absent for just six during his first six years in the league. He averaged 14.1 points, the second lowest of his career, ditto for his .445 shooting percentage. He also shot a career-low 69 percent at the foul line.

If the lockout has benefited any Sixer it has been Iguodala with his body getting the extra recovery time. He spent last off-season playing for Team USA in the World Championships, which took up most of that summer.

Brand will have enjoyed the rest as well. He is 32 years old and entering his 13th NBA season. Brand doesnt have to be any more than he was a year ago when he averaged 15 points and 8.3 rebounds, shooting 51 percent from the floor. Those numbers do not spell amnesty clause, which is a proposed option in labor talks that would allow teams to dump one player without his salary counting against the cap as he still gets paid. Even when that salary is 17 million this season, minus one months salary given the cancellation of all November games. Using amnesty on Brand would not make financial sense unless there was someone to fill the void when he left. This roster does not have that and you cant guarantee that the Sixers could attract a high-caliber free agent. Hard to believe we are saying this, but Brand is too valuable to just dispose of his salary.

If we were paying 17 million to someone and they were physically able, we would rather they play than sit.

Jason Kapono wont be back, along with Darius Songaila, Tony Battie and Antonio Daniels. Dont be surprised if the team tries to buy out Andres Nocionis 6.7 million contract. Should that happen, the team still has 11 guys under contract, including rookie Nikola Vucevic, who was selected with 16th overall pick last June.

The other rookie, Lavoy Allen, who is currently playing in France, might be advised to finish his year out there because the second-round pick is not guaranteed a spot.

Teams carry between 12-15 players on the roster with 12 dressing on any given night. The Sixers 12th roster spot looms large. If that acquisition is a contributor, the Sixers will have improved from a year ago.

Unfortunately, the 2011-12 product is not available for your viewing pleasure Wednesday night.

E-mail Dei Lynam at

Police: Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed in Dallas

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Police: Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed in Dallas

DALLAS -- New Orleans Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was fatally shot after breaking down the door to a Dallas apartment, authorities said Saturday.

A man living at the apartment was sleeping when he heard his front door kicked open, Dallas Police Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black said in a statement. When Dejean-Jones began kicking at the bedroom door, the man retrieved a handgun and fired.

Officers who responded found Dejean-Jones collapsed in an outdoor passageway, and he died at a hospital. He was 23.

"We are devastated at the loss of this young man's life," the Pelicans said in a statement.

Dejean-Jones was visiting his girlfriend for his daughter's first birthday, which was Saturday, according to his agent, Scott W. Nichols. He said the girlfriend returned to the apartment first while Dejean-Jones went for a walk after they had gone out.

She lives on the fourth floor, and Dejean-Jones, who was visiting the complex for the first time, went to the third.

"He went to the wrong apartment unfortunately and I think he thought his girlfriend locked him out, so he was knocking on the door, banging on the door, it's locked," Nichols said. "So one thing led to another."

It is legal in Texas for someone to use deadly force in order to protect themselves from intruders.

"I just lost my best friend/cousin last night enjoy life because you never know if tomorrow is guaranteed," Shabazz Muhammad of the Minnesota Timberwolves wrote on Twitter.

Julie Keel, a spokeswoman for Camden Property Trust, the real estate company that owns the apartment complex in Dallas, confirmed that the complex's apartment manager had sent out an email to residents saying that the person who had been shot had been trying to break into "the apartment of an estranged acquaintance" and that this person had "inadvertently" broken into the wrong apartment.

Black said he could not confirm that Dejean-Jones was trying to access an acquaintance's apartment.

In Dejean-Jones' only NBA season, which ended in February because of a broken right wrist, the 6-foot-6 guard started 11 of 14 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called it a "tragic loss."

"Bryce inspired countless people with his hard work and perseverance on his journey to the NBA, and he had a bright future in our league," Silver said in a statement issued Saturday.

Dejean-Jones was part of the 2014-15 Iowa State team that went 25-9, captured a Big 12 title and made a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. He was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 10.5 points in 33 games. He shot a career-best 47.6 percent in his lone season as a Cyclone. He also played at Southern California and UNLV and was signed by the Pelicans last summer after not being selected in the 2015 draft.

"Bryce's dedication and hard work on his journey to the NBA will forever serve as an inspiration to us all," said National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, who had posted a link to the story of Dejean-Jones' death on Twitter and wrote that it was "The news I pray every day I never have to hear."

Dejean-Jones was suspended late in the 2013-14 season from UNLV for conduct detrimental to the team, and announced that he was leaving USC midway through the 2010-11 season.

"This is a very, very sad and tragic day for everyone that's a part of the Cyclone basketball family," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.

Former Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg, now the coach of the NBA's Chicago Bulls, added in a statement that Dejean-Jones was a "passionate and talented player that lived out his dream of playing in the NBA through hard work and perseverance."

Nichols said Dejean-Jones had nearly completed his rehab and was set to begin shooting with his right hand again next week.

"It's shocking this happened," Nichols said. "Wrong place, wrong time, I think."

Besides Muhammad, several NBA players reacted on Twitter on Saturday.

"Crazy how life is man," wrote Brooklyn Nets guard Shane Larkin. "Prayers out to Bryce Dejean Jones and his family."

Added Quincy Pondexter, one of Dejean-Jones' teammates with the Pelicans: "This Can't be real life... Rest easy lil bro."

NBA draft profile: G/F Jaylen Brown


NBA draft profile: G/F Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

Position: Shooting guard/small forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 223
School: Cal

Aside from Ben Simmons, Brown may be the most scrutinized lottery pick in the draft. A blue chip recruit, the Mariettam, Georgia, native chose to attend Cal, spurning schools like Kansas and Kentucky. That decision didn't appear to be a wise one, as Brown struggled with inconsistency playing in a system that really didn't suit his skill set. A slasher with crazy athleticism, Brown averaged 14.6 points in his lone season with the Golden Bears. 

Brown can play above the rim and then some. He's a strong finisher and would be an excellent candidate for next year's dunk contest. He's an explosive athlete with a tremendous first step. There were games in which he lived at the free throw line. With his ability to blow by people and willingness to take on all comers at the basket, he had 12 games this season in which he attempted eight or more free throws.

His 7-foot wingspan coupled with his quickness could make him an elite defender. He's also very strong. He averaged 5.4 rebounds as a wing.

Two pretty big ones: his jump shot and his instincts. Brown shot 29 percent from three. That's not good for a wing player. He also shot just 65 percent from the line. Again, not good for a wing player with a propensity to get fouled. He flashed the ability to hit shots, hitting 42 percent (10 of 24) from three in seven February games. There's inconsistency with his mechanics, which good coaching should be able to iron out.

His feel for the game is just not very good. He doesn't seem to understand what defenses are trying to do to him. Again, good coaching could go a long way in helping Brown here. He also had a tendency to be a little loose with his handle. He averaged more turnovers (3.1) than assists (2) per game. 

How he'd fit with the Sixers
Horribly. With the way the Sixers are currently constructed, Brown would struggle with the same issues he had at Cal. With all of the big men clogging the paint, Brown's slashing ability would be useless. If the Sixers were to deal a big man and get more shooters, Brown would be fun to watch with head coach Brett Brown's desire to push the basketball. This kid is worth the price of admission in the open floor.

NBA comparison
Andrew Wiggins but with a lot further to go. Wiggins was a much more polished prospect coming out of Kansas than Brown is now. But the size profile and athleticism are very similar (although Brown is stronger physically than Wiggins). Wiggins was also much further along with the development of his jumper. 

The moral of the story: when you're an elite prospect, go to a big-time school with a big-time coach if you want to properly develop your game.

Draft projection
He's probably a top-5 pick based on upside alone (I can't see him getting past the Pelicans at No. 6), although the weaknesses could scare off teams looking for a "safe pick."

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance


NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance


TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It's the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn't play for the Boston Celtics.

"He's just a great player," Lue said. "He's a proven winner. He's always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered "Let's go, Raptors! Let's go, Raptors!" throughout most of the final three minutes.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.