Lynam: Impending separation of the Morris twins

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Lynam: Impending separation of the Morris twins

Thursday, June 2, 2011
Posted: 10 a.m.
By Dei Lynam
CSNPhilly.com

The NBA draft in 2004 featured a home grown talent that was available when the Sixers selected with the ninth pick.

That talent was Jameer Nelson, who played his high school basketball at Chester High and then moved on to Saint Josephs University, where he had a marvelous career. It culminated with him leading the Hawks to an undefeated regular season and being named the Naismith College Player of the Year.

Now, Marcus and Markieff Morris are local kids who will hear their names called in the 2011 draft. Unlike Nelson, the Morris brothers left Philly when it came time to play college basketball and attended the University of Kansas.

There is a chance that Markieff will be on the board when the Sixers select at 16 in the first round of the draft, which takes place later this month. Why Markieff and not Marcus? Because Marcus is, by all accounts, going to be a lottery pick because of his more potent offensive skills.

Strange no, different yes, Marcus said of potentially playing basketball without his twin as his teammate come next fall. We dont expect to be drafted by the same team. We hope it happens but if it doesnt, it doesnt. We are looking forward to going our separate ways and maturing without each other which will actually make us grow as men.

Oh, but what if NBA commissioner David Stern steps to that podium on June 23 and says with the 16th pick the Philadelphia 76ers select...

That would probably be the best thing that ever happened, Marcus said, cutting off the sentence before the question could specify his name or Markieffs. Going and playing in your hometown, where you grew up with the people who watched you come up through the years and watched you play basketball through the years and representing, as well as having a Philadelphia jersey on, would definitely be special.

Markieef concurred with his twin brother. He often finds himself being agreeable because Marcus is the more outspoken of the two.

He is more aggressive, Markieff described his twin sibling. At times he can be mean. I am much more easy going and laid back.

Marcus averaged 17 points while shooting 57 percent his final year with Kansas. Markieff, on the other hand, is better known for his rebounding and shot blocking, as well as his three-point shooting, which he demonstrated playing both the power forward and center positions for the Jayhawks.

Markieff averaged 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 42 percent shooting from behind the arc as a junior. The combination of those numbers have some projecting Markieff, best case scenario, has Rasheed Wallace potential.

Wallace, who was a Simon Gratz graduate, finished his 15 year NBA career averaging 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, while being a 34 percent three point shooter.

After being selected fourth overall in 1995, Wallace became a four time All-Star.

Markieff Morris likely wont hear his name called until the middle of the first round and expects his role at the next level to be a garbage man. With the 16th pick, you are probably saying you want more then a garbage man -- you want a contributor.

Markieff believes he is ready to step in and do that, but he wants teams considering drafting him to know that he is willing to do whatever they ask.

Wearing a Sixers jersey or not, Markieef looks forward to circling the date on his calendar next season when his brother will be the opponent.

That will be a first for the both of us, Markieef said. It will be a great feeling just to see him or even guard him on the court.

Markieff did talk with the Sixers brass before leaving the Chicago pre-draft combine. The Sixers havent said they will select a big man, but this past season they certainly did not have a shortage of perimeter players, while rebounding and shot blocking were hardly their strengths.

The last time the Sixers used a first round selection on a native Philadelphian was 1966 when they selected Matt Guokas with the ninth overall pick. It was not unusual then, when the draft was 10 rounds deep, that the Sixers would pick local players, as they did in 1976 when the franchise selected current general manager Ed Stefanski in the 10th round with the 168th overall pick.
Brotherly Love
Brothers, roommates, teammates and soon to be co-homeowners. The Morris brothers arent going to let entering the workforce keep them from being together.

We are going to see each other for sure, Marcus said. We are going to buy a neutral house somewhere and make sure we meet up a lot.

Sharing an identical face could take its toll over two decades, but apparently not for the Morris brothers.

I enjoy it. That is my best friend. We like being twins, Marcus said. We dont want to look different, we want to look the same. Thats why we are twins. Thats why we have the same tattoos and the same type of haircut, like the same food -- it just happened that way.

Each twin has 14 tattoos, all exactly the same and none fall below their elbows in an effort to stay in Moms good graces. Of the 14 tattoos, Marcus says he probably selected 12 of them and Markieef had the honors of picking the other two.

It is not unusual, says Marcus, for one of the twins be more dominant or vocal -- he is that guy in this twosome. Furthermore, Marcus, more so then Markieef, enjoys sharing stories of being look a likes.

We switched classes when we were younger, Marcus explained. 'Kieef was better at math and I was better at reading so we switched. I did his reading test and he did my math test.

It was a simple middle school prank, no harm no foul.

Ironically despite Marcus dominant personality, Markieef made arguably the biggest decision to date for the duo.

He made the decision what college we went to, Marcus recalled. There are a couple big decisions he made, but I make majority.

So far so good for the 21-year-olds who, in less then a month, hope to transfer their basketball successes to the pro hardwood.
E-mail Dei Lynam at dlynam@comcastsportsnet.com

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Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the most consistent NBA teams for nearly 20 years. They have made 19 consecutive postseason trips and won five championships during that span. 

The Sixers, on the other hand, are entering a phase of building a new foundation with a group of young players. They are working to improve upon a 10-win season, let alone making the playoffs.

Yet four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili saw more than records when weighing his options in free agency. The veteran point guard looked to the Sixers sidelines and was intrigued.

Head coach Brett Brown previously worked in the Spurs basketball operations department and on the coaching staff under Gregg Popovich. He was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. When the Sixers approached Ginobili this offseason, he gave them consideration before returning to the Spurs, where he has spent his entire 14-year career.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical on Thursday. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

The Sixers reportedly offered Ginobili, 38, a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal worth around $30 million. The Spurs first offered him a one-year, $3 million contract. Ginobili ended up re-signing with the Spurs for one-year, $14 million. 

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili said. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.”

Ginobili averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 19.6 minutes coming off the bench last season. The Sixers are adding veteran leadership, and Ginobili is one of the most experienced in the game. In addition to his reliability at the position, he could have been a mentor to the entire team and worked with Ben Simmons to help hone his point guard skills as the rookie big man plays point-forward. His years of international competition would have gelled with incoming players such as Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Sergio Rodriguez. 

The Sixers signed point guards Jerryd Bayless (three years, $27 million) and Rodriguez (one year, $8 million) this summer. T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall still are under contract. Last season's starting point guard Ish Smith signed with the Pistons at the start of free agency.