Will injuries force teams like Sixers into a trade?

981531.jpg

Will injuries force teams like Sixers into a trade?

If there has been one element to define the 2012-13 NBA season its been big injuries to franchise players. Obviously, Andrew Bynum has been among the most notably absent this season, but the Sixers are hardly alone.

The Mavericks missed Dirk Nowitzki for a long period while the Timberwolves have played without Kevin Love, the Bulls without Derrick Rose and the Wizards without John Wall. Then there are the Cavaliers who have been without both Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao and the Lakers have missed Steve Nash.

Thats an All-Star team of injuries right there.

In the Sixers Atlantic Division, every team has faced a significant injury to a key player, and for the most part, teams (and fans) have not panicked or rushed out to make moves to fill gaps.

At least not yet.

For now, the plan for the Sixers, as well as every other team in similar predicaments, is to hold the fort until the reinforcements arrive. For the most part, that plan has worked well for teams in the Atlantic, though it hasnt always been easy. Patience has won out across the league.

We just have to wait and be patient and try to get some answers, said Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo last Friday when discussing the shape of his roster. We want to see how Andrew fits in and how our players fit in with him.

Dont expect teams to be patient for too much longer, though. With the NBA trade deadline set for Feb. 21, GMs may be chomping at the bit with some big names reportedly being shopped around.

Could the Sixers be kicking a few tires and looking to make a move? Probably. Its no secret the team is looking to add a backup point guard with reported inquiries made for Oklahoma Citys Eric Maynor. But the Sixers likely wont make any type of move until Bynum returns or until closer to the deadline.

When we made the trade for Bynum, we built the team around him, DiLeo said. Thats one of the questions we have to answer.

In the meantime, here are a few of the players that could be traded before the Feb. 21 deadline:

Rudy Gay, Memphis
Why would one of the best teams in the West be looking to move its leading scorer? Easy ... money. Gay is signed through the 2014-15 season and is owed approximately 37 million over the next two seasons.

Tyreke Evans, Sacramento
The Chester, Pa. native is still just 23 years old and has an expiring contract. He also is playing in basketball limbo with the dysfunctional Kings and his stats have dropped off a bit as a result.

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento
Incredibly talented, but troubled, Cousins may need a change of scenery. Then again, that change could be Seattle whenif the Kings become the Sonics.

Derrick Williams, Minnesota
Reports are that the Twolves have already soured on the 2011 No. 2 overall draft pick and are looking to move him. Then again, reports seem to indicate that all-star Love has soured on Minnesota.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
What good is a list of players on the trading block without the perennially tradable Gasol? Where could Gasol go? How about to any team willing to pay his 20 million salary next year.

As for the Sixers potential trade chips:

Nick Young
He took his first DNP-CD during Saturday nights victory over the Rockets and isnt much of a defender. He does, however, have something that a lot of teams are interested in -- an expiring contract. Young was dealt at the deadline last season from Washington to the Clippers. Could he be on a fourth different team in a little less than a calendar year?

Dorell Wright
Another expiring contract and at a relative bargain of 4.1 million. What also makes Wright more attractive than Young is that he actually plays some defense.

Royal Ivey & Damien Wilkins
Expiring contracts.

E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.8 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there."

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).