76ers

Jerry Stackhouse's next goal: Help the NBPA

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Jerry Stackhouse's next goal: Help the NBPA

Jerry Stackhouse is looking ahead.

Life without playing basketball has arrived for the one-time Sixer, and he already knows what that life will be: time spent securing the future for current and former NBA players.

The Brooklyn Nets swingman mentioned recently that he would likely retire after this season to focus more on his role as first vice president with the troubled NBA Players Association.

Stackhouse made his goal clear. He wants changes. He wants communication. He wants full disclosure. He wants to be informed so that the next time the players come face to face with NBA owners to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement, the players will be better equipped.

Why does he feel this way? Simple: He sat back and watched as players went clueless as to what officials inside the NBAPA were doing. The back door dealings. The lack of communication. The lack of information. The misleading.

"I've always been in tune with the union," Stackhouse told CSNPhilly.com last month when the Nets visited the Sixers. "But I wasn't in tune with some of their ways of dealing with things in the past."

Some of those dealings allegedly led to the ousting of executive director Billy Hunter, who was fired unanimously by the NBA player representatives during All-Star Weekend in February.

Stackhouse wouldn't place any blame on Hunter but agreed a change was needed.

"We can easily sit here and point the finger at the executive committee that we voted on and say, 'They didn't do this or they didn't do that.' But as a whole, as a general body, our interest wasn't enough until [there] was a lockout," he said.

With Hunter relieved of his duties, players elected a new executive committee, which includes Stackhouse, former Sixers Andre Iguodala and Willie Green, James Jones, Roger Mason Jr., Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.

"The guys thought that I would be a pretty good fit to help take things in a different direction," Stackhouse said. "I was nominated and I accepted it.

"I take a lot of pride in making some decisions that can help us over these next 15 to 20 years. I think we've made a lot of mistakes over the last 10 to 15 years. We just didn't take enough interest as a body."

The 38-year-old Stackhouse mentioned the 2011 NBA lockout as the turning point. He said that lockout wasn't really a lockout because the season was not lost. Players didn't miss paychecks, but the deal, he feels, could have been better.

"Our strategy, at the particular time, wasn't the best that it could be," Stackhouse said. "We're seeing some of the results of that now, but that's why we're trying to correct it going forward. What's happened has happened, but hopefully the next time we come to the bargaining table we'll come with a little more understanding of not only what's for the best interest of the players, but the best interest of the game."

For that to happen, Stackhouse had to come to an understanding with union president Derek Fisher. Days before Hunter was outed, Stackhouse told The Detroit News, that Fisher "has to go too."

"I just think there wasn't enough, in my mind, disclosure of ideas and thoughts with the player reps, which in turn could try and get some feedback from the general body," Stackhouse said. "That's important to me -- not enough communication.

"Some of those things needed to be shared and we may not have had to go down that track."

The two have since spoken.

"I respect his decisions now that we've talked," Stackhouse said, "but at the same time I feel I probably would've handle things a little differently. And being in the position that I am now, I'll see to it [that] things will be handled differently than they were handled before."

Stackhouse said he intends to focus on retired players more than the superstars and younger players. In his mind, the LeBron Jameses, Kobe Bryants and Kevin Durants of the league will always be taken care of. The younger players, well, "They have their whole future ahead of them."

"It's a cultural shock stepping back into society after playing this game," he said. "I think we want to put some mechanisms in place to be able to educate guys, once they leave the league, how to kind of integrate themselves back into society. Some of the former players who are down or in some tough situations -- put in some programs to try and help them."

Best of NBA: Suns put distractions to the side, beat Kings for 1st win

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Best of NBA: Suns put distractions to the side, beat Kings for 1st win

PHOENIX -- Devin Booker scored 22 points, including two free throws with 9.8 seconds to play, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Sacramento Kings 117-115 on Monday night for their first win of the season in their first game under interim coach Jay Triano.

Phoenix fired coach Earl Watson on Sunday and guard Eric Bledsoe was sent home Monday morning after he sent out a tweet over the weekend that left the impression he no longer wanted to play for the Suns.

Despite the tumultuous stretch for the franchise, Phoenix shot 54.5 percent from the field and held on after Sacramento rallied in the final period. Marquese Chriss scored 19 points, and Mike James finished with 18.

The Kings have dropped three of four to begin the season. Garrett Temple scored 23 points for Sacramento, and rookie De'Aaron Fox had 19 (see full recap).

Grizzlies hold Harden, Rockets in check for victory
HOUSTON -- Marc Gasol scored 26 points to lead the Memphis Grizzles to a 98-90 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

Memphis has won its first three games for the first time since the 2014-15 season when the team won its opening six contests.

With the game tied at 88 with less than three minutes remaining, tempers flared after Memphis guard Mario Chalmers fell to the ground and tripped James Harden, who then shoved Chalmers as he tried to get off the ground. After a lengthy review, both players received technical and Harden was called with an offensive foul.

On the following play, James Ennis III made a shot where he was fouled and converted the free throw to put Memphis up three. After Clint Capela's dunk, Mike Conley hit a 3 to push the lead to 94-90.

Conley struggled for most of the game, shooting 3-for-10 from the field and scoring nine of his 17 points at the free throw line, where he was perfect. But he came on huge for Memphis down the stretch, making key shots and getting pivotal assists (see full recap).

Shorthanded Spurs hand Raptors 1st loss
SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and Dejounte Murray had 16 points and 15 rebounds and the San Antonio Spurs held on to beat the Toronto Raptors 101-97 on Monday night.

San Antonio was without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker and Toronto was without Jonas Valanciunas and their absences were noticeable in the flow of each team's offense.

The Spurs had a season-high 20 turnovers. They were averaging 11 turnovers in their first two games, but had four in the opening four minutes.

Toronto took advantage, keeping the game close despite being outrebounded 56-33.

DeMar DeRozan had 28 points and Serge Ibaka had 13 as the Raptors lost their first game of the season (see full recap).

Ben Simmons joins elite company with triple-double in Sixers' 1st win

Ben Simmons joins elite company with triple-double in Sixers' 1st win

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — Sixers coach Brett Brown was well aware of the risk when he asked Ben Simmons, who played forward in high school and college, to run his team’s offense.

It was a gutsy call, at the time, that many critics scoffed and questioned.

Not anymore.

In just his fourth career NBA game, Simmons pieced together a memorable triple-double Monday night to become just the third player in history to accomplish the feat in such a time span, and more importantly, help lead the Sixers (1-3) to their first regular-season win.

“It’s awesome to have a triple-double, but at the same time, it’s even better to have that win,” Simmons said. “Especially with these guys and a young team like this.” 

It wasn’t a do-or-die game for the Sixers by any stretch, but Monday night’s 97-86 win in Detroit certainly rejuvenated a fan base that may have started casting doubt as to whether the Sixers are a legit playoff-caliber team (see observations)

Moreover, it served as much-needed validation for Brown and his young, talent-packed squad, following three straight losses, including Saturday’s 34-point blowout loss in Toronto.

“I’m happy for our guys,” Brown said. “They really came into the building knowing that we needed to get a win. To get rewarded with the win, it just validates some of the work that everybody has put in.”

Particularly Simmons, who entered this season with the eyes of Philadelphia watching his every move during his first tour around the NBA after missing all of last season nursing a fractured foot. 

“We won, and, honestly, that means so much than stats for me,” said Simmons, who finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. 

Simmons doesn’t fit the mold of a prototypical point guard, but — then again — the NBA has evolved into a position-less league. Players of all shapes and sizes do everything nowadays. And Simmons — just four games into his NBA career — is among those leading the charge.

“I mean, we all see how gifted he is physically,” Brown said. “Him, with the ball, able to do the things he does, produces a lot of these mismatches and numbers. 

“We’re able to post him. He’s able to seal the pick-and-rolls. You see how gifted he is in open court. He’s got that breakaway speed that is jaw-dropping. And he’s 6-foot-10.”

Simmons, to his credit, was extremely humble when asked about his triple-double accomplishment after the game. But it’s possible the 21-year-old phenom was unaware of the elite company he joined and how rare a feat it was to put up a triple-double just four games into his career. 

When Simmons notched his 10th assist on Joel Embiid’s layup with slightly more than minute to play, he became the first player with a triple-double in his first four career games since Hambone Williams in 1967. The only other player in NBA history to do so? Oscar Robertson, in 1960. 

“I feel like this stat line, we’ve kind of seen a snapshot of it the first three games,” Brown said. “It just seems a bit more special when it’s associated with a win.”

Win or not, Simmons has made it abundantly clear Monday night that — even with Markelle Fultz in the mix — he’s the Sixers’ point guard. No ands or buts about it.

When it was made clear in April that Brown wanted the versatile rookie to play point guard, the controversial decision was met with raised eyebrows. But Brown, to his credit, hasn’t wavered. And today, by all accounts, that gamble is paying off. 

“You know, the decision to make him our point guard is challenged in some some way,” he said. “But as an organization, we stayed strong that that’s where we want to play him.”

It was a gutsy call by Brown at the time, and while the Sixers may only be four games into the season, it’s proving to be the right call.