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Sixers' Richardson slowly making strides in rehab

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Sixers' Richardson slowly making strides in rehab

There were so many new faces in the gym at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for Friday’s Sixers’ media day that it was a good thing the players had their names on the backs of their uniforms.

Tony Wroten, Darius Morris, James Anderson, Rodney Williams, Vander Blue, Tim Ohlbrecht, Hollis Thompson … where did all those guys come from?

But wearing No. 23 was a familiar, though unexpected, face walking around the gym, which may be the only chance he has to touch the hardwood for another month or so.

Jason Richardson, the remaining piece of the deal that brought Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, turned up for media day despite the fact that he probably will not play again until January at the earliest.

Recovering from cartilage-graft surgery to repair the quarter-sized hole behind his knee that allowed him to play just 33 games last year, Richardson said he hasn’t been able to run yet. The extent of his exercise has been on a stationary bike, the weight room, or in a swimming pool where the impact on his legs is minimal. As a result, the 12-year veteran added some more muscle to his frame.

The comeback is a slow process, Richardson said, because he opted for the cartilage transplant instead of the ever-popular microfracture surgery. Microfracture surgery is a short-term fix and many players who get it have to undergo it again in a few years. Though the recovery takes longer for the transplant, at least Richardson will be able to walk when he’s older.

“We are pushing late January, early February, hopefully to see how mentally I’m doing and how physically I’m doing,” Richardson said. “But right now, we are in a slow process.”

There’s no rush. The Sixers have time and chances are Richardson won’t be needed for a late-season playoff push. With an overhauled roster and the plans for a rebuilding year, Richardson can take his time. Besides, Richardson has another year left on his deal. With $6.2 million owed to him this season, Richardson has a player option for next year at $6.6 million.

“I’m just taking my time right now and taking a slow approach to it,” Richardson said.

Winless Suns fire head coach Earl Watson

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Winless Suns fire head coach Earl Watson

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have fired coach Earl Watson just three games in to the NBA season.

The Suns announced the firing Sunday night after hours of meetings at the team's headquarters.

Assistant coach Jay Triano, a former head coach of the Toronto Raptors, was named interim coach. Triano was an assistant at Portland before coming to Phoenix last year.

Watson was promoted from assistant to interim coach of the Suns after Jeff Hornacek was fired Feb. 1, 2016. The interim tag was removed on April 19 of that year. With an extremely young team, the Suns struggled under Watson. He compiled a 33-85 record. Watson's only full season was 2016-17, when the team went 24-58.

The 38-year-old Watson played collegiately at UCLA and in the NBA for 10 seasons. He often spoke of his long talks with John Wooden, emphasized togetherness and a family atmosphere to nurture the young squad but wins were hard to come by.

And owner Robert Sarver apparently didn't like what he saw. Phoenix is 0-3 and two of the losses were especially ugly. The Suns were blown out 124-76 by the Portland in their season opener Wednesday night, the most one-sided loss in franchise history and the most one-sided season opener for any NBA team.

Phoenix was routed by the Clippers in Los Angeles 130-88 on Saturday night.

"I Dont wanna be here," point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted Sunday, just as the news of Watson's firing surfaced in an ESPN report. The tweet by Bledsoe, a former Clipper, was followed by one from the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan saying "Come back home bro."

Bledsoe has been rumored in possible trades for months.

Watson's dismissal is the first NBA coaching change in well over a year. Hornacek's hiring by the New York Knicks, which was finalized in June 2016, had been the most recent change -- and the irony there is that Watson got the job in Phoenix with 33 games left in the 2015-16 season, after the Suns fired Hornacek.

Watson was the league's second-youngest active coach behind the Lakers' Luke Walton, and the Suns were tied with the Chicago Bulls as having the youngest opening-night roster in the NBA this season.

"I'd like to see the fight be a little bit more," Watson said after the blowout loss to the Clippers. "Or a lot more, until you know they're just fatigued."

The Suns came into this season with only four losses by 40 or more points in franchise history. They've had two in the first three games of this season. Phoenix has not made the playoffs in seven years, the longest drought in the franchise's 49-year history.

Watson was the 17th Suns coach in the franchise's history.

This was the first NBA season where every coach who started one year had the same job to begin the next.

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for inappropriate comments toward fan during Sixers game

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Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for inappropriate comments toward fan during Sixers game

NEW YORK — The NBA has fined Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for responding to a fan with inappropriate language.

Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA' executive vice president of basketball operations, announced the fine Sunday.

Irving spoke to a fan at halftime of Boston's 102-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night (see story). 

The NBA fined Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins $25,000 for language he used toward a fan late in a loss to Memphis on Wednesday night in the season opener.