76ers

Sixers' veteran trio braces for trade deadline

uspresswire-sixers-thaddeus-young.jpg

Sixers' veteran trio braces for trade deadline

He made it sound simple. And it is.

“The whole purpose of this year,” Brett Brown said, “has been about identifying people to move forward with.”

The Sixers made their plans plain the moment Sam Hinkie was installed as the president and general manager: Sacrifice today in favor of tomorrow. They adopted a super-subtle slogan to underscore the reality: “Together we build.” And to reinforce their intentions, they handed out faux blueprints on Tuesday evening before the Cavaliers throttled the Sixers, 114-85, at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay). (It was the Sixers' 40th loss of the season. They’re getting really good at not being good.)

Once unrolled, the blueprint mapped out how the Sixers are “building the next big thing for Philadelphia.” An “NBA draft tracker” was at the bottom of the blueprint (along with a line about “2 potential 1st round picks” written in red). In the center, there were pictures of Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and Brett Brown.

Not pictured: Everyone else.

Noel, MCW and Brown have already been identified and will move forward with the Sixers. As for the rest, nothing is certain. The trade deadline looms. It is Thursday afternoon -- not that any of the Sixers need to be reminded.

Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young have spent much of the season answering questions about various reports and rumors. They’ve exhausted so much time on the subject that Turner recently said he’s “excited” for the trade deadline because it’s “like a riddle” (see story). (That would make Hinkie the Riddler, which makes for interesting imagery.)

If the Sixers extend a qualifying offer during the offseason, Turner will be a restricted free agent. Or they might not extend an offer, at which point he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Or they might trade him before Thursday. Lots of possibilities -- for him and Hawes and Young.

Hawes will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Young is under contract for next season and has a player option for the season after that. You could imagine all sorts of possibilities -- scenarios in which they’re unloaded now or later or not at all.

“The situation being an expiring deal, and the situation with the team, it’s kind of a perfect storm for that kind of chatter,” Hawes said.

Has it bothered him? Like Turner, will he feel any sense of relief, one way or the other, to finally learn his fate?

“To be a successful athlete, you really have to be in a routine,” Hawes said. “Not having that certainty, I think, can disrupt that pattern. I think that’s what can kind of get on your nerves.”

Across the locker room, Young was asked essentially the same questions. He said Philadelphia has been home for the past seven years and the Sixers have been like family. He said he’d like to stay, even though he knows he might have to go.

“The trade deadline is almost upon us and whatever happens, happens,” Young said. “Like I’ve been saying, if they see fit to trade me, Spence or Evan, we have to move on like anybody else. It’s one of those deals where, hey, it’s an unfortunate situations. You just have to play it out and be a business-like professional.”

What about Hawes? When he was asked what he’d like to happen in advance of the deadline, his answer was a bit more opaque.

“Play it out and see where it goes,” Hawes said. “One way or another, part of being a professional is being ready and seeing where the road takes you. This time of year, it’s different than free agency when you have a lot of control over it. At this point, you don’t.”

Hawes said there are a lot of variables between now and free agency. And there are. There are also a lot of variables between now and Thursday afternoon. How will they spend their time between now and then? Will they read everything and watch everything and listen to every report? Or will they try to ignore the speculation and wait until something concrete occurs?

Young -- ever the business-like professional -- said he’ll do what he always does: Show up for work until someone tells him to do otherwise.

“Next game, Dallas Mavericks,” Young said. “We’ve got to be ready.”

Yes. That will be the Sixers' next game, but you wonder who will be getting ready.

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — In years past, overcoming a 12-point deficit and trailing a playoff-contending team by just two points with a minute to go would be considered an “A for effort” for the Sixers

If they held their own against a more experienced team and didn’t get dominated by John Wall, a 120-115 loss on the road wasn’t really that bad … was it?

Not this season.

The Sixers are in a new phase, one with actual pieces versus promising potential. With that comes higher expectations to win, and it starts in the locker room after the first game. 

“I don’t like taking positives from losses,” JJ Redick said. “We need to clean up a lot of stuff. We need to be better. It takes a lot to win in this league. We need to figure that out, and we will. We are good enough to do that.” 

The Sixers were in Wednesday's game until the end (see observations). They withstood the combined 53 points from Wall and Bradley Beal with a 29-point performance by Robert Covington and double-doubles from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (see studs, duds, more).

The team acknowledged it had a chance to win. Yes, there were encouraging moments. No, they weren’t hanging their heads and writing off the season after opening night. 

At the same time, they are not ignoring the missteps that landed them in the loss column. Those are the turning points to learn from this season. 

The Sixers gave up just three points off four turnovers in the first half. The second half was a different story: 20 points off 13 turnovers. Down two points late in the fourth, the Sixers committed a pair of turnovers in a span of 30 seconds that hindered them from closing the gap. Those errors have been a focal point of conversation among the players. 

“Too many turnovers. That's big,” Embiid said (more on him here). “That's been the talk in the locker room. Got to work on that.”

The Sixers have one day of practice before facing the Celtics and Raptors in back-to-back games. It's just a small taste of what's to come in a stacked schedule over the first two months of the season. The attitude is be good enough to win, not good enough to compete. 

“We’re not going to try to lose this season and take a bunch of positives from that,” Redick said. “We’re trying to win. We’re trying to be in the playoffs this year. That’s got to be the mindset.”

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

WASHINGTON — In the end, Joel Embiid’s playing time was a non-issue.

After days of frustration leading up to opening night, Embiid played just three seconds shy of 27 minutes against the Wizards. That far surpassed the 16 minutes he anticipated a day earlier on Tuesday (see story)

“I was surprised,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 120-115 loss on Wednesday night (see observations). “I was expecting way less than that, but it just shows you they trust me.”

Brett Brown had maintained Embiid’s minutes were going to be more flexible than last year and he wasn’t locked into a specific number by the medical staff. Initially, Brown projected Embiid would play somewhere in the teens, but the game presented an opportunity for him to log more. 

Embiid had played 21:38 through three quarters and it seemed, based on last season, he was done for the night. The coaching staff calculated Embiid had over 20 minutes to rest between the third and the fourth quarters, so Brown put him back into the game with just over five minutes to play. He finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a block and four turnovers (see highlights).

“It’s a range,” Brown said. “It’s more of a plan that we have this year than a restriction. When you look at and you feel the flow of the game, that’s where the variables come in.”

Embiid wants open lines of communication between him and the medical staff — for him to know what its planning and for him to be honest about how he is feeling.

“It’s on me to not lie to them and tell them how my body feels when I’m tired,” Embiid said. “At some point through the game I was tired and I told them to take me out.”

Embiid is ready for a new outlook on his availability moving forward. 

“We’ve got to stop calling it 'minutes restrictions,'" Embiid said. "There’s a plan with that — it’s just go out and play. If you’re tired, get out because injuries happen more often when you’re tired.”