76ers

Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

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Young embraces veteran role for rebuilding Sixers

Thaddeus Young was back in Philadelphia this week, lending a hand to the community as he has done for the past six years.

Young hosted a children's basketball camp at Girard College. He was present every morning before heading over to the Sixers’ practice facility to work out.

Like any person associated with the Sixers, Young has repeatedly been asked the same set of questions by friends and strangers alike throughout the summer:

“'Who’s the coach? Have you guys found a coach yet?'” Young repeated, smiling. 

He always responds with the same answer.

“No, but we have been interviewing people and going through the necessary process to find the right coach,” Young said.

That's as straightforward as it gets. However, the 25-year-old forward would not be completely in the wrong if he were to show some frustration with the Sixers' situation at head coach. After all, Young, who enters his seventh season in the league as the longest-tenured Sixer on the roster, has seen his share of new faces holding a clipboard during games.

“This will be my fifth coach. Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins and then this person,” Young said. “That is a hard-fought six years. I am going into my seventh [season]. Hopefully, this next coach is here for a very long time like a Coach Popovich. Hopefully, we can have some longevity and I can continue to be a part of the Sixers.”

Young ran into Michael Curry during one of his trips to PCOM. Similar to how people have had questions for Young, he had one of his own for the man who served as the Sixers' associate head coach under Doug Collins.

“I walked in and said, 'Are they going to give you the job or what?” Young recounted. “He said he didn’t know but that he was going to continue to do his job, 'do what I need to do to help you guys get better.’

Curry has continued to do just that, even coaching the Sixers' summer league team in Orlando.

Young believes that work ethic and a familiarity with the team makes Curry a nice replacement for Collins.

"I think he would be the perfect man for the job. He already knows the players and he knows what we need and what we need structure-wise to win games," Young said. "And he is great defensively. He is a great candidate for the job and I for sure would love to see him as a coach. But that is Sam’s (Hinkie) job. To go out there and basically find the best coach, the best person for the job.”

Hinkie has been the Sixers' president and general manager since mid-May. He made his first splash on draft night when he traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and a protected first-round draft pick in 2014.

“My first tweet was ‘Wow,’” Young said. “I talked to Jrue, because at the time he was preparing for his wedding, but he said he was actually house shopping at the time he found out he was moved. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ And he said, ‘Yep.’ It was one of those situations where it snuck up on all of us. It is the nature of the business and we just have to keep ourselves prepared for any given day.”

Young does not worry about his own stability with the team that drafted him in 2007 despite having the highest salary on the current roster. He is owed nearly $27.5 million for the next three seasons and is playing for an organization that is looking to be in a great salary cap position in the future to attract high-profile free agents.

“Anybody can be traded in the NBA,” Young said. “Any given day, someone can get traded and have to move to the next city. This is the NBA. It is the life we live in and the job we chose.

"I don’t have any worries about getting traded. If I get traded, it was a business decision, a move that had to be made. If I am not, then you know what you are going to get out of me. I am going to be here each and every day, 24/7, ready to go hard for my team.”

That team Young is prepared to go to battle for is unquestionably in rebuilding mode. The Sixers will likely start a rookie point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and Noel is still months away from being ready for game action after undergoing surgery in February to repair a torn ACL.

Young understands the Sixers' outlook for next season and that bleak times could be ahead. He is also prepared for the emotions that come along with a rebuilding franchise and is prepared to help the younger players that might not exactly know how to handle the situation.

“It is the toughest ever,” Young said. “The first text message I sent to MCW was ‘The ball is going to be in your hands with you being the point guard and floor general. You are going to take the blame for a lot of stuff. I am going to try and help you. I’ll say it was my fault because that is what veterans do.'

"They try and keep the young guys’ bad thoughts out of their head. You say it was my fault and then go to them and say, 'Try and do it this way and that will be the right way.’ I am going to try and help him as much as possible.”

Currently, Young, who averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 7.5 rebounds last season, is in the gym in the attempt to improve his own game. The lefty is sharpening his three-point shooting and ball-handling skills because, despite not having a coach, he has been told what style of play the Sixers plan on implementing in the future.

“My understanding is we want to be a running team that is going to put up a lot of shots and try and get out in transition and do many different things with the basketball,” Young said. “So I have really been working on my ball-handling and my shooting.”

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. 

“I was surprised,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 120-115 loss (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. 

“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.”

Best of NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates as Bucks down Celtics

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Best of NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates as Bucks down Celtics

BOSTON -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, and the Milwaukee Bucks opened their season with a 108-100 victory over Boston on Wednesday night to spoil the homecoming of a Celtics team coming off a late and emotional season opener.

One night after a gruesome broken ankle just six minutes into the season cost Boston top free agent Gordon Hayward -- perhaps for the entire season -- the Celtics fell to 0-2 by giving up an 11-1 run that left Milwaukee with a 97-90 lead and under three minutes to play.

Antetokounmpo added 13 rebounds, Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points and Khris Middleton had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks. Matthew Dellavedova scored 15 points, hitting a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left after the Celtics cut the lead to two points.

Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on 7-for-25 shooting in his Boston debut, and Jaylen Brown had 18 for the Celtics.

It was a subdued home opener for the Celtics, who underwent a near-complete overhaul over the summer even after earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Although Irving and No. 3 draft pick Jayson Tatum appeared in a Celtics home uniform for the first time, Hayward was left to wish them well in a pregame video from his hospital bed (see full recap).

Revamped Paces top score 140 in win
INDIANAPOLIS -- Victor Oladipo scored 22 points in his Indiana debut, Darren Collison added 21 points and 11 assists in his return to Indianapolis, and the Pacers held off the Brooklyn Nets 140-131 on Wednesday night in their season opener.

Eight players scored in double figures as the Pacers, in their first game since trading All-Star Paul George, produced their highest point total since a 144-point game against Denver on Nov. 9, 2010. Myles Turner had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Thaddeus Young added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

D'Angelo Russell scored 30 points in his Nets debut but backcourt mate Jeremy Lin limped to the locker room with an injury midway through the fourth quarter. Trevor Booker finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Nets from losing a franchise-record fifth consecutive season opener.

Despite having chances to take control, neither could.

Brooklyn led 30-29 after one quarter, the Pacers took a 65-63 halftime lead and then used a 10-0 third-quarter run to build a 75-65 lead. Brooklyn never led again.

But the Nets charged back in the final minutes, trimming a 10-point deficit to 130-126 before the Pacers finally managed to close it out (see full recap).

Grizzlies cruise past Pelicans in opener
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mike Conley scored 27 points, rookie Dillon Brooks added 19 and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the New Orleans Pelicans 103-91 in their season opener on Wednesday night.

Marc Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 3:05 left. Memphis won its opener for the second straight year, a first in franchise history.

Anthony Davis had 33 points and 18 rebounds and DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 10 boards for New Orleans, but the frontcourt pair got little help. The Pelicans shot 38 percent, including 7 of 25 from 3-point range.

Memphis, which carried a 79-70 lead into the fourth, stretched the margin to 13 in the early stages of the final period.

Davis and Cousins helped the Pelicans build an early lead, but Memphis countered with nine straight points to open the second quarter and the game settled into a close one. The Grizzlies held a 54-52 lead at halftime.

Memphis made it 77-65 in the latter stages of the third and cruised from there (see full recap).