What the 76ers should do if the lockout ends

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This is the latest installment of PBT’s series of “What your team should do when the lockout ends.” Up next is the Philadelphia 76ers. You can also check out our thoughts on other NBA teams here as we work our way through all 30 squads.

After a miserable 09-10 campaign, the 76ers made their way back to respectability last season, earning a playoff berth and putting up a decent fight in the 1st round against the eventual conference champion Heat. Despite #2 overall pick Evan Turner having a disappointing season, the 76ers responded to new coach Doug Collins, and were one of the 10 best defensive teams in the league. Here’s what the 76ers can do to build on last season’s playoff birth:

1. Make a decision on Andre Iguodala

The 76ers owe Iguodala approximately 14 million dollars this season and next season, and Iguodala has a $15 million player option for the season after that. At this point in his career, we know who Iguodala is: a great perimeter defender who’s a terror on the fast break, can contribute without the ball in his hands, can make open threes on occasion, and a player who is not capable of being an efficient #1 option offensively. The 76ers have to decide whether they want to move ahead with Iguodala, which would probably make them better in the short-term, or try to get rid of his contract and go into more of a full rebuild mode — again.

2. Get more out of Evan Turner

One year after an absolute monster campaign at Ohio State, Turner struggled throughout his rookie season. Turner averaged only seven points, four rebounds, and two assists per game last year, and is PER was an ugly 10.87. It’s way, way, way too early to give up on Turner, but he needs to make major strides in his sophomore campaign. Turner needs to get comfortable shooting from beyond the NBA three-point line, figure out how to break down defenses with his passing, and go to the hoop more aggressively when he decides to drive.

3. Continue to believe in the youth movement

Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams, and Jrue Holliday all had promising seasons for the 76ers, and were among the main reasons the team made it into the playoffs. Marreese Speights had a down year in 2010-11, but he had been showing a lot of promise before this season. If those players continue to develop, Turner finds his game, and the 76ers can find a way to seamlessly transition out of the Brand/Iguodala era, they could be a very good team for a while under Doug Collins.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.