The Sixers and a question of patience on the path to greatness

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Star power is an abject must in this league, from any angle. It’s not just about the fact that this is a player-driven league or that “good players are good.” It’s that they drive ticket sales and those players are essential to winning a title. Detroit is the only real team in the last… long, long time span that did not feature a verified “star” player to win a title.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, continues to plug along without a real star. Andre Iguodala is kind of a star. He’s arguably the best complimentary player in the league, a superb passer, defender, and rebounder without being able to really create enough offense for himself. Thaddeus Young is a stellar combo forward who is still, pardon, young. Jrue Holiday is an excellent young point guard. Elton Brand was a star five years ago.

So why do they keep waiting? Why are they holding out on trades for Iguodala and standing pat in free agency? Are they just delusional in thinking this team can contend?

Turns out, not so much. Doug Collins actually has a really great take on this.

It’s not because he wants to tear up his roster by trading young players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner or Young to get a star. He just wants to be able to.

“When you’re playing for a championship, it seems like those deals come easier for you,” Collins said.

Collins said it’s paramount to make Philadelphia one of those destination places for stars. The only way to do that is to show that the Sixers are on their way to becoming championship material.

via Sixers hoping to make team a destination for superstars | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

I’ve been critical of the Sixers for not making more moves to shake up the first-round-and-out squad they’ve constructed, but this is actually an excellent paradigm. In order to pull in free agents, they have to be a place players want to play. Philadelphia isn’t San Antonio or Minnesota, but it’s not New York or Los Angeles. If the Sixers can make a run to turn some heads and then translate that into either a trade package or a chance to bring in a difference maker, they can take a step up in the East.

It’s a patient, long-term plan to build a cohesive, effective, talented team. You know, the exact opposite approach of New York and Miami.

Maybe it’s folly and it will never happen, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Iguodala will still be tradeable at the deadline or next year, Holiday will only be better, Young, the same. The Sixers aren’t going to sacrifice their long-term maneuverability in a desperate attempt to get stars to love them. If they did, they’d be the Nets.

It’s true you have to swing when the pitch comes your way. But Collins and the team in Philadelphia are convinced you have to make sure it’s the right pitch.

 

Spurs honor Richard Overton, the oldest living U.S. veteran at Military Appreciation Night

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San Antonio is a military town, and on Thursday night against the Memphis Grizzlies the Spurs held a Military Appreciation Night. The team donned their camouflage uniforms, then held court for a very special guest: Richard Overton.

Mr. Overton is the oldest living U.S. veteran at age 110. He was in the Pacific theater during WWII and served in the Army with the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.

The team honored Mr. Overton during the game, and he received a standing ovation during a timeout.

Via Twitter:

Plus, Mr. Overton got to hang with the Spurs dancers:

Pretty neat of the team to do.

James Harden has been fouled on 3-pointers more than any single NBA team

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Houston Rockets star James Harden is a leading candidate for the 2017 NBA MVP, and for good reason. The Arizona State product has been exceedingly efficient, unburdened by Dwight Howard clogging the lane and fueled by a Mike D’Antoni offense that treats the ball like it’s radioactive.

But Harden has a new claim to add to his statistically-important season. He has been fouled more times on 3-point shots than any team in the NBA.

Not player. Any team.

This revelation is the result of some serious digging by ESPN’s Chris Herring. In an article published to 538, Herring outlined the situation in great detail. It’s worth reading in full, but the shocker comes here:

Harden has drawn a whopping 108 shooting fouls from distance this year with 11 games left to play. For context, consider that, outside of the Rockets, no team has garnered more than 73 of those calls.

If you subtract Harden’s numbers from the rest of the league’s, the average NBA player has drawn fouls on 1.6 percent of his 3-pointers this season, according to BigDataBall, which tracks the league’s play-by-play logs. Harden is drawing 3-point shooting fouls at a 16.7 percent clip, or more than 10 times as often.

Herring’s article goes into how Harden draws the contact (hint: he’s the one initiating it) and why he’s so good at it. Just like on his drives, Herring says Harden uses his arms to his advantage. It’s best to read 538’s article so you can see the visual cues on how Harden does it, but it’s suffice to say it’s impressive.

The immediate discussion here is whether Harden is “gaming” the system by adding this to his already foul-reliant arsenal. The answer is absolutely he is, and that’s why he’s one of the top MVP candidates this season.

Change the rules or change how officials respond to the game. Until then, James Harden is a basketball wizard.

Derrick Rose, his agent both say winning more important than money in free agency

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Lets’s start with a disclaimer: Nearly every player and agent say for them free agency is not about the money, it’s about winning/fit/style of play. Then they go to the team that gives them the most money, even if it’s not very good or plays a style that doesn’t fit with their game.

That said, as players get along in the league, winning does matter more and some players will sacrifice dollars for rings.

Derrick Rose is a free agent this summer, and both his agent and Rose himself said that finding a winning team is what will guide the process.

“Derrick wants to win,” Rose’s agent B.J. Armstrong told NBCSports.com as part of a PBT Podcast (which will drop Friday morning). “That’s who he is, whether he’s playing pick-and-roll or not. In the end, what I found as a player, what I found as an agent, is it’s much easier to play when you’re winning….

“This is his first time, in his nine years of playing in the league, that he’ll actually have an opportunity to select the people he thinks he can work best with. As long as you’re playing in a good spot and healthy, money and the rest of it will take care of itself. Where you get in trouble in this league is when you start trying to do things strictly for money.”

Here is what Rose himself said about his free agency this summer, via ESPN.

“Not even thinking money. I’ve got more than enough money saved. If I stopped playing basketball now, I’ll be all right,” Rose told reporters in Utah on Wednesday night. “I want to win. I want to be happy and feel at peace with myself wherever I’m at. But being at the negotiating table, you never know. I’m not going to negotiate with people where money is the No. 1 thing I’m asking for. I want to win.”

It’s going to be an interesting market for Rose, the number of “winning” or quality teams in need of a point guard and with enough cap space to sign Rose is a limited market. While he has said he would love to stay in New York and the Knicks have not given up on the idea of re-signing him, if they are committed to the triangle offense that may be an awkward fit (and it’s not exactly a winning team). The sands will shift this summer and something will open up, but will Rose take less money — and maybe a lesser role — to be on a team that’s a threat to do deep in the playoffs?

He says so. His agent said so. We’ll see what happens when the money hits the negotiating table.

Charles Barkley says if he was dying he would kill fellow talking head Skip Bayless

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Charles Barkley knows how to get ratings. He said weird stuff all the time. He’s feuded with LeBron James and made fun of LaVar Ball. Now Barkley has said that if he had some kind of terminal illness, he would want to kill former ESPN and current Fox Sports talking head Skip Bayless.

Uh, what?

It was the end part of a conversation Barkley had on The Dan Patrick Show this week, with Barkley quickly cramming it into the final minute of the show.

“You know what we should do for ratings?” said Barkley, “If I get a disease and I’m gonna die, how about you get Skip Bayless in here and I kill him live on national television.”

Bayless makes a living being abrasive, but this feels pretty clumsy. Then again, Shaquille O’Neal saying the Earth is flat is also simply testing the waters of how to get instant buzz around you.

Let’s hope Barkley stays healthy, if only for Bayless’ sake.