Doug Collins, Kevin Fehr

Collins calls 76ers, young players “sensitive,” “fragile”

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Well, this should help his standing in the locker room…

Old school, hard-a** coach Doug Collins had lifted the 76ers up last season and this season had them on top of the Atlantic Division and playing great defense with a fast 20-9 start. Then that defense slipped, the offense tanked, there was a losing streak heading into the All-Star break and Philly has stumbled since.

With all that the top spot and the Atlantic as well as the four seed have gone out the window — right now the Sixers are tied for the eight spot and are just a game up on the Bucks from being out of the playoffs altogether.

Collin’s nature in this situation is to be even more old school, hard-a** — but he says he can’t. That his players are too fragile. Here is the quote from Gethin Coolbaugh of SBN.

“The one thing about players today is that they’re very sensitive, and very fragile,” Collins said before his team’s game against the Boston Celtics on Easter Sunday. “They didn’t grow up with tough coaches. You know, I had my ass kicked since I was six. It’s a different time, and so I treat this team very much with kid gloves. I really do, and I’m still looked at as an ogre…

“It’s terrible, I mean, it’s hard. It really is hard,” he said. “I honestly find myself during the games looking at the coach [and asking], ‘Was I alright with those guys during that timeout? Did I hurt anybody’s feelings? Was I OK?’… ‘Coach, you’re fine, you’re fine’… I said ‘OK, OK, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings.’ That’s the sensitivity, and the younger the guys, it seems like the more sensitive. And that’s what you’re wrestling with.”

He realizes he was brought in to guide and grow a young team, right?

A soft early-season schedule and fantastic play from Spencer Hawes fueled that early season Sixers run. But Hawes missed 15 games with an Achilles injury and has not been the same since, while the schedule has gotten tougher. The good news that is this week the Sixers have two games against the Nets and one against the Raptors. It’s a chance to get healthy get some wins.

If they are tough enough.

Report: Age minimum still on table in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23:  The full draft board of the first 30 pics of the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft is seen at the Barclays Center on June 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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A new Collective Bargaining Agreement is expected to be finished soon, but with months until the current deal expires, both the owners and players can afford to take their time and get the details right.

Both sides reportedly agreed to keep the age minimum – which requires players to be 19 and one year removed from their high school class’ graduation – in place.

Or not?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Other issues, like the age limit for players entering the league, are still on the table. The league has long sought to increase the age limit from its current 19, and at least one year removed from one’s high school class, to at least 20 years of age. The union has talked about a “zero and two” setup, similar to that used by baseball — players can enter the Draft out of high school, but if they choose to go to college, they have to stay in college at least two years (in baseball, it’s three years) before declaring for the Draft.

The union wants to lower the age minimum. Adam Silver wants to raise it.

Most likely, the current one-and-done rule remains in place.

But a zero-or-two setup could be an interesting compromise. That would allow players certain they’re ready for the pros out of high school to declare for the NBA draft. In all other cases, Silver would get his wish.

Again, the status quo likely remains in tact. But it’s good both sides are discussing the issue to see whether there’s a better solution.

76ers increase Joel Embiid’s minute limit to 28

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, tries to get around Cleveland Cavaliers' DeAndre Liggins, center, and Kevin Love during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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Take comfort, chairs and staffers.

The 76ers have raised Joel Embiid‘s minute limit from 24 to 28.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

This was never a hard limit. Embiid played more than 24 minutes in five of his 12 games with a high of 27 in an overtime contest. Presumably, the new “limit” will also allow for Embiid to sometimes it.

Embiid’s numbers per 36 minutes are eye-popping: 28.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 6.4 turnovers. A small workload likely factors into his per-minute dominance, and he’s still a long way from typical starter minutes. But I’m interested to see how his production translates over a larger sample.

The 76ers, in their mission to be less bad this season, will also appreciate a few more minutes of Embiid. They defend like the NBA’s second-best defense with him on the floor and the league’s second-worst defense without him. They also score a little better with him. Overall, they get outscored by just 2.2 points per 100 possessions with him and a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions without him.

This could give Philadelphia a couple extra wins over the rest of the season. At minimum, it’ll make the 76ers more enjoyable to watch for a few more minutes each game.

James Johnson dunks on Rudy Gobert in crunch time (video)

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Opponents shoot just 41.8% at the rim with Rudy Gobert defending it – which is now second to Hassan Whiteside among the 50 players who defend the most shots at the rim per game.

But James Johnson went up with no fear, scoring two of his 24 points in the Heat’s 111-110 win over the Jazz last night.

Nicolas Batum bounces assist through Dwight Powell’s legs (video)

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The Hornets didn’t just beat the Mavericks, 97-87, last night.

Nicolas Batum got Charlotte style points with this pass through Dwight Powell‘s legs, assisting Cody Zeller.