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.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.