Derek Anderson talks Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, “Stamina”

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There are a lot of guys who have come through the NBA and can tell hard knock life stories about growing up poor.

Derek Anderson blows most of those stories out of the water.

He never had a father around, his mother was out of the picture and he was fending for himself by the time he was 12. He was homeless, and by 14 living at different houses of people that would help out (like the janitor at a high school gym that let Anderson sleep there). He was also a father at 14 and by 15 he had full custody raising his son.

If Anderson had never played at Kentucky or went on to an 11-year NBA career, most of us would understand. The circumstances would have been too much to overcome.

But Anderson says he refused to allow that and went on to be an NCAA champion at Kentucky and an NBA champion. Anderson has a book out now called “Stamina” (available pretty much everywhere) that talks about how he broke out of that cycle with incredible perseverance. The book’s point is something he tries to pass along to others — you can’t quit, you just have to take responsibility for yourself and keep moving forward.

You have to earn people’s respect.

Now Anderson looks back with admiration on the NBA people who treated him like an adult — Miami’s Pat Riley and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich are near the top of that list.

“I think Coach Popovich is one of those coaches that allows his players to be players, he disciplines when they need to be disciplined, and he gives everyone rewards when you need to be rewarded,” Anderson told ProBasketballTalk. “He gives you a fair chance. That is why you see a bunch of guys who are not big names and they become better players because he gives you that.”

The adage other players have used is that Popovich treats grown men like men, not children to be scolded and bribed.

“Exactly, that is the level of respect, you give it and you get it you return,” Anderson continued. “But if you kiss up to these kids and these players eventually you are going to take advantage of it like anyone would. Popovich is one of those great guys that you really respect and you look up to because he treats everyone fair.”

Anderson also was on the 2006 Heat team that won an NBA title and respect was a theme there, too.

“It was different,” Anderson told PBT. “You had a bunch of high level guys with emotions but they all (controlled them), like Gary Payton didn’t get technical, Alonzo Mourning didn’t wild out he just played hard. Dwayne (Wade) was young, Shaq came to play every night and the rest of us were role players. I made two big threes in the Chicago series to help us win and the next series if didn’t get to play but Shandon Anderson did. We all sacrificed fro the betterment of our team and we all won a championship so I think it was different and I think that most of it was because Pat Riley didn’t allow a superstar to dictate the team — he always would dictate the team.”

That Anderson was able to even have those moments speaks to his stamina.

He says he didn’t want to write an autobiography that was just a retelling of his life; he wanted one that showed people how they can understand the consequences of their actions and break out of the cycle of poverty.

“What happens is we are all in a cycle of poverty and that is mental or locations but the only difference what I chose to do is that I chose to be great,” Anderson said. “I didn’t want to be average, I didn’t want to be ordinary where you looked at me and you actually knew everything about me. I wanted everybody to look at me and be like, ‘he is able to do anything.’

“The greatest compliment I ever got was coach told me that someone asked him ‘how do you stop Derek Anderson?” and he said don’t let him get the ball because once he does it he is able to do everything.

“And that is the way I looked at life, I said when I get an opportunity that is all I want and therefore I won’t make excuses. Nowadays you speak and even back then everyone makes excuse for the way you grew up but you have been blessed with a gift so maximize it. I speak to people I’m cordial, I’m nice, and that is how it happens, it always came back, so that is the reason why I always believe that I would be successful.”

Anderson’s message is one a lot of young NBA players could use to hear. Actually, it’s one all of us could use to genuinely listen to.

76ers take 1 big step (and a couple smaller ones, too)

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Even the NBA’s worst team has only a 25% chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the lottery.

The 76ers made their own luck.

Philadelphia finished with the league’s fourth-worst record, fell to No. 5 in the lottery, swapped picks with the Kings to move up to No. 3 thanks to a two-year-old trade then traded up to No. 1 by enticing the Celtics with a future draft pick (another pick acquired in that heist of Sacramento, a Lakers pick or one of the 76ers’ own).

Whew, that’s some Process.

No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz is the latest prize in the 76ers’ reverse engineering of the NBA’s system, joining Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. That’s an exciting young core that might be ready to lift Philadelphia from years of tanking to playoff contention.

To that end, the 76ers signed J.J. Redick to a one-year, $23 million contract. The 33-year-old has already shown signs of decline, but he’s an upgrade over any shooting guard on the roster. If their other young players are ready to make the leap, the 76ers didn’t want to learn the hard way they were a starting shooting guard short of reaching the postseason. In securing an immediate boost, Philadelphia essentially paid extra for flexibility. Redick’s salary will almost certainly outpace his production, the 76ers ensured no lasting negative effects beyond this season.

The same logic could apply to Amir Johnson, who signed a one-year, $11 million contract. But Philadelphia’s frontcourt depth and the dreary market for bigs make that deal less defensible – especially if Johnson’s salary could have been reappropriated for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (who surprisingly became an unrestricted free agent) or paying Robert Covington more up front (as opposed to in future seasons, when the savings might matter more) in a renegotiation-and-extension.

With about $15 million in cap space remaining, the 76ers will likely still renegotiate-and-extend Covington once they can in November. He fits well into a deep crop of solid assets beyond the big three: Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Jahlil Okafor, Justin Anderson, T.J. McConnell, Nik Stauskas, Furkan Korkmaz (the No. 26 pick last year who signed this year), all Philadelphia’s own future first-rounders plus one extra (from either the Kings or Lakers – or both, if if Philadelphia’s own pick is conveyed to Boston). The 76ers even added to the pool this summer with a couple draft-and-stash selections – No. 25 pick Anzejs Pasecniks and No. 36 pick Jonah Bolden (who I’m personally quite high on).

That grouping alone would be envy of many teams. And then there are still Embiid, Simmons and Fultz – the trio that will determine how quickly the brighter days ahead arrive in Philadelphia.

The 76ers’ revival is built on Embiid’s back – and feet and knees. He could be a generational player, but injuries have already cost him 215 games in three years and limited him to just 25 minutes per game in the 31 he has played.

Though it’s the one that looms far beyond, Embiid’s health isn’t the only potential pitfall this season. Rookie point guards – whether it be Fultz or Simmons – rarely lead good teams. It’s a position that typically requires fine-tuning.

Still, this is just the start in Philadelphia. Making the playoffs this season would be nice, but bigger goals down the road appear attainable either way.

The 76ers were in great shape entering the summer. They’re in even better shape now.

Offseason grade: B

Report: Wizards signing Donald Sloan

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The Wizards look like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Tim Frazier.

But they also looked like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Trey Burke and then Brandon Jennings last year – and look how that turned out.

So, even after trading for Frazier, Washington is still trying to increase stability behind John Wall.
CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The Wizards added some depth to their backcourt on Thursday by signing veteran guard Donald Sloan to a one-year deal, CSN’s Chris Miller confirmed on Thursday night.

The 29-year-old Sloan has played for the Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Cavaliers, Pacers and Nets in a five-year NBA career. He spent last season in China.

Sloan isn’t much of a scorer, and he’s only a decent distributor. But he makes up for it with all-around adequacy, highlighted by his rebounding for his position.

The veteran will compete with second-year Sheldon Mac, whose salary is just $50,000 guaranteed, to be Washington’s third point guard.

Report: Knicks sign Nigel Hayes to partially guaranteed deal

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Nigel Hayes became a cult hero at Wisconsin for bringing a “BROKE COLLEGE ATHLETE ANYTHING HELPS” sign to GameDay and soliciting Venmo donations, challenging the stenographer in a press conference and “accidentally” calling a stenographer beautiful in front of a hot mic.

After going undrafted, Hayes and his colorful personality are headed to New York, where Knicks fans are starving for fun.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Could Hayes stick into the regular season? The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one more spot for a player on an standard contract. Chasson Randle has an unguaranteed salary that becomes partially guaranteed around the time training camp opens. The Knicks could also sign other players, though they’re down to just minimum exceptions.

Hayes – a 6-foot-8 forward – has a chance, but he’s most likely ticketed to New York’s minor-league affiliate after being waived by the parent club.

Who is betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year? Lonzo Ball? Ben Simmons? Depends.

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The Rookie of the Year race is wide open heading into next season.

It’s that way every year — if you had predicted Malcolm Brogdon was going to win a year ago, you would have been laughed out of the room — but this coming season has a deep pool of elite talent who will be in position to put up numbers, the usual formula for winning the award. Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum all have a real shot — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Who is the betting favorite? Depends on where you do your betting.

The William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook (which works with a number of Las Vegas casinos, such as the SLS), has these odds (hat tip ESPN):

Lonzo Ball 9-5
Ben Simmons 5-2
Dennis Smith Jr. 4-1
Markelle Fultz 13-2
De'Aaron Fox 8-1
Jayson Tatum 8-1

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has Simmons as the betting line favorite at 9-4

The online betting site Bovda.lv has this line

Lonzo Ball 9-4
Dennis Smith 3-1
Ben Simmons 5-1
Jayson Tatum 5-1
Markelle Fultz 8-1

Traditionally, Rookie of the Year goes to a guy who has the ball in his hands, is aggressive, and puts up raw numbers. It celebrates scorers. All of the guys on that list can do that, although Ball will be judged more on his passing and how he helps turn the Lakers into an up-tempo team. In addition to the guys on that list, Josh Jackon in Phoenix will get numbers, as might John Collins in a rebuilding Atlanta. There are sleepers down the board with a chance.

This year a whole lot of guys fit the traditional mold of a guy who can win the award, more than are mentioned here. It’s going to be a wild ride.