Michael Carter-Williams says he’s ready to lead if Thad Young is traded from Sixers

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The Sixers traded just about all of their veteran pieces as part of the team’s tanking rebuilding process, but Thaddeus Young remains on the roster — at least for the next few days.

Young is expected to be dealt as part of the Kevin Love trade from the Timberwolves to the Cavaliers, with Philadelphia receiving Anthony Bennett in return. That would leave only Jason Richardson as a veteran voice in the locker room, but he missed all of last season due to injury, and has an expiring contract worth just over $6 million for next season that would make him a desirable asset in a trade of his own.

The Sixers are choosing to go with a full-fledged youth movement, essentially starting from scratch. The leadership on the roster needs to come from somewhere as the team continues to grow, and Michael Carter-Williams says he’s up for the challenge.

From Tom Moore of The Intelligencer:

The 22-year-old also believes he’s ready to be the Sixers’ leader if a rumored trade of veteran power forward Thaddeus Young to the Timberwolves occurs on or after Saturday.

“Definitely,” he said. “I think regardless who is on the team, I have to be a leader out there, give direction to the new guys and really bring the team together.”

Asked about Young’s impact on his development, the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year spoke in the past tense, though he said he’s not sure if Young “will be here with us.”

“Thad was very important,” Carter-Williams said. “He taught me a lot.”

Carter-Williams took home Rookie of the Year honors last season, and as the team’s starting point guard, leading from that position would make plenty of sense.

He’s not yet 100 percent after undergoing shoulder surgery this offseason, but expects to be ready to go once training camp opens at the end of next month.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.