By Sean Kennedy
While not matching the Andrew Bynum bombshell that was dropped on Sixers fans during 2012 Media Day, this season’s edition did offer us a few items to mull over. Here are the major revelations from what could be considered the official start of the 2013-14 Sixers campaign.
The Wasted Opportunity: Arnett Moultrie had surgery on an injured left ankle and will be out until at least January. While Moultrie typically struggled on the defensive end in his limited playing time last season, he did show off some athleticism on the offensive end, a welcome respite from the typical gravity-bound big men the Sixers trotted out there. With multiple club options still remaining on his rookie contract, it’s certainly possible the team brings him back next year regardless of what transpires this season, especially with next season’s option set at an affordable $1.1M. However, you always want to have as much information as possible on a player when making those decisions so this is an unfortunate bit of news in that regard.
The Late Arrival: The Sixers signed former Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson to a non-guaranteed contract; Thompson joins the 18-man training camp roster. The ex-Hoya is being brought in for his outside shooting prowess, with the hope that he can carve out a role for himself as a ‘3-and-D’ guy or stretch four. Thompson shot 43.9% on threes across three seasons at the collegiate level, but went undrafted in 2012 and spent last season playing for the Tulsa 66ers in the D-league (they love those year-nicknames in the D-league). His shot struggled in Tulsa, as he went just 28.8% from behind the arc during his time there. More recently, the 6’8″ forward started all five games for the Spurs’ summer league roster, averaging 10.2 ppg and 5.4 rpg, while shooting 45.5% from downtown. If those numbers are truly a sign of improvement and not just a product of small sample size, Thompson could make an impact with the Sixers for a team sorely lacking threats from the perimeter.
The Jet-Setter: Royce White plans to fly to Spain with the team for their exhibition game and says he plans to “fly when [he] can and drive when [he] can’t”. Anything the team gets from White is gravy at this point as he apparently wasn’t even the focal point of the trade that brought him over. By this point, enough has been written about White and his battles with general anxiety disorder. The man certainly has a talented on-court game though, and any news that furthers the chances of seeing him don a Sixers uniform can only be viewed as encouraging.
The Cap-Waster: Kwame Brown has a strained hamstring and is seeking a second opinion. Fortunately, this season is the last year in the contract of Doug Collins’ favorite big man. There were talks a few months back about the team buying out Brown, who is making nearly $3M this season, but we’ve heard nothing on that front in a while. Any injury just means the offensively-challenged center will look more out-of-shape than usual while wearing a suit at the end of the bench.
The Replacement: Though not the direct replacement for the ex-Sixers all-star (that would be Michael Carter-Williams), Khalif Wyatt will be attempting to fill the shoes of Jrue Holiday’s old number 11. Fans of the former Temple star will be happy to know they can perhaps still get some use out of their old Holiday jerseys and shirseys. Hopefully for both Wyatt and Sixers fans, Brett Brown’s marine-like emphasis on fitness whips Wyatt into good-enough shape to make an on-court contribution this season.
The Study Abroad Student: Arsalan Kazemi will officially be playing overseas this season, confirming what reports have suspected for weeks. Kazemi was one of the bright spots of the Sixers summer league squad, playing like one of those maximum energy guys that are always fun to watch compete. In a year that won’t offer fans much in terms of victories, missing out on seeing Kazemi play is a disappointing turn of events.