Improvements coming to pass for Sixers at center

The Sixers' Andre Iguodala listens as coach Doug Collins makes a point during Tuesday's season-opening practice at St. Joe's.
The Sixers' Andre Iguodala listens as coach Doug Collins makes a point during Tuesday's season-opening practice at St. Joe's.
Posted: September 29, 2010

Luckily for 76ers fans, Spencer Hawes' passing seems more precise than Andre Iguodala's comparisons.

Only minutes after Tuesday's season-opening practice at St. Joseph's University, Iguodala likened Hawes, the team's newly acquired center, to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

"He's kind of like Peyton Manning," Iguodala said. "He's able to do some of the same things as far as being a big man who can deliver passes."

Iguodala is correct on two counts: Hawes is a big man, a 7-foot center from the University of Washington. And Hawes can pass, especially compared to his predecessor, Samuel Dalembert, who averaged 0.5 assists a game in eight seasons with the Sixers.

Tuesday's practice at Hagan Arena marked the first step toward the 2010-11 NBA season. The Sixers will be at training camp through Saturday before opening their preseason schedule on Tuesday against the New Jersey Nets in Roanoke, Va.

In June, the Sixers traded Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings for Hawes, 22, and forward Andres Nocioni.

Even before Iguodala's post-practice proclamation, Hawes' smoothness with the ball was noticeable. On multiple occasions, he dropped perfectly timed bounce passes to cutting teammates.

The recipient was often Iguodala.

"You can talk a lot of basketball with him, which is a lot of fun," Iguodala explained. "I had a conversation with him about how the defense will be playing me and how he can make certain passes from the elbow. . . . I can tell we're going to be connecting a whole lot."

"He's what you call ball-friendly," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of Hawes. "Guys will throw him the ball because he loves to pass. And when he gets that ball in the post, guys cut."

Hawes spent three seasons in Sacramento, averaging 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a game.

Hawes' ability with the ball seems paramount within the offensive system Collins is installing, which has the team's big men employed more as facilitators than simply just screen-setters.

"A lot of times in the NBA, you can get lost down there," Hawes said. "Each time he puts the ball in our hands and allows the guards to play off us, that's incredibly difficult to scout and stop."

Trade scare. Darius Songaila and Craig Brackins, acquired last week from the New Orleans Hornets for Willie Green and Jason Smith, sat out Tuesday morning's session because of a delay with Green's physical. The trade was officially finalized at midday, with the Sixers agreeing to an "undisclosed amendment" to push through the trade. An NBA source later confirmed the Sixers gave New Orleans the option to swap second-round picks in the 2011 NBA draft.

Songaila and Brackins practiced Tuesday night.

"We were having our team dinner and Eddie [Stefanski] came up to me and said there was a snag in the deal," Collins explained. "I really wanted this deal to go through, just simply because it was good for both teams. And, more importantly, any time you have to rescind a trade, that's hard. When you send guys back to their teams, that's hard."

Also out. On Tuesday, the Sixers were without veteran big man Tony Battie, who sat out with a sore right knee. . . . Nocioni, who sprained his left ankle with Argentina's national team over the summer, participated in limited drills during the morning session and sat out the night session. Collins said Nocioni should be ready to go by the end of the preseason schedule. . . . Iguodala, still recovering from his summer with USA Basketball, sat out the night practice. . . . Forward Thaddeus Young suffered a mild right quadriceps sprain in the second session. He is expected to practice Wednesday.

First five. In the final minutes of the morning session, Collins had a first unit of point guard Jrue Holiday, shooting guard Iguodala, Young, power forward Elton Brand, and Hawes.


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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