76ers coach Collins hits the road to meet with players

The 76ers No. 2 pick, Lavoy Allen (center) with parents Paula and David Allen, is interviewed at a Friday news conference.
The 76ers No. 2 pick, Lavoy Allen (center) with parents Paula and David Allen, is interviewed at a Friday news conference. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 25, 2011

Doug Collins is hitting the road, presumably for one last meeting with his players before a potential NBA lockout next week.

The 76ers coach will visit a number of players next week on the West Coast, including petulant swingman Andre Iguodala.

If there is no agreement and a lockout is imposed, neither Collins nor anybody else from the Sixers organization will be able to have contact with the players as of 12:01 a.m. Friday.

"We want to reach out to our guys and tell them how important this summer will be," Collins said.

One of those guys is Iguodala, whom Collins said he hopes to see Thursday in Los Angeles. The coach said it won't be hard to have a chat with Iguodala despite the constant trade rumors.

"I want to sit down and talk to him and see where his thoughts are," Collins said after Friday's news conference at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to introduce first-round draft pick Nikola Vucevic and second-round selection Lavoy Allen of Temple and Pennsbury High. "More importantly, I have shared this with his agent Rob Pelinka: Nobody is out there shopping Dre."

That could be the case, but the Sixers also aren't hanging up the phone when teams inquire about his availability.

"We want Dre," Collins said. "We want him back."

None of this would be needed had Iguodala not sent a less-than-positive vibe when asked whether he wanted to return after the season-ending Game 5 playoff loss in Miami.

In Los Angeles, Collins also will meet with Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday. He said he hopes Vucevic also can meet with Brand.

As expected, Collins and team president Rod Thorn said they were very happy with their two draft selections.

"We were a small team and needed size, and size that could play," Thorn said. "We think we got that with these two players."

Vucevic, who averaged just 2.6 points per game as a freshman, averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds last season.

"The thing I like about Nik is that he has gotten better every year," Collins said.

Thorn added that Vucevic was ranked by the Sixers as the 75th-to-85th-best prospect entering the season.

Vucevic, who will turn 21 in October, was measured during the NBA predraft camp at 6-foot-113/4 (in shoes) and nearly a 7-5 wingspan while weighing 259 pounds with 6.1 percent body fat. He said a key to his development was coming to the United States from Montenegro in 2007. He played one year of high school basketball at Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, Calif.

"You know, European players, they tend to call them soft," he said. "I wouldn't say soft, but it's not as aggressive as here."

He learned to adapt to a new style.

"I think coming here I got a chance to learn to play tougher and be more aggressive and play at a quicker pace and could really see a difference when I would go home and play with the national team," Vucevic said.

The 6-9 Allen averaged 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in his senior season. Unlike many potential draft picks, he watched the proceedings Thursday in solitude.

"I got a little nervous and wasn't sure I would get picked, so I wanted to be by myself," Allen said.

Afterward, he had plenty of company.

"It was the greatest day in my life," he said.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy was among those who attended Friday's news conference.

"This is a great reward for all his hard work," Dunphy said.

Allen said that one of the knocks on him is that he doesn't play with the highest of motors.

"People have said I need more energy," he said.

Part of that is that Allen is not a demonstrative player; his play is businesslike. Collins compared Allen to another player he once coached, Otis Thorpe.

"Like Otis, Lavoy has big hands, is athletic, can rebound, can shoot, and Otis was very quiet like that," Collins said. "We feel we got two young guys who have a chance to be really good for us. The fact that they were big guys makes it better."


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter

 

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