No sign on whether Sixers are in the market

Posted: February 15, 2012

ORLANDO - The 76ers arrived in the city that will host the All-Star Game in less than 2 weeks - and their game against the Magic tonight - so thoughts naturally turned toward that weekend as the team held an optional practice yesterday at the Amway Center. Some veterans chose to rest, as did coach Doug Collins, while most players got in a good workout under the eyes of the assistant coaches.

When you think of the All-Star Game, you think of high-flying dunks, three-point contests and the exhibition game that caps the weekend. But it is also a time when front-office types are schmoozing, talking business and trades and trades and business.

The Sixers lead the Atlantic Division with a surprising 20-9 record. Is this a time that the organization should go "all-in" (sorry, Eagles) and try to get as far as it can in the playoffs, or stand pat and let this team evolve? Team president Rod Thorn will ultimately answer that question.

"As you have heard me say a lot, I don't ever feel a pressing need to do something, because I feel we have a good team. Plus you can only do something if you can do something," he said. "There is a lot of conjecture of, why don't you get this guy, why don't you get that guy. But you might not be able to get a guy unless you get rid of most of your team. You work the phones, talk to people and try to identify exactly what you would like to have and see how it works out."

Much of the conversation probably will take place during the All-Star weekend, a little more than 2 weeks before the March 15 trading deadline.

"Normally, around the All-Star break and trade deadline is when talks sort of heat up among teams in the league," Thorn said. "I don't think this year will be any different along those lines. There are a lot of injuries around the league. Certainly, we've been hurt, but some teams have been devastated. The tough thing is it's so hard to recover [from injuries] when you never get to practice. With us, from the time we played New Orleans [Jan. 4] until, I think, March 11, we never have more than 1 day between games. We're playing virtually every day, so bodies are tired. I think teams that can stay relatively healthy have a huge advantage."

Reading into Thorn's point, bringing in someone new is risky, because limited practice time inhibits the ability to learn a new system or scheme. Though teams are getting swamped with injuries, it is unclear whether that will force them into making a move or two before the deadline.

Center Spencer Hawes' Achilles' injury has been the Sixers' primary injury problem. He has remained in Philadelphia during this road trip, and his return is still a question. That could precipitate a move - or maybe not.

"We have a competent medical staff; those guys are never going to put somebody out there unless they're ready to go," Thorn said. "We have to see [with Hawes]. He seems to be doing very well now [in his workouts]. Hopefully, he'll be able to play and get through this.

"You always want to consider the best welfare of the players. We've never said, 'You better play.' You can't do that. A player knows his body better than anyone else. Everybody has a different pain threshold. With Spencer, he came back when he thought he was ready to come back and he got sore again. Whether he comes back before the All-Star break, nobody seems to know right now."

Meeks an All-Star?

The NBA has not announced who will compete in the three-point contest, but Sixers guard Jodie Meeks is available if they're looking for contestants.

"I've never really practiced [shooting] off the rack, so I'd have to practice that," he said. "I'm used to watching them go in. It's a little different."

In the shooting contest, the better shooters pick up their next ball off the rack before the previous shot's result is determined. Meeks is sort of a set-shot type shooter, so he would seem to have the form to do well in the contest. This season, Meeks has made 58 of 134 from beyond the arc, or 43.3 percent.

"I've never done one," he said. "I'd be glad to be in it if they picked me. For sure, I wouldn't think twice about it [as opposed to having a couple of days off]. I would definitely be honored to come back here to Orlando to be in it."

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