Damien Wilkins may be veteran voice for 76ers

Damien Wilkins, who played for Detroit last season, is battling for the final spot on the 76ers' roster. "He's helping the younger guys," said coach Doug Collins. DUANE BURLESON / Associated Press
Damien Wilkins, who played for Detroit last season, is battling for the final spot on the 76ers' roster. "He's helping the younger guys," said coach Doug Collins. DUANE BURLESON / Associated Press
Posted: October 22, 2012

Not long after they had made all the major alterations to their roster, 76ers coach Doug Collins and associate head coach Michael Curry still felt there was something blatantly missing.

Both coaches like the idea of having a trustworthy voice of authority on the team, the type of guy who may play just five minutes here or there - or sometimes not at all. But when he opens his mouth, he demands respect.

Last year, that guy was veteran center Tony Battie. This year, don't be surprised if it is swingman Damien Wilkins.

At 32, Wilkins is vying with rookie free agent Devin Searcy for what will probably be the final spot on what looks like a 14-man roster to start the season.

Searcy's only appearance was the slightly more than four minutes he played against Boston in the Sixers' 107-75 rout on Monday. Wilkins started the second game of the preseason and logged 27 minutes against Brooklyn. He played 19 minutes Wednesday against Cleveland.

Undrafted in 2004, Wilkins is an eight-year veteran who has spent time in Seattle/Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Atlanta, and Detroit, where last season he was a regular in the Pistons rotation. And while he has never averaged more than the 9.2 points he scored in Seattle in the 2007-08 season, it is the intangibles he brings that have kept him employed.

"I don't think that some people understand the value of a guy like that, who might not play five minutes but understands how important it is to always be ready," Collins said of Wilkins. "He's helping the younger guys, talking to Nick Young and some of our younger guys and going through stuff with them.

"And," Collins continued, "I trust him."

Wilkins, who has appeared in 15 playoff games in his career, said the Sixers' potential to be good made it easy for him to sign with them before training camp.

"For me, I have learned to just come in and stay in character," Wilkins said. "If I get outside of my character, it's not me. I have to do what has kept me here, and that's hard work and doing what I do best. If I didn't do those things I wouldn't be here."

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