Sixers veterans look to remain focused

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sixers veterans (from left) Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young know they'll have prominent leadership roles.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sixers veterans (from left) Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young know they'll have prominent leadership roles.
Posted: September 29, 2013

THADDEUS YOUNG is entering his seventh season as an NBA player, all with the 76ers. Brett Brown will be the fifth person he's called coach during his tenure.

Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner have both been in Philly for four seasons - Hawes after three years in Sacramento, Turner after being selected second overall following a player-of-the-year season at Ohio State. They are now getting to know their second head coach after the resignation of Doug Collins following last season.

Young has been a starter, a key reserve, a small forward, power forward and sometimes a center. Hawes went through three coaches in Sacramento, has also started and subbed, and has seen his share of time at various positions. And Turner's career has been earmarked by the inability for the team to find him a comfortable spot on the floor.

Change is something these three players are not only used to, it has now become an expected part of their profession. Still, when word came this summer that the team had traded its lone All-Star in Jrue Holiday, it became apparent that new general manager Sam Hinkie would put the trio through another transformation. Only this time it wasn't a tweaking of the roster, it was an overhaul. Hinkie's plan is to tear things down and rebuild. At this point in their careers, the word "rebuild" could almost certainly cause at the very least severe doubts about this season, at the most a desire to be somewhere else.

Yesterday at the team's practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Hawes, Young and Turner each took turns playing the good soldier and saying how excited they were to be the veteran leaders of this painfully young group. There were no eye rolls or shaking of heads in disbelief, although that certainly had to happen at some point during the offseason.

"I really don't have any thoughts on it," said Turner, who has averaged 10.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists his first three seasons, including 13.3, 6.3 and 4.3 last season. "You have a new GM, new management, so they are going to do things the way they want to do it. I didn't really think twice on it, but like everybody else I was shocked when they traded Jrue."

Holiday and Turner were boys, always seated next to one another in the locker room, sharing long talks before and after games, often spending time away from the court together. Personally, the dealing of Holiday certainly had to hurt Turner, but professionally, it might give him more freedom on the court - and it might lead to him putting up the type of numbers fans have eagerly anticipated.

"I just want to go out and keep trying to get better, keep trying to compete each night and keep taking more steps into my career. It might not be as fast as everybody wants it to be, but I'm preparing for myself. I really don't know [if the Holiday trade will lead to better numbers for him], we'll see. I just want to keep getting better."

And now Turner, like Hawes and Young, will have to do it in a mentoring role.

"Sometimes the locker-room situation is a little bit different," said Young. "Since I'm kind of like on the old side now, the young guys will talk about young-guy stuff and me and Spencer are talking about managing our money. It's a big difference."

As for the reconstruction of the organization, Young couldn't hide his true feelings.

"It always is [frustrating], any time you hear 'rebuild, rebuild' or, 'We're going in a different direction.' It's always frustrating because you're starting to go somewhere and then, poof, everything is gone," Young said. "But at the end of the day, this is my job. I have to come in and be ready to work each and every day. This year, more than any other year, be ready to kind of lead my troops and lead my teammates out there to victory or to battle."

The plan, once fully implemented, could mean the end of Hawes, Turner or Young at any point. Hawes is in the last year of his contract, the team hasn't given a qualifying offer to Turner for next season yet and Young is probably the most valuable piece of trade bait the team has.

For now, the three will move forward, embrace their new roles as leaders and try to see themselves through a season in which win total could be more than tripled by the loss total.

"You have to look at the positive side of it," Hawes said. "It's kind of the new NBA now. Contracts are shorter and you're not seeing guys sticking with one organization for their whole careers like they may have in the past, so that's the situation we're in. It's the responsibility of us guys who have been here and are older to kind of help these young guys out and do what so many guys did for us when we were coming up."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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