Inside the Sixers: Hawes trying to keep focus on his game

Posted: February 10, 2014

Center Spencer Hawes has endured his share of losses, trade rumors, and uncertainty over his future during a 76ers season in which perseverance has become mandatory.

Despite posting career highs in virtually every significant category and assuming a major leadership role, Hawes has experienced more than his share of frustration with a team that has lost more than twice as many games as it has won.

"The majority of nights you go home and look at the scoreboard and your team has suffered a loss," he said.

Hawes understands his address could change by the Feb. 20 trade deadline, but he doesn't want to look that far ahead. He can be an unrestricted free agent after this season and has vowed not to dwell on it. He is hoping to avoid the pitfalls he fell into the last time he was in this situation.

That was two years ago, when Hawes signed a two-year, $13 million deal to remain with the Sixers.

"The last time I was a free agent I think I got a little too caught up in it, overanalyzed it, and wanted to have my hand in everything," Hawes said. "This time I kind of want to let my play do the speaking, play to the best of my ability."

Hawes insists that as much as he tries, he can't totally block the prospect of the trade deadline from his mind.

"You are always kind of aware of that and have to be aware of it for your own situation," he said. "You can't be successful if you don't know what is going on."

That is the inner battle: attempting to take things one day at a time when it's tempting to look ahead.

"As much as you have to compartmentalize it and as hard as it is to do, you have to tell yourself that you can only control what you can control, and you must play well to put yourself in the best possible position, wherever the situation takes you," Hawes said.

So far, he has done his part to put himself in a favorable situation.

Entering Friday, he was averaging career highs in points (13.5 per game), rebounds (8.7), three-point percentage (.411), assists (3.4), and minutes (31.7).

"I think his improvement in his value has been seen [by] the league, and [by] me, this year," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "He is a highly skilled passer who is young."

Even though Hawes is 25, this is already his seventh season in the NBA, one that has aged him considerably. Still, he vowed during the preseason not to be beaten down by being part of a massive rebuilding project, and he said he has kept that promise. His game has blossomed in many areas.

"He is a great passer for a big man," veteran forward Thaddeus Young said. "We all know he can shoot, and his post game just went to another level, and he is showing moves I have never seen before, and he has been a great leader."

One pleasant development for Hawes has been playing for Brown, who has made a major impression in his rookie season as coach.

"In a season like this, you want to take as many positives as possible, and Coach has done as good a job as anybody I have ever played for of emphasizing that and putting things into perspective," Hawes said.

So Hawes will keep grinding, wondering whether he will be playing in a different city by the end of the month and making the most of a sinking season in which the Sixers center has provided one of the few rays of light.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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