Jumpstarting the 76ers

Sixers coach Doug Collins can not communicate with any of his players during the lockout. (John Raoux/AP Photo)

We're in the final days of summer and although NBA basketball should be close to moving to the front burner, there seems to be no indication that's going to happen in a timely fashion, and even fewer indications it'll happen quickly enough for NBA training camps to start on time at the very end of September.

First, an explanation on this blog in the month of August: we made a last-minute decision to get all vacation time out of the way before September hit, so that we'd be prepared if the NBA Player's Association and team owners surprised the world and agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement in time for the 76ers' to start training camp on (or around) Sept. 28. So I apologize for allowing this blog to go without updates for the previous three weeks, but the upshot is that it won't be dark again for some time, even if we have to cobble together updates and analysis while the league is locked out. On that front, the NBAPA and its representatives are tentatively scheduled to meet with league representatives sometime this week in New York City. That's the good news. The bad news is that it will only be the second meeting between the two sides (the first was Aug. 1) since the lockout started on July 1.

Here's what NBA commish David Stern said during an ESPN podcast earlier this month: "If Labor Day comes and goes without us huddled in ready to kiss off our Labor Day weekend to make this deal, then we may be headed to a bad place."

Most around the league have already accepted that training camps won't begin on time and, at the very least, some games will be missed.

A few days ago, Maccabi Ashdod, an Israeli league team, announced that it signed Sixers' second-year big man Craig Brackins to a contract. Brackins appeared in only three games for the Sixers last season and spent a good chunk of the season playing in the D-League. The contract has an NBA-out, meaning that if the NBA figures itself out, Brackins is free to return to the Sixers without penalty. Also, the contract isn't for a full season, it's only through December. I've been assured the Sixers are his first priority (obviously), but as a young player looking for experience, this move is best for him and also for the Sixers, who want him to gain professional playing experience instead of sitting around doing shooting workouts while the NBA lockout drags on. If you missed an earlier blog post with additional details about Brackins' game, you can find that here: Brackins.  

If you follow any of the Sixers on Twitter, you know that many of them are currently in Los Angeles for organized team workouts. The workouts were put together by Elton Brand and Lou Williams and attended by Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Jrue Holiday, Brackins, and Jodie Meeks. This is a pretty good sign of this team's dedication to one another and to the course set last season by head coach Doug Collins. Collins, of course, can not communicate with any of his players during the lockout, so this was clearly spurred internally -- another very good sign. 

In the next month, we'll be following all kinds of basketball and Sixers stories: the situation with Andre Iguodala, the evolution of Evan Turner's game, the workout plan for players when no training camp date is set, how Collins is handling this quiet period, and the details of the lockout as it progresses. You can follow on Twitter, too: Deep Sixer.

Also, if you missed Sunday's Outside the Arena essay on Pat Summitt's diagnosis -- hey, it's on the topic of basketball, if not NBA basketball! -- you can find that here: Summitt.


Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at kfagan@phillynews.com.