ORLANDO - 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce gave Casper Ware two words of advice. "Be yourself," Pierce told Ware heading into the Orlando Pro Summer League.
"Don't let the NBA make you passive or feel you have to come in and be something else," added Pierce, who coaches the Sixers' summer-league squad. "Be yourself. Be aggressive. Be defensive. Pick up full court. Attack the paint."
Those are the things that helped Ware become a two-time Big West Conference player of the year at Long Beach State. They also enabled him to beat out former Sixer Nick Young for MVP of Los Angeles' famed Drew League three summers ago.
Heeding Pierce's advice, Ware is proving that he can be a capable reserve for Sixers point guard Michael Carter-Williams.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder finished with 24 points and eight assists Wednesday in a 92-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at the Amway Center's practice court. He is averaging a team-high 19 points in four games.
It is best to remember that there are many prolific summer-league players who can't make NBA rosters.
But Ware, 24, has shown an aggressive and vocal side that was absent after he joined the Sixers on March 24. He turned a 10-day contract into another 10-day deal before he signed a non-guaranteed contract.
"I thought while you get into a place, you want to do certain things the right way all the time," said Ware, who averaged 5.3 points in nine games last season. "You worry about what other people think."
When he's relaxed and in a zone, Ware has been a terror on the court.
Before his senior season, he scored 47 points against NBA veteran Steve Blake in a Drew League game in 2011. Then he led Long Beach State to its first NCAA tournament appearance in five seasons.
"I thought he could have been a late-first-round pick, to be honest with you, because of what he did," said New Orleans Pelicans scout Chucky Brown, who played for 12 teams during his NBA career.
Brown thinks teams are looking too much into Ware's small stature. "Everybody wants these 6-6 point guards," he said. "But these 6-6 point guards have problems with guys like him."
A deal for Lin?
The website Liberty Ballers reported Wednesday night that the Sixers had agreed in principle on a trade with Houston that would send Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick to Philadelphia - with a caveat.
The deal hinges on whether the Rockets can sign a big-ticket free agent such as Chris Bosh, the website reported. Houston has been trying to unload Lin's salary to have enough money to lure Bosh.
Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie would not confirm or deny Tuesday that he was in trade talks with the Rockets.
Nerlens Noels had 14 points, nine rebounds, and four blocked shots Wednesday. Travis Bader made 4 of 8 three-pointers and scored 12 points. K.J. McDaniels left the game with a sprained left ankle in the second quarter.