On Thursday, the 76ers will open their practice facility doors for the first time since the NBA lockout began on July 1.
At the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Wednesday, the Sixers made coach Doug Collins and president Rod Thorn available to talk with reporters for the first time in five months.
Collins and Thorn still aren't allowed to talk to their players - the agreed-upon settlement has yet to be ratified into the league's next collective bargaining agreement - but they can talk about them.
The Sixers are unsure if any players will use the team's facility on Thursday, but if any do, they'll be allowed to work only with the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches. Players will not be allowed to work with Collins or his staff; the NBA issued a memo saying coaches cannot watch workouts or speak with players outside of a brief "hello."
Collins basically said he has his finger on the speed dial for the moment the NBA lifts the communication embargo.
"From all of the things I'm getting, these players are so excited to start playing again," Collins said. "They miss playing basketball. I know we miss coaching them. I miss being around them. I miss my players, and I can't wait to see them and get back on the floor with them. I would expect them to start trickling in."
The Sixers still haven't received their reconfigured, 66-game schedule from the NBA, but Thorn said he "knows the NBA understands it's very, very important to get the schedule out quickly."
The Sixers will start training camp Dec. 9 at St. Joseph's. The NBA's free-agency period will launch on the same day. Collins said the team would play two preseason games against its "preseason partner," the Washington Wizards.
Thorn said that all three players who were playing overseas, rookie Nikola Vucevic, rookie Lavoy Allen, and Craig Brackins, would return to the Sixers for training camp. Thorn seemed slightly concerned that Vucevic might not be present for the camp's opening day because the team still needs to arrange his visa but cannot do so until he's signed his rookie contract. Rookies drafted in June still haven't signed their contracts.
Thorn and Collins aimed to offer some insight into the team's plan for next week's free-agent frenzy but played most of it close to the vest.
"Obviously, we have a couple of free agents," Thorn said. "We have 11 players under contract, which is a lot more than most. . . . As we see how free agency plays out - you never know what's going to happen in free agency. There are so many teams that have a lot of money, so you never know what's going to happen. We have plans."
Thorn was a little bit more revealing about the team's game plan for restricted free agent Thaddeus Young.
"We love Thad," Thorn said. "All things being [equal] . . . let's say we don't sign him, but somebody else does. As long as it's reasonable, we'll definitely match it. He's a key guy for us. We need him. And we definitely want to have him back."