By BOB COONEY, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS
MILWAUKEE — It’s not hard to believe general manager Tony DiLeo when he reiterates that the 76ers will not be making any moves before the Feb. 21 trade deadline that will in any way hinder the future of the organization. That means: Don’t expect the Sixers to really do anything, as the big decision in their near future still surrounds the aching knees of Andrew Bynum.
“I’ve talked with everyone throughout the league — made the phone calls, taken the phone calls,” DiLeo said. “As I’ve said, we are not going to jeopardize our future to try to find something to help us short-term. We are looking to the future. We listen to what everyone proposes, and we propose some things, too. Things will probably heat up the closer you get to the deadline, they always do. We’ll just have to see what happens.
“What’s disappointing is that we haven’t seen the team that we assembled for this season — not in one game, not in one practice. So we have no idea what this team could be.”
As usual, the rumors of trades start to fly this time of season, and the one involving the Sixers centers around Atlanta’s Josh Smith being acquired for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. That would seem to go against what DiLeo has said. Smith will be a free agent after this season, so if the Sixers got him, there would be no guarantee that he would re-sign with them. Should the trade happen, it would dump a lot of salary for the organization, but it’s already in a pretty good spot moneywise, with a lot of good contracts. And again, where does Bynum fit in their plans? So basically, forget the Smith rumor. That’s what players try, and have to do: Forget about the rumors.
“When you hear things, you can’t harp on it, you just kind of wait, see if you hear from your agent,” Hawes said. “I read stuff. I see what’s being said. If you go a whole season with trade rumors the whole time, I guess it would bother you. But it’s that time of the year. You look forward to the break and then you also know that anything is possible.”
There is no happier day in the middle of the season than the one before All-Star break. That grind — which was 51 games for the Sixers — overwhelms the players mentally and physically as they get ready to go their separate ways on Thursday, not to reconvene until practice on Monday night at their practice facility.
“I’m going to the Bahamas,” said Evan Turner. “I’m going and can’t wait. I need to clear my mind and rest and just wake up whenever I want. I don’t want to have to listen to anybody for a few days, and then just come back refreshed and ready to have a great second part of the season.”
The team would like nothing better.
“I think everybody does [need the break],” said Doug Collins. “It used to be the All-Star Game was halfway. I mean, this is 51 games; we only have 31 games coming back, so it’s a much heavier first half of the season than what it used to be. I think that makes it important. Any time you can get away and just get refreshed, I think it’s good for everybody. From our standpoint, we have a heavy road schedule coming back. We have 19 road, 12 home. To get our guys rest and refreshed, I think it’s going to help everybody.”
Almost all of the Sixers will either go home to be with family or just stay in Philadelphia to rest until Monday’s practice.
Like holiday for Holiday
Perhaps no one is looking more forward to this weekend on the Sixers than Jrue Holiday, who will be making his first All-Star appearance. From Milwaukee, Holiday headed to Houston, where many family members and fans will take it all in with him.
“I can’t wait for the Skills Competition,” Holiday said of the Saturday event in which he’ll compete against Brandon Knight (Detroit), Jeff Teague (Atlanta), Damian Lillard (Portland), Jeremy Lin (Houston) and defending champ Tony Parker (San Antonio). “I could probably use the rest, but I can’t wait to participate in the weekend.”
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