Blogs > Deitch on the 76ers

Daily Times staff writer Dennis Deitch covers the 76ers

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Speights shipped to Memphis

As soon as Marreese Speights showed up for an abbreviated training camp out of shape and unmotivated last month, his days with the 76ers were numbered. Wednesday the Sixers got a couple of second-round draft picks and some cap relief in a three-way deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets. Speights goes to Memphis in the trade; the Grizzlies sent swingman Xavier Henry to New Orleans, while each team sent a pick to Philly. It ends a disappointing three-plus years in Philly with the Sixers for Speights, whom they thought would blossom into a scoring center when they drafted him in the first round out of Florida. He showed promise his rookie season, but he never could be cajoled into becoming a well-rounded player. If Speights wasn't scoring, then he wasn't doing much of anything. And since starting center Spencer Hawes showed up at camp in terrific condition and came flying out of the gate averaging a double-double in the first four games (12 ppg, 10 rpg), Speights went from being a lightly used backup to a bench ornament. "I think coming in last year he was of a different mindset than this year," coach Doug Collins said. "I think this year it was almost he wasn't going to be a part of this. He never really did get in the swing of things. Hopefully going down to Memphis he's going to be engaged (with coaches and teammates) and happy. "I like Mo a lot. I feel badly ... Michael Curry and I when we took this job, we were trying to embrace Mo and hoping to culture a terrific relationship with him, and for whatever reason that didn't happen. We weren't able to get the best from him." It remains to be seen what the best is for Speights. Although he has size (6-10, 265), there's a lack of defensive toughness that makes it tough to envision him as a center. The Grizzlies have a lot of size throughout their roster, so perhaps there will be better pairings for his skills. What the Sixers get out of this is a nice slice of cap relief -- a $2.72 million trade exception based on Speights' salary since they didn't receive a player in return. That will help expand options if (when) a trade rolls around that appeals to the team, be it over the course of this season or during the summer. For now, they will carry 13 players and Collins said that will be fine for as long as they stay healthy. "We're in a position now if something did shake loose (in a trade), we have some second-round picks, some money under the cap so we're not in a luxury (tax) situation," Collins said. "Those are all good things."


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