Sixers, coaches expecting real happy reunion

Prior to the 1998 lockout, Shawn Kemp was listed at 246 pounds. When the owners and players reached an agreement in time for a 50-game season, Kemp had ballooned to 315.

While no Sixer is a real candidate to have put on that kind of tonnage, the coaching staff is about to find out for sure. At 12:01 a.m. this morning, the doors to the team’s practice facility were officially opened to the players. Coach Doug Collins said he’s confident his guys kept themselves in good shape since he last saw them more than seven months ago.

“I am. And the reason I am is because we have young guys who love to play,” Collins said yesterday.

The team can’t conduct formal workouts until the new CBA becomes official (likely on Dec. 9), but the players will start trickling in to play pickup and get treatment from the training staff. All the Sixers’ players that were overseas are expected back within the next week.

“I know we miss coaching them. I miss being around them,” Collins said. “I miss my players and I can’t wait to see them and get back on the floor with them.”

Put backs

Sixers officials addressed the media yesterday. Here’s some of the highlights:

Team president Rod Thorn said he plans on matching any “reasonable” offer for restricted free agent

Thaddeus Young.

Coach Doug Collins said he’s been keeping tabs on first-round pick Nikola Vucevic’s progress while playing in Montenegro.

“I loved him. He was smart, loves to play, has a really good feel for the game.”

To ease players back, the Sixers won’t hold back-to-back “two-a-day” practices in training camp.

The 66-game schedule is expected to be released later this week. Look for the Sixers to open Dec. 26.

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