Maurice Cheeks doesn't encourage or discourage three-point shooting. The 76ers coach does encourage smart, efficient decisions on the perimeter.

The options are simple:

Catch and drive hard to the basket.

Catch, drive and either lay the ball off or kick it back to the perimeter.

Catch and shoot.

Probably in that order.

"If a [three] goes in, it's a great shot," Cheeks said, laughing. "I'm OK with that. [But] I think guys should know whether they're three-point shooters or not. That's my philosophy. If the shot is there, you're more than welcome to take it."

For the first 2 1/2 seasons of his tenure, Cheeks had basically one serious triples hitter in Kyle Korver. When opponents spread the floor and forced the Sixers to pick their poison defensively, they could not respond in kind.

"If I have knockdown shooters, I'd do that," Cheeks said.

Hello, Kareem Rush. Hello, Donyell Marshall. We haven't seen them unload through the first three preseason games, but the intimation is that we eventually will. Marshall, who grew up in Reading, has said he came, in large part, to play for his hometown team. Rush said he came because the Sixers needed what he could bring.

Rush drained a career-high 102 threes with the Indiana Pacers last season, profiting from coach Jim O'Brien's green-light offense. Despite that, he saw a brighter opportunity with the Sixers.

"This is a team on the move," Rush said. "The way they finished off the last part of last season was great. With the acquisition of Elton [Brand] and some of the other guys, this team is up and coming, and I wanted to be part of it. Their Achilles' heel was three-point shooting, and that's my specialty."

After sitting out the preseason opener against the Boston Celtics, Rush has hit only one of nine treys in the games against the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors.

"Those nights are going to happen," Rush said. "I'm learning to pick my spots, to find my niche, to find out [in what situations] they can use me. I'm the guy being counted on to knock down shots, and the way both Andres [Miller and Iguodala] penetrate, those shots are going to be there.

"This is all about winning. I thought this team had a better shot of winning, getting to the playoffs. I thought this was a better fit for me, to provide something the team didn't have."

With Brand arriving as a low-post presence to draw double teams, the Sixrs should have more open shots this season. But open shots, Cheeks cautioned, are not necessarily easy shots.

"It's not an easy thing when you're expected to make [those shots]," he said. "I think you can catch it, get to the rim, draw and kick for someone else. It certainly helps if you're a double threat, if you're able to make a shot or get to the rim. And if your range isn't three-point, I think you should try and get to the rim."

Six shots

Sixers president/general manager

Ed Stefanski

exercised third-year options on

Thaddeus Young

and

Jason Smith.

Young made terrific progress last season, climbing on to the NBA's All-Rookie second team after barely playing at the start. Smith had improved his strength and aggressiveness before going down for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament . . . Since joining the team last season, Stefanski has said that the team's three-point shooting could improve. Witness Young, shooting 5-for-10 through the first three preseason games . . . The Sixers play tonight in New York, then return home for 3 days of practice before visiting Cleveland Saturday night. *