SACRAMENTO - As the Sixers gathered in the early-morning hours yesterday, getting ready to board a 9:30 bus that would take them to their morning shootaround to prepare for the night's game against the Kings, forward Henry Sims was well ahead of his teammates. He and assistant coach Billy Lange got their own ride to Sleep Train Arena and put in extra work before the rest of the team arrived.
That a player would do that toward the end of a long and taxing season that has not produced many wins is more than honorable. That Sims would do it with his current playing situation is exceptional. Going into last night's contest, Sims had seen action in just four of the past 12 games. Since his arrival at last season's trade deadline, he has played just about every role asked of Brett Brown, whether playing center or power forward, covering the opponent's biggest player or going out on the perimeter to guard shooters. His current role of inactivity certainly isn't welcomed by the Georgetown product, but as proved by his work yesterday, it doesn't change his outlook.
"I've been in this league, and for the short amount of time I've been in it, I've been through it all - trades, bench, starting, sitting in a suit - I just look at it as another thing that I've just got to be a pro about," Sims said. "I'm just trying to sharpen my fundamentals so when my name's called, I'm going to be ready.
"I try to as often as I can [put in extra work]. I don't do it so much on the road because we move so much and I'm trying to save my legs a little bit. But when we're home, I'll take a few night trips to the gym. Just staying ready, that's all it is."
His playing time has diminished not because of his own doing; rather, Brown wants to take more of a look at Furkan Aldemir and newcomer Thomas Robinson. Letting Sims know that his time would diminish wasn't easy for the coach.
"I like to just say it," Brown said of how he approached Sims. "This is what's going on, this is why it's going on and just say it. And present it, I hope, with a tone that we are grateful for everything he's done. And you come into this gym this morning and you see Billy and Henry, who got up really early and beat the team bus over here, an hour before we got here, and he was drenched in sweat. He still puts his time in.
"It's never an easy conversation. It's especially not an easy conversation with Henry 'cause he's such a good person and was with us from the get-go after the trade in regards to spirit, energy and living the right way and acting the right way. Look at him on the bench. He's the first person up waving a towel when somebody is going to shoot a three or somebody does something well. He's just all class. So when somebody like that takes a hit, it's really - for me personally, the human side - even harder."
If Sims wants to look at the bright side, he could believe that the organization knows and is confident in what kind of player he is and just wants to evaluate further the two lesser-known players.
"I try not to think for them," Sims said. "For me, I feel that I've done enough out here to let them know what I can do. I feel like I've done my job and that's all I can do."
After a few games when his pregame routine wasn't quite as strenuous as it had been, Joel Embiid was back to getting in his normal work before last night's game.
He was with Brett Brown before the game, working on his post moves and outside jump shot. Sunday in Los Angeles at the team's morning shootaround, Embiid shed his shirt and showed a very toned upper body.
"He's ticking boxes in regards to increased time on the court, into reduced weight - his body weight is going down," Brown said. "It's a good sign that you're feeling pretty good about yourself. How about that, you see him drenched in sweat, he takes his shirt off. All fantastic signs that his needle is pointing in the right direction. We're trying to set the stage for a great summer. He sees that his reward will be summer league and trying to get ready for playing basketball again. He's most definitely heading in the right direction."
Nerlens Noel said he was feeling fine after taking a hard blow to his left eye in Sunday's loss to the Lakers. There wasn't any swelling and he said he felt good by Monday . . . Jason Richardson, who does not play back-to-back games, sat last night so he could be a go at Denver tonight. Richardson and his family live in the Denver area . . . After tonight's game, the team will finish out the week by hosting the Clippers on Friday night.