The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
Rivers expecting Dedmon to be lively addition in post
New backup center will help down the stretch
>> Already struggling to find playing time and usefulness from two backup centers, there was 76ers coach Doc Rivers Wednesday with seven feet of Dewayne Dedmon boosting his options. Solution?
“We’ll add three to the mix,” Rivers said before a 118-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “That’s basically what we’ll do.”
In all likelihood, Rivers was being diplomatic, unwilling to sap any remaining relevance from 6-7 Montrezl Harrell and 6-9 Paul Reed, neither of whom has a sufficient skill set to trust behind Joel Embiid. Dedmon, 33, adds size and nearly 10 years of experience to a championshipminded team.
“He’s another big,” Rivers said. “He knows how to play. A vet. A great talker on defense. I like a lot of the things he can bring to us.”
Dedmon had played 30 games for Miami this season, averaging 11.7 minutes and 5.7 points. His contract was sold at the deadline to San Antonio, which dropped him on waivers. Concerned about the deficiencies of Harrell and Reed, the Sixers eventually will trust him to provide bulk whenever Embiid’s load is being managed.
Dedmon, who played briefly with the Sixers in 2014, surfaced earlier Thursday in Camden, where he told reporters: “I feel like I can come in and help on the defensive end. I felt it was a solid fit. It is such a talented team You have one of the best bigs in the league in Joel. You have an established star in James Harden and an up-and-coming guard in Tyrese Maxey. So it’s a great team.”
With a willingness to defend and step out to take 3-point shots, Dedmon’s game — though hardly at the same Hall of Fame level — is not unlike that of Embiid.
“His size definitely helps,” Rivers said. “There are not a lot of nights, honestly, when size hurts us, but there are some. And he will be of good use to us.”
Despite Dedmon’s availability, Rivers used only Reed as a backup center Tuesday. Reed played nine minutes and scored five points.
“He was great, playing great defense when he should, rolling when he should roll,” Rivers said. “He’s playing really well for us.”
With a basket off a firstquarter drive, Embiid became the 389th NBA player to score at least 10,000 points. He did it in 373 games, five fewer than Allen Iverson, who held the Sixers’ record. With his 29 in the game, he has 10,024 for his career.
“That’s impressive, especially at the position he is playing at,” Rivers said. “Because he needs the ball given to him to score. Guards have the ball. They can score whenever they want. So that just tells you how dominant Joel has been.”
The game Wednesday — their 57th of the season — was the Sixers’ last before the All-Star break. When they resurface, they will play their first six games against playoff-caliber teams in Memphis, Boston, Miami (twice), Dallas and Milwaukee.
“I like having the break late, like this one is,” Rivers said. “Coming out of the break, it’s the stretch run, especially with what we have coming up.”
••• Waived by the Rockets, former Sixer Danny Green has been picked up by the young-ish Cavs, who are hoping his experience helps in a tight race with Milwaukee for first place in the Central Division.
Recovering from major knee surgery, Green only recently returned to play three games for Memphis before being traded to Houston at the deadline and quickly waived.
“He has experience,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “There’s so much he has seen in this league. There have been pressure-filled moments and he has made plays at both ends of the floor. That knowledge will be great for our group.”