Tanking Sixers Up Next For Thunder

By Randy Renner

The Philadelphia 76ers are in freefall and they're next on the schedule for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Sixers have lost 14 straight games and 24 of their last 27. They appear to be in the middle of a full-on push to catch the Milwaukee Bucks for the worst record in the NBA and end up with the most ping-pong balls in this summer's NBA Draft.

It's gotten so bad new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was asked if he's concerned the 76ers are tanking the season.

"I'm concerned about the perception," Silver said, "but I'm not concerned about what's happening in Philadelphia."

The 76ers are in the midst of a major makeover, making four deals at the trade deadline to help build for the future.

Right now though things are so bad 76ers legend Allen Iverson, who had his jersey retired in Philly the other night, doesn't even pay attention to them anymore.

"It's hard for me to watch Sixers basketball games," he said, "so I don't."

Not very many other people do either.

Thunder will watch some of the 76ers players with a bit more interest than usual. Former OSU star James Anderson is starting for them and among those trade deadline moves were a couple that brought former Thunder players Eric Maynor and Byron Mullens to Philly. Hollis Thompson is on the Sixers roster also. He was signed by the Thunder in the summer of 2012, released at the end of training camp and signed by the Tulsa 66ers.

The Thunder have won their last two after dropping three straight home games for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Newly acquired swingman Caron Butler practiced with the Thunder for the first time on Monday and he will be available tonight.

He told reporters yesterday he felt "blessed" to be in Oklahoma City and with an organization he has long admired from afar.

"It was always a place that I felt like was exciting to play," he said after Monday's practice. "I felt like they always had the "Sixth Man" loud out there and just a great atmosphere for basketball."

He also looked forward to playing with Thunder superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the rest of OKC's young, talented roster.

"Oklahoma was the place I wanted to be so I prayed on it and decided to come. You can't question God."

Butler can play and defend three positions on the floor and he said he's willing to do whatever he needs to do to help the team.

"I'll be pretty much a little bit of everywhere," he said when asked about his role.

Some further definition of that role should be provided tonight when Butler is expected to see playing time against the 76ers.

I'll have an update from Thunder shootaround later today.